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Travel to Tibet from Japan

August,18 2017 BY Lobsang Tsering 0 COMMENTS

Why Tibet tour makes sense for Japanese tourists

Imagine yourself amidst the winsome plateaus, relishing the long-day sunshine, enjoying your last bite of Thupka with Momo while sipping into the butter tea and planning for the next place to hit for the day. Love the idea? Welcome to Tibet. Like most Japanese tourists, if you find solace in the sacred approach of Buddhism to architecture and culture, adorned with revered exotic lakes to add to the incomparable tranquility of nature, Tibet is an ideal hub for you.

Tibet SceneryTibet Scenery

Be it the incredible Mount Everest on the border of Nepal or the bronze Buddhist shrines in the heart of the region, everything about Tibet will leave you spellbound and add to your love for travel. And if you have the chance to attend Losar, the New Year Festival of Tibet, you cannot help but fall in love with the Tibetan culture even more.

Travel documents you need while traveling Tibet

But, how to step into this paradise for nature-lovers and the hypnotic hub for the faunas and floras from Japan? As the very first step, you will need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit before entering Lhasa and making your way around the beautiful Tibet. Supplementary permits are obligatory if you want to visit the unopened areas, like Mt. Everest, Mt. Kailash, etc. which need further approval from several government departments. When filing the permit application, you are required to put detailed information about your plan (which city you visit before and after Tibet, when you start and end your trip and how many people are travelling with you).

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit

Does it end here? No. You will also need to send over your passport, the Visa for entering China and details about your occupation and your photos to our travel consultants who will help you obtain the permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau after you have chosen the preferred Tibet tour package. Next, if everything is in order, you can start packing for the trip to the wonderland. But remember, plan ahead! Send over your documents 20-30 days before you want to make the travel to avoid mishaps.

What to pack for the Tibet tour

If you know where you are travelling, you must have googled what you need to take with you already. Some essentials that experts suggest for tourists entering Tibet include:

a pair of hiking boots/sturdy sneakers, sleeping bag and insulation pad, ground cloth or tarp (recommended but not required), rain gear (waterproof pants and jacket), towel, 3-5 t-shirts, lightweight fleece or wool sweater (Tibet is characterized by huge temperature change), 2 pairs of nylon pants, 5-7 pairs of socks (polypropylene or wool are recommended), 3-5 pairs of underwear, sunglasses, personal toiletries (you may want to carry your own toilet paper and some zip-lock bags, as bathrooms may not be readily available.), personal medication, camera, batteries and film/digital Memory Cards, adapter and surge protector (you do not want to miss out posing amidst the unique landscape of this utopia), light- weight thermal shirts or long underwear ( recommended but not required).

Most of you must now be pondering over the type of sockets used in Tibet. Here you go- for Class 1 appliances, a Type 1 3-pin plug and socket is used.  In Tibet, plugs are rated as 220V 50Hz. Has some space left in your bags? You may choose to take some luxuries with you- personal music player, journal, wide-brimmed hat, swim suit (for hot springs!), gloves, scarf, sunscreens, money belt or fanny pack and anything that may make you feel relaxed.

How to reach Tibet from Japan

Now, how do you exactly get there? Well, you will never run out of options. First, let us talk about how you can go from Japan to China. You can browse the websites like Trip Advisor and Expedia, to compare the flight costs between airlines. This usually differs between seasons. In most cases, the international flights by China Eastern Airlines, with 2 stops, are the cheapest. You can travel from Tokyo to Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing or any major cities of China for the best deals and then take a local flight or train to make your way to Lhasa.

Took Tibet Flights to Lhasa

The domestic airlines to Lhasa, Tibet include: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Tibet Airlines etc. Let’s talk about flying to Lhasa from the three major Chinese cities.

Lhasa Gonggar AirportOur Tibetan local tour guide will pick you up at Lhasa Gonggar Airport.

