What should I be aware of when going to the Tibetan Autonomous Region? See answers to our Traveling to Tibet FAQs and Tips.
- How do I get to Tibet?
- Do I need a permit?
- If I’m already in China, how do I get a Tibet Travel Permit?
- How is the weather in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
- Can I access internet in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
- Is Tibet ever closed to foreign visitors?
- Is there a risk of high altitude sickness?
- Do I need vaccinations for traveling to Tibet?
- How are bathrooms in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
- Have more questions?
How do I get to Tibet?
Tibet can only be accessed via mainland China or Nepal. We recommend entering through mainland China, as the Tibet Travel Permit can be applied for in advance if using this route. If you enter through Nepal, you must apply for a new Chinese visa in Kathmandu (if you already have a valid Chinese visa, it will not be accepted, and will be canceled in order to apply for the new one on-site in Kathmandu) before you can apply for Tibet Travel Permit.
When entering Tibet via mainland China, you have two options: flight or train.
There usually direct flight options from Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an Kunming and Shangri-La. Flying is the quickest and most-direct option.
The train is an overnight journey from Xining to Lhasa and takes ~22 hours. This is a great option if you have more time, are interested in seeing the scenery along the Tibetan plateau, and seeking a slower acclimatization to the elevation.
Do I need a permit?
You will need a Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter the region. WildChina will arrange this permit for you and send it to you before you fly to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, but please be aware that travel to and within TAR is subject to change with very little notice. In order to do this, you will need to first have a valid Chinese visa. Since the permit takes up to 14 days to process, please ensure you apply for your Chinese visa ahead of time so that it is ready at least 15 days before you intend to enter the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
We advise arranging a phone call with your travel designer before applying for your Chinese visa so we can explain in more detail what to expect and how best to apply.
Once you’ve received your Chinese tourist visa (L visa), we will require a scanned copy of the photo page of your passport and your Chinese visa page, in order to apply for your Tibet Travel Permit.
If traveling outside of Lhasa (still in Tibet) you will also require an Alien’s Travel Permit and Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (TTB Permit). This will be arranged by WildChina and you will receive the permit once in Lhasa. The cost of these is already included in the land cost.
The Tibet Public Security Bureau requires that a detailed itinerary is submitted when applying for these documents and this itinerary must be followed precisely. As such, it is important to be aware that unplanned deviations from our itinerary are not usually possible.
When handling your Tibet Travel Permit, please take care, as there is a small (not-very-sticky) sticker, which renders the document valid. If this sticker falls off, the document is no longer considered valid and will be rejected by authorities.
If I’m already in China, how do I get a Tibet Travel Permit?
If you are working in China and hold a different type of visa than L (tourist), you will
need to provide both a scanned copy of the photo page of your passport and your Chinese visa page, as well as the below additional paperwork:
- Business (F) visa – a letter of recommendation from your company (with the official company seal).
- Work (Z) visa – a letter of recommendation from your company (with the official company seal) and a scanned copy of your work permit.
- Student (X) visa – a letter of recommendation from your school or university, with the school stamp (seal) and a scanned copy of the student ID card.
- Other Types – Diplomats, journalists, and government officials have separate requirements.
Please email us directly to inquire about getting a TTP for these visa types.
How is the weather in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
Temperatures in the Tibetan Autonomous Region can drop dramatically in the evening. Remember to bring plenty of layers of warm clothing or, if you prefer to travel light, we also recommend purchasing warm clothing in Lhasa then donating the items to a local school/orphanage at the end of your trip!
Can I access internet in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
Wifi is available in all hotels we use in the region, however it is relatively slow in some areas. 4G is not available, and if you use a VPN service, it may be slower than normal.
Is Tibet ever closed to foreign visitors?
Tibet is closed to foreign visitors during certain months of each year. Exact dates differ each year with little to no warning depending on current circumstances, but the Tibetan Autonomous Region continuously does not issue travel permits for the month of March.
Is there a risk of high altitude sickness?
Lhasa sits at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,990 feet), and at this height, high-altitude sickness is a risk. High altitudes can make activities, and possibly sleep, more difficult and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can result in headache, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite.
We recommend visiting your physician to discuss your risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) 4-8 weeks before departure if you’re traveling in high altitude locations, mainly Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan. It is likely he/she will suggest taking Diamox (like with any medication, there are possible side effects, so be sure to ask your doctor about specific compatibility), starting 1 day before you reach the high altitude region and continuing while you ascend.
Once there, it’s important to drink plenty of water. WildChina itineraries are planned as such that you have plenty of time to adjust to the altitude and so you can fully enjoy your trip. In the unlikely event of serious altitude sickness, emergency evacuation measures will be taken.
Most luxury hotels in Lhasa provide a free oxygen lounge and a clinic to help with adjusting, and all WildChina guides and vehicles have emergency-use oxygen on-hand at all times.
If you suffer from high altitude sickness, your local guide and our staff will quickly help you to lower altitude and to the nearest hospital if needed. If you need to leave Tibet early due to altitude sickness, please contact your trip designer so they can assist with booking the earliest-possible departure flight.
Do I need vaccinations for traveling to Tibet?
We recommend visiting your personal physician or a travel clinic 4-8 weeks before departure for information regarding vaccinations. For your convenience when speaking to a doctor, we have included the most useful links regarding recommended immunizations prior to traveling in China.
Many immunizations require at least 10-14 days before becoming effective and should be obtained before you travel to China –especially if you plan to visit more remote, rural areas such as Tibet and Yunnan, or spend a lot of time outdoors.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Medical recommendations specific to travel in Tibet
How are bathrooms in the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
Hotel bathrooms are generally high standard with Western toilets. However, bathrooms in local restaurants or places of interest will be quite basic and at times, it may be more pleasant to avoid these toilets and use nature instead. As such, we recommend packing a small toilet kit to bring with you, including tissues, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes. Your guide will also have tissues on-hand for you if needed.
Have more questions?
We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, please visit our travel advisory for the latest information on travel to and around China, or feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our travel experts.
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Take a more profound look at spiritual life in Tibet. You’ll travel through its heart, touring in a loop from Lhasa, along the shores of Yamdrok Tso Lake, through rolling foothills, to Gyantse, Shigatse, and back. At each stop, an adventure, a new facet of Tibetan life to explore.