China Tibet Nepal Tour：How to Plan and What to Consider for the Long Tour
One of the greatest journeys you could ever take would be the one that would take you across the entire breadth of China, and finish down in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Incorporating three different places and cultures, a tour of mainland China, Tibet, and Nepal is the adventure of a lifetime and one of the most amazing tours you could take.
How Many Days You Should Plan for China, Tibet and Nepal Tour?
Planning a tour of China, Tibet, and Nepal requires an itinerary that will ensure that you get to spend enough time in each place to be able to explore it properly without rushing around.
For Tibet, around 6-7 days is the normal time for traveling from Lhasa to the Nepal border at Gyirong Port, including stopping to see the stunning Mount Everest. This kind of time period allows you to spend enough time in Lhasa to see the stunning sites of the Jokhang Temple, the Potala palace, and the various monasteries and other sights of the city. Then you get to travel overland to Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, visiting monasteries and temples and viewing the snow-capped mountains, before heading to Everest Base Camp and then finally to the Nepal border.
Most people like to spend at least 2-3 days experiencing the delights of Kathmandu, the center of Nepali culture and what is often known as “Nepal proper”. Within the valley itself are dozens of amazing sights to see, and temples to visit, and once you are done, you can continue on to travel further in Nepal or move on to your next destination.
Mainland China is a massive country with more things to see than you could ever fit into one tour, unless your tour will be for the whole year. Time spent here should, however, include the most spectacular of the Chinese sites, such as Beijing’s Forbidden Palace, the Terracotta Army of Xi’an, or the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu. On average, 5-6 days should be enough to incorporate 2-3 of the cities of China to satisfy your desires to experience Chinese culture first-hand.
Top 3 Classic Travel Routes for China, Tibet, Nepal Tour
When touring through China, Tibet, and Nepal, there are three main routes that you can take that are the most popular for tours of this type.
12-day Tour of Beijing, Xi’an, Lhasa, and Kathmandu
A 12-day tour of Beijing Xi'an Lhasa Kathmandu is one of the most popular routes from Beijing to Kathmandu, incorporating the stunning sites of the Chinese capital, the wonders of the ancient capital at Xi’an, and the delights of the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa, before finally flying off to visit the exotic city of Kathmandu in Nepal.
Visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing
This city-hopping tour takes you to the amazing Forbidden city in Beijing, and also includes the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall of China, the only man-made object visible from outer space.
After Beijing, you take the high-speed train to Xi’an, the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. The start of the spectacular Silk Road, that once ran from China all the way to central Europe, Xi’an is best known for the 1974 discovery of the Terracotta Army. A collection of terracotta warrior figures sculpted for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang on his death, they are over 3,000 years old and were buried along with an entire palace and gardens.
Then you will fly to Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, to spend a few days visiting the Potala palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, and the Jokhang Temple, the center of Tibetan Buddhism and the most sacred man-made religious site in Tibet.
After your tour of the City of Sunlight, you will fly overt the mighty Himalayas to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, an exotic city set in the beautiful Kathmandu valley. There you will visit the ancient Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath, the stunning Kathmandu Durbar Square with its Royal Palaces, and Patan City, the second largest city in the Kathmandu Valley, as well as other stunning sites in the area.
9-day Tour of Chengdu, Lhasa, EBC and Kathmandu Overland
A 9-day tour of Chengdu Lhasa EBC Kathmandu, this route takes you first to Chengdu, the home of the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province of southwest China. Lying close to the boundary with Tibet, half of Sichuan lies on the Tibetan plateau, just to the west of Chengdu, and is a popular place for tourism. As well as visiting the spectacular sights of the Wenshu Monastery, the Sichuan Opera, and Jinli Street market, you will get chance to actually visit the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center just outside the city, where you can see the giant pandas in their natural habitats, and you may even get to see the newborn bear cubs that are bred in the center.
Appreciating the Giant Panda in Chengdu
Then you will take the train to Lhasa, a journey of almost three days that takes you first to Xining in Qinghai Province, and then lifts you up to the heights of the plateau, passing through high mountain ranges and across vast open prairies and past stunning lakes.
In Lhasa, you will get to visit the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Monastery, as well as the famous Barkhor Street, where pilgrims walk reverently around the Jokhang Temple site. After visiting the monasteries of Sera and Drepung, it is off to Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, before heading along the long road to the world-renowned Everest Base Camp. Lying at 5,200 meters above sea level, the base camp was originally used for climbers attempting to scale the huge mountain, and can be reached by car without trekking.
Then it is off to the border checkpoint at Gyirong Port, for your journey down from the high Himalayan mountains to the Kathmandu Valley and the exotic capital of Nepal.
15-day Tour of Beijing, Lhasa, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp, and Kathmandu
A 15-day tour of Beijing Lhasa EBC Kathmandu is a long tour that takes you from the farthest eastern point of China to the farthest western point, before taking you down from the heady heights of the Tibetan plateau to Kathmandu City.
