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10 Important Tibet Travel Restrictions and Related Advice

Written by Carol WangUpdated Apr. 10, 2024

Tibet is now open for traveling. A Tibet Permit is a requirement for all foreign travelers entering Tibet, which is granted by the Tibet Travel Administration following a travel agency's application.

Independent foreigners are unable to apply for an Entry Permit. A tour package booked through a travel agency is the usual way to obtain a Tibet Entry Permit.

Apart from Tibet permit issues, below we have outlined 10 important travel restrictions with advice to help you plan a well-informed and worry-free Tibet trip.

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1. Tibet is Open to Foreign Travelers

You can now travel to Tibet without quarantine! Tibet has reopened to foreign nationals after being closed due to COVID-19.

We at China Highlights would be happy to help you plan a worry-free trip with a Tibet Permit. Don't worry about canceling. You enjoy 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights prior to 3 weeks before departure (detail⇒).

Contact us to get a quick reply to spend your holiday on the Roof of the World.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

2. An Tibet Permit Is Required to Visit Tibet

Tibet PermitWhat does Tibet Permit look like

Updates: Travelers from visa-free countries just need to provide us with passport photos to apply for a Tibet permit if your itinerary in Tibet is less than 15 days.

All foreign citizens (non-Chinese-passport holders), including foreigners living in China, need a Tibet Entry Permit to enter Tibet. Generally, getting one is not complex.

Just get ready your passport and China visa, or Work Permit if you're working in China. And we (or another approved travel agency) would handle the rest.

If you want to include a trip to other places in Tibet, such as Mount Everest Base Camp or Mount Kailash, an Aliens' Travel Permit and a Military Area Entry Permit are required. Don't worry. Just like for the Tibet Entry Permit, we will get all these permits ready for you.

Tibet Entry Permits for Expats in China

Tibet TravelA family enjoyed their trip to the Everest Base Camp.

No need to wait! You can visit Tibet now or for your next holiday. Just send us the required documents and leave the rest to us.

  • Passport copy
  • China visa copy
  • Work/study certificate: Usually provided by your working company/school, or by the residential community (社区).

For any questions/problems, just contact us. We, as an approved travel agent in China, can guarantee your Tibet Permit. Your travel advisor will tell you how to supply the documents. Please send the above documents to us 10 days before your departure date.

As soon as the Permit is issued, we will post it to your address in China. Read more on How to Get Tibet Permits.

8-Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour
Pilgrimage to the Roof of the World view more

Tibet Entry Permits for Travelers outside China

  • Step 1: Make your Tibet tour booking.
  • Step 2: Send (us) copies of your passport and visa.
  • Step 3: Get your travel permit from your guide or your hotel in your pre-Tibet stop.
  • Step 4: Enjoy your time in Tibet.

If you don't hold a valid China Tourist Visa (L Visa), you are required to provide additional documents, such as from your company or school. Please contact us and we will let you know what exactly is needed.

Your application will be submitted by the travel agent. Once the Tibet Entry Permit is issued, it will be posted by express mail service from Tibet to your pre-Tibet departure city.

We can 100% guarantee your Tibet Permit if you book a tour with us. It is suggested to send the documents to us at least 10 days before departure to ensure plenty of time to obtain the permit.

If you plan to visit Tibet in 2024/2025, it is wise to start planning now for a well-arranged experience. Our expert consultancy and free cancellation offer security and flexibility.

3. You can Travel with Your Chinese Friends or Relatives in the Same Group.

As a China expat who is working in China, you might travel with your Chinese colleagues, friends, or relatives. Yes, you can make a tour to Tibet in the same group.

They don't need a Tibet Travel Permit, just their Chinese ID card. You just need to follow the local travel policies and restrictions on foreigners.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

4. Journalists and Diplomats Need China Foreign Affairs Office Approval to Visit Tibet

Tibet warmly welcomes foreign travelers from all over the world, however, travel agencies in China are not allowed to organize Tibet tours for journalists and diplomats.

If you are a journalist visa holder or diplomat visa holder, you have to be approved by the China Foreign Affairs Office and travel accompanied by a foreign affairs officer.

5. Independent Travel in Tibet is Not Allowed

Mt. Kailash YatraMt. Kailash Yatra

Foreign travelers are not allowed to take independent tours in Tibet. Most of your tour activities need to be well organized and accompanied by your tour guide, such as visiting the monasteries and visiting a Tibetan family.

A wander around the streets or going to a restaurant on your own is fine. With an organized tour, your local English-speaking guide will be a good help for a memorable and worry-free experience in this holy land.

Besides helping organize the attraction entry tickets in a more efficient way, his/her knowledge of local culture and lifestyle will be the icing on the cake for your Tibet travel.

As Tibet tour experts, we can tailor-make your itinerary, provide a great guide, as well as apply for a travel permit for you. Just leave us your email and interests.

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6. Chinese Mainland and Nepal are the Only Entry Points for Tibet.

Flights to Tibet are only available from Kathmandu in Nepal or big cities in China. Tibet trains from cities in Chinese mainland and road journeys from Nepal to Tibet are also available. See How to Plan a Trip to China and Nepal

Entering Tibet from Cities in the Chinese Mainland

Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet RailwayScenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Flights to Tibet (mostly Lhasa) are available from most major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, and Guangzhou. Chengdu is the city with most Lhasa flights.

