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Nepal to Tibet: How to Travel & What to Prepare 2024/2025

Nepal to Tibet: How to Travel & What to Prepare 2024/2025

Written by Carol WangUpdated Jan. 29, 2024

Tibet is now open for travel. There are two main ways of traveling from Nepal to Tibet: by road or by air.

This article will tell you how to travel from Nepal to Tibet and how to get the documents. Read on to discover the process in detail and useful journey information.

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Nepal to Tibet by Road

Map of Sino-Nepalese Highway

Traveling by road is currently the most common way to travel from Nepal to Tibet because there are currently (November 2023) no direct flights from Nepal to Tibet.

Rasuwa-Gyirong Port is the main port used by travelers to go back and forth between Tibet and Katmandu. You will travel from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port via the China-Nepal Highway, and then take another vehicle to Lhasa after security checks at the port.

Gyirong BorderGyirong Border

The distance from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port is about 130km (108 miles), and it takes approximately 6 hours by car.

From Gyirong Port to Lhasa, it is about 1,100km (700 miles), and normally a night stay in Shigatse is advisable.

The road trip is spectacular because the route traverses the Himalayas and the Plateau of Tibet, and there are many tourist attractions to visit on the way.

Documents Required to Enter by Land

A China Group Visa and a Tibet Entry Permit are required if you enter Tibet from Nepal by land. This is different from traveling from a Mainland China city to Tibet.

1. China Visa Requirements

Based on current policy, it requires 4 people in a group to apply for a China Visa and an interview is needed at China's Embassy in Kathmandu.

Travelers are required to apply for a China visa in Nepal if they are traveling to Tibet from Nepal by land. A visa obtained in your resident country or any other country will not be considered valid for this purpose. 10-year China visas are also not available.

Generally, a visa will be issued in 4 working days. This means that you would need at least 4 working days in Nepal when scheduling your trip. Our travel advisor will skillfully integrate this timeframe into your travel plans to ensure that your trip and visa acquisition go smoothly.

What to do to apply for a China visa in Nepal:

  • Submit your passport along with two passport-sized photocopies (the photos should follow Chinese visa photo rules) of yourself taken within the last six months (the electronic version of the photo had better be ready as well).
  • Upon arriving in Kathmandu, contact the local agent provided for assistance. The representative will collect your passport, photos (including electronic version), and flight ticket or paid reservation and provide you with a visa application form that you need to fill up.
  • The visa agent will make an appointment for your interview at China's Embassy. Usually, the appointment is scheduled for 1 or 2 days after your arrival. It is advisable to arrange the interview on Day 3. Your local tour guide & driver will provide transfers for you to the Embassy. Your guide will also manage the sightseeing as per the schedule of the visit to the embassy.
  • You will attend the interview with one/two/three other individuals, as a group of four is required to apply for a China Visa. This will not cause any trouble during the visa process. Please be assured that we have successfully undergone this procedure before.
  • During the visa procedure, you will not have your passport with you. Instead, you could get passport copies prepared (or may receive proof or paper stating that your passport is being processed for visa application). The copies (or proof) allow you to travel around and take flights.
  • The China visa processing time is approximately 3-4 days. Once approved, it will be delivered to your hotel.
Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

2. Tibet Entry Permit

The Tibet Permit will be handled on the Tibet side, and you do not need to take any action in this regard. The local tour guide will bring the permit to the Gyrong Border to meet you and present it to customs authorities.

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How to Cross the Border

We will arrange a private car and a driver to take you to the border. The driver can speak simple English.

It is recommended to depart from your hotel in Kathmandu at 4 a.m. You would arrive at the Chinese port at about 3 p.m. in Beijing time (China is 2 hours faster than Nepal).

The drive from Kathmandu to Rasuwa-Gyirong Port usually takes around 6 hours, including restroom and photo breaks. Although the road from Kathmandu to Rasuwas board can be quite bumpy, the scenic views along the way are extremely rewarding.

During stops at police checkpoints, the driver typically provides a small paper containing his details and possibly copies of your visa (although this is not confirmed). To be on the safe side, it would be advisable to prepare at least 5 copies of your Chinese visa in advance.

Upon reaching the Nepal Immigration Office, you will be greeted by a "border guide" who will assist you throughout the transfer process. They will help you get your passports stamped and escort you to the nearby bridge. At this point, you bid farewell to your driver, and your baggage will be checked by Nepal Immigration.

After the thorough check at Nepal Immigration, you will proceed to walk along a pleasant road for approximately 200 meters to reach China's bridge. There, you will await the arrival of your Tibet tour guide. Once the guide arrives, you will be granted permission to enter the Chinese Immigration Office.

Once the Tibet tour guide provides you with the Tibet permit and all necessary documentation, your immigration process will commence. You will be required to present your Tibet Permit, China Visa, and phones, and have your baggage inspected before being allowed to enter China. During the immigration check, you may be asked a few additional questions, but rest assured that the staff is friendly and helpful.

After all the procedures are successfully completed, you will start your journey in Tibet.

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Nepal to Tibet by Air

There are direct flights between Lhasa and Kathmandu. It could be the most convenient and fastest way to travel between China and Nepal. In this case, you do not need to apply for a Chinese visa in Nepal. Your Chinese visa can be applied for in your country. Of course, the Tibet Entry Permit is a must. When booking with us, we will assist you in handling the permit.

Hassle-Free Tour with China Highlights

China Highlights can help arrange your Tibet and Nepal tours, Tibet permits, and group visas from Nepal. Feel free to contact us. All our tours can be customized.

Take a look at our most popular Tibet tours for inspiration:

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