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Can I Plan a Tibet Bhutan Tour Together? - Ultimate Guide to Your Tibet Bhutan Travel

June,10 2023 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

Incorporating the best of the land of snows and the last Shangri-La in Asia, a tour of Tibet and Bhutan together is an adventure that takes you to the top of the world, in more than one sense of the word. Planning a tour of Tibet and Bhutan together is easily possible, and it is not as hard as you might think to make all the arrangements for visiting both places in one trip. Both Tibet and Bhutan are places that have certain restrictions on tourist travel within their borders, and as such, require a tour operator to make the bookings for the trips to each place.

Travel Documents You Need for Tibet Bhutan Tour

As both places require certain permits and requirements in order to visit them, you will need to use the services of a specialist registered tour operator in order to book the trips to Tibet and Bhutan. Both Tibet and Bhutan have a set of required documents in order to visit as tourists, and these can only be obtained through a tour operator.

Tibet Permit to Enter Tibet

The first thing you need for a Tibet tour, aside from the Chinese Visa, is the Tibet Travel Permit. This cannot be applied for as an individual, and only a registered tour operator can make the application on your behalf. And we offer easy Tibet permit service for free. Once you have booked your tour with us, we will use photocopies of your passport and visa to apply for your Tibet Travel permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa. Once you have the permit, you will be able to board the train or flight to Lhasa.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit for entering Tibet

The Tibet Travel Permit only allows you to travel in and around Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and for traveling outside the city, you will need other permits. The first is the Alien’s Travel Permit, which is applied for by us on your behalf from the Public Security Bureau, once you arrive in Lhasa. Your tour guide will use the Tibet Travel Permit and your original passport to make the application for the permit, which takes around 2 hours to process.

The Alien’s Travel Permit will allow you to travel outside Lhasa, to the opened areas of the region, but for travel to the restricted areas, you will need the Restricted Areas Permit, often referred to as the Military Permit. The Military Permit is applied for by us once we receive your Tibet Travel Permit for the Tibet Tourism Bureau, and can take around 10 days to process. You will also require the Frontier Pass, which is required for all travel to areas close to the border with India and Nepal, and for travel to places like Mount Everest Base Camp and Mount Kailash. The Frontier Pass is issued by the Armed Police Tibet Frontier Corps in Lhasa, and will be applied for by your tour guide on your behalf.

How to Get Bhutan Visa

Getting a visa for Bhutan is unlike getting a visa for any other country in the world. Bhutan has restrictions on tourist travel in the kingdom, and visas are only approved for tourists that have booked their tour through one of the Royal approved tour operator in Bhutan. Only operators registered in Bhutan can handle tours to the Kingdom, and they will also make the application for your visa.

Once you have booked your Bhutan tour, the tour operator will make the application for your visa with the Bhutanese Immigration Department, and once approved, a letter of approval will be sent to your tour operator, as well as the immigration office at your port of entry, usually the airport in Paro. A copy of the letter will also be sent to you, and once you arrive in Bhutan, you will be issued your visa on your submission of the approval letter with the immigration desk. It should also be noted that you cannot even book a flight to Bhutan without the letter of approval, as the only airlines allowed to carry passengers to the kingdom are Bhutanese airlines. A copy of the approval letter is also sent to both the local airlines, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines.

Best Time to Plan Tibet Bhutan Tour

The high season for traveling in Tibet is from April to May and Sept. to Oct. It's the perfect time to do all outdoor sports in Tibet, such as EBC trek, Mt. Kailash kora, cycling, etc. The monsoon season often comes from mid-June to late August. However, as here is very little rain in Tibet, and what little falls mainly in the evening and overnight, it has little effect on a tour of the region. The summer months are nice and warm, and can even get quite hot, though the cloud cover may obscure some of the great mountain peaks you came to visit. The winter can also be a good time to travel Tibet if you do not mind a little cold weather, and has the advantage of fewer tourists and more discounts available. Click here to see more about Tibet winter tour.

The best times to travel Tibet, though, are the shoulder seasons, in spring and autumn, when the weather is pleasant and there is no rain or cloud cover. Spring, from April to May is the time of new blooms in many parts of the region, including the Nyingchi peach blossoms, while the autumn, from late September to the end of November, is the perfect time to see the leaves turning to the most colorful shades of red and yellow, covering the ground with a carpet of color.

