Tibet Travel Regulations 2019
Tibet is a very special destination to travel to. Thought it had never been so open for International Visitor in its history as it is now. There are some minor regulation and restriction you will have to understand before planning your tour to Tibet.
1. Independent Travel is not allowed in Tibet
According to the policy of the regional Tibet Autonomous Region. All the international visitor are not allowed travel independently in Tibet. You will have to book the tour service with a local Travel agency in Tibet with the tour guide and the private Vehicles. During your visit to any attractions in Tibet, you will have to accompanied by a licensed tour guide. You can choose to book the hotel by your own self or book it with the agency.
2. Tibet travel permit is Required for any traveler coming into Tibet Autonomous Region.
To travel into Tibet Autonomous Region, all the international travelers are required to have Tibet travel permit. This permit many time referred as Tibet Visa. You will need this permit while boarding for the flights to Tibet from any part of China, you will need a copy of it while boarding any trains to Tibet and you will need it at the border upon arrival from Nepal.
This document can only be applied in Lhasa and hence your travel agency can help you apply it with the Tibet tourism bureau. Our travel agency will need your valid passport and visa if you are coming from other parts of China and only the passport copies if you are coming from Nepal. The permit application will take about 18 days to 30 days depending on the places of visit.
3) Some additional Permits are required if you are visiting beyond Lhasa.
Thought your travel agency will take care of all the other permit required for your trip. We think it is important to know a bit about what are the other permits required for your trip.
Tibet travel permit can only guarantee your stay in Lhasa prefecture. If your tour is extended to other prefectures in Tibet. you will need the several other necessary permits. Your travel agency will take care of all of it. Here are the other permits.
Alien travel permit – This travel permit is required if your tour is crossing into one or more prefectures in Tibet. Like if you are visiting both Lhasa prefecture and Shigatse prefecture. for instance with Journey from Lhasa to Mount Everest Basecamp. This permit is issued by the Local Public Security Bureau and should be applied upon arrival to the Next Prefecture level headquarters like Shigatse or Tsedang. For this permit, it will take only one visit and a few hours to get it. But your guide will have to go to the security bureau office to get the sign at all the other prefecture.
Border Permit– It is an additional permit your travel agency need to apply before your arrival in Tibet. If your journey is reaching at the destination in border areas like Mount Everest, Mount Kailash or if you are coming to Tibet from Nepal. This is an additional permit along with the Tibet travel permit. For this permit, it will take only one visit and a few hours to get it.
Military permit – This permit is also applied by your travel agency in Lhasa before your arrival in Lhasa. This permit is required if you are traveling into the military sensitive region of Tibet, Like Ngari Prefecture ( Mt Kailash region), Nyinchi Prefecture, Overland journey from/ to Yunan and Qinghai province. This permit will take more than seven days and in total if your journey requires this permit, it will take about a month for all the permit work to be done.
4. Currently, the only access to Tibet is either from other provinces of China or from Nepal.
The only gateway to reach Tibet is either from other provinces of China or from Nepal
If you coming to Tibet from Nepal. You have an option of either traveling overland from Nepal to Tibet, or taking a flight to Lhasa. During busy summer days there are two flights per day and during the winter and low season, there is only one flight a day. Flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is the only international flight available to date.
You have to keep in mind, it is mandatory to get the Chinese Group visa from the Embassy in Nepal if you are coming to Tibet from Nepal. Read more about coming to Tibet from Nepal Here.
If you are coming to Tibet from other parts of China. there is more option in reaching to Tibet. There are daily flights to Lhasa, Nyinchi and Shigatse from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, and Kunming etc. But the most frequent flights are available from Chengdu to Lhasa. You can also choose to take a train to Lhasa. besides, you can take an overland journey from/ to other provinces of China.
5. The group Visa and Border permit are required if you are traveling from Nepal to Tibet.
As mention above. If you are coming to Tibet from Nepal. you will have to get the Chinese Group Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Please note that the Chinese Visa from home will of no use. Once when you apply for the Chinese group visa, the valid Chinese visa you already have will be revoked. If you happen to have a long duration multi-entry visa on your passport, you may want to enter into Tibet from China and continue your journey into Nepal. The Chinese Group visa will be valid for your journey in other parts of China. But you can only enter and exit at the point mention in the group visa. You will have to send your final itinerary to your travel agency in Tibet to mention your point of entering and exit into the Visa Invitations.
The Chinese Group Visa will take you three Business day in Nepal and you can leave Kathmandu on the day following the third business days. Your group Visa can be only applied by the registered travel agency in Nepal. They will not issue the Visa if you apply it personally.
The border permit will be applied by your travel agency in Lhasa. but you might want to remind them if your travel agency is new in business. sometimes the new travel agency trend to forget it and it is sometimes very hard to get it in the last minute. especially if you are coming overland to Tibet.
Tibet permits will be with your tour guide at the point of entering. either at the Lhasa Airport or at the border port.
6. Diplomats and Journalist are not allowed to host by a travel agency in Tibet.
If you are diplomats or a Journalist, there are different channels to arrange your visit to Tibet. As a normal travel agency, we are not supposed to host your Visit to Tibet. You can contact the nearest Chinese Embassy to work on your visit to Tibet. For these professionals, the visit is arranged by the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
7. Tibet normally close from Late February to the end of March
For Major Holidays and maintenance works at the attractions. Tibet is normally close from Late February to the end of March every year. During this period the Tibet tourism bureau will be upgrading and maintaining their systems too. which is why they will not issue the Tibet travel permit. They will start making the Tibet travel permit by the beginning of April.
8. Some regions and attractions are closed for international visitors.
Though most areas in Tibet are open for the international visitor by obtaining Tibet travel permit, as such like the entire area of Lhasa Prefecture. Going to areas of other prefecture you will need aliens permits. Border permits are required for the destination near the border areas. But there are some areas which are not open for international travelers due to the sensitivity of the region.
These areas include the famous holy lake of Lhamo Lha-Tso, Yandong county in Shigatse, Tsona County in Shanan Prefecture, Nanyo valley and Yarlung Tsangpo grand canyon in Nyinchi prefecture, Pangong Lake in Ngari prefecture and entire prefecture of Qamdo.
Beside above-mentioned areas, all the other parts of Tibet are open for International travelers
9. Tibet travel service for Indian Pilgrimage.
For the Indian pilgrims visiting the Mount Kailash for the yatra. No ordinary travel agency in Lhasa can host your Kailash yatra. There are only few Kailash yatra organizing agencies in Lhasa, who can help make your permits. Please contact us if you would like to help us connect you with some of them.
If you are an Indian citizen and would like to visit Tibet besides Mt Kailash, all the other ordinary travel agency can make your permit. contact us for the tour itinerary and the services.
10) You can travel to Tibet in private tour. Joining a group tour is not mandatory.
Yes, we don’t there are many travel website saying you will need to join a group tour to go to Tibet. Those are either inaccurate or outdated information. If you are a coming to Tibet with a group as a group of friend or a family or traveling to Tibet in individual, You can visit Tibet in private. But the tour has to be arranged by the local travel agency with the permit. You don’t have to join a group tour. The group tour is really a bad idea if you are looking for a good experience in Tibet.
Tibet has never been so open for International travelers in its History. Yet there are some regulations to help the local ecosystems. Beside the above mention regulations. Everyone can visit Tibet, Tibet is very accessible for everyone.