Enter Tibet from Nepal VS Enter Tibet from Mainland China

November,22 2019 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

Tibet is located at the roof of the world, which appears to be unreachable and mysterious for most travelers. However, traveling to Tibet is not as difficult as you expect. And you have two major options to access Tibet: one is from Nepal and the other is from some cities across mainland China. Which one is better or more suitable for you? Let’s find out together.

Enter Tibet from Nepal

Tibet Nepal Tour has become a world-class tour route across majestic Himalayas in Asia. And there is no doubt that Nepal is the closest overland gateway for Nepali citizens and other international travelers to arrive in Tibet.

Travel Documents You Need

In order to reach Tibet from Nepal, some necessary documents are required, including the Tibet Travel Permit and Group Tourist Visa. And how to get them? For our clients, to get Tibet Permit, firstly you need to book our Tibet tour and then,

For Tibet Permit
a. Email Us the photo copy of your passport and Chinese Visa at least 20 days before your Tibet trip begins.
b. After about 5 to 7 working days, we will get your Tibet Travel Permit and visa invitation letter issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau. After that, we will apply the Tibet Permit for you.

For Group Tourist Visa
a. You need to arrive in Kathmandu early (visa process needs at least 3 working days) and leave your passport and visa fee to our staff to them.
b. Our staff will tell you when to get your Group Tourist visa at our office in Kathmandu.

Insiders Tips:
if you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, your guide will meet you at Lhasa Gongga airport with your Tibet Permit; If you travel overland via Gyirong port to Tibet, our Tibetan guide will greet you on the Chinese side of Gyirong border with your Tibet Permit.

Nepal to Tibet By Flight

At present, there are 2 non-stop flights between Lhasa and Kathmandu, run by Sichuan Airline and Air China independently, while the Sichuan Airline departs every other day. In total, there are 8 flights per week. You can consult with our travel consultants to offer you some professional recommendations. The fare for the flight ticket is around 370USD for one way. When the peak season comes, the air prices will become higher.

Nepal Tibet Overland Road Trip

On the way, there are lots of attractions for you to pay a visit to, which makes the trip spectacular. You can’t miss the Everest Base Camp if you choose the road trip. Generally, travelers will spend three to five days with stops at tourists sights along the way. The crossing point on the Chinese border is at Resuo Bridge, which is about 24 km from Gyirong Town. When you pass through the border checkpoint on the Tibetan side, you only need to drive for a short time to get to Gyirong. Our Tibetan tour guides will arrange your accommodation properly. The 7 Days Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Trip with EBC Small Group Tour will surely meet your needs to travel from Nepal to Tibet, which will enable you to enjoy the popular attractions and spectacular scenery on the way. The detailed itinerary is listed below.

 Overland Route from Kathmandu to LhasaOverland Route from Kathmandu to Lhasa

• Day 1: Kathmandu to Rashuwaghadi 130km
• Day 2: Gyirong to Tingri 300km
• Day 3: Tingri to EBC to Shigatse 450km(B)
• Day 4: Shigatse to Lhasa via Gyantse 375km(B)
• Day 5: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Johkang Temple, and Barkhor Street (B, D)
• Day 6: Lhasa Tour - Drepung and Sera Monastery (B)
• Day 7: Depart from Lhasa(B)

• Remember to contact our travel consultants to prepare the Tibet travel permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet.
• In order to adjust the altitude changes, you can stay at Syabrubesi Village near Gyirong port for a good night before you begin your travelling in Tibet.
• Remember to take warm clothes and necessary medicines with you.
• Please drink more water on the way trip and in your travelling process.
• Do not smoke and drink alcohol, which is not good for the altitude acclimation.
• Do not do strenuous activity or eat too much on the first day you arrive in Gyirong port.

Enter Tibet from Mainland China

It is also quite convenient to enter Tibet from Mainland China. You only need to prepare all the necessary documents and choose a proper transportation means for you to get there. If you want to save time and do not want to bother to prepare all necessities, you can consult our staff to offer you suitable suggestions.

Travel Documents You Need

First, you need to land in China with your Chinese Visa. Then if you want to get to Tibet from mainland China, you need to prepare the Tibet Travel Permit. The Chinese Visa is easy to get for an experienced traveler. As for how to get the Tibet Travel Permit, you can check out the following contents.

a. Book a Tibet tour with us and email the photo copy of your passport and Chinese Visa at least 20 days before your Tibet travel begins.
b. After we get your Tibet Visa, we will deliver it to your hotel in China before you head to Tibet from mainland China.

