Travel to Tibet from Nepal or Mainland China

Last updated: August,18 2018

Recently, tourists can only enter Tibet from mainland China and Nepal. According to the record, about 90% overseas travelers chose to travel to Tibet from mainland China, while the other 10% travelers chose to enter Tibet from Nepal. While you are planning your first trip to Tibet, you may want to know more to choose the best way to get to Tibet based on your own needs. Here, we will list both advantages and disadvantages of entering Tibet from mainland China and Nepal. Hoping these will help you arrange your trip to Tibet. If you need more detailed information, please feel free to contact us for the help from professional travel experts.

Why Travel from Mainland China to Tibet

Getting to Tibet from mainland China is the most popular way that chosen by most tourists, because travelers can not only get to Tibet by air, but also get to Tibet from mainland China by train and by overland.

China offers the most frequent flights to Tibet. There are daily non-stop flights to Lhasa from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Kunming, etc. And much more direct flights and connecting flights from other major cities in mainland China. It is one of the reasons that why most tourists choose to enter Tibet from mainland China.

Tibet TrainTravelling to Tibet from Mainland China by Train

Besides the most convenient way to get to Tibet by air, you can also take a train to Tibet. It is the unique experience that you can just get from China. The Tibet train connects the mainland China and Tibet plateau by the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the highest rail in the world. During the Tibet train journey, you will travel through the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the third-pole on the Earth, from the north to the south, passing through the Kekexili area (also known as Hoh Xil), getting through the Tanggula Pass, which is the world highest point on a railway at 5072 meters above the sea level, and going cross the vast Qiangtang grassland in the northern Tibet.

On each Tibet train, there are comfortable soft sleeper cabins, hard sleeper cabins and hard seats for choose. On board the train, there is a dining train offering three meals a day with kinds of local snacks, fresh fruits and kinds of drinks. The whole train is equipped with oxygen supply system, which makes your Tibet train journey safer and more comfortable.

Inconvenience of Getting to Tibet from Mainland China

If you plan to enter Tibet from mainland China, you need to get a Chinese Visa first, so that you can enter China and apply for your Tibet Travel Permit. You need to apply for your Chinese Visa through the Chinese Embassy in your home country or in a third country before you enter China.

Why Travel to Tibet from Nepal

There are still around 10% tourists choosing to enter Tibet from Nepal after their Nepal tours. From Nepal to Tibet, the most convenient way is to take a flight from Tribhuvan International Airport to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. There is one or two flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa every day. The total journey takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Nepal to TibetTravelling to Tibet from Nepal

The more adventure way is to go overland from Kathmandu to Tibet through the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway. The total distance between Kathmandu and Lhasa is about 1,000 kilometers, which takes about 20 hours by non-stop driving. Driving from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Girong Part, you can visit various kinds of attractions along the road through the Himalaya regions. It is suggested to takes about a week or so to enjoy your Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour, so that you will get enough time to reach the Everest Base Camp, explore central Tibet and visit the holy Yamdrom Lake en route.

To enter Tibet from Nepal, you can just apply for the Group Visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu after your arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal. Please notice that, it generally takes 3 working days, so you need arrive in Kathmandu in advance. Compared to get the ordinary Chinese Visa, it is easier to get the Group Visa. However, it is not suggested for those who already get a Chinese Visa to enter Tibet from Nepal, for their Chinese Visa will be canceled once the Group Visa is issued.

Inconvenient of Getting to Tibet from Nepal

Though it is one of the classic overland routes in the world from Kathmandu to Lhasa, it is not an easy journey. On the first day, you will drive from Kathmandu to Gyirong port through a small mountain. During the journey, you will drive through the gorges, enjoying the waterfall, the river and forest along the way, till you reach the border at Nepalese side. On the second day, you will pass the Tongla Pass at 5100 metres and finally arrive in Old Tingri. The altitude along the way rises up from 1300 metres to 5100 metres and drops down to 4300 metres in the first 48 hours. It is easy to be affected by the altitude changes. Compared with the overland trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu, the trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa offers less time to get acclimatized to high altitude changes.


It is a truth that most former travelers chose to get to Tibet from mainland China rather than from Nepal. But it is hard to say which the best way is for you in a simple way. If you have enough time and plan to visit both China and Nepal, to get to Tibet from mainland China is absolutely the best way to go after your China tour. If you just have a few days, around a week, and you are already arranged your trip in Nepal, you can choose to enter Tibet from Kathmandu with a Group Tour Visa and of cause your Tibet Travel Permit. It is recommended to consult the professional travel experts for more focused references. Please feel free to contact us. Our experienced Tibet travel expert will contact you within 24 hours and help you arrange your trip to Tibet.

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