Getting from Kathmandu to Lhasa may seem tricky, but although the land of Tibet is a bit stricter, organizing such a trip is not that difficult. There are many organized tours through which you can reach Lhasa, coming from both Nepal and China. Below, we will outline the ways you can travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa, because many tourists still don’t know what choice to make, especially because of the several changes that happened with the catastrophe that took place in early 2015.
Traveling from Kathmandu to Lhasa
What is certain is that no matter from where you choose to travel to Tibet (Nepal or China), you can only do this as an organized tour. These tours are only possible with the help of travel agencies that can organize everything for you: a private car, a driver, a guide, accommodation, food, etc. These travel agencies need to be contacted at least 6 weeks before you go on your trip, because you need to get different permits and book everything for when you travel.
Regarding organized tours, you have to make a difference between them and a group travel. In order to travel to Tibet, you don’t have to be part of a travel group, this is optional. Often, if you travel alone, you will be prone to higher expenses and charges, but many agencies are willing to help you split your costs with another traveler.
Regarding the ways you can reach Lhasa from Kathmandu, you have the option to travel overland or by plane.
Going to Lhasa from Kathmandu by Overland
Unfortunately, in 2015,the area that connected Nepal to Tibet faced a devastating earthquake that effectively separated the traveling between the two cities by road. The only option that tourists had was to travel by plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa. We have received some good news from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, though, saying that in late August 2017, a border between Tibet and Nepal is re-opened, and it’s called Gyirong Port (the border is 160 km away from Kathmandu). The Zhangmu-Kodari Port is seriously damaged and is still closed for reparations.
Regardless of the organized tour that you choose to travel between the two cities, they will be roughly the same in both itinerary and duration – it will usually take 7-8 days, including visiting other tourist attractions. The total distance between Kathmandu and Lhasa using the Gyirong Port is about 1000 km, and in order to get you an idea about how long it takes to use this exact route, the answer is 20 hours of nonstop driving.
If you want to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa, it is definitely a good choice because you will see many beautiful things on your way such as waterfalls, rivers, mountains dressed in snow and the beauties of nature. You will have the opportunity to witness a panoramic view of the legendary Himalayan mountains, to visit Everest Base Camp or monasteries like Rongbuk and many more.
In short, your route will be from Kathmandu to Rashuwaghadi, Gyirong, Old Tingri, Everest Base Camp, Shigatse and Lhasa. Obviously, you will visit different tourist points on your way and spend one night between each transport, traveling for 7 days per total.
Traveling to Lhasa from Kathmandu by Plane
For a long time of about two years, because of the 2015’s earthquake, this was the only way people could travel on this route: Kathmandu – Lhasa and vice versa. Visit Lhasa from Nepal by air is one of the most convenient choices for tourists, because it’s the fastest, as it will take around 1:30 hour per flight. The flight will be operated by Sichuan Airlines and Air China, some of the most important flight companies from that area.
Tourists should not be afraid that the flight will deprive them of the beautiful views they would have seen overland. They will be able to see Mount Everest – the highest mountain in the world – and the Himalayan mountains, which are so superb both from the ground or from the air. Generally, you will have 1-2 flights per day available between these two destinations.
Traveling to Lhasa from Kathmandu by Train
Unfortunately, there is currently no train to unite Kathmandu and Lhasa. The good news is that this has been taken into consideration and it is hoped that tourists will have this opportunity in the future. It is expected that this it will be completed in the next 5 years, but generally no one can guarantee it. This could lead to a considerable development of tourism and economy in that area (both regions).
This future railway that is being built is very likely to pass through the Gyirong Border – to Kathmandu – and be an extension of a railroad that already exists: Qinghai – Tibet Railway. At this time, it also covers the transportation from China to Tibet. The prolongation station to Nepal will be from Lhasa Shigatse Railway (part of Qinghai Tibet Railway). Tourists are looking forward to this change.
The rail transport in Tibet is quite developed, but we can’t say the same thing about Nepal. A lot of people think it doesn’t even exist – but it does. It exists from the border with India – more exactly from Jaynagar Town to Janakpur – a city from Nepal and has a length of 59 km. Unfortunately, it travels at a very low speed and the train is very old, a whole journey between the two cities lasting almost three hours.
Traveling to Lhasa from Kathmandu by Bus
Before the great disaster from 2015, there were one or two buses that always ensured the transport from Kathmandu to Lhasa using the Zhangmu Border. This is now destroyed, and the buses are no longer an option. It’s still unclear when this port will reopen.
Which Traveling Method is the Best?
Honestly, this depends on how long you want to be on the road. If you want to go to Lhasa and spend more time there without visiting the tourist spots of Nepal, then you should choose the plane, to admire the Everest Mountain, the Himalayan Mountains and enjoy only the beauties offered by Tibet.
But, if you are a person who likes to explore and loves adventure, if you are curious to see how Nepal is like from a closer look and what places you can visit on your way, then you should definitely choose a 7 days tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa. In this way, you will know both the values offered by Nepal and Tibet.
You just have to choose an agency that will help you get your travel permit, reserve your accommodation (which is generally 3 stars if you don’t opt for more), a private car, a driver, food, and everything else needed for Tibet Nepal tour.
Finally, try not to worry too much about traveling in that area, because it’s not as hard as some travel websites tend to say. As long as you contact a travel agency with plenty of time before your trip, everything will be taken care of, so you can have an amazing holiday. You’ll have the opportunity to explore several places and to enrich both your knowledge and your soul.