Lying together either side of the mighty Himalayas in Southeast Asia, Tibet and Nepal make the ideal destinations for a combined tour. From the varied elevations of Nepal, rising up from lowland Terai plains to the heights of the world’s highest mountain, to the vast open expanse of Tibet, plains and prairies lying on the highest plateau on the planet and fringed by mountains that pierce the sky like jagged teeth. Traveling to Nepal and Tibet together is actually one of the most popular options for travelers in this region of Asia, and a combined tour is not as hard as it may sound at first.
Combined tours of Tibet and Nepal have a huge number of benefits for the adventurous tourist, taking you to areas of both destinations that will amaze and astound you with their beauty and uniqueness. From the lowland jungles of the Nepali nature preserves along the Indian border and the delights of the exotic capital city of Kathmandu, the original Newari capital, to the heights of the Potala Palace, standing 300 meters above the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, and the ancient and sacred Jokhang Temple, home to one of the oldest known statues of Buddha to be blessed by the saint himself. All of the amazing highlights of a tour of both Nepal and Tibet can be yours to enjoy and be thrilled over. And it is not as hard task to arrange as you might think.
Get to Tibet or Nepal
Traveling between Nepal and Tibet can be done in both directions, and you can choose which way you want to go. Normally, the direction of travel (from Kathmandu to Lhasa or Lhasa to Kathmandu) is decided based on whether you travel to Tibet from mainland China or prefer to travel to Nepal first and head on to Tibet after. Each direction has its major advantages, though neither has any real downside, as both routes are undoubtedly the adventures of a lifetime.
Kathmandu is rated as a city of temples.
Once you are in China, you have two options for getting to Tibet to start your tour across the plateau to Kathmandu. Flights depart daily from more than a dozen major airports across China to Tibet, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, and many others. The costs of the flights vary, as do the flight times, but if you are looking for a fast and efficient way to reach the plateau, there is no better way than flying. And the airports at Chengdu and Chongqing are amongst the most popular for flights to Tibet.
If flying is not to your liking, you can always take a train to the plateau region. Tibet Trains depart from seven major departure locations across China, including Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, And Xining, the seven “gateway” cities to Tibet. Trains can take a lot longer than flights, anywhere from 22-55 hours to reach the plateau capital, but are a much more relaxed and pleasant way to travel. They are also the cheaper option for budget travelers to Tibet, and cost a lot less that flights from the same departure cities.
Nepal is a landlocked country, so unless you are planning a long road-trip through India, the best way to reach this Himalayan nation is by flight to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. However, while there are dozens of departure airports across the whole Asian continent that have direct daily flights to Nepal, there are no direct flights from outside Asia to Kathmandu. For anyone flying to Nepal from outside the Asian Continent (which includes Russia and the Middle East), you will need to get connecting flights to another Asian country first.
Obtain Travel Documents to Visit Tibet and Nepal
It matters little which way you enter these two amazing destinations, you will still require (almost) the same documents to get in to each destination. The order in which you get them, however, depends on where you start.
If you are entering from mainland China, you will first need your Chinese Entry Visa, which is then used to obtain your Tibet Travel Permit. The visa can be arranged through the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your home country, while the Tibet Travel Permit is applied for on your behalf by us, as your travel agency, using a scanned copy of your passport with visa. The permit is only available to travelers once they have booked a pre-arranged tour, and can only be obtained by the travel agency from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa.
Processing of the permit can take as long as 15-20 days, depending on the season and how busy it is, so it is advisable to book well in advance to ensure that it is complete before you travel to Tibet.
For those entering Nepal first, the documents you require to enter Tibet are a little different. Instead of the usual Chinese Entry Visa, you will be provided with what is known as the Chinese Group Visa. Only available to tourists entering China from Nepal, the Group Visa is applied for using your original passport once you arrive in Kathmandu. Processing normally takes around three working days, and it will be applied for and collected on your behalf by our local representative in the Nepali capital.
Obtaining the Tibet Travel Permit for those entering from Nepal is done the same way as for those entering from mainland China, with the exception that the visa is not required for the application. Rather, the permit is required for the visa application in Kathmandu.
Travel between Tibet and Nepal by Overland or Air
There are two ways to travel from Nepal to Tibet, and vice versa – by flight or by overland travel. Each has its own benefits, and which you choose is entirely up to you. The flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa also mean that you can enter Tibet from Nepal and start the tour in Lhasa, or enter overland and then get a flight back to Nepal after.