Chengdu to Lhasa
More than 10 flights are available from Chengdu to Lhasa in peak travel season and 5 flights in low travel season, from early morning to late afternoon. The air ticket costs around 230USD (one-way flight) with Airport Tax around approximately 30USD.

Beijing to Lhasa
There are two direct flights (one by Air China and the other by China Southern Airline) a day from Beijing to Lhasa with a stopover in Chengdu and it takes about 5 hours to go from Beijing to Lhasa. The flight flies from Beijing in the morning and arrive in Lhasa in the afternoon. Air tickets cost usually 395USD including airport tax during peak travel seasons.

Shanghai to Lhasa
It takes around 6 hours to fly from Shanghai to Tibet via China Eastern Airlines with a cost of around 445USD for one way including airport tax and this flight is always at full fare all year around. The exact amount of flight prices is best confirmed by the airline you bookings.

Took Tibet Train to Lhasa

However, flying to Tibet is not the finest way to get to Tibet since it does not give your body enough time to gradually acclimatize to extreme altitudes. Hence, you are likely to suffer some mild altitude sickness in one way or the other. A decent recommendation is to fly to major cities like Beijing or Shanghai, Chengdu from Japan and later take Qinghai-Tibet train to Lhasa. This way, the steady ascent can help you familiarize the high altitude better. The train schedules are best provided or tailor-made with your travel agency consultant or online. You do not want to ruin your trip by falling sick, so trains should seriously be considered.

Tibet train to LhasaTibet train to Lhasa

Beijing-Lhasa train
Getting to Lhasa from Beijing by train will be a lifetime experience for you. Launched in July, 2006, the Beijing to Lhasa train (No.Z21), stretching as far as 3,757 km, has been one of the three initial railway routes to Tibet. Crossing 8 provinces from Northern China Plain to the world highest Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the train from Beijing to Lhasa will add to your Tibet tour more unforgettable experience with a 40:30h sky train journey onboard the Tibet train from Beijing to Lhasa.

Shanghai-Lhasa train
There is only one daily train from Shanghai to Lhasa. Train Z164 will start from Shanghai Railway Station at 20:10 and arrive at Lhasa Railway Station at 19:44 in approximately 3 days. The total time of train from Shanghai to Lhasa is 47 hours and 34 minutes. However, it actually covers 3 days to take a train to Lhasa from Shanghai, for the Shanghai Lhasa train departs at 20:10 on the first day and arrives in Lhasa at 19:44 on the third day.

Chengdu-Lhasa train
The Chengdu to Lhasa train, Z322 (original train number T22/23), is the third shortest in terms of total trip duration, next to that from Xining and Lanzhou. The Chengdu-Tibet train departs every other day at 14:48 from the Chengdu Railway Station, and arrives in Lhasa at 09:55 on the third day.  

Xining-Lhasa train
Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province at an altitude of 2,275 meters. It is now possible to take the train to the Tibetan Plateau from Xining. The distance from Lhasa to Xining is 1972km / 1233 miles. It’s highly  recommended that if you want to experience the highlights of Qinghai-Tibet train but do not want to spend hours travelling from other cities, you should fly into Xining and then take the train to Lhasa from Xining.

Facilities in Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Exceptional features of the Tibet train allow passengers to travel in comfort to altitudes in excess of 4000 meters. The temperature in the train is controlled and pressurized. All windows are glazed with a UV coating, while you can enjoy the highlighted scenery of Tibet and emergency oxygen is available.

You will find a Tibet train equipped with a dining cart and restaurant. You can always buy a snack inside the train or at stops. There are 3 meals a day. Passengers can also buy beer, tea, or soft drinks. You can order food in the dining car, usually on the seventh coach with 44 seats. The dining car onboard offers three meals a day, which are all Chinese style and Tibetan style and cost from 20 to 50 Yuan.

There are two kinds of toilets available at the end of each carriage. One is a squat type toilet and the other is a western toilet. When you first aboard the train, the washrooms are clean. Washrooms have their own sinks. But remember to bring your own soft toilet paper! There are separate "sink areas" and are usually busy in the morning and after dinner. These are used to wash hands, clean dishes, and brush your teeth.

