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As foreign travelers are not allowed to travel independently in Tibet. After you enter Tibet, transport to Everest Base Camp (EBC) must be arranged by your travel agency. To give you an understanding of what you can expect, we have summarized the trip for you.
There is no direct flight, train, or public bus to Tibet's Everest Base Camp (EBC). You will need to enter Tibet first, usually via Lhasa. This requires a Tibet Entry Permit.
This table provides a comparison of time-needed by air or railway to Lhasa:
Other main cities have stop-over flights to Lhasa, e.g. Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou flights stop at Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi'an. These flights usually take more than 7 hours.
It's much easier to book a Tibet flight than a train, due to the high-demand for a limited number of train tickets.
No matter whether you take a plane or train to Tibet, it's hard to avoid altitude sickness.
Though the Qinghai-Tibet Railway gives you more time to acclimate, it goes much higher than Lhasa (5,072m compared to 3,700m), so lack of rest on the train may make your body more prone to sickness when you get off. It is better to acclimate in Lhasa.
Currently the only way (for tourists) from Nepal to Tibet is by Kathmandu–Lhasa flight. You would have to apply for a separate Group Tourist Visa in Kathmandu first.
|Section||Lhasa–Shigatse Friendship Highway (G318)||Shigatse–Tingri Friendship Highway (G318)||Tingri–EBC G318 + county/local roads|
|Road Conditions||6 hours on one of the best roads in Tibet: quite straight, few slopes.||4½ hours on asphalt/dirt road: winding in places, 1,000m+ of ascent||4 hours on asphalt/dirt road: winding in places, 1,000m+ of ascent|
There is a strict speed restriction in Tibet. Vehicles have to stay below 60 kph (40 mph), even on highways; and are not allowed to drive faster than 30 kph (20 mph) when going through villages. So the average speed is only about 45 kph when driving in Tibet. This is about 50% slower than in mainland China.
There are four types of vehicles that you may use: bus, van, 4-wheel-drive (4WD), or train. Your travel agency will arrange a vehicle according to your group size and other requirements.
A bus is usually 19–28 seats for 9–22 people, to leave enough space for luggage.
A bus tour is cheaper than a private tour, but it usually takes longer to arrive at Shigatse as it stops at “attractions”. Group tour buses’ seats are small; you may be uncomfortable seated for 6 hours.
The capacity of a mini van is usually 7–14 seats for 5–8 people. The heating system is better than on a bus, and seats can be more comfortable. We at China Highlights usually arrange comfortable vans for our customers.
Many of the 4WDs used in Tibet are old now, and the heating systems don't work so well. Since the Lhasa-Shigatse road was asphalted 4WDs have been less used.
If you don’t want to take a 6-hour van-ride to Shigatse, you can ask your travel agency to arrange a train trip for you. You can take a train from Lhasa to Shigatse at 8:30am taking about 3 hours, or at 3:20pm taking about 2½ hours.
See Lhasa–Shigatse train schedule below:
You can only get to Tingri by road. 90% is asphalted, but some is dirt. There are some steep and winding ascents and descents.
From Tingri to Rongbuk Monastery, the good news is that the road is well asphalted now. But there are still many zig-zag bends that may cause car sickness.
After you get off at the base camp, you will need to take the shuttle bus or walk to the viewing point. During this short journey you can see the peak of Mount Everest in clear weather.
If you are interested in travelling to Mount Everest, check out our popular itinerary below for inspiration:
This customizable option includes the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, watching monks debating, and camping to see Mount Everest.
You can also contact us to tailor-make your own unique tour by telling us your interests and requirements. We will help you design your perfect trip.