Travelers to Tibet
Compared to other parts of China, visiting Tibet requires a Tibet Travel Permit and the services of a tour operator, making it more difficult to visit other parts of China. If you plan a journey to Tibet, you should know these regulations to have a successful and enjoyable trip.
No free-range vacationing is permitted
First, foreign tourists are not allowed to roam the TAR on freely. While solo travel to Tibet is possible, exploring the Roof of the World requires a guide, driver, and private car once you arrive. Outside of Lhasa, all foreign visitors must utilize private tour cars since using public transportation is illegal. The only exception is the train to Shigatse.
Foreign visitors to Tibet are only permitted to go there on organized tours. Travel organizations like Peregrine Treks and Tours offer tours of the area and provide travelers with the necessary equipment to explore the plateau. Your driver and guide are included in this price and the transportation. Everything you need for your Tibet Tour is included in the tour package. You can only visit Tibet or even get there from China or Nepal if you organize a trip with a licensed travel agency.
For entry into Tibet a Tibet Travel Permit is required
Unless you’re entering Tibet through Nepal, you’ll need a Chinese Entry Visa before arranging a trip with a legitimate Tibetan travel operator. When that time comes, you may apply for your visa in Kathmandu. Please note that to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit, we will first need your visa if you come from mainland China.
You will need several permits to enter the TAR, but the most important one is the famed Tibet Travel Permit. The Tibet Tourism Bureau issues the permission in Lhasa, but only registered travel agencies and tour operators may apply for it on your behalf. To add insult to injury, the tour company is not allowed to provide you permission to enter Tibet.
We will submit your application for permission on your behalf after we have received the scanned color copies of your passport and China Visa. Once the permission has been processed and granted, which may take up to 10–15 days, we will send a copy to your hotel in China. Those going to Tibet from Nepal#, however, may apply for this permission in place of a China Group Visa.
Some parts of Tibet are off-limits to visitors
Even with the proper travel documents, there are still areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region that you cannot access. In contrast to the southern route from Chengdu to Lhasa through G317 National Road, which is accessible to foreign travelers, the northern route via G318 National Highway is not.
Aside from that, even if foreign traveler has all the necessary licenses for Tibet, they are still forbidden from entering some areas in the region. Currently, foreign visitors are banned from visiting the following areas of Tibet:
- Pangong Lake in Ngari Prefecture
- Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Nyingchi
- Nanyi Valley in Nyingchi
- Tsonag County in Shannan Prefecture
- Yadong County in Shigatse Prefecture
- Holy Lake of Tibetan Buddhism, Lhamo La Tso
- Tombs of the Tibetan Kings in Tsedang
Some locations need extra permission to enter
Traveling to various parts of Tibet will need additional permissions and passes in addition to the Tibet Travel Permit. The entrance and transit permit and passes necessary for various areas of Tibet vary.
To enter Tibet and visit any part of the Lhasa region, even remote locations like Damxung County, a Tibet Travel Permit is necessary. You’ll also need the Alien’s Travel Permit to leave Lhasa and visit Tibet’s “unopened” regions. This is essential for visiting Shigatse, Everest, and some regions of Nyingchi.
The Restricted Areas Permission, often called a Military Permit, is the third primary permit. This is necessary to enter Bome County, Nang County, and Ranwu Lake in Nyingchi, the Shannan Prefecture, and the Ngari Prefecture of Tibet, among other restricted places.
Visits to Everest Base Camp and Mount Kailash in Ngari, as well as the surrounding region along China’s borders with Nepal, Bhutan, and India, need the Frontier Pass.
Not recommended that sick people go to Tibet
While most people may overcome altitude sickness with acclimatization, those with specific health issues are advised against visiting high elevations. If you have any preexisting medical concerns, you should see your doctor regarding high elevations and altitude sickness before embarking on any overseas vacation.
Due to the thinner air, pregnant women are advised to avoid traveling to elevations higher than 3,000 meters. In addition, those with moderate types of coronary artery disease and high blood pressure currently being treated pose no more danger than anybody else, so long as they avoid ascending to high elevations until their condition is under control.
Unfortunately, however, due to the prevalence of certain diseases and ailments, visiting Tibet is a high-risk endeavor. Sickle cell anemia, chronic obstructive lung disease, severe emphysema, and advanced heart disease are all examples of such conditions.
Only from China or Nepal is it possible to reach Tibet
Visitors to Tibet have just two options for entry: China or Nepal. Many visitors to the TAR first visit other parts of China since admission via mainland China is more convenient for most. When a person obtains a Tibet Travel Permit in addition to their Chinese entrance visa, they can easily travel between mainland China and Tibet.
Only from Nepal is it possible to fly directly to Lhasa or to cross the Sino-Nepali border by land, making Nepal the only country in the world to have international access to Tibet. Two viable options for reaching Tibet from Nepal are by plane or land. The Tibetan capital of Lhasa can be reached from the fascinating city of Kathmandu in about 90 minutes by daily flights that operate throughout the year. To go from Rasuwa Gadhi in Nepal to Gyirong Port in China, you’ll have to pass the border there. There are several crossing places for residents to get into Tibet from Nepal for commerce, but this is the only one available to visitors.
To enter Tibet from Nepal you would need a China Group Visa
The standard Chinese Entry visa you would use to enter China from other countries is not valid when entering Tibet from Nepal. Tourists from Nepal need to get the Chinese Group Visa, which is processed differently. Tourists visiting Tibet from Nepal must first get a visa, which may only be obtained upon arrival in Kathmandu. We will pick up your passport and application materials from your accommodation upon arrival. To get this visa, you must have a travel agent apply for it on your behalf.
There is a processing wait of around three business days for the visa, so you should aim to be in Nepal at least five days before your journey to Tibet is set to leave. We will pick up your passport and visa from the embassy and deliver them to your hotel with the rest of the permissions on the third morning after your application has been submitted since this is the standard processing time for visa issuance.
There are a lot of limitations on travel to Tibet, but this is for the good of both the visitors and the environment. Preservation measures assist in keeping the plateau’s sensitive ecosystem from collapsing if visitors are allowed to roam freely as previously. Unfortunately, altitude sickness, severe weather, and wild animals make travel on the plateau risky. Given that the travel agency will handle all the logistics for you, these limitations will work to your advantage and contribute to the unique nature of your vacation.