Situated at an average altitude of over 4000m, Tibet, the roof of the world, always seems mysterious and unapproachable. How to get to Tibet was once a headache for tourists. Luckily, thanks to advanced science and high technology, getting to Tibet has become much easier and more convenient than ever.
Currently, there are three major means of transportation available for your Tibet travel: flying, taking the Tibet train, or traveling overland. Read on to know details for better planning your Tibet tour.
Get to Tibet by Flight: the Most Convenient Way
Getting to Tibet by air is the fastest way for entering Tibet. Lhasa Gongkar Airport is the major airport most flights use, and is just about 60km away from Lhasa city. Thus, traveling to Tibet by air has become the top choice for tourists to get to Tibet.
Domestic Flights to Lhasa from Mainland China
There are direct flights between Lhasa and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining, Kunming, Shangri-La and Chamdo. These flights can vary in frequency and duration, depending on the airline and season. The flight times can range from approximately 2-5 hours, depending on the distance between the two cities.
Among them, the Chengdu to Lhasa flight is a popular route and is recommended by many travelers due to its frequent daily departures, a reasonable flight time of around 2 hours, and affordable ticket prices.
No matter which flight you will take, it is important to book your flight to Tibet in advance, since it can be hard to get one ticket, especially when you travel in peak season. Besides, during the low season (November to next April), you can get a good discount from airlines.
Flying to Tibet is the most convenient way to get to the plateau.
International Flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu
Our clients often ask us whether they can take direct flights to Tibet from the US, UK, India, and Singapore, etc. However, the only international flight to Tibet is the one from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
The international flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is a scenic journey that takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The flight usually departs early in the morning, offering spectacular views of the Himalayan range, including Mount Everest.
Upon arrival in Lhasa, you will be greeted by the breathtaking Potala Palace and the bustling streets of the city. Due to the high altitude of Lhasa, you may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, so it is recommended to take it easy for the first few days after arrival.
Get to Tibet by Train: the Most Scenic Way
Reputed as an engineering miracle in the world, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway (with a length of 1.956km ) itself draws millions of tourists at home and abroad to experience this wonderful Tibet train journey. What you need to do is just indulge yourself in Tibetan highland scenery, varying from stunning lakes, and various wildlife to endless grassland and majestic snow mountains.
You can take the train to Tibet from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou and Xining. Daily trains to Tibet would depart from Beijing, Shanghai, Xining, Xi’an and Guangzhou, while trains to Tibet from Chengdu, Chongqing, and Lanzhou would run every other day. The required time for a Tibet train journey ranges from 22 hours to about 54 hours.
Entering Tibet by train through the Qinghai-Tibet railway is an attractive way to go.
Xining-Lhasa trains are highly recommended for Xining is the starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Going to Xining first and then taking the train to Tibet is a smart decision so that you can save both time and energy while enjoying the essence of the Tibet plateau. And it’s also a great chance to acclimate to high altitude gradually on the trains to Tibet.
When booking the Tibet train ticket, you are advised to choose the soft sleeper berth. Considering the long distance and duration, the soft sleeper is a wise choice for a more comfortable stay onboard. And always set enough time for checking in and reaching the railway station at least two hours ahead.
Get to Tibet by Overland: the Most Adventurous Way
Tibet highway is the third option for tourists to tour Tibet, and is the most challenging way to get to Tibet. You can either travel overland from mainland China or Nepal.
China to Tibet by Road
There are four highways that connect mainland China to Tibet: the Qinghai-Tibet Highway (1,937km), the Yunnan-Tibet Highway (2,300km), the Sichuan-Tibet Highway (2,142km), the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (2,086km).
The most popular route is the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, which crosses over several high-altitude passes, including the renowned Tagong Grasslands and Xinduqiao. This route is known for its spectacular scenery and offers travelers the chance to visit popular Tibetan cities such as Kangding, Litang, and Nyingchi.
The route from Xinjiang to Tibet is also chosen by many. Combining Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region, the overland route from Kashgar to Lhasa is a rewarding journey crossing the stunning landscapes of western Tibet. You can visit Mt. Kailash, Mt. Everest, Yamdrok Lake, etc., along the way before arriving in Lhasa.
Taking overland to Tibet is challenging yet rewarding.
Nepal to Tibet by Road
The overland journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa is a scenic and adventurous way to experience the Himalayan region. The journey spans approximately 1,000 kilometers and can take several days, crossing high mountain passes and winding through remote villages and stunning landscapes.
The benefits of taking this road trip include the opportunity to experience the unique culture and scenery of both Nepal and Tibet, to witness some of the world's highest peaks, and to interact with local people and customs.
However, it is important to note that the journey can be challenging, with rugged terrain and extreme altitude changes, and that a reliable vehicle and driver are essential for safety and comfort. It is recommended to use a reputable travel agency or tour operator to arrange the journey, and to take precautions to prevent altitude sickness.
Permits for Getting to Tibet
The Tibet Travel Permit is the most important permit required for foreign travelers to enter Tibet, and it must be obtained before the start of the tour. Other permits, such as the Aliens' Travel Permit and the Military Area Entry Permit, may be required depending on the specific destinations within Tibet that the traveler wishes to visit.
These permits are typically obtained by the tour operator or travel agency in coordination with the local authorities in Tibet. And as the leading Tibet tour operator based in Lhasa, we can help you to get the Tibet Travel Permit and other necessary documents, to ensure you a worry-free journey to Tibet.
There are several ways to get to Tibet, including by air, by train, and by road. Each option offers unique advantages and challenges, and you need to make a choice based on your preferences, budget, and time constraints.
Regardless of the chosen method, it is important to plan ahead and obtain the necessary permits like Tibet Travel Permit. To obtain these permits and to receive professional advice on traveling to Tibet, it is recommended to work with a reputable travel agency like us. With proper planning and guidance, a trip to Tibet can be an unforgettable and life-changing experience.