For many tourists especially first-timers to Tibet, there are always many things to consider and figure out. For the convenience of tourists, we collect the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Tibet in recent times. Check to find the answers and get more informed and well-prepared for your lifetime Tibet trip.
1. Can I Still Travel to Tibet This Year?
Normally, Tibet is open for most time of the year, except for the Tibetan New Year festival period between late Feb.
At this moment, Tibet is open to China expats due to COVID-19. Foreigners working or studying in mainland China can pay a visit to Tibet now.
While for overseas tourists, you can hopefully have the chance to go to Tibet in 2023. The travel restrictions are largely relaxed now throughout the country, including the Tibet Autonomous Region. So you can plan your Tibet tour now and make preparations.
2. Is It Safe to Travel to Tibet?
Tibet is a safe place to travel just like many other places in Asia. Moreover, it can be much safer than a few regions than you have supposed. Firstly, it is very safe to get to Tibet by train. The Tibet train runs steadily on the world-miracle Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and can bring you smoothly to the plateau from seven gateway cities in mainland China.
Tibet is a safe place to visit like many other places in Asia.
Secondly, the region of Tibet has rapidly grown up in infrastructure construction to meet the needs of tourists from home and abroad. Broad and wide national roads, and five-star hotels are available now. There are seldom crimes or thefts that happened as most Tibetans are devout Buddhists, being kind and modest. They are hospitable and friendly to tourists to Tibet.
Also, all foreigners are required to tour Tibet with an accompanying guide according to the local policy. The guides are all local Tibetans who speak fluent English or other languages. Even if you travel solo to Tibet, there is no need to worry too much about the safety issue.
3. Do I Need a Permit to Visit Tibet?
Yes. For all international tourists to Tibet, you need to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit in addition to Chinese Visa. The Tibet Travel Permit is also called Tibet Permit or Tibet Visa, can only be applied by an authorized travel agency, since individual application is not allowed. We can help you get the permit, and the copies of your passport and Chinese Visa are required to send to us ahead of time. It takes around 8-9 working days to get the permit issued.
4. How to Get to Tibet? by Train or Flight?
Getting to Tibet can be realized by train or flight, or even overland. If you enter Tibet from mainland China, you are recommended to take the train to Tibet. Tibet trains bound for Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Xining, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an etc., and take about 22-52 hours on the way. The advantage is that you can adapt to the elevation gradually along the route. Also it is a rare chance to appreciate the breathtaking scenery along the railway.
The impressive natural scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway
If you enter Tibet from Nepal, you can choose to take a direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa or travel overland across Gyirong border. The flight take only 1.5 hours to reach Lhasa Gonggar Airport. It is the only international fight to Tibet.
The overland trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa, on the other side, is a widely popular way to choose among tourists. The road follows the smooth Friendship Highway, traversing the mighty Himalayas, and will take you to see many highlights in Tibet, like Mount Everest, Yamdrok Lake, Korala Glacier etc. If you happen to plan a one-week trip in Tibet, you should not miss this world-class overland journey.
5. Is Independent Travel Allowed in Tibet?
Independent travel in Tibet is not allowed at present. All foreign visitors have to join in an organized group to tour around Tibet. You need to contact a local travel agency to handle your tour in Tibet. The tour group can be any size of members, as long as you are accompanied by a local guide and driver.
You can book a private tour through your tour operator, if you want to travel solo in Tibet, or you prefer enjoying your trip only with your close friends or families. Or, you can also join in a small group tour which usually includes no more than 12 members. In this way, you can lower your travel cost and even meet some like-minded friends during your journey.
6. What Can I Do to Avoid Altitude Sickness?
Before your tour, do some physical examination or ask your doctor whether you are capable of visiting high-elevation places. Prepare some necessary medicines for altitude sickness relief, like Acetazolamide, Dexamethasone etc. Do consult your doctor whether the drugs are proper or will not have side effects. Do not catch a cold before you get to Tibet, as it will lead you more vulnerable to altitude sickness.
After you reach Tibet, first rest yourself and stay in Lhasa for a couple of days before you rush to higher places like Mount Everest. This can help to acclimate to the high altitude. And do not take a shower in the first two days in case of getting a cold. Drink enough water and keep proper dining all the way.
7. How Much Will I Spend for a Trip to Tibet?
The travel cost on your trip to Tibet depends on many factors, like how many days you will spend, what kind of vehicle you will take, different types of hotels to choose, tips on drivers or guides and so on. In general, the transportation and accommodation will spend the most money during your journey.
Join in a group tour to save cost on your Tibet trip
If you want to save on your budget, you can choose the train, which is much cheaper than the fight. Also, when considering the hotels, do not ignore guest houses or Tibetan hotels, which can be both comfortable and cost-effective sometimes.
Also, try to visit in low seasons like wintertime, when there are many discount offers by airlines, hotels, as well as attraction admissions. A winter trip to Tibet will not be humdrum at all, as there are many unique highlights during this time, like sunshiny Lhasa city, clear view of snowy mountain peaks, traditional Tibetan festivals.
8. What to Eat during My Stay in Tibet?
There are many types of food and dishes you can have in Tibet. First, if you want to taste local food, you should not miss the traditional Tibetan food, like Tsampa, aired dried meat, Tibetan momos (similar to Chinese jiaozi), Tibetan noodles, Tibetan butter or milk tea, barley wine etc. You can ask your guide to recommend the most authentic Tibetan restaurant for you. If you are not so much keen no local food, there are also many other types of dishes like Sichuan food, Nepali dishes, western food etc.
9. How about the Hotels in Tibet?
The accommodation conditions in Tibet have been largely improved in recent years. It may not be that excellent compared to other cities in mainland China, but the overall condition is favorable. There are many star-rated hotels in major cities like Lhasa, Shigatse, Nyingchi etc. In Lhasa, there are even five-star hotels like Luxury St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise etc. Budget guesthouse or Tibetan-style hotels can also be found always. In remote places of Tibet, like Mount Everest Base Camp, Ngari Prefecture, the accommodation will be much frugal. But basic living requirements will be satisfied.
A double room of a Tibetan style hotel in Lhasa
10. How to Find a Reliable Tibet Travel Agency?
First, make sure that the travel agency is based in Lhasa, Tibet. It should be capable of providing one-stop service for your Tibet trip, like Tibet travel permit application, hotel bookings, local guide and vehicle etc. Second, the agency should have a certain years of running experiences, offers various short or long-term tours to meet different types of tourists. Third, the agency should have a team of professional local guides and customer services, to guarantee your trip to go smoothly from beginning to end.
Planning a trip to Tibet can normally be troublesome and energy-consuming. But there are always a way to your problem or question. As the leading tour operator in Tibet with years of experiences based in Lhasa, we are glad to help you with your Tibet trip. Just feel free to contact us to inquiry anything you want to know or leave your comments below.