How to Go to Tibet from Nepal

Last updated: March,07 2020

Traveling to Tibet from Nepal can be done in two ways directly; across the land border at Gyirong Port and overland to Lhasa via the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway or by flight to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport.

Since the China Nepal railway is still under construction, for those who want to experience a Tibet train tour, they can just get to mainland China from Nepal first, and then take a train to Lhasa.

No matter which way you take, you need to get several permits and visas to enter Tibet from Nepal. And all these travel documents cannot be done by individual. It requires the tour operator of your booked tour to apply for the permit you need to travel into and around Tibet.

To help your arrange your Nepal Tibet tour more fluently, here we offer the detailed transfer guide about how to get to Tibet from Nepal by all means and how to get the required permits before you go.

Getting to Lhasa from Kathmandu by Flight

Obviously, the fastest way to get to Lhasa from Kathmandu is by air, from Tribhuvan International Airport. In fact, the Kathmandu to Lhasa flight is the only international flight connecting Tibet with other countries, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful air routes in the world, flying over several breathtaking mountains, including Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga, Mount Lhotse and other peaks in the Himalayas.

On the flight, you can overlook these spectacular peaks, however, after the trip, stepping off the plane into Lhasa Gonggar International Airport in Tibet, for many travelers, can sometimes mean higher risk of altitude sickness.

 Fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu Fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu

Kathmandu to Lhasa Flight Schedule

It takes around one and a half hours to fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Recently, there are only two airlines run the non-stop flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Sichuan Airlines and Air China.

Flight NumberAir LinesDepartureArrivalDuration
3U8720 Sichuan Airlines 11:30 15:05 1h 20min
CA408 Air China 12:10 16:00 1h 35min

Please Note:
1.The departure time and the arrival time are both the local time.
2.There is only one flight a day to fly to Lhasa directly from Kathmandu, not Sichuan Airlines or Air China. So you need to check the exact schedule on your preferred date in advance.

Transfer to Kathmandu Airport

Located around six kilometers from the center of Kathmandu, you can reach Tribhuvan International Airport by car, taxi, or bus. The local buses leave from Thamel District of Kathmandu, the main tourist district, several times a day, with the last bus departing at around 6:00pm. Sajha Yatayat buses connect with the international terminal of the airport, while other local buses stop in front of the main gate, around 500 meters from the terminals.

Taxis are also available, and you can get a local or hotel-booked taxi to the airport for around 6-8 dollars, or about 700-900 rupees. It is best to agree on the price before you ride, as the taxis sometimes bump the fare to make more money.

How to Get to Lhasa downtown from Lhasa Airport

Lhasa Gonggar International Airport is located in Gonggar County of Lhoka Prefecture, just over 60 kilometers from Lhasa. It takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to reach the capital from the airport, and you have a variety of options for travel. Shuttle buses wait at the airport for all the incoming flights, and run regularly to the city, costing around 25 yuan per person.

Taxis are also available at the airport, which run to the city for a cost of around 130-200 yuan, depending on your ability to bargain with the driver for the fare. While the taxis are more expensive, they are less cramped than the shuttle buses, and are much more comfortable. And if you are traveling with a few others, the fare can be split to make it cheaper.

Travel from Nepal to Tibet by Overland Journey

The Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour covers a distance of around 1,300 kilometers, which takes about 7 to 8 days including the sightseeing trips en route.

 Overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa The overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa is quite popular among tourists

This journey is one of the most popular tours for people visiting both Nepal and Tibet together, and is designed to give you the best sights of both regions in one tour with a trip to the Mount Everest Base Camp as a highlight.

The road from Kathmandu runs to the border at Rasuwagadhi, where you will cross over into Tibet and be met by your local Tibetan tour guide, who will take you to the town of Gyirong for your first night in the region.

From Kathmandu to Gyirong Port (1,930m), the roads are a little rough, with a major stretch up to the border being just gravel and dirt roads.

Then, the trip across central Tibet starts with a drive to Mount Everest Base Camp (5,146m), and then on to the second largest city in the region, Shigatse (3,800m). The route, which covers a distance of 464 kilometers, including the side trip to EBC, is one that has mostly good road conditions.

From Shigatse, it is a short hop to Gyantse, and on along the Friendship Highway, past Karola Glacier, Lake Yamdrok, and the spectacular Nyenchen Khangsar Mountain, the highest mountain near Lhasa. The rest sections of the road to Lhasa from Shigatse are all asphalt paved, making the trip faster and more comfortable.

