For people wanting to travel to Tibet from the United Kingdom, there are no direct flights to Lhasa. However, you can take flights to either China or Nepal to enter Tibet. Flights to China do run direct from the UK, and while there are no direct flights to Nepal, you can get good connections through India.
Fly from UK to Tibet via Mainland China
Flights run direct from the United Kingdom to several destinations in mainland China, from where you can get connecting flights to Lhasa. All flights from London to China are long-haul flights that take from around nine to ten hours. All flights from London in England run to China from Heathrow International Airport.
London – Beijing – Lhasa
The flight from London to Beijing runs directly just twice a day, with either Air China or British Airways, the flagship airlines for both countries. The flight with Air China actually arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport, while the British Airways flight lands in the nearby Beijing Daxing International Airport, around 43 kilometers from the city center of Beijing.
The British Airways flight lands in Beijing Daxing International Airport.
The flights take from 9 hours 40 minutes to 10 hours 5 minutes, and can cost from between 572 and 604 US dollars per person for economy long-haul flights. Both flights arrive the day after departure, due to time differences between the United Kingdom and China.
The flights from Beijing to Lhasa run only twice a day, and depart in the mornings, at 7:35 am and 8:15 am. This means that you will not be able to get the connecting flights the same day, and will need to stop over in Beijing for an added day to catch the flights to Lhasa the next morning. The flights from Beijing to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport take around 4 hours 30 minutes and cost from as much as 426 US dollars per person.
London – Shanghai – Lhasa
Currently, there is only one direct flight from London Heathrow to Shanghai, which arrives at the Pudong International Airport the day after departure from London. The flight to Shanghai takes around 10 hours 40 minutes, and can cost from as much as 3,000 US dollars per person. Direct long-haul flights from London to Shanghai are expensive, and only offered by China Eastern Airways.
There is only one direct flight from London Heathrow to Shanghai.
To make the flight more affordable, you need to take a connecting flight via Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and other connecting locations. Flights with one connection can cost as little as 417 US dollars per person, and you should be prepared to fly the connecting routes to save money.
From Shanghai, there is only one direct flight to Lhasa, which departs at 6:45am daily from Pudong International Airport. The flight from Shanghai to Lhasa, which is offered by China Eastern, takes around eight hours, with a stopover in Xi’an for an hour, and costs around 425 US dollars per person.
London – Guangzhou – Lhasa
There is only one non-stop flight from London Heathrow International Airport to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangdong province of Southern China. The direct flight takes around 11 hours and can cost from as much as 591 US dollars per person. Indirect flights via Beijing can be cheaper, at around 463 dollars each, but can increase travel time to around 15 hours. You can also get connecting flights via Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Paris that can keep the price down to below 600 dollars, but can take from 14 hours to 17 hours to reach Guangzhou.
Guangzhou only has one direct flight to Lhasa, which departs from the Baiyun International Airport at around 8:10am daily. The flight from Guangzhou to Lhasa takes around 5 hours to reach Lhasa, and costs from around 320 US dollars per person for one-way economy tickets. Several of the indirect flights arrive in time to take the morning flight to Lhasa, but if you are not in a hurry, then spending the day in Guangzhou can be enlightening.
London – Hong Kong – Lhasa
Hong Kong is one of the most connected cities in Asia for flights from the United Kingdom, and you can find five non-stop flights from London Heathrow International Airport to the former colony. The flights generally cost from around 462 dollars per person, but for those on a budget, you can reduce the cost of the flights to as little as 400 dollars by taking connecting flights via Amsterdam, Paris, or Munich. Flights generally take around 11 hours 45 minutes to as long as 12 hours 5 minutes, with connecting flights taking up to 14-15 hours.
Hong Kong is one of the most connected cities in Asia for flights from UK.
There are no direct flights to Tibet from Hong Kong yet, though this is expected to open in the near future, once the details of the Tibet Airlines new schedules are released. Until then, you will need to take connecting flights via Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi’an to get to Lhasa. Flights via Chengdu can cost from around 283 dollars for the flight to Chengdu and then 155 dollars to Lhasa, while the flights via Chongqing cost from 139 dollars from Hong Kong to Chongqing and then 127 dollars from Chongqing to Lhasa. For those traveling through Xi’an, the flights from Hong Kong cost around 199 US dollars per person, while the flights on to Lhasa cost from 147 US dollars each.
Fly from UK to Tibet via Nepal
There are no direct flights from the United Kingdom to Nepal, so you will need to get connecting flights to the Himalayan country on the edge of the plateau. However, the flights are relatively cheap, compared to flights to China, and you can get a good connecting flight with 1-2 connections for as little as 303 US dollars per person.
The downside of this is that you may need to make overnight layovers in other countries en-route to Nepal, though none are more than the 24 hours allowed for airport transits. The flights also depart from London Heathrow International Airport, London Luton International Airport, London Stanstead International Airport, and London Gatwick International Airport.
You can tour Kathmandu while you stop in Nepal.
Getting a connecting flight to Lhasa once you arrive in Nepal is not an option for travelers from the United Kingdom, as you will need to stop in Kathmandu for 3-5 days to process your Group Visa to enter China. The flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu run daily to the Tibetan capital, and cost from around 230 US dollars per person for the 90-minute flights.
Travel Permits for Flying from UK to Tibet
All tourists to Tibet are required to be on pre-arranged tours, as only registered travel agencies with the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa can apply for the required documents to enter the Tibet Autonomous Region.
As well as your visa for entry into China, you will also need to have the Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter Tibet and travel in the area of Lhasa. The permit is processed by us on your behalf, and can take around 10-15 days to procure, so you do need to book your Tibet tour early. There are also other permits for travel to Tibet, which can be processed once you arrive in Lhasa, depending on your travel itinerary on the plateau.
For those entering from Nepal, you will not need the normal entry visa for China, as the Chinese Group Visa will be issued using our agents once you arrive in Kathmandu, Processing of the Group Visa takes around three working days, so you will need to be in Nepal up to five days before departure for Tibet to process your visa.
Flights to China from the United Kingdom are actually more frequent than you may think, and you can get some good deals on the price of the flights to the major departure locations for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Flights to China are long-haul flights, and while the flights to Beijing or Shanghai are good, you can also fly through Hong Kong, which is a more frequent route for tourists from the UK. And if you are traveling to Tibet from Nepal, then be prepared for several connections and long waiting times to reach the Himalayan country for your trip to the Roof of the World.