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Top 20 Things to Know Before You Travel to Tibet

If Tibet is on your bucket list, you’re in the right place! The rooftop of the world is a place you can't miss, akin to a rare treasure chest laden with crown jewels! Monasteries with elaborate decoration, viewpoints offering amazing views, and marvels of nature spread throughout Tibet are only a few of them. However, there are a few important points you need to keep in mind before taking this incredible journey of a lifetime.

1. The best time to visit Tibet is from April to June and September to October.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Tibet is from April to early June and from September to October. If you travel to Tibet during any of these seasons, you benefit from clear views of Mount Everest and the best balance between precipitation and air temperatures. Also, trekking and exploring the countryside is the most rewarding during these months.

The best time Visit Tibet Everest Base Camp and Rongbuk MonasteryThe best time Visit Tibet Everest Base Camp and Rongbuk Monastery in Summer.

2. Summer is the peak season for Tibetan Tourism

While the mountain peaks may not be at their prime, summer remains the peak season for tourism in Tibet. From June to August, the summer holiday draws numerous domestic tourists to this captivating land, resulting in increased crowds and higher travel expenses.

Tibet experiences its rainy season during summer, contributing to a humid atmosphere and lush grasslands. In August, the northern grassland of the Tibetan Plateau, Nagchu, hosts vibrant horse racing festivals, offering a delightful glimpse into nomadic culture and showcasing the breathtaking landscapes of Tibet.

Tibet Nagchu Horse Racing FestivalEnjoy Tibet Nagchu Horse Racing Festival in Summer.

August also marks the grand Shoton Festival, one of Tibet's largest celebrations. If you aspire to witness this magnificent festival, we highly recommend making your reservations well in advance to secure your place during this special time.

3. Winter is the time for Discount and cheaper price

Winter in Tibet spans from November to February. The weather can be cold and dry. But in the daytime, the average temperature can be 10°C, which is not as cold as you think.

Compared to the peak tourist seasons in summer, winter in Tibet sees significantly fewer visitors in Tibet. This means you can enjoy a more serene and peaceful travel experience, with fewer crowds at popular attractions. You can take your time exploring monasteries and natural wonders without feeling rushed or overcrowded.

Moreover, many hotels and airlines offer discounted rates and promotions during the winter season. This presents an excellent opportunity to save money on your Tibet tour in winter.

4. Among all trains to Tibet, the Xining to Lhasa train is the most recommended one

If you're planning to travel to Tibet by train, you'll find convenient connections from several major cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Lanzhou, and Xining. However, for the optimal experience, we highly recommend taking the Xining to Lhasa train.

Qinghai to Tibet trainQinghai to Tibet train scenery along the way.

Covering the shortest distance, the Xining to Lhasa train tour boasts a journey time of approximately 22 hours, ensuring a swift and efficient travel experience. It also showcases the most captivating landscapes along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

5. Chengdu offers the most frequent non-stop flights to Tibet

In recent years, the number of cities offering flights to Tibet has significantly increased, providing you with more options to get to Tibet from the mainland of China. However, Chengdu surpasses them all by offering the most frequent direct flights to Lhasa.

With approximately 20 flights operating daily, you can enjoy the convenience of flying from Chengdu to Lhasa. The flight duration is relatively short, taking about 2.5 hours, allowing for a swift and comfortable journey to Lhasa.

Additionally, Chengdu also provides direct connections to other prominent Tibetan destinations, including Nyingchi and Shigatse. This expanded network of flights from Chengdu ensures you have more flexibility and accessibility when planning your Tibet tour.

6. Now, it is available to travel to Tibet from Nepal by Land

As the Gyirong Border was reopened for tourists on April 2023, it is now available to enter Tibet from Nepal by overland. You can drive along the Friendship Highway and enjoy the amazing scenery, including the majestic Himalayan Ranges.

Travelling overland from Nepal to TibetKathmandu Lhasa Road Map

The classic Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour takes 8 days which covers one night stay at Everest Base Camp in Tibet. You will first stop in Gyirong, a town set amid high mountains and verdant forests. Afterward, you travel to Everest Base Camp to see the world's highest mountain and Rongbuk, one of the two world’s highest monasteries. Then, you will visit Shigatse, the second largest city of Tibet, which boasts the Tashilunpo Monastery, the traditional monastic seat of the Panchen Lama.

Before arriving in Lhasa, you will stop in Gyantse, a charming Heritage Town whose highlight is a multi-storied stupa, and see Yamdrok Lake surrounded by mountains and the Korola Glacier. The tour concludes in Lhasa, leaving you two days to explore the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and other highlights in the area.

Please Notice: The international flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa are still not available now.

7. Both a Chinese Visa and Tibet Travel Permit are required for a Tibet Tour

To visit Tibet, you need to obtain both a Chinese Visa and the Tibet Travel Permit.

These two documents are essential for a legal and hassle-free entry into the region. The Chinese Visa allows you to enter the mainland of China, while the Tibet Travel Permit specifically grants access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

You first need to get a Chinese Visa, and apply for the Tibet Permit with a scanned copy of your passport and Chinese Visa. The Tibet Travel Permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and can be obtained through authorized local travel agencies.

