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9 Important Tibet Travel Restrictions You Must Know

Tibet is not like other places in China that are easy to travel to. There are many restrictions and regulations you need to know before your departure. The most convenient way to travel to Tibet is to find a local travel agency and they will help you arrange everything.

We have listed below 9 important tips and Tibet travel restrictions that you must know when planning your trip.

1. You Can Only Enter Tibet via Mainland China or Nepal

Lhasa AirportLhasa Airport

There are no direct international flights from foreign countries to Tibet, except for Nepal, which borders Tibet. That means you can only enter Tibet from mainland China or Nepal.

  • Nepal flights: direct flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport
  • Mainland China flights: direct flights from Beijing, Xi'an, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Kunming. Or flights from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou that require a stopover at Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi'an.
  • Trains to Tibet from mainland China cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining

There are actually flights from Hong Kong to Lhasa, but non-Chinese citizens are not allowed to buy flight tickets.

So no matter which country you are from, you need to arrive in Nepal or mainland China first, and then transfer to Tibet.

Good news! The overland border crossing between Tibet and Nepal has reopened!

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!

2. You Are Not Allowed to Travel to Tibet Independently

itibet tour guide

It's not possible for you to visit Tibet independently without a tour guide. All foreign citizens have to be in a tour group (a group can be any number of travelers, as long as there's more than one person) that has been organized by a local travel agency.

And you have to be accompanied by a tour guide during your visit to Tibet, including transportation. The most you can do independently is to wander around the city of Lhasa or go to a restaurant. Never expect to visit a monastery without a tour guide.

3. Enter Tibet from Mainland China — a Tibet Entry Permit Is Required

tibet permit

If you plan to enter Tibet from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, or any cities from mainland China, you have to apply for a Tibet Entry Permit.

Again, you are not allowed to do this by yourself. You have to find a local travel agency, like China Highlights, to help you apply for it.

The permit will be checked before you board a train or a flight, or on the way to places outside the city of Lhasa. Sometimes, you will be required to show it when entering an attraction.

It's useful to know that, in order to apply for a Tibet permit, you will still have to apply for a China visa, even if you enjoy visa-free access to mainland China's cities.

Read more details and regulations about Tibet Travel Permits.

4. Enter Tibet from Nepal — Group Tourist Visa Is Required

If you want to spend some time visiting Nepal first, and then enter Tibet from Nepal, you will need to apply for a separate Group Tourist Visa (different from a normal China visa) from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

You will need to find a local travel agency like China Highlights to help you arrange a Tibet tour and help you apply for a Tibet Entry Permit first, before your departure.

You will receive an invitation letter and Tibet tour itinerary from us, and our partner in Nepal will help you apply for a Group Tourist Visa in Kathmandu.

It's useful to know that a Group Tourist Visa can be issued to a solo traveler as well. You don't need to be in a large group.

Read more details and tips about Entering Tibet from Nepal.

5. Journalists and Diplomats Are Not Allowed to Travel to Tibet with a Travel Agency


Your Tibet tour has to be arranged by a local travel agency. However, if you are a diplomat, journalist, or media staff with a journalist visa, you won't be able to find a travel agency that can help you. You have to be approved by the China Foreign Affairs Office.

So if you want to travel to Tibet as a tourist, don't apply for a China visa and Tibet permit as a journalist or diplomat.

6. Not Every Place in Tibet Can Be Visited — Attraction Restrictions

mount everestYou need a Aliens' Travel Permit to visit the Mount Everest Base Camp

Not every attraction is open to foreign travelers. Your travel expert from a local travel agency will help you arrange a good itinerary, but the following list gives you an idea of some available places:

  • Tibet Entry Permit is required to visit: Lhasa, Shigatse, and Lake Namtso. Apply for it before your departure.
  • Aliens' Travel Permit is required to visit: Nyingchi and Mount Everest. Apply for it when you are in Tibet.
  • Military Area Entry Permit is required to visit: Bome, Rawu, Shannan, Naidong, Gajah, Nang County, and Ngari
  • No entry allowed: Tibetan Kings' Tombs and Lhamo Latso in Shannan, Brahmaputra Grand Canyon and Nayi Valley in Nyingchi, Yatung, Tsonag, and Chamdo

7. You Can't Enter Tibet During the Tibetan New Year — Usually in February and March

Tibetan New Year, or Losar, is the most important festival in Tibet. There are many activities and performances during the Tibetan New Year period.

However, during Tibetan New Year, Tibet is closed to foreign travelers. The festival usually falls in February or March and you are not able to enter Tibet during this period. It will often reopen from early April.

8. Age Limit — No Limit but Be Careful

There is no age limit for visiting Tibet, but we would like to give you some helpful advice.

It's perfectly fine for you to take your kids or elderly parents to Tibet. However, be aware that there are only basic facilities in remote areas outside the city of Lhasa. It will be a tough job to take care of babies and elderly people.

Those suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease should reconsider a visit to Tibet as the high altitude is a high risk for their health.

9. You Need Permission to Climb Mt. Everest from the Tibetan Side

Mount Everest

More than 4,000 climbers have conquered Mt. Everest. According to government restrictions, a solo person is not allowed to climb Mount Everest without permission.

If you are a climber and plan to conquer the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, you have to apply for a climbing permit via a professional mountaineering company.

If you plan to climb Mt. Everest from the Tibetan side, you have to get permission from the General Administration of Sport of China. You can find a professional mountaineering company, such as Himalaya Expeditions, to help you with training and to get permission.

Visit Tibet with China Highlights' Help and Care

the potala palace

As you are not allowed to travel to Tibet independently, we are here to help you arrange your Tibet tour. You only need to send us your passport and China visa copies, and tell us your occupation, and we will help you get your Tibet travel permit with a 100% success rate.

Our travel expert will arrange your Tibet tour according to your interests and requirements, and will give you recommendations.

Ready for a Tibet tour? See our popular Tibet tours below for inspiration, or just send us your interests and requirements and we will help you create a Tibet tour.

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