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Flights to Tibet from US: How to Travel from the USA to Tibet by Air?

Last Update: April 1, 2024

Tibet is far away from the United States. Halfway around the world and as culturally different as it is possible to be, traveling from the US to Tibet is a grand adventure to the roof of the world. With no direct flights from the US to Tibet, connecting through a city in Mainland China or Kathmandu, Nepal, is necessary. There are a lot of options for travelers to choose from. To help you plan your trip, here’s how to travel from the USA to Tibet by air.

How Far is Tibet from the US? The Location Map of China Tibet and the US

Tibet sits in a remote region in southwestern China on the high-elevation Tibetan Plateau, home of the Himalayan mountain range. All the way across the Pacific Ocean, in the western hemisphere, the USA is almost as far away as possible.

Location of China Tibet and NepalLocation of China Tibet and Nepal

Even though the US is a large country that stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, the distance to Lhasa, the capital of Tibetan Autonomous Region, is almost the same from each coast. From New York on the east coast, Lhasa is over 12,000 kilometers to the east across the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and parts of Asia. From Los Angeles, on the west coast, Lhasa is over 12,000 kilometers to the west, across the Pacific Ocean and most of China.

Flights to Tibet from the US via Beijing/Shanghai: The Most Popular Choice

Beijing and Shanghai are the most popular choice for air connections from the United States to Tibet. Both cities have large international airports with many flight connections to cities all over the world.

Flight to Beijing from the USFlight to Beijing from the US

Direct flights to Shanghai are available from some major US cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas. Flying to Shanghai is usually the shorter route for arriving in China. Flights from the west coast of the US take 13.5 hours, and flights from the east coast take 17 to 20 hours.

San Francisco is one of the few US cities with direct flights to Beijing. Flights from many other cities in the US connect through San Francisco or cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, or Taipei. At 13h 50m, San Francisco has the shortest flight time to Beijing. Flying to Beijing from the east coast takes between 20 to 22 hours.

Flights from the USA to Beijing & Shanghai

FromToFlight DurationPrice Range
San Francisco Beijing, Shanghai 13h 50m / 13h 30m $657 - $852
Los Angeles Beijing, Shanghai 16h 15h / 13h 40m $657 - $917
Chicago Beijing (1 stop), Shanghai (1 stop) 20h / 17h 40m $722 - $923
New York Beijing (1 stop), Shanghai (1 stop) 22h 35m / 20h 35m $646 - $ 837
Dallas Beijing (1 stop), Shanghai 20h 20m / 15h 45m $743 - $947
Atlanta Beijing (1 stop), Shanghai (1 stop) 19h 55m / 20h 55m $825 - $1,028

Direct flights from Beijing to Lhasa are available three times a day. Flying time is around 4.5 hours, and tickets cost around 350 USD. From Shanghai, it is necessary to connect through Chengdu or Xi’an. Flight duration is between 7h 15m and 8h 40m. Tickets cost between $324 and $467.

Flights from Beijing to Lhasa

Flight No.Flight RouteDep./Arr.Frequency
CA4125 Beijing-Lhasa 07:45/12:05 Daily
CA4123 Beijing-Lhasa 12:35/16:50 Daily
TV9878 Beijing-Lhasa 14:55/19:35 Daily

Flights from Shanghai to Lhasa

Flight No.Flight RouteDep./Arr.Frequency
TV9882 Shanghai-Lhasa 14:10/21:20 Daily
MU2335 Shanghai-Lhasa 06:45/14:25 Daily

Flights to Tibet from the US via Chengdu: Most Frequent Direct Flights to Lhasa

Having the most frequent direct flights to Lhasa, Chengdu is another popular destination for connections to Tibet from the USA. Flights with only a single stopover are available from all over the US. Connections are through many cities, including Shanghai, Istanbul, Addis Ababa, Hong Kong, and Taipei. Flight times range from 20 to 28.5 hours, depending on the departure point.

Flights from USA to Chengdu

FromToFlight DurationPrice Range
San Francisco Chengdu (1 stop) 25h 55m $657 - $850
Los Angeles Chengdu (1 stop) 20h 5m $753 - $833
Chicago Chengdu (1 stop) 28h 45m $852 - $1,118
New York Chengdu (1 stop) 22h 20m $706 - $863
Dallas Chengdu (1 stop) 27h $1,172 - $1,220
Atlanta Chengdu (1 stop) 28h 30m $1,125 - $1,402

There are more than 20 non-stop flights each day from Chengdu to Lhasa. Flight times are around 2.5 hours, and ticket prices start from $217 on Chengdu Airlines flight EU2741, which departs at 06:55.

