In a new year of 2021, the world health situation keeps changing. And many of our old and new clients wrote to us asking: Is Tibet open to foreigners? When can I travel to Tibet? Is it safe to travel to Tibet now? How could I plan my Tibet trip this year, and so on.
Here, to help you figure out all these important concerns before your trip to Tibet, we worked out the most detailed guide for your reference. Hope you can get inspired on planning your Tibet tour in 2021.
Is Tibet Open to Tourists? Can I Visit Tibet in 2021?
In a normal year, Tibet is open to international tourists for most time of a year. And one will need a Chinese Visa and Tibet Travel Permit to visit Tibet. There are only some restricted remote areas that are closed to foreigners.
Tibet is temporarily closed to foreign tourists
Currently, Tibet is still closed to foreign tourists due to the prevention situation of Covid-19. Overseas tourists are not allowed to enter China and can not obtain a Chinese Tourist Visa at present in the first place. However, one can make a pre-book for a later date. Once the land of Tibet is reopened, you can go on with your travel plan and enjoy your trip to Tibet.
Expats in China will be able to visit Tibet from March 2021
The good news is that, expats living in mainland China will have the opportunity to visit Tibet from March 2021, according to the local policy. That means, foreigners working or studying in mainland China will be able to visit Tibet from this spring, in accordance with the local rules on coronavirus prevention.
Is It Safe to Visit Tibet in 2021?
Tibet is safer than many places in the world
Tibet is quite a safe place to visit, and is safer than many other places on the planet. Most Tibetans are devout Buddhists, they are humble and kind, being ashamed of stealing and robbery. They are also warm-hearted to help foreign visitors if you ask for help.
Tibetan people are always kind and friendly to others.
The local public security is also well maintained. Even for sole woman tourist, you can have faith on touring Tibet. And since foreigners need to be accompanied by a local guide and a driver, you will feel quite safe during the sightseeing in Tibet.
Just do prevention cautions about the altitude sickness, as the land is rather high above sea level (4000 averagely). And pay attention to some natural disasters, like landslide in some overland routes during rainy season. Also, comply with the local customs and avoid not to break their religious taboos.
COVID-19 updates in Tibet
So far, there has been only 1 confirmed case of Covid-19 in Tibet, and it has been cured and discharged from the hospital a long time ago. The reason why the epidemic is not serious in Tibet can be that the overall environment is relatively oxygen deficient, and the high intensity of ultraviolet light makes virus hard to spread. Also, unlike other places in mainland China, Tibet is vast in area yet sparsely populated.
Covid-19 Situation in Tibet (data updated to 2. 1, 2021)
|Current Confirmed Cases||Total Confirmed Cases||Recovered||Total Deaths|
What Visas and Permits are Needed for Touring Tibet?
To visit Tibet, international tourists need to get the Tibet Travel Permit and Chinese Visa. The two documents are the primary to enter Tibet. Beyond that, one may also need more documents to visit some remote areas in Tibet.
How to get Chinese Visa?
It is easy to get yourself a Chinese Visa. You can apply for it at any Chinese Embassy in your own country or through a third country. Your passport will be needed for application, and should be valid for at least 6 months. Usually, it takes 4 business days to process the Chinese Visa. It is suggested to not mention visiting Tibet when apply for the Chinese Visa, in case you may need more procedures during the application.
How to get the Tibet Travel Permit?
The application of Tibet Travel Permit is not that complicated as many have assumed. According to the policy, individual application of the permit is not allowed, so one need to contact a travel agency to handle the permit application. Here we offer the simple steps to help you get the Tibet Travel Permit.
Step 1: Book your Tibet tour with us, and confirm your travel itinerary in Tibet.
Step 2: Send us the copies of your passport and Chinese Visa.
Step 3: We will help to submit the permit application on your behalf.
Step 4: Get your Tibet Permit before heading to Tibet.
The Tibet permit will be checked before you board the train or flight to Lhasa. It is recommended to start the application at least 2 weeks before your departure date.
