How to Travel to Tibet from Australia

Last updated: September,18 2019

Being so close to Asia already, one would think that taking a Tibet tour from Australia a lot easier than from most other western countries. Located just south of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the Australian continent is the closest of all western nations to Asia. However, while the continent may seem closer to China due to it being below Asia, the actual distance from the major centres of population is much farther, over 7,000 kilometres. With more than 80% of the population being in the southwest of the continent, the visual distance can be deceiving.

Getting to Tibet for Australian citizens is much the same as for any other foreign traveller, and all the same requirements apply. The main benefit of travel for Australians, however, is the fact that there are a huge number of direct flights to many of the major airports in China. A non-stop flight from Sydney to Hong Kong actually takes around 9 hours 30 minutes, and from Sydney International Airport alone, there are more than two dozen flights to Hong Kong every day, and more than a dozen flights to mainland China.

How to Travel to Tibet from Australia

While it may look closer on the map, Australia is actually over 5,000 kilometres from China, and the major centres of population in the southwest of the continent makes it even further. On average, a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong can take as much as around ten hours, and for connecting flights, as much as 30 hours. Flights to Hong Kong cost from around AU$ 450, and you will need to book a connecting flight to your departure gateway city to Tibet as well.

Sydney in AustraliaTravel to Tibet from Australia

While Hong Kong is one of the best ways to get to China, there are many direct flights to major cities in China from Australian airports. Flights from Sydney travel to Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, all gateway cities for Tibet, as well as many other locations across China. Flights to cities such as Chengdu or Beijing take around 11-12 hours, and cost from AU$ 400 each way. This can be a major advantage for those heading straight to Tibet, as it removes the cost of transferring from Hong Kong.

For travel to Nepal, flights take from around 14 hours for non-stop trips, and can be as long as 25 hours for connecting flights. On average, tickets for this 9,740 kilometre flight cost around AU$ 550 for an economy flight booked through a budget airline. Flight costs do vary, and it is best to shop around first, as there are many deals available at different times of the year.

Get to Tibet from Australia via Mainland China

Travelling to Tibet from China can be done in one of two ways. Trains leave from seven major gateway cities across China almost every day, which take you direct to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. The Tibet trains leave from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Chongqing, and Xining, and can take between 22 and 55 hours to reach Tibet. All trains pass through Xining, the starting point of the Qinghai Tibet Railway, from where you will climb up to the high-altitude plateau for the journey across Tibet to

Qingzang railwayTravel to Tibet via Qingzang Railway

The trains are all modern and fully equipped, including a choice of both Chinese and western toilets. Ticket costs vary depending on the departure city and the ticket type. Sleeper cabins are the main type of ticket class used by foreign tourists, as sitting in the hard seats (which are actually cushioned) for more than a whole day can get very uncomfortable. There are two types of cabins, soft sleeper and hard sleeper (again, the bunk is not actually hard), and the soft sleeper berth is the most expensive as it contains only four berths and has a lockable door.

Flights from China to Lhasa leave from several major cities across China daily, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Xining, and Nanjing, as well as many others. Chengdu, Kunming, and Xining are some of the closest airports to Lhasa, and flights from China to Tibet can cost from around AU$ 700, depending on your departure location. The cost of flights is actually more expensive than taking the train, and the journey is less scenic, though it does make it quicker.

Get to Tibet from Australia via Nepal

Travelling from Nepal to Tibet is not an option many Australians take up, since the distance to Nepal from Australia is much farther than to China. For those who do travel through Nepal, there are daily flights from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport, which tale around an hour and cross the mighty Himalayas. One of the benefits of the flight, aside from being short, is the view over the Himalayas on clear days, and if you are lucky, you can get a good view of Everest from the plane. The cost of a flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu is around AU$ 300, and there are only three Chinese carriers that ply the route.

Nepal Kathmandu"Get to Tibet from Australia via Nepal

For those wishing to travel overland to Lhasa, the border crossing at Gyirong Port is now open for foreign tourists. The route takes you from Kathmandu by bus to Rasuwagadhi Fort on the Tibetan Border. The bus takes around 6 hours to climb up into the mountains, and costs around 2,500 Nepalese rupees, or about thirty Australian dollars. On the other side of the ResuoBridge lies the immigration centre for Tibet Autonomous Region, at Gyirong Port. Once across the bridge, you will need to show all your documents to the immigration officials, and once cleared, your tour guide will be waiting outside to begin your tour of Tibet.

Required Documents for Tibet Tour from Australia

As with all foreign visitors to Tibet, there are requirements for visas and permits in order to get into China and on to Tibet, as well as those for travelling through Nepal. And there are Chinese Visa Application Centres (CVAS) in five major cities across the continent, in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane.

Chinese Entry Visa

Applying for a tourist visa for an Australian citizen is actually easier than for most other countries. While the general rule of personal applications still exists, Australians can also mail their applications into the relevant CVAS and have their passport and visa returned by registered post.

The cost of the visa for Australians applying in person is AU$ 60, and there is an Application Service Fee that is charged by the CVAS for processing applications of AU$ 49.50. For mailed applications, the visa fee is the same, but the Application Service Fee charged by the CVAS is AU$ 71.50.

Payment in the visa centres in person can be made using any credit or debit card, a company check, or in cash, while payment for mailed applications can only be made using the Credit/Debit Card Payment Authorization Form or by company check. As with all other countries, personal checks are not accepted.

Group Tourist Visa

For those traveling to Tibet through Nepal, a Chinese Entry Visa is not required. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issues what is known as a Group Tourist Visa for all travellers entering Tibet from Nepal, which can be issued for one person or a whole group together. All members of the party are listed on the visa sheet, which is just a paper and is not attached to the passports, and all members are required to enter and exit Tibet at the same time through the same port.

Tibet Travel Permit

Besides the Chinese Visa, the Tibet Travel Permit is the most important travel document that required for entering Tibet. It is the first permit you will need when you take a train or flight to Lhasa. It is applied for by the tour operator once you have booked your tour. The application requires a scanned (colour) copy of your passport and Chinese visa, and will be delivered to your hotel in China, for those travelling through China to reach Tibet. For travellers through Nepal, this will be given to you once your Group Tourist Visa has been approved. You will not be able to enter or travel in Tibet without this permit, nor board the flight or train to the region.

There are some other travel documents you may need during your Tibet tour, such as Alien’s Travel Permit for visiting Everest Base Camp and the Military Permit for a Mount Kailash tour. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us. Just tell us your travel plan, a quick replay will be send to you within 24 hours.

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