SectionMajor AttractionsDistanceAltitude changesRoad condition
Kathmandu to Gyirong Langtang National Park, Gyirong Valley 150.99 mi (242.99 km) 1,400 m to 2,700 m Part paved part dirt roads to Gyirong Port, and then paved roads to Gyirong Town.
Gyirong to Shigatse Mount Everest Base Camp, Sakya Monastery, Mount Kailash 295.26 mi (475.18 km) 2,700 m to 3,800 m Paved roads for the entire distance.
Shigatse to Lhasa Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Karola Glacier 222.74 mi (358.47 km) 3,800 m to 3,656 m Paved roads for the entire distance.

Required Travel Documents for getting to Tibet from Nepal

For all tourists traveling from Nepal to Tibet the following documents are required. Chinese Group Visa and Tibet Travel Permit are required for tourists flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa, while the extra Frontier Pass and the Alien’s Travel Permit are required for the overland journey through the certain areas of Tibet.

 Tibet Travel Permit Tibet Travel Permit

Chinese Group Visa

The Chinese Group Visa should be obtained once you arrive in Kathmandu by the tour operator. It replaces the standard Chinese Entry Visa, and cannot be applied for personally. Applications require your original passport and the Tibet Travel Permit, and take three working days to process.

Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit, also known as the Entry Permit, is the main permit for entering and traveling around Tibet. It is applied for once you have booked your tour by the tour operator, and can take up to 15-20 days to process, though this is soon to change to take less time. The application is made by the tour operator on your behalf and requires a scanned copy of your passport for the application process.
>> Learn more about how to apply for Tibet Visa from Nepal

More Required Permits for Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Tour

The Tibet Frontier Pass is required for all tourists traveling in the areas of the Chinese borders with India, Nepal, and Bhutan. It you are going to take an overland trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa, you need to apply for this permit so that you can travel through the border area.

Alien’s Travel Permit is another required travel permit for the Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour through Mount Everest area and Shigatse.

Both the Frontier Pass and the Alien’s Travel Permit will be applied by us if you travel with us. So there is no worry about how to get all the required travel documents for your Nepal Tibet tour.

Q: Do I Need to Join a Group to Enter Tibet from Nepal?

No, you don’t. Though you need to apply for the Group Tourists Visa, you are welcome to book your Tibet tour as an individual. Either a private tour or a group tour is OK, but your trip in Tibet is required to be organized and served by a local travel agency.

While there is no official requirement to join a group tour when traveling to Tibet, it can be beneficial in more ways than one. Travel across Tibet can get lonely when traveling alone, and having a few like-minded people to travel with can make the tour even more special, as you can enjoy good company and maybe make some lifelong friends along the way.

Another benefit of joining a group tour is the cost. While a private tour may be just what you need, if you are traveling to Tibet on a budget, a Tibet group tour can help you save a lot of money over the cost of a private tour.

On a group tour, the costs of the guide, vehicle, fuel, and even some rooms (if shared rooms are only available) are shared among the other members of the party, which can greatly reduce the cost of the tour, sometimes by as much as 30 percent. This means that you get more money to spend on those wonderful Tibetan gifts for all your friends back home.

Q: Can I travel from Nepal to Tibet by train?

Unfortunately, there is currently no train that runs direct from Kathmandu to Lhasa, though plans have been underway for many years to build one. So far, the section from Lhasa to Shigatse is already completed, and the other two sections, from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port and Gyirong Port to Shigatse, are still in the planning stages, and are expected to be completed in the near future. However, no actual date for completion has yet been given.

If you really want to take a Tibet train, you can get to the gateway cities in mainland China first, and then take a train to Tibet. Among all the cities offering trains to Tibet, Chengdu is a popular gateway to Tibet for most travelers from Nepal, since it is close to Nepal and has direct flights from Kathmandu to Chengdu.

Conclusion

Getting to Tibet from Nepal is always a popular option for tourists to the plateau, for a variety of reasons. The ease of access to Tibet from Nepal has made it popular to take the overland route from Kathmandu to Lhasa, traveling with your tour guide from Gyirong Port to the Tibetan capital. Flights are also popular, and in the peak season, can be booked up early, so it is essential to book well in advance.

And with us to make all the arrangements on your behalf, getting to Tibet from Nepal has never been easier. Just tell us your travel plan and we will try our best to make the best trip for you.

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