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Tibet Travel Guide

Tibet, isolated on the remote Himalayan Plateau, is every traveler’s dream. It draws millions of travelers each year to explore its old Tibetan culture, and pure, untouched scenery.

Tibet's Topography

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the largest and highest plateau in the world. Thus it is known as the roof of the world. It is regarded as the third pole, as its remoteness and harsh climate rival the Arctic and Antarctic.

Tibet mountains Mount Everest, Tibet

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau generally slopes from the northwest to the southeast, with a complex and varied terrain of mountains, valleys, glaciers, lakes, steppe and tundra. 

Mt. Everest is located in Tingri County, Shigatse Prefecture, on the border of Nepal.  At 8,844 meters (29,017 feet) it has the highest point on the earth's surface. The Himalayas are covered by ice and snow all year round above 5,700 meters (19,000 feet). Read more on Tibet's altitude.

Highlights of Tibet

Tibet’s Cultural Heritage

The Potala Palace The Potala Palace, Tibet

There are so many Buddhist buildings in Tibet due to Tibetans’ strong culture of faith. The oldest and most popular ones include Jokhang Temple, the Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, and Samye Monastery.

The Fantastic Natural Scenery

See turquoise, crystal-like lakes, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and grasslands.

The Tibetan People

Walk through Lhasa’s streets or take a cup of tea at a local tea house to see and meet these hardy and devout, traditionally feudal people. See Tibetan Festival Dates.

How to Travel Tibet?

Tibet travel permits are needed. Usually it takes about 5 working days to apply for the Tibet Entry Permit, so the earliest dates you are suggested to entry Tibet are from:

  • April 5th by train (Use permit scans we send you.)
  • April 10th by flight (Extra time is needed for mail delivery, because original permits must be checked.)

Three Popular Ways to Enter Tibet

lhasa Scenery along Qinghai-Tibet Railway

By train

The Xining to Lhasa and Chongqing to Lhasa train trips are very popular. Tickets are very hard to buy especially in peak season from May to October.

Train trips from other cities are not recommended as it is quite a long journey (around 40 hours).

By flight

There are direct flights from China’s major cities to Lhasa, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Chongqing. However, the most frequent and reliable flights to Tibet are from Chengdu. 

So Chengdu is the best gateway city for Tibet. 

By road

Other way is to enter Tibet from Nepal. To take this trip, you need to obtain a China visa and Tibet permit in Nepal. China Highlights can help our customers to obtain a China visa and Tibet permit in Nepal.

After over 2 years of being closed, since the 2015 earthquake, the overland route between Tibet and Nepal has reopened to travelers. You can travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu via road now!

Tibet Road Conditions in Tibet

tibet highway

Roads in and around Tibet’s major cities and towns, such as Lhasa, Tsetang, Gyangtse, Shigatse, and Nyingchi, are smoothly paved.

Roads to remote areas were bumping dirt roads, but most have been paved well. But the road from Tingri to Everest still has a short section that being dusty, narrow, and bumping.

Sharp turns are normal on Tibet roads where they climb the sides of steep valleys. The roads from Lhasa to Shigatse, Lhasa to Lake Namtso, and Lhasa to Nyingch are all full of hairpin turns, with some stretches snaking along high valleys.

Car speeds are generally limited to 50 km/ hour for safety.

Snow: Roads to some lakes or mountains outside Lhasa may be closed after late October because of snow.

Preparing to Go…

Lake Namtso Lake Yamdrok

The most suitable time to visit Tibet is from May to October. The weather is uncomfortably cold to dangerously frigid otherwise. Read details on Tibet weather

Be prepared for altitude sickness. If you are not sure you can cope with the high altitude, limit your sightseeing to Lhasa.

Tibet is a politically sensitive region, which may be close to foreign travelers at times. Book as soon as possible if notified it is open; otherwise you may have to wait a long time for the next reopening.

Travelers need to go through a travel agent like China Highlights to get a Tibet Entry Permit. Tourists are permitted to book their own accommodation and flight/train tickets, however tours of Tibet must be organized by and accompanied by an authorized travel agency.

Read our Tibet Facts to learn more information on Tibet. 

Top Sights in Tibet

Potala Palace
Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, TibetMount Everest Sera MonasteryYamdrok Lake is too beautiful to be real
Tibet Travel Map

Top Tibet Tours more»

4-Day Lhasa Highlights Tour

  • Visit the most spectacular sites in Lhasa, Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Jokhang Temple.

8-day Tibet Mount Everest Tour

  • Experience the fantastic scenery of Mt. Everest and visit monasteries. Get an insight into Tibetan life.

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