Best Time to Visit BhutanThe best time to visit Bhutan will make you appreciate stunning landscapes

In Bhutan, the summer monsoon months from June to August can get really wet in the country’s lower regions, and it is probably best to avoid it if you do not like a little rain. The monsoon season in Bhutan can see almost 50 centimeters of rainfall in Thimphu, and over a meter in the eastern foothills, and even the mountains become obscured by clouds during the summer months.

Winter is a time of cold in Bhutan, and runs from December to February. With thick blankets of snow, the landscape is a photographer’s dream, and makes for some very good shots of the snow-clad mountains and dusted gompas, giving that classic look of a monastery on a mountain covered in snow. However, there can be road closures due to heavy snow which can restrict movement around the country, especially in the northern areas, and temperatures often reach below freezing.

Spring in Bhutan is a beautiful time, when the wild flowers start to bloom and the birds are in full song. From March to May, spring makes for one of the best timed for hiking in the hills and mountains, and while there may be a little rain, it only adds to the adventure. Spring is one of the times when the skies are at their most clear, and the sun is bright and warming, although it can still get cold at night.

Autumn is another time of year when the skies are clear and views are exceptional. Still warm from the end of the monsoon, the flowers and plants are at their best after months of sporadic rains, and the lush valleys are a delightful sight. Later in autumn, as the leaves turn brown, the photographer in you can come out to play, and explore the delights of the carpets of leaves that cover the forest floors.

The peak travel months in Bhutan are actually in autumn, not summer, and from September to November the country is at its busiest for tourism. It is best to book your Bhutan tour well in advance in order to secure you place in Bhutan during the glorious autumn colors. The higher humidity of the summer tends to put people off visiting, which makes it a nice time to get away of you do not mind some rain and want less company. It is also a great time for rhododendrons, as they are in full bloom and make for great photography. Know more details about best time to visit Bhutan

How to Reach Tibet and Later Visit Bhutan via Nepal 

Getting to Tibet can be done in many ways, and from two directions. The main route to Tibet is through mainland China, which can be done by either flight or train. The flights depart from a number of cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Chengdu, as well as many others. With so many places to depart from for flying to Lhasa, you can guarantee that there is an airport not far from your arrival destination in China. Flying is the quicker option when traveling to Tibet, however, it is also the more expensive.

Trains leave for Lhasa almost daily from seven gateway cities across China, including Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Lanzhou, Chengdu, and Xining. Taking between 22 and 55 hours to make the long journeys to Lhasa, the trains are a popular choice for travelers to the region. While it does take a long time to get to Lhasa by train, there are many benefits to the trip. Not only is it cheaper, but you also get to see some of the stunning landscapes and scenery of northern Tibet, which you would not get to see by flying, as tours rarely go there.

From Nepal, there are also two routes to Lhasa, both flying and overland. The flights leave daily from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, which is located around 6 kilometers from the city center. Flight times from Kathmandu to the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport are normally just 1 hour 25 minutes, and the trip is easy and fast. The added benefit of the flight is that you have a good chance of getting an aerial view of Mount Everest as you fly directly over the summit, on the flight route to Lhasa.

Traveling overland from Nepal is a little different than traveling from China, as there is no train service yet. However, when traveling overland to Lhasa from Kathmandu, you do get to see all of the amazing sights of the Tibetan Plateau. Your overland tour starts at the Sino-Nepal border, after a 7-8 hour bus ride from Kathmandu. Once across the border, your tour guide will meet you in the immigration office, and your tour will begin.This is an especially useful tour route if you are planning to travel on to mainland China after visiting Tibet, and you can end your tour of Tibet with the spectacular train ride to Xining and beyond.

Kathmandu Lhasa Overland TourTraveling overland to Lhasa from Kathmandu

To get to Bhutan from Nepal, there are actually two routes you can take, though most people prefer to fly. The overland route is a little more complex than the overland route to Tibet, as you will have to cross part of India in order to get to the Bhutan border. Traveling by car across India is not really an option, as the rental would be too expensive. Trains, however, are plentiful in India, and the train network links the border of Nepal and the border of Bhutan through West Bengal in India.