Flights to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guanghzou, HK

To reach Tibet by air is the most convenient and fastest way. There are many flights for you to book to Lhasa, such as from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guanghzou, HK, etc. If you fly from Beijing to Lhasa, it will take you about 4 hours and 30 minutes. The full price for one way is about 406USD. If you fly from Shanghai to Lhasa, it will take you about 7 hours. You only need two hours flying from Chengdu to Lhasa. About 6 hours will be taken if you fly from Guangzhou to Lhasa.

Tibet Train to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guanghzou, HK

In fact, there are five routes connecting Tibet and other cities in China, and travelers can go to Tibet by train from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xining and other cities. You should know that it may take you more than 40 hours to get to Tibet. You can choose the proper route according to you need or consult our staff to help you to plan the route perfectly.

Beijing to Tibet by Train
Foreign visitors can experience the historical and cultural heritage of China in the capital city of China, Beijing City. Generally, travelers will stay 2 to 4 days in Beijing and then set out to Tibet by train, which takes about 2 days to get to Tibet. There is almost no off-season of this train all year round. Since Beijing-Lhasa Railway is also an essential bridge between Beijing, Tibet, Nepal and India, some tourists may keep going to Nepal or India by air or bus shortly after they reach Tibet.

Xining to Tibet by Train
Xining - Lhasa train is the genuine Qinghai-Tibet train, which is the essence of the train trip. The distance is 1960 km in total, which may take nearly one day (or 20:55 hour ride) from Xining to Lhasa. Every year, almost 25% travelers come to Lhasa from Xining by this train.

During the high season of Tibet tour when there is a shortage of train ticket, a great choice is to fly from Beijing or Shanghai to Xining and then board Xining-Lhasa train to Tibet. In this case, your tour won’t be interfered by the shortage of train tickets.

Shanghai to Tibet by Train
As one vibrant and prosperous city in China, numerous foreigners live in this city. For China tourism, this city also plays an important role as the entry and exit gateway. Since 2012, this train has begun to operate every day, which is a strong proof for the emerging of tourism and the great popularity of Tibet travel. The Shanghai-Lhasa train (Z164) departs at 20:10 and takes around 47h34 to reach Lhasa. Both soft sleeper (1,262.5¥) and hard sleeper (793.5¥) are readily available.

Chengdu to Tibet by Train
Chengdu-Tibet train is also a popular route among Tibet travelers, which departs from Chengdu at 14:48 every other day. It arrives at Lhasa at 09:55 on the third day after nearly 43:07 hours. It covers a distance of 3,070 km, which includes 1110 km over the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Guangzhou to Tibet by Train
Guangzhou-Tibet train covers a distance of 4980 km with 1110 km over the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which is the longest one of Qinghai-Tibet Railways. It takes you more than 54 hours to get to Lhasa.

HK to Tibet by Train
There is no direct train or flight to Lhasa from Hong Kong, so travelers first need to transfer to the mainland China, such as Chengdu, Guangzhou, or Xining. Here we would like to recommend you to choose the way method of : HK-flight - Chengdu-flight - Xining-train(24h) - Lhasa. Compared with other routes, this one is your best choice and you can first fly to Chengdu from HK to view the giant pandas. After that, you can depart to Xining by air to begin to take the Xining-Lhasa train, the essence of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, to Lhasa. You only need to spend about 24 hours on the train, which can effectively minimize the potential altitude sickness risk.

Sihcuan-Tibet Highway via G318

Sihcuan-Tibet Highway via G318 is also a good choice to get to Tibet, which will pass some great sights of western Sichuan and Nyingchi in Tibet. You can either choose the northern or the southern route to reach Lhasa from Chengdu. The scenery on the road is amazing and picturesque, including the beauty of the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon and the snow mountain of Mount Gongga, not to mention the expansive Maoya Grasslands. You can now book a tour, pack your baggage and prepare necessary documents to begin your Tibet tour via Sihcuan-Tibet Highway.

map of sichuan tibet highway(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Sichuan Tibet Highway Southern Route Map

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Entering Tibet from Nepal or from Mainland China

Entering Tibet from Nepal or from Mainland China has its own advantages and disadvantages. You can check out the following paragraphs to know them.

1. Travel Time

To enter Tibet from Nepal may take you around 1h 30m for one way flight and about 5 days for the overland road trip.

To enter Tibet from mainland China may take you 2 to 7 hours depending on which city you depart from. If you go there by train, the travel time may be up to 40 hours due to the low speed. As you can see, fly from Nepal to Tibet is much faster than from mainland China. If your time is not sufficient, you can choose to enter Tibet from Nepal by air.

