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Tibet Trips

Tibet is the highest plateau on earth. It is full of amazing lakes, huge plains dotted with nomads and tents and practitioners of buddhism. You will be able to go through some of the wildest roads in the world, see the north face of Everest and have memorable adventures. Tibet offers huge possibilities in terms of adventure travel.

Trips and Itinerary

Day 01:- Kathmandu (1,300m) – Lhasa (3,650m)

Departure Transport to Tribhuban Airport and Trans – Himalayan flight to Tibet (Gongaar airport) (1hr.) Drive to Lhasa (1hr.) – Full rest for acclimatization – O/N at Hotel.

Day 02-03:- In Lhasa: Two Full Days Sightseeing Tour In Lhasa
Visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple & Barkhor Bazaar, Drepung Monastery and  Sera Monastery – O/N at  Hotel.

Day 04:-Lhasa – Gyantse (3950m)  – Shigatse (3900m)
Drive to Gyantse via Yamadroke Lake and high passes: Kora LA (5,010m) & Kamba La (4,794m) –  Sight-seeing in Gyantse including Pholkor & Kumbum Monastery. PM: scenic drive to Xigatse(1.5hrs) through the typical Tibetan Countryside –  Hotel.

Day 05:- Xigatse –  Ronbuk (4980m) 334km
AM: Visit Panchen Lama’s Tashilhumpu Monastery. Then Drive to Xegar  crossing over Gyatchula (a pass of 5,200m) –  Scenic drive to Ronbuk through the beautiful Tibetan countryside. Explore Ronbuk Monastery (highest monastery in the world) – O/N at Guest House.

Day 06:- Ronbuk – Everest BC –  Shigatse (3900m)

Hike up to Everest BC and explore around – back to Ronbuk -Drive to Shigatse O/N at Hotel.

Day 07:- Shigatse to Lhasa 93600m (351km)

Drive back to Lhasa O/N at Hotel.

Day 08:- Lhasa to Kathmandu
Departure to Gonggar airport and fly back to Kathmandu.

Day 08:- Lhasa to Kathmandu

 Getting into China is relatively easy these days. Upon arrival you need to fill in a customs and health declaration form. You should expect closer scrutiny of your group documents and luggage when crossing into Tibet from Nepal, where some travellers have on occasion had Tibet-related books and images confiscated.

Tours & Permits

To board a plane or train to Tibet you need a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit, and to get this you must book a guide for your entire trip and pre-arrange private transport for trips outside Lhasa.

Travel outside Lhasa requires additional permits, arranged in advance by your tour company, so you need to decide your itinerary beforehand.

Foreigners are not allowed to take public transport outside Lhasa.

Tour companies need 10 to 14 days to arrange permits and post you the TTB permit (the original permit is required if flying).

When entering Tibet from Nepal you have to travel on a short-term group visa, which can make it tricky to continue into the rest of China.

Customs Regulations

Chinese border crossings have gone from being severely traumatic to exceedingly easy for travellers. You are unlikely to be checked even when flying into or out of the country.

You can legally bring in or take out ¥20,000 in Chinese currency and must declare any cash amount exceeding US$5000 or its equivalent.

It is illegal to import any printed material, film, tapes etc ‘detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture and ethics’. This is a particularly sensitive subject in Tibet, but even here it is highly unusual to have Chinese customs officials grilling travellers about their reading matter. Maps and political books printed in Dharamsala, India, could cause a problem.

It is currently illegal to bring into China pictures, books, videos or speeches of/about or by the Dalai Lama. Moreover, you may be placing a recipient of these in danger of a fine or jail sentence. Images of the Tibetan national flag are even ‘more’ illegal.

If travelling from Nepal to Tibet by air or overland, it’s a good idea to bury your guidebook deep in your pack or sleeping bag (and to have a backup on your tablet or mobile phone), as customs officials have been known to confiscate Lonely Planet Tibet guides.

Be very circumspect if you are asked to take any packages, letters or photos out of Tibet for anyone else, including monks. If caught, you’ll most likely be detained, interrogated and then expelled.

Anything made in China before 1949 is considered an antique; you will need a certificate to take it out of the country. If it was made before 1795, it cannot legally be taken out of the country.


Chinese embassies will not issue a visa if your passport has less than six months’ validity remaining.


A valid Chinese visa is required. A Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit is also required to enter Tibet.

Arranging a Chinese Visa

Visa regulations for China are subject to change, so treat the following as general guidelines. In 2013, the visa system had a major overhaul and there are now 13 categories of visa.

Apart from citizens of Brunei, Japan and Singapore, all visitors to Tibet require a valid China visa. Visas for individual travel in China are usually easy to get from most Chinese embassies or their associated visa centres.

Most visa offices will issue a standard 30-day (sometimes 60- or 90-day) single-entry tourist (‘L’ category) visa in three to five working days. The ‘L’ means lüxing (travel). Fees vary: UK citizens pay £30 for a single-entry L visa, Americans US$140 (but often get a 10-year, multiple-entry visa in return), while most other countries’ citizens pay US$30. In many countries the visa service has been outsourced to a China Visa Application Service Centre (www.visaforchina.org), which levies additional charges that can effectively double the price.

The visa application form asks you a lot of questions (your entry and exit points, travel itinerary, means of transport etc), but once in China you can deviate from this as much as you like. When listing your itinerary, pick the obvious contenders: Běijīng, Shànghǎi and so on. Don’t mention Tibet and don’t list your occupation as ‘journalist’. You may need to show proof of a return air ticket, hotel bookings and photocopies of previous Chinese visas. You must also have one entire blank page in your passport for the visa, as well as a passport valid for at least six months.

