Tibet Travel Information

For travelers, Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia. It offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet. There's Gyantse, in the Nyang-chu Valley, famed for the largest chörten (stupa) in Tibet, and hiking in Yarlung Valley, widely considered the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Base yourself in Tsetang and marvel at the monkey cave in Gangpo Ri or walk the monastery kora (pilgrim path). Your trip will take you past glittering mountain turquoise lakes and over high passes draped with prayer flags. Find a quiet spot in a prayer hall full of chanting monks, hike past the ruins of remote hermitages or make an epic overland trip along some of the world’s wildest roads. The scope for adventure is limitless.

For many people, Tibet is a uniquely spiritual place. Those moments of peace, fleeting and precious, when everything seems to be in its proper place, seem to come more frequently in Tibet, whether inspired by the devotion apparent in the face of a pilgrim or the dwarfing scale of a beautiful landscape. Tibet can truly claim to be on a higher plain.

This remarkable place is changing fast. Investment and tourism are flooding into the region, inspired by a new train line from China, and GDP is rising even faster than the train tracks to Lhasa. Unfortunately the modernization is coming first and foremost on China’s terms. China’s current wave of tourists has been dubbed the ‘second invasion’, with a slew of new hotels, restaurants and bars set up and run by Chinese for Chinese. Once the remote preserve of hardy backpackers, it is now local Chinese tourists who dominate the queues for the Potala and Jokhang. Lhasa is booming and even small towns across the plateau are being modernized and rebuilt. With every passing month Tibet looks less and less like itself.

The myths and propaganda that have grown up around Tibet can be so enticing, so pervasive and so entrenched that it’s hard to see the place through balanced eyes. The reality is that Tibet is no fragile Shangri-la but a resilient land underpinned by a unique culture and faith. But you are never far from the reality of politics here. For anyone who travels with their eyes open, a visit to Tibet will be memorable and fascinating, but also a sobering experience, it’s a place that’s likely to change the way you see the world and that will remain with you for years to come. And that’s surely the definition of the very best kind of travel.

Getting to Tibet:

Travel by Air: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa by Tibet’s airlines mainly connect Lhasa and other major cities of China. Lhasa Gonga Airport is located in Gonga County with 100km to Lhasa city. There is public bus between the airport and Lhasa city.

Travel by Land: The Friendship Highway starts from the capital of Nepal-Kathmandu, traverses Hangmu Friendship Bridge( SinoNepal Friendship Bridge) at Kodari to Neyalamu County in Tibet and crosses Shigatse-- the second largest city of Tibet to the capital of Tibet-Lhasa. It covers a distance of more than 900 km. It is easy to have a view of Mt.Everest when take this road.The best season to visit Mt.Everest is from early March to late May, or from early September to late August, however, the weather is aways changeable in this area.

(1) Zhangmu
(2) Simikot (Nepal) -Khojarnath-Purang
(3) Golmud - Lhasa
(4) Kashgar- Yecheng - West Tibet
(5) India- Lipu Lek Pass - Purang - Kailash.

There are some other entry points too but entering from any checkpoint, the tourists need special align permit for Tibet.

Railway: The railway which runs across the “the roof of the world” has been linked up and soon the world's highest altitude railroad will be ready to open. Travelers are able to travel Tibet by the special train since July, 2006. The special train will be equipped with an oxygen providing system, making it easier for passengers to endure the thinner-air in the so-called "roof of the world". It will also carry doctors on board to ensure the safety of any travelers affected by the high altitude.

The train will stop at several famous sightseeing spots along the route, such as Qinghai Lake, Hol Xil, Kun Lun Mountain and the Potala Palace.

Visa and permits:  To enter Tibet, a visa for China is necessary; Tibet should not be stated in the Chinese visa application. The standard tourist visa is valid for 30 days, but it can be prolonged within China (not necessarily in Tibet!) without problems. If you want to apply for a longer visa (e.g. 90 days), a letter of recommendation or invitation is useful, which can be obtained also through some visa agencies. Hong Kong is a good place to get long-term visas without problems from various travel agencies. Visa elongation within Tibet is very difficult. People have reported to get visa extensions in Lhasa, Shigatse, and Ali. However, most of the time you will not be given another 30 days, and the extension you get may depend on your negotiation skills or the officer's mood. Be aware that if you are traveling within Tibet without an 'Alien Travel Permit', you are traveling in a legal gray zone. In the worst case you will be fined and sent back on the next bus or truck.