Travel Overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu
As an important highway connecting Tibet and Nepal, the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway plays a fundamental role in any overland tour, whether from Lhasa to Kathmandu or Kathmandu to Lhasa. The highway starts in Lhasa, the City of Sunshine and the home of the famous Potala Palace and the Sacred Jokhang Temple. After leaving the city, the route takes you past the beautiful Lake Yamdrok, one of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet, and through Gyantse, home of the largest stupa in Tibet, and on to Shigatse, Tibet’s second city and the seat of the Panchen Lama.
Magnificent Himalaya range will be within your view as you follow the Friendship Highway.
From Shigatse, the road turns a little off course to head to the most outstanding sight in the world, the massive Mount Everest, highest mountain peak on the planet. After spending a night at the Everest Base Camp, the tour rejoins the Friendship Highway and runs past Peiku Tso to Gyirong Town, close to the Nepal border. The road crosses the border into Nepal at Gyirong Port, passing over the Resuo Bridge that spans the deep and wide Trishuli River Gorge, the natural border between Nepal and China.
Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa
Flights runs daily between Lhasa and Kathmandu, and Nepal is the only country in the world that has unrestricted international access to Tibet. However, the flights are all run by Chinese Airlines, which includes Sichuan Airlines and the flagship carrier of China, Air China.
Flights depart several times a day in the peak season, with less flights in the winter months from December to March. The 607-kilometer flight between capitals takes just 90 minutes, and the flight path runs directly across the summit of Mount Everest, giving a good view of the peak from the windows of the plane, if you are on the correct side.
Witness the summit of Mount Everest by taking the flight from Kathamndu to Lhasa.
While taking the overland adventure is a great way to get to Lhasa from Kathmandu, the flight is the fastest way to travel, and is actually a lot easier for taking an overland tour between Lhasa and Kathmandu. The Group Visa from Nepal to enter China states that all members of the party are required to enter and leave by the same port, which means that it is easier to fly to Lhasa first then travel overland to Nepal than to travel overland to Lhasa and fly back to Nepal. It is also easier in terms of altitude sickness, as you get a full 2+ days to acclimatize to the high altitude of Lhasa when traveling this way, as opposed to just one day in Gyirong Town when traveling overland from Nepal. This also makes it easier when visiting EBC, the highest altitude tourists will stay at overnight.
Join in an Organized Tibet Nepal Group Tour with us
Joining in with an organized pre-arranged tour is one of the easiest ways to explore Lhasa and the rest of Tibet in conjunction with a trip to Nepal. Our amazing Tibet and Nepal tours across the plateau take you to all of the major sights and sites of interest, and give you the chance to travel down from the awesome Tibetan plateau to the lush Kathmandu Valley. You get to explore the amazing and massive Himalayas from both sides, and can even visit the Nepali side of Mount Everest if you are so inclined after you arrive in Nepal, which has its own base camp.
The most popular way to visit the plateau and Nepal, this week-long excursion gives you an amazing opportunity to not only learn more about the unique Tibetan culture, people, and religion, but to experience the differences and similarities with Nepali religions and culture. What’s more, a Group Tour is an excellent way to save money, as elements of the trip are shared with other members of the tour.
Joining in a Tibet Nepal group tour for a smooth and wonderful journey with us.
Our local Tibetan guides are all well experienced in handling guided tours across the plateau, and speak excellent English, as well as having some that speak other European languages as well. Our drivers are all professional drivers with many years of experience handling tour vehicles on the high-altitude plateau roads, and are responsible for the safety of their passengers for the entire tour.
And our professional and experienced travel advisors can give you all the information you need on your chosen destinations, help you to decide where to go and when to travel best, and will make all the arrangements for the permits, hotels, and even your train or flight tickets if requested, so you do not have to lift a finger. They are also available 24/7 for your queries and concerns once you have begun your tour on the plateau by cellphone from the tour vehicle or via your guide.
If you are considering taking a trip to Nepal and Tibet, then there is no better time to do so than right now. As one of the most exciting adventures on the plateau, second only to visiting the world’s most sacred mountain for many, an extended tour across the vast plains and prairies and mountain ranges of the Tibetan plateau combined with a trip through Nepal to Kathmandu, is the adventure of a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? We are right here, ready to make all your dreams come true.