2. Altitude Acclimation

To travel from Kathmandu to Tibet, there will be a huge ascent from Kathmandu Valley (1,400m) to Lhasa (3,658m) on the way. Therefore, if travelers take a flight to Tibet from Kathmandu, they may need more time to adapt to the altitude.

If they take a bus from Kathmandu to Tibet, they also need to stay around the Gyirong Port for 2 days and then depart to Lhasa through Shigatse and Gyantse. It would be better for the altitude acclimation.

Although the altitude sickness may be a common issue in the Tibet travel, there is no need to be afraid of it too much, for we will equip our tour bus with small oxygen bottles and our guides have accepted the first-aid training. Our staff will take care of our team members on the way. In order to avoid the altitude sickness, you shall drink more water than before and have a good rest on the first day you arrive in Tibet.

3. Travel Documents and Cost

Both accesses to Tibet require the Tibet travel permit and the Chinese Visa. All the tourists who have booked our Tibet group tour can enjoy the free service of handling the Tibet travel permit by our agency. The Chinese Visa needs to be handled by yourself in your own country.

Besides, you should also have the Tibet Group Visa, which is a special type of single entry Chinese visa usually maximum for a month and issued by Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu Nepal for travelers who plan to have a trip to Tibet from Nepal, whether by air or by overland driving. The fee of Tibet Group Visa collected by Chinese Embassy is different according to nationalities and processing time. We will charge a certain service fee to help each traveler handle the Tibet Group Visa. The following chart displays the latest visa fees for you to refer to. You can feel free to contact us to obtain the latest information on the fee and the process.

Nationality Times of Entry   Regular(US$)  Urgent(US$)   Service Charge(Per Person)(US$)
US Passort Holders Group Visa (Single) 140 57 25 USD
Canadian Citizens Group Visa (Single) 84 100 25 USD
Nepalli Citizens Group Visa (Single) 26.5 40.5 25 USD
Israeli Citizens Group Visa (Single) 42 59 25 USD
Romanian Citizens Group Visa (Single) 84 100 25 USD
Serbian Citizens Group Visa (Single) 1.5 20 25 USD
Albanian & Micronesian Citizens Group Visa (Single) 4.5 4.5 25 USD
Brazilian Citizens Group Visa (Single) 130.5 146.5 25 USD
Other Citizens Group Visa (Single) 51 68 25 USD

4. Tour Experience

1) If you choose to fly to Tibet from Nepal, you will be able to enjoy the stunning bird’s-eye view of the summit of Mt. Everest and incredible Himalayan Range. Due to the huge ascent from Kathmandu Valley (1,400m) to Lhasa (3,658m), you’d better have a good rest in the first couple of days in Lhasa to acclimatize to subtle altitude change. It is advisable for you not to do any strenuous activity and eat too much on the first day you arrive in Lhasa.

2) If you choose to fly to Tibet from mainland China, you will miss some beautiful scenery on the road and you may also have minor symptoms of altitude sickness. There is no doubt that nothing is more convenient than taking a flight to Tibet. You can also enjoy the discount in winter if you go to Tibet by air from mainland China. But there is always no discount for flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa.

3) If you enjoy the road trip from Kathmandu to Tibet, you will be able to appreciate pristine forests, and gorges when you are closer to Gyirong Border. The highlight of the overland tour would be traveling from Gyirong to EBC via Tingri. You will drive through the majestic rolling Himalayan peaks and tour the Rongbuk Monastery, the world’s highest Buddhist site and enjoy Mt. Everest at EBC (5200m). The latter part of the journey, you will visit prestigious Tashilhunpo Monastery and Nepali-style Gyantse Kumbum and turquoise Yamdrok lake, etc. before reaching Lhasa.

4) To get to Tibet by train from mainland China is the cheapest and one of the most rewarding ways. Qinghai-Tibet Railway is known as the world's highest railway, which can offer you a stunning trip full of countless scenic wonders, like snow-capped mountains, boundless grassland, beautiful lakes, flock of sheep, various wildlife, vast Gobi and desert.

Having discussed so much, now I’m sure you have a rough idea which is your favorite way to reach Tibet. If you don’t, no worries! Our helpful travel consultants would like to help you make the right decision based on your needs. Just tell us your tour date, activities and personal preferences, let’s work together to make your amazing Tibet tour!

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.

Email me about your travel idea

Have a Question? Ask below or call +86 28 85552138

Question Summary*



Please fill in your contact information, we will send you the answer by email


0 Comment ON "Enter Tibet from Nepal VS Enter Tibet from Mainland China"

Check All Tibet Travel FAQs Here