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How to Plan a Xian and Tibet Tour?

Last Update: July 2, 2020

As one of the most popular tourist cities in China, Xi’an, the ancient capital of Imperial China and the provincial capital of Shaanxi Province, is a great place from which to start your epic tour to Tibet. This unique ancient city is a hub for international flights from around the world, as well as being one of the best places from which to depart for Lhasa. And with a wealth of things to see and do there before heading to Tibet, planning a lifetime Xi’an Tibet Tour is a great idea.

How to Get to Lhasa from Xi’an

Travel from Xi’an to Lhasa can be done in one of two ways, by flight or by train. And which means of travel you choose depends on your own requirements, whether they be cost or time based.

By Train: the most popular way

Trains are the most popular way for many people to travel to Tibet from mainland China, and with seven gateway cities to choose from, plus Xi’an, this awesome means of travel is second to none. And when it comes to costs, taking the train is the cheaper option of the two from Xi’an.

Get to Tibet from Xian by TrainGet to Tibet from Xian by Train

However, there is no direct train that starts in Xi’an to take you to Tibet. Instead, the train from Xi’an to Lhasa is either the Z265 from Guangzhou or the Z165 from Shanghai, both of which pass through Xi’an on their long routes to the Tibetan capital. This does mean that, while you may be able to get a seat easily in the low season, you will need to book well in advance in the peak season when these trains are normally full. And even then, there is no guarantee as seats can sell out fast. The best option is to have a travel agency book for you as soon as the tickets for your dates open.

The trip to Lhasa from Xi’an is an epic journey that lasts for a little over 30 hours, and covers around 2,864 kilometers. Both trains depart from Xi’an in the morning (at 9:45am and 11:24am), and arrive in Lhasa in the late afternoon of the following day. And at a cost from just 91 US dollars per person, this is a cheap option for getting to Tibet from Xi’an.

By Flight: the fastest way

Taking a flight from Xi’an to Lhasa is by far the fastest way. And with around eight direct flights a day to the Tibetan capital’s Lhasa Gonggar International Airport, this ancient former capital is one of the best cities from which to get flights to Tibet. These direct flights depart from the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport between 6:00am and 4:25pm daily, and take around 3 hours 5 minutes to reach the Tibetan airport in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture.

Fly from Xian to Lhasa Gonggar Internationla AirportFly from Xian to Lhasa Gonggar Internationla Airport

While this may be the fastest way to get to Lhasa from Xi’an, it is definitely not the cheapest, and if cost is an issue for you, then trains would be a better option. However, with flights starting at around 147 US dollars per person for a one-way economy ticket, the time saved can be well worth the added 50 bucks for the flight.

How Many Days to Spend for a Xi’an and Tibet tour?

The next thing to consider is how long should you take for this adventurous tour of Xi’an and Tibet. The time you allow for the trip depends solely on you and what you want to see, and the more you want see, the longer the tour needs to be.

7 days to tour the essence of Xi’an and Lhasa

A classic seven-day Xian and Tibet tour of the two locations will give you chance to explore the basic essence of Xi’an and Lhasa, covering the main sites of interest. The first leg of the tour in Xi’an covers the first three days, and is enough time for you to visit the highlights of this former Imperial capital. This includes a trip to the amazing site of the Terracotta Warriors, a vast clay army built to journey to the afterlife with the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, more than 2,500 years ago. A normal tour of Xi’an also includes the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Shanxi History Museum, and the Ancient City Wall.

Visit the Terracotta Warriors in XianVisit the Terracotta Warriors in Xian

After a short flight to Lhasa in the morning, you will have a day to rest and acclimatize before starting the Lhasa leg of the trip. In this highest capital city in the world, you will explore some of the most spectacular local sights in the city, from the iconic Potala Palace and the sacred Jokhang Temple to the many monasteries that lie around the outskirts of Tibet’s ancient capital.

10 days to extend your trip to EBC

If you have a little more time to spend on your vacation, then you can opt for a longer ten-day Xian Tibet tour to EBC that can include a trip out to the stunning Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC). After touring the sights of Xi’an and Lhasa, you will depart from the capital of Tibet and head out west along the famous Friendship Highway.

