Tibet Travel Guide

Country Information

Behind the world’s highest mountain range is the mystical land, Tibet. The name ‘Tibet’ means heaven, its derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Trivistapa’. Average heights of over 4,000 m, makes it the world's highest plateau, crowning it as the ‘Roof of the World’. Tibet is home to some of the world's tallest mountains, several of them making it to the top ten list. Some of the major rivers of Asia have their source in the Tibetan plateau. With its vast grasslands, high mountains and alpine lakes, Tibet, is surely a dream destination for tourists, climbers and adventurers.

Quick Facts of Tibet:

  • Full Name: Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Population: 2.62 million
  • Capital: Lhasa
  • Area: 1.2m sq km (471 700 sq miles)
  • Climate: Average temperature 28 degrees Celsius (summer) to -15 degrees Celsius (winter), extremely dry except during rainy season (July-August).
  • Major Languages: Tibetan, Mandarin, English and Nepali
  • Major Religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Animism
  • Life Expectancy: Over 65 years (UN, 2000)
  • Monetary Unit: 1 Yuan = 10 Jiao or 100 Fen
  • Main Exports: Light industry products, Output of livestock products, Traditional Chinese medicine and Carpets
  • GDP Per Capita: USD 1324

Getting Into Tibet

The traditional saying 'easy to travel abroad but difficult to enter Tibet' has become obsolete as one can access Tibet either by road, air or rail.

By Road: There are five main highways in Tibet, namely:

  1. Sichuan-Tibet Highway – it runs between Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, and Lhasa.
  2. Qinghai-Tibet Highway – it runs between Xining, the capital city of Qinghai, to Lhasa.
  3. Yunnan-Tibet Highway – it runs between Yunnan province and Tibet.
  4. Xinjiang-Tibet Highway – it runs across boundless deserts, lofty and steep peaks.
  5. The China-Nepal Highway – it is the only international highway in Tibet   

By Air: Flying to Lhasa always requires a stopover in either China or Nepal. Lhasa Gonggar Airport is located about 98 kilometers (about 61 miles) to the south of Lhasa City. The only international flight to and from Tibet is between Lhasa and Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

If you are looking for information regarding flight booking please contact us

 at info@nepalalternativetreks.com We will provide you with best possible information.

By Rail: The Gormo to Lhasa railway stretches for 1,142 kilometers (710 miles) and serves as a link between mainland China and Tibet.


Tibet Entry Procedures

We at Nepal alternative treks would like to assist you in making your Tibet tour an adventure of a lifetime as well as trouble free. Therefore, presented below is a list of rules and Tibet entry procedures you should know about before travelling to Tibet.

1. General Information on Tibet Travel

  • Please note that Tibet travel policies might change without a prior notice and even while you are still on your trip. Among other things, closure of border might also take place. Therefore, it is advisable to have insurance with a good cancellation policy. If your Tibet tour is cancelled due to the change in policy, Himalayan glacier will reserve only the required amount and refund you the remainder.
  • A Chinese visa and Tibetan Travel Permit are mandatory when you are travelling to Tibet. Regulations to visit Tibet are subject to change before you depart and even when you are in Tibet. Currently, foreigners must be part of a group (Group Visa) who enter and exit Tibet on the same itinerary.
  • As it is difficult to get your group visa extended, we therefore suggest that you clearly mention your desired programs to us during the trip-planning phase. Only then will we be able to arrange your visa and permit.
  • The Tibet entry permit can only be issued 3 weeks prior of your arrival in Tibet. Himalayan Glacier will help you organize and acquire the permit. Please note that your permit will be checked at the airport in Lhasa and on trains from China to Tibet as well as some hotels in Tibet.
  • Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months before travelling. Passports with less than six months’ validity will not be provided a visa. You need two passport-sized photos for the visa application. We advise you to bring an extra just in case.
  • You are not allowed to take any Tibetan religious books, Lonely Planet books, and photographs of or related to the Dalai Lama during your travel to Tibet. If the above mentioned items are found in your possession, they will be confiscated and you will not be allowed to enter Tibet. 
  • Please also note that diplomats, journalists, professional media photographers, and government officials are not able to receive their Tibetan permit through Himalayan Glacier. They are only able to travel to Tibet under the arrangement of the Foreign Affairs Department, Economic Development Committee, or some other such government agency.

2. Entering Tibet from Nepal

  • If you are coming to Tibet from Kathmandu, it is advised to get a Chinese visa from Kathmandu (regardless of whether you already have a Chinese visa issued in your country) as a special administrative situation exists between China and Nepal. We also highly recommend that you do not apply for an individual Chinese visa in your country if you decide to enter Tibet from Nepal, since when you apply for the group visa to entering Tibet, the Chinese embassy will cancel your individual Chinese visa.
  • If you are entering Tibet via Nepal, you will get a Chinese visa only in the passport that is stamped with the Nepalese visa. Therefore, we recommend that you use the same passport while travelling to Nepal and Tibet (China).
  • The Tibet Group Visa is an A4 size sheet of paper, with the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth and occupation of each member of your group listed. The dates of entry and exit are precisely recorded.
  • The itinerary and the places to visit in Tibet must be stated clearly and finalized in advance because while applying for a Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit from Kathmandu, a copy of this should be attached. The visa is issued accordingly.
  • Tibet permits can be obtained using a photocopy of your passport but you must have your original passport to apply for the Chinese visa, which will be collected by Nepal alternative treks once you arrive in Kathmandu. 
  • The travel permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau (Lhasa) is obtained in accordance with your itinerary mentioned in the permit application. Himalayan Glacier will do its best to get the permits (Group visa) for you, but do bear in mind that the final decision to grant you the permit is totally up to the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
  • The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is open from Mondays to Fridays. Usually, it takes 5 working days to issue a Chinese visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. However, if urgent, we can also organize your Chinese visas in 1 business day with an express fee.
  • If you plan to enter mainland China after your Tibet travel, the group visa will allow you to enter mainland China. If the duration of your group visa covers all your programs in mainland China, then you can also use it during your stay in mainland China. Please note that all of the members of the group have to board the same flight to leave the country. In case your group members have separate flights or dates, you need to inform Nepal alternative treks clearly during the planning phase as then we will have to apply for separate group visas. (This will depend entirely on the decision of Chinese immigration officials processing the visas whether your group gets one or separate visas.)