Chengdu cityChengdu is a popular connecting city for flights to Tibet from the US.

Flights from Chengdu to Lhasa (Selected)

Flight No.Flight RouteDep./Arr.Frequency
TV9803 Chengdu-Lhasa 06:20/08:30 Daily
CA4403 Chengdu-Lhasa 06:45/09:10 Daily
3U8691 Chengdu-Lhasa 07:30/09:45 Daily
CA4401 Chengdu-Lhasa 08:00/10:20 Daily
TV9823 Chengdu-Lhasa 09:15/11:25 Daily
3U6635 Chengdu-Lhasa 11:30/13:55 Daily
CA4447 Chengdu-Lhasa 13:00/15:20 Daily
CA4405 Chengdu-Lhasa 15:30/17:45 Daily
TV9882 Chengdu-Lhasa 18:55/21:20 Daily

Flights to Tibet from the US via Guangzhou: Exploring Alternative Routes

As an alternate route from the United States, Guangzhou is an accessible major city in Mainland China, right across from Hong Kong. Non-stop flights are available from Los Angeles for a relatively quick 14h 50m flight. Other departure points connect through various cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Cairo.

Flights from USA to Guangzhou

FromToFlight DurationPrice Range
San Francisco Guangzhou (1 stop) 16h 10m $637 - $871
Los Angeles Guangzhou 14h 50m $637 - $851
Chicago Guangzhou (1 stop) 28h 20m $762 - $849
New York Guangzhou (1 stop) 23h 35m $719 - $963
Dallas Guangzhou (1 stop) 22h 20m $712 - $1,037
Atlanta Guangzhou (1 stop) 23h 30m $1,151 - $1,382

From Guangzhou, it is necessary to stopover in another city. Depending on stopover times, it is possible to arrive in Lhasa in around 6 to 7 hours. Ticket prices range between $308 and $406. Two of the best options are:

Flights from Guangzhou to Lhasa

Flight No.Flight RouteDep./Arr.Frequency
CZ3463 Guangzhou-Lhasa 08:05/14:10 Daily
MU5774 Guangzhou-Lhasa 09:00/14:50 Daily

Flights to Tibet from the US via Kathmandu: Only International Flight to Lhasa

Kathmandu is the only international city with a direct flight to Lhasa and a fascinating place to visit together with a Tibet tour. It can be reached from major US cities with a single connection through cities like Doha, Mumbai, and Istanbul. The flight can last between 17 and 21 hours, and tickets are reasonably priced from $550 to around $1,000.

Kathmandu Swayambhunath StupaAmerican tourists can fly to Kathmandu first before transfering to Tibet.

Flights from USA to Kathmandu

FromToFlight DurationPrice Range
San Francisco Kathmandu (1 stop) 21h 20m $553 - $812
Los Angeles Kathmandu (1 stop) 21h 20m $631 - $877
Chicago Kathmandu (1 stop) 18h 35m $561 - $714
New York Kathmandu (1 stop) 17h 45m $605 - $801
Dallas Kathmandu (1 stop) 23h $709 - $1,061
Atlanta Kathmandu (1 stop) 18h 55m $698 - $921

The only non-stop flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is operated by Himalaya Airlines. It is available weekly on Mondays. The flight takes 1h 20m and costs $493.

Permits for Traveling from US to Tibet by Flight

American travelers need a Chinese Tourist Visa and a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. The Chinese Visa is easy to obtain through the nearest embassy or consulate. It usually takes four business days to get a single-entry visa. The Tibet Travel Permit is applied for after obtaining the Chinese Visa. The process takes 7-14 days, but we recommend starting at least 20 days in advance. Our tour packages include the service of applying for the travel permit on your behalf.

Traveling to areas in Tibet outside of Lhasa requires additional permits. The Alien’s Travel Permit, issued by the Public Service Bureau, is needed to visit places like Shigatse, Nyingchi, and the Mount Kailash region. Additionally, Military Area Entry Permit and Foreign Affairs Permit are required for sensitive areas, such as border regions. We will also apply for these permits on your behalf.

The process for entering Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal, is different. Instead of a Chinese Tourist Visa, travelers entering from Nepal need to obtain a Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu. The Tibet Travel Permit is issued along with the visa. Please be aware that any other China visas are canceled when obtaining a group visa in Kathmandu. Again, we will help to get the Chinese Group Visa and Tibet Travel Permit for you.


While you may not be able to get direct flights to Tibet from anywhere in the United States, you do have a huge number of options for direct flights to China and connecting flights to Nepal. And with such a wide range of possible travel routes to get to Lhasa for your epic adventure, finding the right flight for you is not going to be a hard choice.

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