For visitors from China Visa Free countries, you still need a passport to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit

8. If you already have a Chinese Visa, do not enter Tibet from Nepal

To enter Tibet from Nepal, you need to get a Chinese Group Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. If you already have a Chinese visa, it will be invalidated upon issuance of the group visa.

So for those who already have a Chinese Visa, it is not recommended to enter Tibet from Nepal.

9. More Travel Documents may be required according to where you visit

If you want to visit Mt.Everest, Samye Monastery, and Basumtso Lake, you will also need to have the Aliens’ Travel Permit, which you can get with your passport after you arrive in Lhasa. To obtain the document, give your Tibet Travel Permit and the passport to our local travel guide, who applies on your behalf to the Local Public Security Bureau. In general, the bureau issues the document on the same day.

Alien's Travel PermitA Sample of Alien's Travel Permit

On certain occasions, you may need the Military Permit to tour areas of military significance, such as Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. To obtain this permit, apply through your Tibet travel agency at least three weeks before the trip. Documents you need to provide the tour operator with for them to apply for the Military Permit are the scanned copy of the passport and the visa.

10. The Everest Base Camp Tour is most popular among Travelers

Witnessing towering Mount Everest, an 8,848 meters high giant that separates Tibet from Nepal, is an unforgettable experience. Depending on available time, interests, and needs, you may book an Everest Base Camp Tour that lasts between several days and three weeks.

The most popular Lhasa to Everest Base Camp tour takes 8 days. Starting from Lhasa, you will travel to Shigatse via the turquoise Yamdrok Lake and visit the ancient town of Gyantse to explore the ancient Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum.

The highlight of this tour is one-night stay at Everest Base Camp at 5200 meters. It could be a lifetime experience to see the peak of the world’s top just in front of you. If weather permits, you can also enjoy the amazing sunrise and sunset of Everest Peak.

You may also finish this route by bike or motorbike, which takes more days to complete. The best times for benefiting from favorable weather conditions and clear views of Mount Everest are from April to May and between September and November.

11. Pilgrims can take Mount Kailash Yatra from Kathmandu

For pilgrims who want to visit Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar only, it is possible to take an overland tour from Kathmandu to Mount Kailash region. The round trip takes 10 days, during which you can enjoy the 3-day Mount Kailash Kora and visit Lake Manasarovar without going to Lhasa and Mount Everest.

Since you will enter Tibet from Kathmandu via the Gyirong border, you still need to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit and Chinese Group Visa.

12. Even non-pilgrims tourists can enjoy a Mount Kailash Kora

Although Mount Kailash is a destination to which many pilgrims aspired all their lives, the Mount Kailash Tour also offers more than just a pilgrimage experience. Ordinary tourists and trekkers can also find great value in visiting Mount Kailash.

Embarking on the 3-day trek around Mount Kailash allows you to witness the sacred peak from various angles, providing an up-close encounter with its holiness. The pilgrims you encounter along the way exemplify the power of faith, while the rivers and valleys that grace your path showcase the breathtaking high-altitude landscapes of remote western Tibet.

Mount Kailash sincere pilgrimsTrekking towards Mount Kailash with sincere pilgrims.

Even if you are not a pilgrim, undertaking the Mount Kailash trek will leave you with an immense sense of fulfillment. Completing a trek at an average altitude of over 5000m, conquering the 5630m Drolma La pass, and embracing the challenge of one of the world's most demanding treks, you will undoubtedly experience profound satisfaction.

13. The cost of a Tibet tour depends on many aspects

The cost of a Tibet tour varies depending on many things, like your travel time, your travel group, your accommodation standards, etc.

The timing of your visit significantly impacts the cost. Summer is considered the peak season, resulting in higher prices, while winter is generally the cheapest time to travel to Tibet.

If you’re travel alone and on a budget, you won’t miss our Tibet Small Group tour packages. Travel in a group of around 12 travelers with all the benefits of a hand-picked hotel, tour route, and fixed departure date at the best local price.

Tibet small group tourJoin our Tibet small group tour.

Your choice of accommodation in Tibet also plays a role in determining the cost. Lhasa offers a range of luxurious 5-star hotels, but remote areas have fewer options. Budget travelers can find a few guesthouses that cater to their needs.

The extent of your travel itinerary influences the overall expense. As you venture further into remote areas, the transportation costs increase, impacting the overall tour cost.

Our team can assist you in tailoring a tour package that suits your requirements while ensuring the best value for your investment. Please feel free to contact us and get a Tibet tour quote for free.

14. You can not travel to Tibet independently, but you can get a private travel experience by customizing your own Tibet tour

Visiting Tibet independently is not feasible, as it is mandatory to travel with a local guide provided by a local travel agency. However, if you desire a more private and personalized travel experience, you have the option to create a customized private tour in Tibet.

By opting for a customized tour, you can avoid joining a group and sharing transportation and guides with others. Instead, everything will be exclusively arranged for your individual enjoyment and convenience.

