Top 5 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 akin to a rare treasure chest laden with crown jewels you simply can’t miss! But before you take this incredible journey of a lifetime, there are a few important points to know.
#1 Tibet Travel Permit
To travel to Tibet as a foreigner (or a Chinese citizen living overseas without a Chinese passport) you must have a travel permit before you arrive. Your travel agency can apply on your behalf for this. To do so, they’ll need a copy of your Chinese visa, which you can apply for at your local embassy or consulate. (Tibet is officially a province of China and a valid China visa is required to travel to Tibet, except if you enter Tibet from Nepal.)
Tibet Travel Permit
The travel agency will also need your confirmed tour itinerary and travel guide, plus six months validity on your passport. Allow at least 20 days for this to be issued. The travel permit doesn’t cost but the visa does. You can choose to either travel with a tour group or as an individual traveler (with a guide).
If you want to visit Mt Everest, you will also need to have an Aliens’ Travel Permit which you can get once you enter Tibet, with your passport. Your travel permit will be checked whether you take the train or fly into Tibet and can be asked for at anytime during your trip.
*Most importantly, travel permits are not available from late February until March 31st. And everything will be normalized from April 1st. Thus if you're planning to visit Tibet in winter, I strongly recommend you to contact us as soon as possible to make an early booking. Tibet Vista is ready here to apply Tibet travel permit for you for free!
#2 How To Get to Lhasa, Tibet
Most experts recommend you arrive into Tibet’s capital Lhasa by train and then fly out. This is to help prevent altitude sickness and acclimatise more slowly. It’s also a great way to see some spectacular scenery! You can catch a train from many of the main cities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu and Xi’an and then travel on the world’s highest altitude railway from Qinghai to Lhasa. Labelled an engineering wonder, due to its construction despite economic and geographic concerns, a 960 kilometre section is more than 4000 metres above sea level and 550 kilometres is permafrost (soil, rock or sediment that is frozen for more than two consecutive years). The 2000 kilometre journey along the snow covered plateau or “Sky Road” as it’s known is legendary for its stunning natural landscapes.
Scenery outside the Tibet train window
*Note: Acclimatising is not that straight forward and travelling by train is no guarantee. The biggest tip is to rest when you arrive and take things very slowly for the first 24 hours. Meanwhile, if you are hunting for an adventurous journey, traveling overland to Tibet is a nice try. See more details at How to Get to Tibet
#3 Tibet is Not Cheap: The Best Ways to Save Money
If you join one of our small tour groups we offer the classic Tibetan itinerary which includes all of the top sights such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street and the Summer Palace at the very least. As the pioneer of Tibet tourism for global tourists since 1984, TIBET VISTA was the FIRST TOUR OPERATOR to run join-in group tours. If you’re on a budget, you won’t miss a thing on these tightly packed tours at the lowest possible price. Travel in a group of around ten travellers with all the benefits of a hand-picked hotel, tour route, and fixed departure date. From four days to fifteen days, we have something for everyone.
Our clients are enjoying a delightful trip to Tibet.
#4 Travelling Overland from Nepal to Tibet
If you are not coming via mainland China, time permitting, travelling overland from Nepal to Tibet by car is another excellent option. Following the 2015 earthquake which permanently damaged the Zhangmu Border, the government has now opened Gyirong Port as the official gateway for commuters from Kathmandu to Lhasa. The drive is around 1000 kilometres which can be done in 12 hours but we recommend you take a week to get there along the “Friendship” Highway and enjoy the amazing scenery, including the majestic Himalayan Ranges and a spectacular roller-coaster ride down into the Kathmandu valley. Along the way, experience exotic Tibetan culture and spectacular lakes and mountains. Check out our incredible Tibet Nepal tours here!
Kathmandu Lhasa Road Map
#5 Mt Kailash the Place to Go
A giant mass of black rock that reaches over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash which means “precious jewel of eternal snow” remains a place shrouded in mystery and legend, as the world’s most venerated holy place. It is also the least visited because of it’s location in far western Tibet. In the unusual shape of a pyramid, according to ancient beliefs, the mountain represents the axis of the world or the stairway to heaven, and only a few thousand pilgrims are lucky enough to see it every year.
Trekking towards Mount Kailash with sincere pilgrims
Tibet Vista is the biggest tour operator and renowned as one of the most reliable to take travellers to Mt Kailish. Choose from small group tours or a private service based on your personal interests and budget. For more information on our tours to this majestic Mt.Kailash once in a lifetime spot click here.