The first step is to take a bus to Birgunj on the border with India, where you can cross into India to Raxaul. From there, trains run every hour or less all over India, and the train to your next stop at Barauni is easily available. From Barauni, you change to get the train to Hasimara, close to the Bhutan border town of Phuentsoling. You may have ot get a taxi or local bus to the border, as it is around 4 kilometers from the train station. Once at the border, your guide will be there to meet you to start your tour of Bhutan. Know more about How to Travel from Nepal to Bhutan by train

Flying to Bhutan from Nepal is the easiest option, and the most popular. Flights leave Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport twice a week, and are provided by the two Bhutanese carriers, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. Flights can only be obtained once you have the letter of authorization for your visa, and take around 2 hours to travel to the only international airport in Bhutan, at Paro.

How to Budget Your Cost for Tibet Bhutan Tour

There are a few ways you can budget for your tour of Tibet, but not many for the tour of Bhutan. Thanks to the Bhutanese idea of environmental tourism, there is a minimum charge of US$ 250 per person, per day when visiting Bhutan as a tourist, although this does cover just about everything you will need, except spending money. This does mean, however, that your tour is going to have asset price, and the only way to budget that tour in Bhutan is to keep the cost of everything to a minimum to spend no more than the required 250 dollars per day.

In Tibet, there are ways to budget a little, by traveling in the off season for tourism or by choosing cheaper hotel accommodation and the lowest transport cost to Tibet. The off season for tourism is the winter months, from Nov to mid-Feb, and during this time there are more discounts to be had to save money on your hotels, flights, train tickets, and other things. Traveling on a Tibet group tour also helps to reduce the cost, as you will share the cost of the driver, guide, and vehicle between all the members of the group.

Top Tour Experiences for Tibet Bhutan Tour

As you enjoy your spectacular Tibet Bhutan tour, some of the top tour experiences are must-dos. Let’s find out together:

No trip to Tibet would be complete without a visit to the famous Everest Base Camp. One of the pinnacles of Tibet travel, Mount Everest is the most popular destination for most tourists traveling to Tibet. At an elevation of 5,200 meters, the base camp is the closest that tourists can get to the actual mountain, although the views of the mountain are spectacular from this prominent site. And as it can be accessed direct by road, it is a great place to visit without having to trek for several days to reach it, although you can if you want.

Lhasa, also known as the City of Sunshine, is one of the most stunning cities in the world, overlooked by the spectacular Potala Palace from its position high above the city on the Red Hill. Built in the 17th century, the palace is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama and is the former seat of ancient Tibetan governance, built on the site of an ancient fortress that dates back to the 7th century.

In downtown Lhasa lies the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred religious site in Tibet. Built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, for his beloved wives, Princess Brikhuti and Princess Wencheng, the temple houses the ancient statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha at the age of twelve, which was transported to the plateau on the wedding of Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty.

Holy Mount Kailash KoraDoing the holy Mount Kailash Kora

And the 13 Day Lhasa EBC Kailash and Kathmandu Group Tour is also highly recommended. You can cover the best Tibetan landscape and Buddhist structure from Lhasa to Gyantse, Shigatse, EBC and scared Manasrovar Lake and Mt. Kailash. Then, you can easily exit Tibet to Kathmandu via Gyirong border, current Sino-Nepal border, and later take flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan.

The site of the only international airport and the gateway to Bhutan, Paro is more than just the place where you arrive. Set in the most gorgeous valley and surrounded by lush, green fields, this historic town is filled with sacred sites and historical architecture.

The capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu is where you can find the royal palace and the embodiment of Bhutanese culture. One of the most interesting places to visit in Bhutan, it is the home of the National Memorial Chorten, the TaschichhoDzong, and many other delightful attractions. You can even visit the Takin preserve, where the world’s rarest type of gnu lives.

Long ago, at the dawn of Buddhism, the Guru Rinpoche came to Bhutan, flying on the back of a giant tigress that was the embodiment of his favored consort, Yeshe Tsogyal. It was at the site of the Taktsang Monastery, 800 meters above the floor of the Paro Valley, where he landed on a small ledge. That ledge now hold (barely) the famous monastery of the Tiger’s Nest. It is known now as the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan, and is a highly revered site.

Sonam Tenphel

About the Author - Sonam Tenphel

Energetic, responsible and reliable, Sonam is a guide with more than seven years experience informing visitors about heritage sites and attractions places in Tibet.

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