3. Entering Tibet from mainland China

  • It’s best not to mention Tibet or any places in Tibet as your travel destination when you are applying for Chinese visa (the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is the only exception). Since Tibet is a politically sensitive topic in China, they sometimes may refuse your visa application if you mention anything related to Tibet in the application form, so please keep this in mind when applying. You are free to mention any city of mainland China such as Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Chengdu-Sichuan, Yunnan, etc. as your travel destinations.
  • If you are planning to enter Tibet via mainland China, you need to organize your Chinese visa from the Chinese embassy in your home country. Nepal alternative treks will help arrange for your Tibet Travel Permit from China.
  • According to the Chinese rules and regulation, it is not possible to provide you with the Tibet Travel Permit via freight services. However, Himalayan Glacier can make arrangements for you to get your permit while you are in China. To do this, you need to consider two possibilities below.

1.     If you have booked a hotel in mainland China then please provide us details of your hotel including its name, address and telephone number. Also, let us know the check in time as well as the name under which the hotel reservation has been made. Please do not forget to give us the name of an appropriate hotel authority so that we can drop off your Tibet Travel Permit at your hotel with the appropriate person mentioned by you. Also, make sure to inform the hotel about your whereabouts and confirm that you will be checking in at the hotel.

2.     If are taking a direct flight to Lhasa from mainland China, then please provide us the details of your transits so that we can make arrangements for our staff to wait for you outside the transit point (airport) and handover your Tibet Travel Permit to you.

  • Chinese passport holders do not need the Tibet permit to go/travel to Tibet. According to the rules and regulations of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), foreign passport holders (including the Taiwanese and Non-Chinese ID card holders) need to have a Tibet Travel Permit for visiting. People who hold Hong Kong SAR passports and Macau SAR passports do not need the permit.
  • If you arrive in China from your home country, you must register with the police within 24 hours of your arrival in the country. Even foreigners with residence permits are required to register after each re-entry. If you are staying in a hotel, the staff will automatically register you. However, if you are staying in a private home with family or friends, you should take your passport to the local police station to register. Failure to do so could result in fines and detention. Chinese law requires that you carry a valid passport and Chinese visa or residence permit at all times.
  • However, the rules and regulations regarding Chinese visas and Tibet travel permits change frequently. Therefore, we suggest our clients to seek advice from our travel consultant ( please link our contact ) before making any plans to travel to Tibet.

Airport/Customs Formalities
All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival at the entry. Personal effects are permitted free entry. It is important to remember NOT to carry any material relating to free Tibet like for instance Dalai Lama books or flags, masks
etc carrying such slogans.



Generally, April to the beginning of November is considered apt for traveling in Tibet. August and September are considered as the ideal time; however, Lhasa can be visited throughout the year. 
The sun radiation is strong in Tibet. Lhasa is also known as the ‘Sunlight City’ due to the extremely intense sunlight there. Tibet is cold during winter; cool in summer and is normally dry, receiving only about 450 millimeters of rain or snow. 

Communication Facilities

Post Office: 

The biggest post office in Lhasa is located on the West Beijing Road, at the east side of the Potala Palace. It not only offers full postal services but also sells various kinds of postcards. 


China Mobile coverage is available in some areas of Tibet, but there is no coverage in villages or remote places. Therefore, cell phones are not a reliable mode of communication. You can use telephones found in the post office, hotels, street booths and shops. 
However, with the exception of the major cities like Lhasa, Xigatse, Gyantse, Lhatse and Tsedang, communication facilities including telephone and postal services are absent in other parts of Tibet.


Internet cafes are available in Lhasa. Hotels in Lhasa like the Xigatse hotel also provide internet facility to its customers.



In most of the cities and towns hotels and guest houses are available. Lhasa boasts of accommodation ranging from simple guest houses to four star hotels. Shigatse, Gyantse and Tsedang offers up to three star hotels. While other smaller or remote areas, accommodation is available mainly in guest houses.

Forex and Banking

The unit of currency is Chinese Yuan. The Bank of China can exchange all foreign currencies. The banks in Tibet/China are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Travelers Cheques and credit cards are very difficult to be cashed outside the banks especially outside Lhasa. ATM facilities are easily available in Lhasa and Shigatse; however, it may be difficult to find one in other smaller towns or in remote places.



If you wish to bring along electric devices for use during your stay, a transformer is necessary. Most of the hotels in Tibet have both 110V and 220V electrical outlets in the bathrooms, though in guest rooms usually only 220V sockets are available. As the shape of a socket varies between countries, a portable plug adapter may also be necessary.


Health and Safety

Tibet being a region of high altitude, travelers may experience Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) which is characterized by mild headaches, nausea, altered breathing patterns at night and loss of appetite. This can be reduced by frequently drinking non-alcoholic liquids such as water and juice. Travelers should also protect themselves from the strong sunlight which can cause sunburn.






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