How to Get to Tibet?
Currently, one can get to Tibet via mainland China or Nepal. Depending on your own travel itinerary or budget, you can choose the flight, train or even overland route. Here we list the most recommended ways to get to Tibet for most travelers.
Get to Tibet from China: fly to Xining and then take train to Lhasa
If you plan to get to Tibet via mainland China, you can first fly to an entry city like Beijing or Shanghai from your home country. Then for getting to Tibet, we suggest you to first fly to Xining and then take the Tibet train to Lhasa.
Taking the Tibet train enables one to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
There are many benefits to do so. First, it can be more cost-efficient than a straight flight journey. Especially during peak travel season, the flights to Tibet will charge quite high. Secondly, one can enjoy the breathtaking railway scenery in the shortest train ride from Xining (less than 24 hours). Trains to Lhasa from other cities like Beijing, Guangzhou all take so long, averagely lasting 40 hours. Also, one can better acclimatize to the plateau altitude when taking the train.
Get to Tibet from Nepal: fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu
For tourists who are going to enter Tibet from Nepal, you are recommended to take direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa. As the only one international flight to Tibet, Kathmandu to Lhasa flight takes only around 1 hour and 30 minutes. If the weather permits, you can also see the summit view of Mount Everest from plane window.
When is the Best Time to Visit Tibet?
Tibet actually can be visited all the year round, and generally the best time is from April to October, which includes spring, autumn and monsoon season of the land. In spring and autumn, the plateau is provided with mild and stable weather. And you can visit most areas of the land during this time. The clear sky and fresh air of autumn season is especially friendly for trekking in Tibet.
The best time to visit Tibet is from April to October with nice weather.
Summer is also one of the best seasons to visit Tibet, despite some regions of Tibet may have heavy rainfall. The weather is warm, not as hot as other places due to the high elevation. And kinds of colorful flowers bloom, making the plateau landscape more stunning. Just pay attention to possible mudslide if you travel overland in Tibet.
In addition, winter is also a good time to tour some areas in Tibet, like Lhasa city. The winter in Lhasa is not extremely cold, but actually warmer than many places in northern China. And the sunshine in wintertime is quite strong here. It is also excellent chance to save your Tibet tour cost for budget travelers .
Where to Visit in Tibet? Most Recommended Places in Tibet
Tibet is an abundant land for travel and sightseeing. There are both splendid cultural attractions like Potala Palace and breathtaking natural sites like Namtso Lake. Here we will list the most recommended places to visit in Tibet for your reference.
The capital city of Lhasa is undoubtedly one’s first choice to visit in Tibet. Lying at a lower altitude of 3650 meters, Lhasa is a good place for anyone to adapt to the plateau. It is suggested to spend 2 days to tour this city’s gorgeous landmarks: the Potala Palace, the highest palace in the world; Jokhang Temple, the most revered temple in Tibet; Barkhor Street, the place to witness local’s life; the Sera and Drepung Monastery, two of the "great three" Gelug university gompas of Tibet.
Lively Barkhor Street is a must-see for tourists to visit Lhasa city.
Also, the Lhasa trip can extend from downtown to its outskirts. One can travel north to Namsto Lake, or travel southwest to Yamdrok Lake, to enjoy the beautiful plateau lake views on the plateau.
Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest can be visited from both Nepal and Tibet sides. And the Everest Base Camp in Tibetan side (5200m) is easier to reach, and popular among most ordinary tourists. Here you can catch the stunning summit view of Mount Everest, and appreciate the starry night when the weather is clear. For energetic travelers, you can also trek to the Everest Base Camp from Old Tingri, making a unique experience of your Tibet tour.
Mount Kailash is the most sacred mountain in Tibetan’s heart. Every year, pilgrims from all over Tibet make a long pilgrimage trip to this yearly snow-capped mountain. Tourists can do the three-day kora around Mount Kailash, following steps of the devout believers, to experience a lifetime challenge and get blessings from this holy mountain.
Mount Kailash is popular among adventurous travellers to Tibet.
Overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu
The overland route from Lhasa to Kathmandu is a world-class road trip. Taking around seven days to cover all highlights along the way, one will enjoy Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse Kumbum, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Everest Base Camp etc., in one go. If you have no other plans on your Tibet tour itinerary, this route is absolutely recommended and worthwhile to try.
How to Keep Healthy when Touring Tibet?
Health concerns is a big issue when travelling to anywhere in the world. And for the land of Tibet, the main concerns will be the altitude sickness, and other diseases may caused by the plateau environment.
Pay attention to altitude sickness
People travelling to Tibet will more or less suffer from the altitude sickness, with slight or severe degrees of symptoms. The general headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath are normal, and can disappear after one to three days of adaptation. And when there are serious vomiting, vertigo, insomnia or other severe symptoms, one need to take medicine and absorb oxygen, or even go to a doctor.
But there is no need be too nervous, as long as you take effective measures to prevent from altitude sickness. Before enter Tibet, you can take some psychological and physical adaptation exercise. And upon your arrival in Tibet, you are suggested to stay in Lhasa (lower altitude) for a couple of days, before heading to higher mountain areas like Mount Everest.
It is suggested to get well adapted before heading to EBC at a higher alititude.
Avoid heavy physical activities like rush running, jumping etc., and keep yourself warm, as cold can aggravate altitude sickness. Drink more water, and avoid smoking and alcohol in the first two days. Also do not take a shower right after you get to Tibet.
Tips for skin care and more health issues
The plateau of Tibet has strong UV radiation, so it is suggested to wear sunglasses, face mask, and hat when you are trekking or travel in the open field. Also pay attention to moisturize your skin and put your lipstick on, to withstand dry air and heavy wind on the plateau.
Also, one is suggested to eat more carbohydrates and easily digestible food; drink more water to keep your body well hydrated; and dinner should not be too full. It is better to eat more fruits, vegetables and other vitamin-rich foods.
How to Lower the Cost on A Trip to Tibet?
Taking a Tibet tour can be relatively expensive, but there are many ways to cut down your travel budget.
1. Getting to Tibet by train
Among wall the ways for getting to Tibet, the Tibet train can be the cheapest choice. For example, the train ticket from Beijing to Lhasa is 720 RMB for hard sleeper berth, and 1144 RMB for soft sleep berth. While the flight from Beijing to Lhasa will cost at least 2000 RMB. In most cases, it is cost-effective to take a train to Tibet rather than a flight.
2. Visiting Tibet in low season
Tibet is always a popular tourist destination despite its highland environment. But in winter, Tibet enters the off-season. And during this time, flight and hotel prices drop significantly. Many attractions in Tibet also have discounted or even free admissions. Therefore, one can plan a winter trip in Tibet if conditions allowed, to save more cost.
Tibet in winter seasons presents a different charm.
3. Join in a small group tour
As we all know, international tourists need to travel with a tour group when visiting Tibet. For budget travelers, you can join in a small group tour to share the cost with others. With a group more than 12 members, our Tibet small group tours promise the lowest Tibet tour price, with no detour and forced shopping. For solo traveler, you can also meet and make friends with other like-minded travelers.
What to Pack for Touring Tibet?
Due to the low temperature and strong ultraviolet ray in Tibet, it is best not to wear shot-sleeved tops and shorts, even in summer. One should prepare sweaters, down jackets, warm underwear, scarfs, warm hats, gloves etc., to keep warm in Tibet. Especially in winter season, or when go to Mount Everest or Mount Kailash region, one should bring thick down jackets. For shoes, hiking shoes or sneakers are recommended. And if you plan to trek in Tibet, rush clothes, rainproof clothes and quick-dry pants are essential.
Travelling to Tibet in 2021 may be possible, with everything goes smoothly. In the moment you can take the time to rest up and prepare fully for your journey. Meanwhile, as the leading tour operator in Lhasa, we are well ready for your trip to Tibet. You can pre-book your Tibet tour with us to plan your wonderful experience.