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How to Travel from Bhutan to Tibet? By Flight, Train or Road?

Last Update: November 2, 2021

While they may share a border that is several hundred kilometers long, there is no direct border crossing between Tibet and Bhutan. So, one cannot travel directly from Bhutan to Tibet, whether it goes by flight or train. But there is a perfect route for people planning a trip to Bhutan and Tibet together, by travelling via Nepal, which is the only country with international access to the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Bhutan to Tibet via Nepal by Flight - the Easiest Way

Flights are by far the easiest and most convenient way to get from Bhutan to Tibet, traveling via Nepal. With its unique connections to both destinations, Nepal makes the perfect crossing point for those traveling from Paro to Lhasa.

Step 1: Bhutan to Nepal by Flight

The first leg of the trip is the flight from Paro in Bhutan to Kathmandu in Nepal. Flights depart from the Paro International Airport in Bhutan daily, connecting you to Nepal through the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

Bhutan to Nepal flightBhutan to Nepal Flight by Drukair

Flights generally take around an hour and fifteen minutes to reach the Nepali capital from Bhutan, and can cost from as little as 230 US dollars per person for the single economy flights. Covering a distance of around 404 kilometers, you get a great view of the Himalayas as you fly over some of the world’s highest mountains.

The flight from Paro to Kathmandu cannot be arranged to coincide with a connecting flight into Tibet, even if you are not planning a trip into the Kathmandu Valley before heading off to Lhasa. You will still need to obtain a visa to enter Nepal, as you will need to stop for a few days to arrange your entry visa to China.

Step 2: Nepal to Tibet by Flight

The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is the only international flight into the Tibet Autonomous Region. The flights run daily from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Tibet’s Lhasa Gonggar International Airport, and generally take around 90 minutes to cross the Himalayas and the plateau.

Nepal to Tibet Flight Route MapNepal to Tibet Flight Route Map

The average cost of the flight starts at around 300 US dollars, though this can change depending on the season of travel. Flights are offered by Air China, who have daily flights to Lhasa, and Sichuan Airlines, who run flights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to the Tibetan capital.

Bhutan to Tibet via Nepal by Overland - Best Tour Experience

If you are thinking of traveling overland from Bhutan to Tibet, you should understand that India lies directly between Bhutan and Nepal, so it is best to fly to Kathmandu, rather than cross the Indian state of West Bengal overland. Not only is this a long and arduous journey to Kathmandu, you have to use a variety of transport modes to make the trip, and it can be costly.

Step 1: Fly to Kathmandu

The first step is to take the flight from Paro to Kathmandu, which will take you to the Nepali capital airport in around 1 hour 15 minutes. As previously mentioned, the flights can cost from around 230 US dollars per person, and are offered by DrukAir, the flagship Bhutanese airline, and Bhutan Airlines.

Only two airlines are permitted to fly into and out of Bhutan, using the Paro International Airport as the only international airport in the kingdom. As of this time, DrukAir offer flights to Kathmandu on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, while Bhutan Airlines flights run on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Step 2: Kathmandu to Lhasa by Overland

Once you have arrived in Kathmandu, you can start your journey to Tibet overland, though there are some things to consider before you do. You will need to be on a pre-arranged tour with a registered Tibetan travel agency in order to cross the border into Tibet. You will also need to be in Kathmandu at least five working days before your trip to Lhasa, as you will need to provide your passport for the Chinese group Visa you need to get into China.

Across Gyirong port enter the TibetWhen you across Gyirong port to enter the Tibet,our guide and driver will to meet you

Once you have your visa, and we have provided you with the rest of the permits you need to enter Tibet, we will take you by car to the border to cross over into Tibet and begin your tour. Our classic Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour takes you first to Syabru Bensi in Nepal, where you will stay overnight before heading to cross the border in the morning. Once across and in Tibet, you will be met by your guide and driver, who will help you with your luggage and transfer you to your hotel in Gyirong Town for the night. Here you can acclimatize a little and adjust to the higher altitude.

Visit Everest Base CampYou will visit Everest Base Camp as you enjoy Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour

The next day, you will drive from Gyirong County to tour the Everest Base Camp (EBC), where you will get time to explore the base camp and the Rongbuk Monastery, as well as taking all the photos you can manage. Before the end of the day, you will travel to Tingri, on the Friendship Highway, where you will stop for the night. In the morning, you will drive to Shigatse, Tibet’s second city, where you can visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, before moving on to Lhasa, via Gyantse and Lake Yamdrok.

Can I Take the Train When Travel from Bhutan to Tibet?

Unfortunately, there is no direct train to Tibet from Bhutan, and it is unlikely that one will be planned in the near future. Bhutan has no railway lines, and Nepal’s railways are limited to those close to the Indian borders. Tibet does have railways, but only up to Shigatse. From there to Nepal, there is no railway yet, though one is planned.

Documents Need to Travel from Bhutan to Tibet

If you are planning a trip from Bhutan to Tibet, then there are certain documents that you will need to have, and some that are required to be processed in advance of the trip.

Nepal Entry Visa

For entry to Nepal, you will need to apply for a Nepal Entry Visa to get into the country from Bhutan. This can be done at the airport when you arrive or in advance through the Nepali embassy in your home or resident country. The cost of the visa depends on your country of origin, and requires you to have a completed application form, a passport-sized photo, your original passport, and the relevant fee. Applications at an embassy can take around 3-5 working days, while applications at the airport for the Visa on Arrival normally take around an hour.

Chinese Group Visa

Tourists traveling to Tibet from Nepal do not use the Chinese Entry Visa, and are issued with a special Group Visa once they arrive in Nepal. The visa is applied for by us on your behalf, and takes around three working days to process. This Group Visa cannot be applied for personally, as the Chinese Embassy in Nepal does not accept personal applications.

Tibet Travel Permit

You will also need to have the Tibet Travel Permit in hand for the trip across the border, as well as several other permits and passes in order to enter Tibet from Nepal. The Tibet Travel Permit is applied for by us on your behalf once you have booked your tour, and takes around 15 days to process. We will bring it to your hotel when you arrive in Kathmandu.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit

Alien’s Travel Permit & Frontier Pass

You also need the Alien’s Travel Permit for travel in areas outside Lhasa, and the Frontier Pass for travel in the area of the Chinese border with Nepal. Both of these are arranged by us on your behalf before you travel. The additional permits are required whether you are traveling overland or by flight.

Aliens' Travel PermitAliens' Travel Permit

Conclusion

Traveling from Bhutan to Tibet is easily possible, and with the right help and advice, these arrangements can be made with the minimum of fuss. Flights are the easiest and most convenient way to connect Bhutan to Tibet via Nepal, though you do have the option of taking an overland tour to Lhasa from Kathmandu. The choice is yours to take, whichever route you prefer.

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