Tibet Travel Guide

Tibet Travel advice about weather, best time to visit Tibet, cost, permits, transportation, attractions, high altitude sickness, maps, etc. Check the tips and information for your traveling in Tibet.

Tibet Travel Permit and a Guide

When most of us think of Tibet, we think of the area that includes that famous capital Lhasa, the holy mountain Mt Kailash, and the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest. This area is known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region.  Its part of China and access is strictly controlled by the Chinese government. As a foreigner, you need to attain a special Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) in addition to your standard visa for China. If you're entering via Nepal, you need yet another visa, the Tibet Group Visa (TGV).

You can’t travel to Tibet by your own. It is mandatory to go with a guided tour, and stick to a restricted route carefully selected and monitored by the Chinese government. Your tour company should be able to organize your permits for you, but wait times can be long, so be sure to apply early. (In practice, it is often possible to go to Tibet at short notice, but the earlier you apply, the safer you’ll be).

Choosing the Right Tibet Tour

it’s necessary to hire your own private vehicle and driver, tour costs go down depending on how many you have in your group. A solo tour can break the bank, but splitting the costs among four friends makes Tibet reasonably affordable. Tours can be booked online on sites like GetYourGuide, Viator, G Adventures, and Intrepid Travel.

If you’re not able to get together a group, don’t worry – tour companies will usually be able to group you in with other solo travellers. Prices vary by company, trip duration, and the number of people in your group.

How to get to Tibet from Nepal ?

We can fly to Lhasa and other flight to many cities In china. Within Tibet, all your transportation will be handled by most tours, which will include a driver and a powerful four wheel drive vehicle designed to handle Tibet’s rugged terrain.

Tibet can be generally reached from two basic access points, namely, the mainlands of China and Nepal. Hence, all points of entry to Tibet generally originate from these two countries. For this reason, if you want to travel to Tibet, either you would have a tour package whose itinerary starts in Nepal as an access point or one that emanates from the different cities of mainland China.

Fly to Tibet from Nepal

Interestingly, the fastest way to Tibet is via Kathmandu by plane. Two airlines, namely, Air China and Sichuan Airlines service the air route between these two places. If you travel to Lhasa by plane from Kathmandu, there is a big chance that you would get a bird's-eye-view of the peak of Mt. Everest because these flights generally pass by the Himalayan Mountain Range. If the weather permits, you can see the peak of Mt Everest by the window. Furthermore, going to Tibet from Nepal allows you to gradually acclimate yourself to the high-altitude weather of Tibet, and help you avoid the usual high-altitude sickness concomitant with moving abruptly from a lower-altitude place to high-altitude place.

Overland Tour from Nepal to Tibet

One of the favorite routes by tourists to Tibet is via the overland route from Kathmandu to Tibet. You can travel this route by kinds of vehicles. This overland route starts from Kathmandu and passes via the Tibet- Nepal border. This overland route cruises along the China-Nepal Highway which is also popularly known as the “Friendship Highway.” It would usually take you around 3 to 5 days to complete this 943-km overland road trip to reach Lhasa.

On the other hand, however, the overland road trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa would surely offer you a spectacular roadshow of some of the best tourist attractions of Nepal and Tibet. Along the way, you can see awesome vistas that you would never get to see if you travel to Tibet by plane. Moreover, you'll get to pass the other cities and towns of Nepal and Tibet, plus you can drop by the Everest Base Camp (EBC) along the way and get a glimpse of the majestic mountain.

Accommodation in Tibet

Accommodation options in Tibet range from hostels and hotels, to unique local homestay too. Most accommodation will offer basics such as a kettle and hot water. Most of our accommodation during the tour will be either guest house or Hostel dorm or standard hotels room with private room.

If you need a more comfortable room which can provide the 24 hours hot water for showers and WiFi, most of 3-star hotels and all 4-5 star hotels in major cities of Tibet are your choice. If you only need a room with basic facilities, you can try guesthouses. If you have any further questions about Tibet hotels, please feel free let us know without hesitation, it is our pleasure to work with you at any time.

What is the best time to visit Tibet?

Spring in Tibet occurs around April and May. Due to melted snow and gentler temperatures, this is the most convenient, but also the busiest time to visit. Tibet is usually closed to visitors in March, due to Tibetan New Year and the government’s fears of political occurrences. Winter falls in December and January. Its cold, but the skies are typically clear, and fewer tourists means wait times for permits can be noticeably reduced. Tibet can be visited at any time of the year, but at certain times of the year is better than other time. Tibet is a place you can visit all year round, except for mid-February to March when Tibet will close for foreigners due to the Chinese and Tibetan New Year. You can choose the rest of the year to make your Tibet trip.