After exploring the delights of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and the Great Wall of China, you will depart from Beijing by train for Xining, in Qinghai Province. At Xining, you will transfer to the Tibet train, which will take you to Lhasa, another 22 hours travel time from Xining. The train travels over 1,900 kilometers from Xining to Lhasa, crossing high mountain ranges, passing by stunning holy lakes, and ranging across the vast expansive prairies of northern Tibet.
In Lhasa you will see the sights of the Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Potala Palace, and the cities awesome monasteries, taking in the wild and amazing debates of the monks at Sera Monastery. After Lhasa, you will travel to Shigatse via Gyantse, passing by the holy Lake Yamdrok along the way, with the stunning views of the holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar in the background.
Travel to the world-famous Everest Base Camp
After spending a day in Shigatse, you will travel to the world-famous Everest Base Camp, which lies at an elevation of 5,200 meters, where you will get the best possible views of the world’s tallest mountain. From Everest, once you have filled your camera with photos, you will travel to the border crossing of Gyirong Port, and the Resuo Bridge that spans the Trishuli River Gorge.
You will drop down to the Kathmandu Valley, where you will spend a few days touring the area and getting to see some of the amazing sights of this exotic city and the valley in which it lies. Known as “Nepal proper”, the Kathmandu Valley is a delightful place full of temples and monasteries, such as the temple at Swayambhunath, the Bouddhanath Stupa, and the delightful Bhaktapur City.
How to Budget Your Tour
Budgeting for your tour of China, Tibet, and Nepal needs to be done to ensure that you have enough time to cover all of the places you want to visit. There are ways to keep the cost of the tours down in all three places, and make your tour more affordable if you are traveling on a budget.
Traveling in the off-peak season for tourism is one of the best ways to reduce the cost of the tour, making it less costly, since Tibet especially is not the cheapest place to visit. The low season for tourism in Tibet winter is from late November to mid-Feb, though foreign tourists are not allowed into the region in late February and March. And while the winter may be colder than the summer, it is not as cold as many people think, and you can still visit all of the attractions you can see in the summer, with only a few exceptions such as Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
Starting your China Tibet Nepal tour in winter can save money
The low season in Tibet is also good because there are fewer tourists in the region in the winter, making it easier to roam around the sites you wish to visit. With fewer people visiting, many of the hotels and guesthouses offer discounts on the cost of the rooms, and you can also get discounts on flights and train tickets to Tibet from China. - Learn more about the advantages of travel to Tibet in winter
The same can be said of China, since the low season there is from November to March, when it is a little colder but less busy. Tourist crowds are less and there are many discounts available on hotels, flights, and entry tickets to the various sites. The worst of the winter weather in China is normally in the north, though you can sometimes see snow in the more southerly cities. However, it is not too cold for exploring, and you can make the most of the reduced crowds to get around more easily.
November to March is actually part of the high season for travel in Nepal, which does make it more expensive. However, travel in and around Nepal is a lot less costly than in China and Tibet, and while you may not get the low season discounts, the actual cost of hotels, and entry tickets in Nepal is already relatively low. Flights may be more expensive in the high season, but if you travel overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu, there is no need for a flight.
What Travel Documents Are Needed for the Long Journey?
Getting the various visas and permits for China, Tibet, and Nepal is something that is more important than anything else about your tour, and you should know how and where to obtain the visas and permits you need.
For entry into China and to travel around the country, you only need the Chinese Entry Visa. This can only be obtained through the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, as there is no E-visa or Visa On Arrival service for Chinese visas. There are Chinese embassies and consular offices in most countries around the world, though if you do not have an embassy or consular office in your home country, you can get the visa in a neighboring country, with proof of residency in your home country.
Necessary Travel Documents
For Nepal, you also only need the Nepali Entry Visa, and this can be obtained in one of two ways. You can apply for the visa through any Nepalese Embassy around the world, using your passport and proof of residency (if there is no embassy in your home country), which normally takes around three working days to process. Alternatively, you can apply for the visa on your arrival at the airport in Kathmandu or at any of the available border crossing checkpoints around the country. Applications for the Visa On Arrival service require your original passport, and two passport-sized photos, as well as the completed application form and US$ 30 fee. Processing normally only takes around an hour, and you can soon be on your way.
Getting into Tibet, However, is a little more complex than mainland China or Nepal. Firstly, if traveling from China to Tibet, you will need the Chinese Entry Visa. Independent travel in Tibet is not permitted, so you must be on a pre-booked Tibet tour with a registered tour operator such as Tibet Vista. Once you have booked your tour, the tour operator will use your passport and visa photocopies to obtain your Tibet Travel Permit, which is required to travel into and around Tibet. They will also be the ones to provide you with any other permits that you may require for traveling in the different areas of Tibet, as well as your tour guide, driver, and private vehicle, which are requirements of traveling in Tibet.
If you are traveling to Tibet from Kathmandu, then you do not need the Chinese Entry Visa, and the tour operator will make the application for the Group Tourist Visa on your behalf. This is normally done in Kathmandu once you arrive, as they will need your original passport to make the application. They will also apply for your Tibet Travel Permit and other permits for you to enter Tibet from Nepal.