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How to Plan a Chongqing and Tibet Tour: Transport, Itinerary, Best Time, and More

Last Update: July 2, 2020

For anyone planning a trip to Chongqing and Tibet, this is a great way to travel to the high plateau region. Chongqing is one of the most popular cities in China for travelers to Tibet, and is a great place to visit before heading off to the land of Buddhist monasteries and high mountains. So if you are thinking of taking a combined trip to Chongqing and Tibet, here are a few tips to help with your planning.

How to Get to Lhasa from Chongqing?

There are two ways to get to Lhasa from Chongqing, by flight or by train. And neither one is better than the other, as both have the advantages and pitfalls compared to the other. One is faster while one is cheaper, and one is much more convenient, while one has comfort and relaxation. Which you use depends on what you require for your journey.

By flight: the most convenient way

Flights are the more convenient way to get to Lhasa from Chongqing, as there are around nine direct flights to the Tibetan capital per day. Chongqing is second only to Chengdu in the high number of flights to Tibet that run daily from the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. The major direct flights to Lhasa from Chongqing are offered by Sichuan Airlines, Tibet Airlines, Southern Airlines, West Air, Xiamen Airlines, and Air China.

Arrive Lhasa Gonggar airportArrive Lhasa Gonggar airport

The flights from Chongqing leave daily from the megacity’s popular airport between 6:10am and 2:45pm, with the average flight taking around 2 hours 45 minutes to reach the Tibetan capital’s airport in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture. And with flights costing from as little as 158 US dollars per person, this is a relatively cost-effective option as well for those that are pressed for time.

By train: the scenic way

The trains to Tibet from Chongqing are one of the most popular trains to Tibet of the seven gateway departure locations across China. Departing every other day for the Tibetan capital, the trains are scheduled on a different day depending on the month. For six months, the trains depart on the odd-numbered days (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.), while for the other six months, they depart on the even-numbered days (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.).

Chongqing Tibet railway viewChongqing Tibet railway view

The trains are the most comfortable way to travel, and the sleeper berths are comfortable and soft, to allow you to sleep easily and well on this 42-hour epic journey to Lhasa. Trains depart at around 8:30pm and arrive in Lhasa at around 1:56 on the third day of travel. And the cost of the train tickets to Lhasa, for both second and first class, is still cheaper than a flight at the same time of year.

How Many Days to Spend for a Chongqing and Tibet tour?

The length of time that you spend on your trip of Chongqing and Tibet is entirely up to you, and you can travel for as short or long a trip as you wish. And the amount of time you spend traveling depends on what you want to see and do in both places.

7 days to tour the essence of Chongqing and Lhasa

A seven-day Chongqing and Tibet trip is the most classic option for many travelers, and you get to explore the essence of both cities during your trip. The tour starts in Chongqing, the stunning municipality that is one of the world’s few megacities. You will get to spend a couple of days sightseeing the amazing sights this city has to offer, before taking a flight to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

Chongqing Hongya CaveChongqing Hongya Cave

Before you fly, you will get to visit some of Chongqing’s premier attractions, including the Three Gorge Museum in the Yuzhong District, Ciqi Kou and its traditional cobbled streets, Hongya Cave, and the famous Dazu Rock Carvings from the 7th century.

In Lhasa, you will get to rest for the first day, then have the chance to tour the amazing sights of the world’s highest capital city. Visit the iconic Potala Palace, walk the kora around the sacred Jokhang Temple and step inside to see the oldest statue of Buddha in existence. Then take a tour of some of the most important Gelug Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet at Sera and Drepung.

Visit Potala PalaceJoin our samll group tour and visit Potala Palace

11 days to include EBC in your Chongqing Tibet trip

If you have a little bit longer to travel, you can add an amazing extension to the Tibetan leg of your tour, and take a lifetime trip to visit the famous EBC from Chongqing. The journey across the plateau takes you through a variety of cities, towns and villages, and lets you explore such places as Gyantse, with its 32-meter Kumbum Stupa and the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, home to the Panchen Lama.

Visit Everest Base CampVisit Everest Base Camp

The last leg of the journey west to EBC takes you along a small country road, yet still well paved, to the base camp of Mount Everest itself. The first base camp to be set up for adventurous mountaineers for their attempts on Mount Everest, EBC in Tibet has been here for 99 years, and has seen some of the world’s greatest explorers cross its paths. And you can spend some time exploring the famed Rongbuk Monastery, which lies close to the EBC site and is the highest Buddhist monastery in the world.