The train has onboard security and no random person can enter the train without a ticket. But be careful about your surroundings. There are 2 areas where you need to be extra careful: the  hard seat class and the hard sleeper class because of the openness of the area. Always keep your belongings close to you.

There are three types of rooms on the Tibet train, the first class soft-berth sleeper, the second class soft-berth sleeper and soft seat coaches. Since the journey is really long, most travelers prefer the soft sleepers. The second class soft-berth sleeper is also known as hard sleeper. Both are soft and comfortable. The prime difference between soft sleeper and hard sleeper is that in hard sleeper you are in a compartment having 6 beds with 3 levels rather than 4 beds with 2 levels and there's no door on the compartment. It just provides basic beds and quilts. It is about 600 hard sleeper berths in one train, so the tickets are relatively easier to be reserved.

Ideal time to visit Tibet

Are we all set? Not yet. You must be thoughtful over the ideal time to visit Tibet. The land that hosts spectacular landscapes and presents exclusive Tibetan culture all around the year attracts tourists in a heartbeat. You choose whether you want to experience the most colorful surroundings of Tibet in autumn or witness the spiritual life of Tibetan pilgrims during the winter. Thus, the monthly-highlights, climate conditions, cost of tour, Tibetan Festivals, etc. play a role in deciding when to step into Tibet.

Best time to visit TibetBest time to visit Tibet

Considering only the weather, April to Oct is the ideal time to make your journey to Tibet because this is when the weather will not be too harsh, making most tourist areas, like Mount Everest and Lake Namtso, accessible to you. On the contrary, if cost is an issue and you are looking out to witness flocks of Tibetan pilgrims in front of the Jokhang Temple, winter (Nov to mid-Feb) is your time.

Best time to visit TibetBest time to visit Tibet

And if you are a fan of Tibetan festivals, do not forget to first check with the updated Tibetan Lunar Calendar before making a tour to Tibet. One of the most sought after options is the trek tour to Tibet to explore the hidden attractions of this region. The best time to trek is April, May, June, Sept and Oct.

Recommended itineraries to you in Tibet

Lhasa to Everest Base Camp tour

Now, are you looking for some good tour options? Let’s talk about some. If you are someone who wants to avoid high altitudes, the best option for you can be the Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Small Group Tour whereby you get to visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street and the renowned monasteries upon arrival to Lhasa, experiencing old markets and tasting the famous Tibetan teas.

Everest Base CampEverest Base Camp

After spending a couple of days in Lhasa for acclimatization, you can drive from Lhasa to Shigatse and enjoy the Korola Glacier, Manak Dam Lake and the far view of the Gyantse Fortress. And the next day, you can travel to the Everest Base Camp where you can embrace the panorama of Himalaya at Gawula Pass and the sunset of golden Everest peak, provided that the nature concedes.

Lhasa to EBC and Mt. Kailash kora

A second option for your tour from Lhasa can be enjoying Lhasa to EBC tour and keep moving to Ngari to visit the Mt. Kailash, a lofty mountain shaped like a pyramid, depicting the values of the Bon- native Tibetan religion and Buddhism. Here you have options to trek and visit the various monasteries if those interest you.


Lhasa to Nyingchi tour

One final and beautiful option is visiting Nyingchi to experience nature at the best. You can visit the Great Cypress Nature Reserve area here and drive into the Lunang Forest to catch the dense bushes, spruce trees and pines. Gorgeous, isn’t it?


So, what are you waiting for? Saved enough for a much needed vacation whereby you can pamper yourself with stunning nature and treasurable experience? Then buckle up and set off for Tibet. Happy Traveling!

Lobsang Tsering

About the Author - Lobsang Tsering

I am a tour guide in Tibet an was Born in Kham Tibet, I am the father of 2 little girls, bachelor's degree. I have more than 7-years experience of being a tour guide in Tibet. I am a warm, friendly, knowledgeable and attractive guy.

Email me about your travel idea


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