Top 10 Tibet Travel Tips

1. Don't Forget Your Tibet Entry Permit

All non-Chinese passport holders need a Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet, and the only way to enter Tibet is to travel in groups. No individual travelers are allowed to travel to Tibet at the moment. All tours must be booked in advance by a Chinese travel agency. Your whole tour in Tibet must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. See How to apply a Tibet Travel Permit

2. Dates to Avoid

March: this politically sensitive month may bring Tibet permit problems, so it is better to avoid it.
China’s National Holiday from October 1 to 7: Huge numbers of Chinese travelers swarm into Tibet during this period.

3. Best Times to Visit

In general, the best time to visit Tibet is from May to October when the weather is comfortable. This is also Tibet’s golden travel seasons. Read more on Tibet weather.

4. Consider flying into Tibet and Taking a Train out

The quickest and most convenient way is to fly in and fly out. But if you want to experience the train trip, and see amazing mountain plateau views Fly in and take a train out., as train tickets to Tibet are extremely hard to buy.

5. Plan Your Tour Far Enough in Advance

All Tibet tours must be booked at least 20 days in advance. It normally takes 2-3 days to confirm hotel bookings and about a further 10 days for the Tibet Tourism Bureau to issue the Tibet Entry Permit.

You should make sure you secure an Entry Permit, especially if new restrictions are brought in, before you apply for a visa and make the final preparations for your trip, unless you are willing to consider alternatives to Tibet once you arrive in China.

Recommended Duration for a Tibet TripIf your travel will be limited to areas around Lhasa, 4 days is enough; if you want to go to Mt. Everest, you need at least one week.

6. What to Pack/Carry/Wear

  • Clothes: Warm clothes, such as sweaters and fleeces are needed even in summer as the day-night temperature drop is big. A thick down coat is essential if you go to the Everest. If you go in the low season bring mountain winter clothes.
  • Lip cream: It is very dry so bring a lip cream to protect your lips.
  • Sunglass
  • Sunscreen cream
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Almost all monasteries have steep steps to climb.
  • Snacks if your tour includes long road trips
  • Altitude sickness medicine: Taking the medicine one day before arriving at high altitude increases effectiveness.
  • Motion sickness medicine if you have motion sickness on long mountain road journeys.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine: Tibetan food is very different from what you are probably used to, and it may not agree with your digestive system.
  • A good camera

7. Don't Miss the Must-See Attractions

8. Keep Healthy

Try to keep healthy and not catch a cold before entering and while in Tibet, as illness makes any altitude sickness feel worse. Take it easy and rest well, keep warm, drink a lot of water, and eat simply the first two days in Tibet to reduce any altitude sickness symptoms.

9. Respect the Tibetan People and Avoid Trouble

  • Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics when in Tibet.
  • Do not try to talk with lamas about their lives and religions.
  • Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street, especially during the rush hour of pilgrimage from 9 am to 6 pm.
  • Taking photos of Buddha statues is not allowed in the majority of Tibetan monasteries. In some monasteries, such as Tashilhunpo Monastery, tourists can take pictures of the Buddha statues after paying some money.
  • Ask permission first before taking pictures of other people in the Barkhor areas. Sometimes they will ask you for money, but most of time it is ok to give them a little gift.
  • Do not enter monasteries without permission. Smoking is not allowed when visiting monasteries. Dress properly, not in shorts or sunglasses.

  • It is suggested that you prepare about 20 easily accessible 1 yuan bills if you want to give to beggars when encountered.
  • If you have a chance to visit a local family, let the oldest people go first when you walk together with them. Do not step on the threshold when entering a tent or house. Do not touch the heads of people with your hands.
  • If you have a chance to have dinner with Tibetans, do not eat with your mouth overfull, and do not chew or drink noisily. When the host/hostess hands you something, for example a cup of tea, take it with both hands to show your respect and appreciation.
  • Do not buy anything made from wild animals' skin or bones, as it may cause problems when you try to leave the area.
  • During religious festivals, many pilgrims come to monasteries to pay religious homage. At some monasteries there are special passages for tourists. Do not join with the pilgrim crowds or queues.