Note that you must be physically present in the country you apply in (ie you cannot send your passport back to your home country if you are staying somewhere else).

Some embassies and visa services offer a postal service (for an additional fee), which takes around three weeks. In the US and Canada mailed visa applications have to go via a visa agent, at extra cost. In the US many people use China Visa Service Center (www.mychinavisa.com). Express services are available for a premium.

A standard single-entry visa must be used within three months from the date of issue and is activated on the date you enter China. There is some confusion over the validity of Chinese visas. Most Chinese officials look at the ‘valid until’ date, but on most 30-day visas this is actually the date by which you must have entered the country, not the visa’s expiry date. Longer-stay visas are often activated on the day of issue, not the day you enter the country, so there’s no point in getting one too far in advance of your planned entry date. Check with the embassy if you are unsure.

It’s possible to travel in Tibet with a visitor (‘L’), student (‘X’), resident (‘D’) or business (‘M’, ‘F’ or ‘Z’) visa, but not on a journalist (‘J’) visa. For an M, F or Z visa the agency handling your TTB permit may ask you to provide documentation showing your place of work in China, or a letter of invitation.

Arranging Visas in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is usually a reliable place to pick up visas, often with next-day service, but confirm with the companies listed below before you decide this is the route you will take to obtain a visa.

Single-entry, double-entry, multiple-entry and business visas are usually available at the following places in Hong Kong. For reference, a single-entry L visa costs HK$350 for four-day service, HK$650 for next-day service.

Arranging Visas in Kathmandu

The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu does not issue visas to individual travellers, only to those booked on a tour and then only group visas. If you turn up with a Chinese visa in your passport, it will be cancelled.

Nepali agencies currently charge around US$60 per person for a visa. US citizens pay US$142. Allow at least three days for processing; faster service is available for a premium.

The visa office at Nepal’s Chinese Embassy accepts applications from 9.45am to 11am Monday to Friday. Note that the main embassy is in Baluwatar, but the separate visa office is in Hattisar.

If you are flying from Kathmandu directly to Chinese cities outside Tibet (ie Chéngdū or Shànghǎi), you can enter China on an individual tourist visa issued from abroad. Thus if you want to continue travelling in China after your Tibet trip the easiest thing is to fly from Kathmandu to Chéngdū (the plane stops in Lhasa, but TTB permits are not required for transfer) and then fly back to Lhasa with your TTB permit and on your normal Chinese visa.

Visa Extensions

The wàishìkē (foreign affairs) section of the local PSB handles visa extensions. Extensions are very difficult to get in Tibet (and only likely in Lhasa), so don’t count on one. It is far easier to extend your visa in other areas of China such as Chéngdū, Xīníng or Xī’ān, where a 30-day extension is commonplace.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is particularly recommended in a remote and wild region like Tibet. Check especially that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home, which is essential in the case of altitude sickness. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ such as rafting and even trekking.

You may prefer a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than your having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made. Note that reverse-charge (collect) calls are not possible in Tibet.

It is very useful to have trip- and flight-cancellation insurance if you are heading to Western or Eastern Tibet as these regions are frequently closed with little to no warning. The announcement for opening is made in March or April each year, but some years the region closes again suddenly after a brief opening, or opens later in the season after a prolonged closure.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at. You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.

Legal Matters

Most crimes are handled administratively by the Public Security Bureau (PSB; 公安局; Gōng’ānjú), which acts as police, judge and executioner.

China takes a particularly dim view of opium and all its derivatives. Foreigners have been executed for drug offences (trafficking in more than 50g of heroin can result in the death penalty). It’s difficult to say what attitude the Chinese police will take towards foreigners caught using marijuana – they often don’t care what foreigners do if it’s not political, and if Chinese or Tibetans aren’t involved. Then again the Chinese are fond of making examples of wrongdoings and you don’t want to be the example. If arrested you should immediately contact your nearest embassy, which is probably in Běijīng.

In general, as you must travel throughout Tibet with guides, refrain from doing anything that would get them into trouble, such as visiting off-limits monasteries, photographing riot police or military installations, talking politics openly or even visiting private Tibetan homes without special permission.

Public Security Bureau (PSB)

The PSB is the name given to China’s police, both uniformed and plain clothed. The foreign-affairs branch of the PSB deals with foreigners. This branch (also known as the ‘entry-exit branch’) is responsible for issuing visa extensions and Alien Travel Permits.

In Tibet it is fairly unusual for foreigners to have problems with the PSB, though making an obvious display of pro-Tibetan political sympathies is guaranteed to lead to problems. Photographing Tibetan protests or military sites will lead to the confiscation of your camera or memory card and possibly a brief detention.

Attempting to travel into, through or out of Tibet without a travel permit, or to a destination not listed on your travel permit, is likely to end in an encounter with the PSB, most likely when checking into a hotel in a closed area. If you are caught in a closed area without a permit, you face a fine. Make sure you are friendly and repentant: the only times things get nasty is if you (or the police) lose your cool. Get a receipt to make sure you don’t get fined a second time during your return to where you came from.

If you do have a serious run-in with the PSB, you may have to write a confession of guilt. In the most serious cases, you can be expelled from China (at your own expense).

Low Season (Dec–Feb)

Very few people visit Tibet in winter, so you’ll have key attractions largely to yourself. Hotel prices and many entry tickets are discounted by up to 50%, but some restaurants close.

 Shoulder (Apr & Oct–Nov)

The slightly colder weather means fewer travellers and a better range of vehicles. Prices are 20% cheaper than during high season.

 High Season (May–Sep)

The warmest weather makes travel, trekking and transport easiest. Prices are at their highest, peaking in July and August. Book ahead during the 1 May and 1 October national holidays.