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Kunming to Lhasa Flight: A More Convenient Way to Get to Tibet from Yunnan

Last Update: June 30, 2020

Located in the center of Yunnan Province, Kunming is one of the more popular entry points to Tibet from Southwest China. As a destination from which to get to Tibet, this unique city is a great start to your Tibet tour. And when it comes to traveling from Kunming to Lhasa, flying is ultimately more convenient and faster than any other method of travel.

Why Take the Flight from Kunming to Lhasa?

Taking the flight from Kunming to Lhasa is the obvious choice for tourists that are visiting the southwestern province of Yunnan prior to taking a trip to Tibet. While flying is not the only way to get to Tibet from Kunming, it is the fastest and the most convenient, and is the main option for most tourists heading for Tibet.

Arrive in LhasaTaking a flight is the fastest and most convenient way to Tibet from Yunnan.

The other options are to travel overland from Yunnan to Tibet, which requires a long driving journey through the Hengduan Mountains and Nyingchi, or taking a train back to Chengdu and taking the Tibet Trains from there to Lhasa. Both of these options are long and time-consuming, and for those that do not have a week to get to Tibet, they are not a very good option.

Kunming to Lhasa Flight Schedule

There are currently five direct flights between Kunming and Lhasa, which are offered by Sichuan Airlines, Tibet Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines. Direct flights are the major options for this route, though there are few of the direct flights that run from Kunming to Lhasa via other airports, such as Diqing and Lijiang. This is generally because Kunming is one of the closest cities in China to Lhasa, and the direct flights are much easier to take.

The flights to Lhasa from Kunming take around 2 hours 35 minutes to as long as 3 hours 45 minutes to reach the Tibetan capital, depending on whether or not they have stopovers in Diqing or Lijiang.

Sichuan Airlines 7:30/11:50 Lijiang 4:20h Daily
China Eastern Airlines 8:25/12:40 Diqing 4:15h Daily
China Eastern Airlines 13:20/17:30 Diqing 4:10h Daily
China Eastern Airlines 13:50/16:45 N/A 2:55h Daily
Tibet Airlines 20:15/18:15 N/A 3h Daily

How to Take the Flight from Kunming to Lhasa?

Getting to Lhasa from Kunming is not too hard, as this Southwest China airport is one of the bigger airports in this part of the country. There are just a few things to remember before you take the flight to Lhasa.

Book the flight in advance

It is always best to book the flight well in advance of your trip, as leaving it to the last minute to buy a flight could result in your not being able to get one. This would seriously affect your scheduled arrival in Lhasa, as well as your tour, as well as the limit of the permits that you are required to have. These are date-specific, so you may have problems with your trip if you try to go later instead.

Booking in advance is also a good way to get a good deal on your flights to Tibet. Booking well enough in advance can mean that you get a better price than those that leave it until the last minute to book. Some airlines increase the prices of remaining seats if there is demand, to make more profit, so you could end up paying more at the last minute than someone who booked an identical ticket three months previous.

Obtain the Tibet Travel Permit before you go

You do need to obtain your Tibet Travel Permit before you travel, or you will find that you cannot get onto the flight. The Tibet Travel Permit is required for all travelers that are entering Tibet, and is checked at the airport several times, as well as at a number of checkpoint locations throughout Tibet.

The permit can only be obtained through a registered Tibetan travel agency, who will make the application on your behalf after you have booked your tour to the region. Once approved, which can take up to 15 days, your permit will be sent to your hotel in Kunming for your flight to Lhasa. You will need to show the permit when you check in for the flight, as well as at the boarding gate and once you enter the aircraft.

Head to Kunming Airport for boarding

Kunming Changshui International Airport is actually a large airport with high international standards that offers flights to and from hundreds of local and international destinations. The airport is located around 24 kilometers to the northwest of Kunming City, at an altitude of around 2,100 meters above sea level. Access to the airport can be done by car, taxi, and local buses, as well as the local Kunming Metro system.

Head to Kunming Kunming Changshui International AirportKunming Changshui International Airport offers flights to and from hundreds of local and international destinations.

Airport Expresses run daily several dozen times day from the city center of Kunming to Terminal 1 of the airport, departing every 20-30 minutes, The standard price of the shuttle buses is around 25 yuan per person. The Airport bus also runs this route, and you can take the 919 bus for around 13 yuan per person. However, the buses are limited on the amount of luggage you can bring on board, so if you have a lot, better to take a taxi. Taxis to the airport range from 45 to 70 yuan per trip, so it pays to travel with others if you can.

FAQ about Taking Kunming to Lhasa Flight

a. How to get the cheap flight?

While the flights to Lhasa from Kunming are already a lot cheaper than those from Beijing or Shanghai, it does pay to try and reduce the cost of expensive flights as much as possible. One way to do this is to avoid the peak seasons of tourism in Tibet, and take your trip in the cheaper tourist seasons, from November to March.

You should also avoid the most crowded times, such as the Spring Festival, the Tibetan New year, and the Golden Week (National Day) break in China. The low season and off seasons are much better for finding cheaper flights to Tibet.

b. Which airport should I go to take the flight?

The airport in Kunming for the flights to Lhasa is the Kunming Changshui International Airport, which lies to the northeast of the center of the city, in central Yunnan Province of Southwest China. You can find buses or taxis to get to the airport from the center of the city, or you can have your hotel order the taxi for you, to collect you from the hotel and deliver you direct to the airport.

c. Will I suffer from altitude sickness when taking the flight?

As the airport and the city lie at an altitude of around 1,800 to 2,100 meters above sea level, there is a chance that you may suffer from the effects of altitude sickness once you arrive in Lhasa. Intermediate acclimatization for higher altitudes is normally done at around 2,500-3,000 meters, and you will be unlikely to feel any acclimatization or effects of altitude at the elevation of Kunming.

If you do suffer from the effects of altitude sickness when you arrive in Lhasa, you should get plenty of rest, drink lots to remain hydrated, and avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, and smoking. The effects normally reduce after a day or two, and you will begin to feel better.

d. Can I take a flight to Lhasa from other cities in Yunnan?

There are three airports in Yunnan Province that have flights to Lhasa. As well as the airport at Kunming, you can also get flights to Tibet from the airports in Shangri-La and Lijiang. Shangri-La lies in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest Yunnan, while Lijiang lies slightly south of Diqing.

There are two daily flights to Lhasa from Shangri-La, which take around two hours to reach the Tibetan capital airport. From Lijiang, there is only one direct flight to Lhasa, which departs daily from the Lijiang Sanyi International Airport.


If you are intending to take a Tibet tour from Yunnan, then a flight from Yunnan’s Kunming Changshui international Airport is the best way to get there. While it is not the only way to travel, it is the most convenient. And with the flights being relatively cheap, compared to flights from Beijing and Shanghai, the flights are well worth taking.

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