How to Travel to Tibet?

  • Traveling to Tibet is almost everyone’s dream and are in a lot of peoples bucket list. Because Tibet Autonomous Region is one of the most magnificent and mystical lands to travel on this planet. It’s a unique landscape, well-preserved culture and rich history attract lots of travelers. Traveling to Tibet can sound a bit complicated due to, too many different information provided by different sources but in reality, it’s quite easy. If you follow these few steps.


    Lying on the world’s highest plateau, Tibet Autonomous Region is a magical land hidden far away in the north-eastern part of China, which lies at 4500metres above sea level. Being one of the most popular destinations for travelers. Tibet aka the third pole due it’s harsh weather is one of the most remote places on this planet earth. Which consists of a few of the world's famous mountains and lakes such as Mount Kailash a sacred mountain revered by both Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus, Qomolangma National Nature Reserve the Tibetan side of Mount Everest. Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon the deepest canyon in the world and several of the world’s highest lake, including Namtso lake aka heavenly lake, lake Yamdork, lake Manasorvar, etc. Entering Tibet does require few rules to follow because this mysterious land is not open to an independent traveler or any backpackers.


    For Foreign Tourist or International Traveler

    Tibet was and is one of the most favored destinations among travelers but you cannot travel alone within the region. You can’t just pack your bag and buy a ticket. There is a common misconception that if you have a Chinese visa you can freely travel alone just like you can in mainland China. It is prohibited to travel independently or go backpacking across Tibet. There is only one option that you have to take that is to book a tour with the tour operators in Tibet.


    Book a Tour Operator

    All travelers to Tibet must book their tours through a registered Tibetan tour operator, such as explore Tibet which offers great tour guidelines and tour guides. If you are an independent or solo traveler, there is an option that can help with your requirements. Even though independent travel is no longer permitted, there are ways for solo travelers to travel to Tibet.

    One of the solutions is to book your tour as a private tour or Tibet group tour. Private tours are booked for one person or family alone. But the downside of the private tour is that it is much more expensive than a group tour. The tour operators will put in the random group depend on your preferred itinerary.

    Explore Tibet is one of the most trusted and well-rated travel agency in Tibet, provides the best tour service which you could ever experience in Tibet. Check out the reviews on TripAdvisor.


    Plan in Advance

    As I’ve said above if you want to travel to Tibet you cannot just buy the ticket and fly to Tibet. You must plan ahead a few weeks before traveling there. Because you need to have a wide variety of travel documents to enter Tibet, many of which can take some time to obtain. In the first place, you will need to have a Chinese Entry Visa (or Chinese Group Visa for those entering from Nepal), which can take around 3-5 days to process with an Embassy of the People's Republic of China. Only once you have your visa (for entry from inland China) can you book your Tibet tour with a registered Tibet travel agency.

    Once your trip is booked, your tour operator will apply for the Tibet Travel Permit on your behalf, as you are not permitted to make personal applications with the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). This process normally takes around 8-9 days now. You then will have time to book your flights to China. It can be either flight or train tickets to Tibet, and time for booking hotels (unless you allow tour operators to do it as part of the package). Overall, for planning a trip to Tibet, you should book the tour at least 25 days in advance, with your Chinese Entry Visa already obtained.


    Travel Documents (mandatory)

    Travel to Tibet requires some special documentation, as well as your passport and Chinese visa. But this does not mean that it is hard to get. All documents that you’ll be needing to enter and travel around Tibet will be applied on your behalf by the tour operator. For those traveling to Tibet from the mainland, you will need your valid passport and Chinese entry visa. Therefore you should plan your tour


    The first permit that all foreigners need to obtain is a Tibet Travel Permit which is only issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. You cannot get this permit from a Chinese embassy or consulate.


    Tibet Travel Permit

    Applied for once you have booked your tour to Tibet, the Tibet Travel Permit is required for travel into Tibet and around the area of Lhasa. The application requires scanned copies of your passport and visa and can take up to 15 days to process.


    Alien’s Travel Permit This permit is required for travel to all areas of Tibet that lie outside Lhasa, though some do require additional permits. You can travel to Shigatse or Chamdo Prefectures without the additional permits, and the Alien’s Travel Permit is applied for once you reach Lhasa by your tour operator before you can leave the capital region.


    Restricted Areas Permit  While the Alien’s Travel Permit covers some areas outside Lhasa, you will also need the Restricted Areas Permit, sometimes known as the Military Permit, to travel to areas such as Ngari, Nyingchi, and the vast area of Nagqu. This is applied before you travel, as it can take up to two weeks to process.


    Frontier Pass  For those traveling to Mount Everest Base Camp, Mount Kailash for the Kora Trek, or crossing the border into Nepal, the Frontier Pass is a requirement. Required for all tourists traveling within the areas of the Chinese border, it is applied for by the tour operator once you reach Lhasa.