When booking flights online, you might find that a Tibet Permit is required to confirm the booking, but the permit cannot be obtained until 2–7 days before the tour! Then, the ticket might cost more or be sold out because of the delay.

The good news is that this clause doesn't apply to travel agencies! Leave us your planned travel dates and we can help you check the price and availability, suggest a time-smart and cash-smart route for you, and make the bookings.

A train to Lhasa is also very popular for those who want to enjoy the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's highland scenery. Trains are available from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining.

All trains to Tibet pass through Xining Railway Station, which is the start of the famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway with amazing views. If you would prefer a train to Tibet, we recommend just using the Xining–Lhasa section, which takes around 24 hours with one night sleeping on the train.

Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet railwayScenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Starting from other cities needs much more time, for example, 40 hours from Beijing and 30 hours from Xi'an. You could fly or take a bullet train to Xining.

Train tickets are in high demand and are usually only available 30 days before departure. We can handle the booking for you for a higher success rate.

If you are particularly vulnerable to altitude sickness or don't sleep well on trains, we would advise taking a flight in and a train out if you would like to ride the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

Tibet Entry from Nepal

Take a 1-hour mountain flight in Kathmandu for a panoramic encounter with the Mt. EverestTake a mountain flight in Kathmandu for a panoramic encounter with the Mt. Everest.

Entering Tibet from Nepal, you need to apply for a China Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. A China visa issued in any other country is not valid for Tibet entry. Read more on How to Enter Tibet from Nepal.

Nepal's policy does not allow visa applications from individual travelers. You need to submit the application through a travel agent in Nepal. You're advised to use an authorized agency instead of consulting the stalls on the street.

Why not just enjoy your time in Katmandu and leave the hassle to us? After obtaining the China Visa, we will then apply for your Tibet Entry Permit too. Usually, 3–6 days in Nepal are needed. (Read more on the 9-Day Classic Nepal Tour)

There are two ways to enter Tibet from Nepal: by air or by road.

China-Nepal Highway

By air: Currently (November 2023), there is no direct flight between Lhasa and Katmandu. You will need a transfer to Chengdu and then head to Lhasa.

By road: A road transfer from Kathmandu to Tibet is the most common way. Gyrong Port is the main border for travelers. From Kathmandu to Gyrong Port, it takes about 6 hours' drive.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

7. No Age Limit, But Beware of Altitude Sickness

Tibet Tour

There is no age limit for visiting Tibet, but for worry-free travel, you will find the tips below are helpful.

The altitude is around 3,850 meters (12,600 feet) in Lhasa and up to 5,200 m (17,000 ft) in nearby areas, such as Shigatse or Everest Base Camp.

It's perfectly fine for kids, the elderly, or pregnant women to visit Tibet, but it is suggested that you consult a doctor before traveling, especially if you have a heart problem or high blood pressure.

While traveling in Tibet, you should pay attention to your physical condition, especially your young kids: they may find it hard to assess their symptoms.

After wandering around Lhasa City for a few hours, for example, new arrivals may feel weak and will probably suffer from a headache, which could progress to more severe altitude sickness if not addressed.

Your English-speaking guide will always be there for help. We will prepare oxygen bottles for our clients. If symptoms don't get better with bottled oxygen use, then your local guide and driver will help you get medical assistance right away.

For more, see How to Deal with High Altitudes in Tibet.

Oxygen bottlesOxygen bottles are always provided in the car

8. Tibet is Usually Closed to Travelers for Tibetan New Year (February and March)

Tibetan New Year is the most important festival in Tibet, which always falls in February or March on the Gregorian calendar. During this period, Tibet has not been open to foreign travelers for many years, and it often reopens from early April.

It is worth considering other Tibetan autonomous regions in China when Tibet is shut in February/March, such as Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai.

No Tibet Entry Permits are required there. Compared to Tibet, they usually pose a lower risk of altitude sickness if you are well prepared. You still can enjoy Tibetan scenery, monasteries, and Tibetan life. You can check the following tours to get some ideas:

9. Tibet is Safe for Travelers

Tibet TravelInteract with local people in Tibet

When planning a trip, safety is a priority for all travelers. Is Tibet safe to travel around? The answer is absolute "yes", even for solo female travelers. Believing in Buddhism, most Tibetan people are friendly, honest, and trustworthy.

For any concerns, you can reach your guide or travel advisor anytime. By and large, Tibet has relatively low crime rates, but you are still advised to take good care of your belongings.

10. Special Permissions are Needed to Climb Everest from Tibet

If you are a mountaineer and plan to conquer the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, you need to apply for a Mountaineering License from the Tibet Mountaineering Association and permission from the General Administration of Sport of China. And each climber needs to go with a Tibetan or Sherpa mountain guide on Everest expeditions.

For ordinary travelers who wish to admire Mount Everest without climbing, Everest Base Camp is the best place to view Mount Everest in Tibet. No extra permissions are required: just the Tibet Permit and Aliens' Travel Permit. The 700-km (430-mile) journey from Lhasa requires about 3 days with night-stays and sightseeing on the way. See How to Get to EBC in Tibet.

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