Tibet provided tourCustomize your private tour in Tibet

15. Taking a train to Tibet is not cheaper than a flight to Tibet, especially in peak season

Most people believe that traveling to Tibet by train is a cheap way to go. However, it is not true in peak season.

For those popular routes, like the Beijing Lhasa train, the actual cost of the train trip may be more expensive than a flight from Beijing to Lhasa. Due to the limited number of train tickets available, it is sometimes necessary to pay extra to obtain one during the high season, in which case you can spend more than you would if you were flying.

Therefore during the high season, you can also choose to fly into Tibet and then take the train out of Tibet. This way you can save some money and enjoy the most beautiful scenery of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as well.

16. Besides Monasteries, there are other things to experience in Lhasa

Lhasa is the cultural and religious center of Tibet. There are many world-famous monasteries and temples that worth a visit, including the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, the Drepung Monastery, the Sera Monastery, and the Ganden Monastery.

But it doesn’t mean there are only religious sites to visit in Lhasa. For those who are not quite interested in monasteries, there are still many things to do in Lhasa. You can immerse yourself in the local lifestyle by visiting the vibrant local markets in Lhasa. Or, you can have a cup of butter tea in a local tea house and taste authentic Tibetan noodles and other snacks. You can also go to Norbulingka to have a Tibetan-style picnic with the locals.

There are also some villages near Lhasa city, where you can visit the local family and have lunch with them. You can also join their farm work or learn to make some easy handicrafts with the locals. It is a good option, especially for those families traveling with kids.

If you yearn for an enriched Lhasa experience, do not hesitate to share your interests with us. Our knowledgeable local travel experts are here to provide valuable advice and curate the perfect itinerary tailored to your preferences.

The hospitable Tibetan localsThe hospitable Tibetan locals will welcome you to his home.

17. Don’t stress too much about altitude sickness in Tibet

Tibet, with an average altitude of 4380m, has a lower oxygen level than where the majority of travelers spend time. For most people traveling to Tibet for the first time, it is normal to experience altitude sickness. Most people can adapt to high altitudes as long as they give their bodies enough time to adjust to the altitude. So there is no need to worry about getting high altitude sickness when you travel to Tibet.

Of course, you need to understand that certain medical conditions prevent you from traveling to high altitudes, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Please consult your doctor for professional suggestions.

18. There is no age limit to visit Tibet

There is no age restriction for tourists visiting Tibet. Regardless of your age, whether young or old, you have the opportunity to travel to Tibet and immerse yourself in the captivating beauty and cultural treasures that Tibet has to offer.

Tibet Family tourWhether young or old is no age limit to visit Tibet

The only thing you need to be aware of is your physical health. If you are a senior traveler, the first thing to do is to make sure you don't have high blood pressure, heart disease, and other cardiovascular conditions that can be dangerous in a high-altitude environment.

If you travel with young kids, it is best to make sure they can accurately describe how they feel physically, so that if they encounter a plateau anyway, they can inform you accurately and in time to avoid accidents.

19. Please make your Tibet tour reservation at least 20 days in Advance

To ensure a seamless experience, we kindly request that you make your Tibet tour reservation at least 20 days in advance because you need time to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit as well as some other travel documents.

The process of the Tibet Travel Permit generally takes 8-9 working days. Also, you need to leave enough time for the delivery of the permit to your address in the mainland of China. Once you receive the permit, you can board the train or flight to Lhasa.

20. Choose Tibet Vista for the truly hassle-free Tibet tour experience

Being the most renowned local travel agency in Tibet since 1984, we, Tibet Vista, have dedicated ourselves to providing an extensive range of tour options and unparalleled convenience for travelers from around the world. With over three decades of experience in organizing Tibet tours, we have evolved into the largest local operator, hosting over 8,000 global travelers each year.

Our Tibet Vista GuideOur Tibet Vista hand-picked Tibet tour packages for a memorable Tibet tour.

Our hand-picked Tibet tour packages cover all the must-see highlights of Tibet, guaranteeing that you won't miss out on any of the breathtaking sights and cultural wonders. If you're seeking adventure, we also provide options, like cycling tours, trekking expeditions, and motorbike tours, catering to thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.

So whatever you want in your Tibet tour, we can try our best and show you the real Tibet in the most authentic way.

Conclusion

Equipped with useful insights and knowledge about Tibet, you are ready for a memorable Tibet tour. Whether you are a fan of history, nature lover or art & culture devotee, you have plentiful options to enjoy visiting the Tibetan plateau. Just allow enough time to acclimatize yourself to the altitude, and you will have a holiday of your dreams.

Master Catherine Jigme

About the Author - Master Catherine Jigme

With exceptional passion and outstanding leadership, Mrs. Catherine has dedicated herself to Tibet inbound tourism and China tour for 15 years. As one of the handful females who see great potential of Chinese inbound tourism, Catherine has made great contribution to promoting Tibet tourism and enhancing the employment of Tibetans and prosperity of local Tibetan community.

Over the years, she travelled overseas with Tibet Tourism Bureau many times to promote Tibet tourism. Currently, Catherine works as the marketing director of Tibet Vista, an opinion leader behind the whole team of Tibet Vista.

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