Rongbuk Monastery Is the Highest Monastery in the WorldRongbuk Monastery Is the Highest Monastery in the World

The route out to the world’s highest mountain is a two-day drive through some of the plateau’s most spectacular landscapes to one of the most desolate parts of Tibet. The trip passes through the cities of Gyantse and Shigatse, and you will get the chance to visit the monasteries of Pelkor Chode, with its 32-meter high Kumbum Stupa, and Tashilhunpo, the seat of the Panchen Lama.

The final leg of the journey to EBC takes you south from the main highway, but the roads are all well paved, making it a comfortable trip. And at an altitude of 5,150 meters, you will reach the famous Base Camp of Mount Everest, and get chance to tour around Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world.

18 days to experience a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash

And for those with plenty of time on their hands, an 18-day tour of Xi’an and Tibet with a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash can take you all the way across the plateau to the world’s most sacred mountain. Lying in one of Tibet’s most remote areas, the northwestern Ngari Prefecture, Mount Kailash is considered to be a sacred mountain in four religions, including all forms of Buddhism and Hinduism. A unique pyramid-shaped mountain of black rock, Mount Kailash is not only a sacred mountain, but the location of the hardest trek in Tibet, which you will get chance to tackle while you are there.

Kora Trek around the Mount KailashKora Trek around the Mount Kailash

The trip to Mount Kailash takes several days of long driving, and does take you through EBC along the route. But the arrival at the mountain is well worth the long drive, as this stunning mountain is one of the most impressive sights in the world. And the Kora Trek around the mountain is an exciting and spiritual experience, even for those that are not religious.

Tips about Touring Xi’an and Tibet Together

1. Best time to visit Xi’an and Tibet

While these two stunning destinations can be visited at almost any time of the year, spring and autumn are the best times of the year to take a combined trip to Xi’an and Tibet. Not only do you have a better chance of pleasant weather and more sunshine, but you have more options of where you can travel to in Tibet. Parts of the region are not always accessible in the winter months, and summer rains can be a bit of a nuisance in Xi’an.

2. How to apply the visa and permit

Applying for the relevant documents for a combined Xi’an Tibet tour is not as hard as many people believe. The first thing you need is the Chinese Entry Visa, which can be applied for from your local Chinese Embassy in your home or resident country. Processing takes around 3-5 working days, and prices vary depending on your nationality. You will need to provide a completed application form, two passport-sized photos, your original passport, proof of return or onward flight booking, proof of hotel reservations in China, and the correct fee in local currency. And do not mention you are traveling to Tibet, as it confuses the application process. The Tibet Travel Permit is obtained through your travel agency separately.

3. Choose a reliable travel agency

Once you have the visa, you can look for a reputable travel agency to handle the tour, as independent travel is not permitted in Tibet. All tourists must be on a pre-arranged tour, and once you have booked your tour with us, we can make the application for the Tibet Travel Permit. This is the main permit you will need to enter Tibet and travel in the region, and can only be obtained through a travel agency. Processing takes around 10-15 days, and the approved permit will be sent to your hotel in Xi’an ready for your trip to Lhasa.

4. Prevent from altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is a major concern for travelers to Tibet, and traveling from Xi’an at just 400 meters above sea level means that you are ascending a drastic amount in one go. However, the body will adjust to the increase in altitude, as long as you can rest and give it time to adapt and acclimatize. You should refrain from strenuous exercise for at least a day or two, and refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol and coffee, and eat healthily. After 24-48 hours, your body will normally adjust, and you will feel better. Generally, altitude sickness is a little like a hangover, without the fun of drinking first.

5. Join in group tour to save the budget

If you are looking to save money on the Tibetan leg of the trip, you can book your trip as part of a Tibet Small group Tour. These unique tours are designed for solo travelers to join in with other people on a tour with a preset departure date and set itinerary, and makes the cost of the Tibetan tour a lot cheaper. The major expenses, such as those of the guide, driver, and vehicle, are reduced because they are shared equally between all the members of the party.


For anyone planning to take a tour of Xi’an and Tibet together, you will need to make at least the Tibetan part of the tour a guided tour through a registered travel agency, And for ease and convenience, it is often better to book a tour for the whole trip, to save time and hassles. And with our expert advisors able to give you the best options for your combined Xi’an Tibet Tour, planning a tour to these two ancient destinations has never been easier.

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