Traveling from Kathmandu to Tibet is a fast-growing activity among travelers all over the world. Since the destroy of Zhangmu Port during an earthquake in 2015, Gyirong Port, which is about 175km away from Kathmandu, is the main crossing point between Tibet and Nepal.
Considering the short distance and the recent opening, almost all the tourists would probably expect a quick pass through this port within one day or even half day. However, this is not the truth. As present, it takes travelers two days to pass Gyirong Port from Kathmandu to Tibet. And the key reasons why it is so are:
1. Road Conditions between Kathmandu and Gyirong Port
Located near Resuo Village in the Shigatse Prefecture, Gyirong Port is about 175km/108mi away from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. When you begin a Nepal-Tibet road trip, you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary at first. Soon, however, gravel and dirt road replaces the pavement. To make matters even more complicated, narrow sections and bumpy spots further decrease the speed of traveling.
That’s, however, where the fun begins. Both small and large vehicles use the same route. So, you will often have to wait at narrow sections for vehicles going in the opposite direction to pass. It is also very dangerous to surpass cars on the narrow road, so on the way from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port, you may have to keep patient to follow the vehicle driving slowly in front of you.
Also, note that narrow mountain roads tend to become blocked due to landslides during the monsoon season. Very occasionally, the Kathmandu-Gyirong Port road may be closed if the weather conditions are bad.
Because of these factors, you may need about 6-9 hours, even more, to cover the distance. If everything is well, though, you will make it to the border crossing in 6-7 hours.
2. Low Efficiency of the Nepal Immigration Office
Once you reach the checkpoint with kidneys in place, you will undoubtedly feel relieved, at least for a moment. That’s because you’ll quickly realize that the queue in front of you barely moves faster than one at a narrow section of the Kathmandu-Gyirong Port road.
Wide Resuo Bridge that crosses the confluence of two rivers is currently the only border crossing between Tibet (China) and Nepal. At the side of the bridge, you will have to pass checks of the Nepal Immigration Office and Chinese Customs, which are some 2km/1.3mi apart.
The Nepal Immigration Office of Gyirong Port is the major cause of delays since its customs technology is not as modern as you usually experience in airports. As a result, you will need to wait longer than usual to get to the Chinese checkpoint. With the Nepali check completed, you still have to pass a series of checks on the other side of the border.
Since independent traveling from Nepal to Tibet isn’t an option, you will need to present travel documents you obtained in Kathmandu. Aside from passport, you have to present the China Group Visa and the Tibet Travel Permit.
Tibet Vista can offer 100% guarantee Tibet Travel Permit service for international tourists who book tour with us. As for the China Group Visa, the staff of our Kathmandu office will assist you to apply for it.
3. Time difference of the China Customs
There is still another factor you have to take into consideration when traveling from Kathmandu to Tibet via Gyirong Port. And that would be the time difference since both Chinese and Nepali checkpoints operate one shift.
The time on the Tibetan side is calculated according to the China Standard Time (CST, UTC + 8), and Nepal Time (NPT, UTC + 5:45) runs 2:15 hours behind CST. When put into practice, the things look like this: working hours of China Customs at Gyirong Port is from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Converted into the Nepali time, the hours of operation of the China Customs are from 7:45 am to 3:15 pm.
Considering the time needed to pass the Nepali Immigration Office, it is very difficult to pass Gyirong Port within one day. And you’ll have to look for accommodation for an overnight stay once failed, which is not a easy thing since there are no such providers at the border crossing.
4. Disadvantages of crossing Gyirong Port from Kathmandu in one day
When planning a trip from Kathmandu to Tibet via Gyirong Port, many road trippers assume that one day is enough for crossing the 175km from Kathmandu to Tibet. As we have elaborated, the distance from the Nepali capital to the border crossing isn’t long. But, the road conditions render getting there in a timely fashion unlikely. Not to mention the time travelers usually spend at the checkpoints. Therefore, making it from Nepal to Tibet in a day isn’t something you should consider for the following reasons:
1. Dangerous driving in the dark
To beat the crowds, some voyagers consider setting off early in the morning. However, such a strategy hardly works in Nepal like in most other destinations throughout the world. Every experienced driver knows how dangerous it is to drive in the winding dirt road in the dark among the mountainous area. Since you virtually won’t have light until dawn, you will progress very slowly, to put it mildly. And if rain catches up with you along the way, things become even dangerous. So, driving from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port tends to become risky with limited visibility.
2. Insufficient accommodation at the border
Another main reason why you shouldn’t consider getting from Kathmandu into Tibet via Gyirong Port in one day is the lack of accommodation options. On the Nepali side, Syabrubesi ,which is on the way from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port, is the nearest place to the border crossing where you can find suitable accommodation for overnight stay. However, you will need more time to cover the distance between Syabrubesi to the border crossing than you may assume.
The place is 13km/8mi away from Gyirong Port, a stone’s throw as it seems. However, the journey to the checkpoint takes around 40 minutes even in the best of circumstances. If you happen to fail to pass Gyirong Port timely, you need to head back to Syabrubesi for find accommodation as soon as possible. Once there is no available room in Syabrubesi, you have to drive further to look for an overnight stay place.
Given the circumstances, it is reasonable and advisable to travel from the capital of Nepal via Gyirong Port into Tibet in two days. As a tour operator with more than 10 years’ experience in Tibet traveling, We Tibet Vista has our own office in Kathmandu and Lhasa, which enables us to get the most timely road conditions and offer a high-quality service.
During our 8-day overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Our Kathmandu staff will pick you up at your hotel in Kathmandu between 8 am and 9 pm for a journey to Syabrubesi, and stay overnight there. The next day, the staff assists you with exit and entry formalities at the border. After passing the China Customs, you will meet your Tibet guide and car waiting for you outside the port. Afterwards, you can have comfortable car ride on the well-paved asphalt road, appreciate the scenic Gyirong Valley, and enjoy the stunning scenery and attractions like Mt. Everest, Tashilunpo onastery, and Yamdrok Lake along the way.