Best places to visit in Tibet in the season of winter

  • Lhasa, the City of Sunshine
  • Shigatse, a Hot Tourist City
  • Mt. Everest, the Peak of Heaven

Best places to visit in Tibet in the season of Summer

  • Namtso
  • Mt.Kailash and Lake Manasarovar

Eating & Drinking

Let’s get one thing clear: you do not go to Tibet for the food! While big cities like Lhasa and Shigatse have all the food options of your typical Chinese cities, for much of the journey you’ll be eating in Tibetan diners, where yak’s meat will be your staple diet. Like old, poor quality beef, the novelty of this dish will soon wear off!

Due to proximity to Nepal and the influence of Indian cuisine, dishes like rich curries and samosas are common available at larger restaurants. I developed a taste for the rich, salty Yak butter tea which the locals drink like water. It’s not to everyone’s pallet, but I found it a powerful salve for the pains of altitude.

Eating in Tibet is more expensive than elsewhere in China. Budget at least $10 USD per meal to make sure you don’t go hungry. You will not have much opportunity for self catering, but if money is tight, you can stock up on instant noodles at the supermarket – most hotels will have kettles or hot water dispensers.

Altitude Sickness

From the moment you land in Lhasa, a city which stands 3,650 meters above sea level, many travelers will start experiencing mild symptoms of altitude sickness, including headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. Your tour guide will ensure you climb gradually to the higher altitudes, so that by the time you reach Everest Base Camp at 5,150 meters you should be reasonably acclimatized.

Altitude sickness is something to take extremely seriously. Fitness is not a factor. Even the toughest mountaineers can die if they climb too high without giving their bodies time to adjust. Stay well hydrated, give yourself time to adjust to the altitude before embarking on any major hikes. Report any symptoms to your tour guide, and know what you’re getting in to: Tibet is the roof of the world, and the air is thin. 

Tibet Attractions

Lhasa

Much of Tibet’s capital resembles any other Chinese city, complete with traffic jams, queues and ubiquitous noodle houses. Yet there is still something special about Lhasa, and if you look past the metal detectors and assault-rifle wielding police officers, you’ll find it easy to get lost in the magic of the historic Tibetan Quarter.

While there, visit the Potala Palace, where you’ll be able to explore the bedroom where the Dalai Lama spent his childhood. Wander into Barkhor square, where you’ll feel yourself sucked into a whirlwind as pilgrims wind their way determinedly around the ancient and grand Jokhang Temple.

Yamdrok Lake

100 kilometers South West of Lhasa, you’ll encounter one of Tibet’s three sacred lakes. Yamdrok Lake stretches across 638 square kilometers. The water reflects the blue of the sky, made more vivid by the thin, mountain air. Snow Capped mountains frame your view, and you can wander amongst the many cool, fresh streams that flow into the lake from miles above.

Gyantse

Historically, Tibet’s third city after Lhasa and Shigatse, Gyantse, is a common stop on tours to Everest Base Camp. There you’ll find the Palcho Monastery, notable for the ancient Dzong fort, 108 (count them) chapels, and a gallery of ancient Buddhist art and artefacts.

Shigatse

This is Tibet’s second city, much of which resembles a classic Chinese city. However, there is still a lot of Tibet left among the traffic and overpasses. While here, I enjoyed sipping on the rich, salty Yak Butter Tea in small local tea houses. As with everywhere in Tibet, you need only lift your eyes to enjoy spectacular mountain views. 

Rongbuk Monastery

Just North of Mount Everest Base Camp, the Rongbuk Monastery sits at an astonishing 4,980 metres in altitude. It is often described by tour guides as the highest monastery in the world. The winds are brutal, and at this height, even the short staircase can sap your breath, adding to the heady, mysterious atmosphere of the place.

Everest Base Camp

For many travellers, this is what you came for. The world’s tallest mountain, the highest peak on planet Earth. It’s a lot to get your head around. The basecamp sits at 5150 meters, meaning walking itself is an effort. If you stay overnight in one of the Yaks hair tents, you may wake yourself up panting for breath, as if you’ve just run a marathon. Tours here range in duration and intensity, depending whether you want to trek or view the mountain peaks from afar. If you're planning a trip to Everest via Nepal, check our Nepal guide here.

Lake Paiku

Sitting at 4,500 meters in altitude and surrounded by mountains reaching thousands more meters above your head, Lake Paiku runs for some 27 kilometers through rugged, windswept mountain terrain. By testing the salinity of the water, scientists have concluded that the lake cannot have overflowed in many hundreds of years. Paiku is an ancient, spiritual landmark amidst a striking, challenging landscape.

Mt. Kailash

Like a jagged, snow capped stone reaching 6,638 m high, Mt Kailash is not Tibet’s largest mountain, but it is the most spiritually significant. Known to Buddhist believers as Mount Meru, the surrounding area is rich in sites of worship and pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of the devout attempt to circumnavigate the mountain, the hardiest of whom make the 52 kilometer, high altitude trek in barely 15 hours!