10. Know the Local Conditions and Lower Your Expectations

Keep in mind that you travel to Tibet for its old culture and scenery, but not comfort. Visiting a Tibetan house will probably be a big culture shock.

The facilities and service standard of hotels in Tibet is not what you would expect from a hotel with the same rating in Beijing or Shanghai. 

Hotels in Lhasa are relatively comfortable with heating systems and hot water in winter. Some star-rated hotels have in-house doctors to take care of minor discomforts.

Hotels in small cities and towns outside Lhasa only have very basic facilities, some even without a heating system and hot water in the freezing winter.

Tibet Tours

China Highlights can help you customize a Tibet tour or see our best selling Tibet tour. We will help you get a Tibet Entry Permit if you book your tours with us. 

Questions and Answers About Top 10 Tibet Travel Tips

Stephanie Zito 2013-10-24
Show Answer
Hi! I''m traveling with a friend and will be in Shanghai on October 31. We would like to know if it is possible to take the train to Tibet and return by flight on these days. What do we need to do to arrange this and get the necessary travel permit for Tibet? We do already have China visas.

Yes, the train and the flights are available , but the problem is too late to apply the Tibet permit, we only accept Tibet permit application 20 days before your tour departure, i can offer the Tibet the permit for you if you can postpone your Tibet trip, or you can choose to go somewhere else in China.

Lily Guo replied on 2013-10-25
dondu 2013-08-16
Show Answer
i live in canada and want to go to tibet, i am tibetan but where do i go to get visa to visit tibet, im kinda scared to go still but i have to.
Hi dondu, I have noticed that you are a Tibetan living in Canada now. Actually, Chinese people could enter Tibet easily without any permit. If you were a Canadian now, both China visa and Tibet permit will be needed from you. We could apply the Tibet permit for you for free if you booked a tour package with us. When would you tour Tibet? How many days would you stay there? If anything about the trip, just let me know. Regards, Coco guest replied on 2013-08-18
len 2013-07-20
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what is the cost for a ten day trip in tibet. more or less, if i can afford.

Hi Len, Thanks for your inquiry. It is my pleasure to help plan your Tibet tour. In order to give you an accurate quotation please help me with below the information:

1. Number of people in your group including yourself

2. Entry/ exit city

3. Starting date of the tour

4. Class of hotel: economy/deluxe/superior/

After getting further information from you, I will send you a detailed itinerary, okay?

Whitney Liao replied on 2013-07-22
June 2013-01-12
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Hello, I am a Singaporean and I am thinking of travelling alone to Tibet, nepal and silk road for 30 days. I am currently in Toronto and I do not mind to travel with a small group. I would like to explore is there anyway to minimize the cost flying from Toronto to China and then travel to Tibet, nepal and silk road? I am hoping to take this 30 break to explore Tibet and silk road before I return back to Singapore.
Dear Sir or Madam, We could not have a good rate of the International flight ticket, I suggest you could search it on this website. Please click: http://www.flychina.com/ At present, we got the news about Tibet travel, foreigners cant' enter Tibet for traveling untill March this year. After March, we are not sure the exact policy. We still pay attention to the situation. I suggest you could travel silk road at first. We have some options for your reference. Please click: http://www.chinahighlights.com/tour/silk-road-adventure/ Lussie Lu replied on 2013-01-15
Thank you. I guess I have to wait and see. guest replied on 2013-03-22
Irina Munarova 2012-09-12
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Hello, I am taking a tour on my own, as a backpacker, to china mainland, hong kong and taiwan. from November 1-25. I really wanted to go to tibet for few days. i do not have a fixed itenarary since it is a backpacking experience. i have applied for multientry visa for china, but was also told that i need a special persion to go to tibet. please advise me on what i need to do and where to go to. i live in NYC. Thank you.
Dear Irina, You need to apply for a China visa at first, so that you could enter China. About the proceess and details, I suggest ask Chinese Embassy in USA directly. Here is their official website:http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/ To enter Tibet, you need to apply for a Tibet permit. Tibet permits will only be issued to groups of 5 or more persons with the same nationality, traveling from the same city to Lhasa, and arriving in and departing from Lhasa on the same day. If you travel solo, it is impossible to have a tour to Tibet. Lussie Lu replied on 2012-09-13
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I updated this article on August 14, 2013
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