18 days to experience a lifetime Kailash kora

For those with a real sense of adventure and the time to travel, you can opt for an impressive 18-day tour of Chongqing and Tibet to EBC, Kailash and Manasarovar, which will take you across the entire plateau to walk in th4 shadow of the most sacred mountain on the planet. This epic adventure takes you to Mount Kailash, in the far west of Ngari Prefecture in Western Tibet. This amazing pyramid-shaped mountain is held in sacred status by Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and the Bonpo, and is believed to be the earthly representation of the legendary Mount Meru, the mountain at the center of the universe.

Experience Mount Kailash kora trekExperience Mount Kailash kora trek

The mountain is much more than just a religious site, though, and the epic adventure that takes you there also gives you the chance to tackle Tibet’s toughest hiking adventure, the Mount Kailash Kora Trek. A three-day hike around this sacred mountain, you follow the route of the Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims, who flock to the mountain in their thousands to perform this ancient religious ritual.

Tips about Touring Chongqing and Tibet Together

1. Choose the best time to visit Chongqing and Tibet

While you can visit Tibet at any time of the year, the best times to visit Chongqing are in April to May and October to November. Renowned as the “capital of fog” and the “city of mountain”, this massive megacity is often either wet or foggy for most of the rest of the year. Early spring, in March, can still be a lot like winter, and can get a little too cold at times, with high humidity that can easily bring on a cold. And September can still be quite hot and muggy in the area, which makes the trip a little too uncomfortable.

Summer in Chongqing is hot and wet, so not really ideal. And the winter months in this part of China can be very cold, with lots of ice and frozen water, as the city lies close to the Yangtze River. And while you may not see much in the way of snow, you will need warm clothes.

Tibet is a lot easier to travel, as you can take a trip there at any time from April to November, and still have good weather. Summer is the monsoon period in Tibet, but the plateau sees very little rain really. And while winter can be cold, you can still visit the capital and certain areas outside for great tour of the plateau region.

2. Apply the visa and permit in advance

If you are planning a trip to Chongqing and Tibet, you will need to apply for your visa and Tibet Travel Permit well in advance. The Visa can be easily applied for at your local Chinese Embassy, and can be processed in around 3-5 working days. However, the Tibet Travel permit requires around 10-15 days to process, and can only be done by a travel agency, so you need to plan ahead for the application to be processed in time.

3. Choose a reliable travel agency

Once you have your visa, you will need to find a reputable travel agency to handle your trip, as it is not possible for international tourists to travel independently in Tibet. You will need to be on a pre-arranged tour of the region, and once you have booked your tour, your travel agency will process your Tibet Travel Permit application on your behalf. Once approved, we will then send the permit to your hotel in Chongqing so it is all ready for your trip to Tibet.

4. Pay attention to the altitude sickness

Chongqing lies at an average altitude of around 244 meters above sea level. Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, lies at 3,656 meters above sea level, so you will be ascending more than 3,300 meters in one go. There is a high chance you will feel the effects of altitude sickness, and will begin to feel dizzy, headaches, and nausea after you arrive in Lhasa. This is normal, and with rest and adaptation, your body will adjust to the higher altitude, usually within a day or two. You should refrain from strenuous exercise, and leave out alcohol and cigarettes while you are there. Once you have acclimatized to the higher latitude, you will feel better and more easily able to tour the city.

5. Join in group tour if you want to save the cost

For some, the cost of travel to Tibet is high, but there is a way to lower this cost by taking a Tibet Small Group Tour. These are special join-in tours that allow solo travelers to join a tour that has already been pre-arranged with a set itinerary and departure date. You will travel with other like-minded tourists that want to see the same things as you, and you will share the cost of the more expensive aspects of a Tibet tour, which can drastically reduce the overall costs.

Conclusion

A tour of Chongqing and Tibet is a great way to explore the highest plateau in the world with one of the few megacities on the planet. Chongqing is one of only four municipalities that are directly controlled by the central government, and is roughly the size of Austria in Europe. And with plenty to see and do here, as well as the chance to take a cruise along the Yangtze River, this is one of the best places in China from which to start your exciting adventure to the Roof of the World.

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