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Tibet Travel Restrictions

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Tuesday Oct 12, 2021
tibet-travel-restrictions

Tibet has specific travel regulations and restrictions, before you depart to Tibet, here are some essential details you need to know about Tibet Travel Restrictions.

Tibet is one of the most captivating and mysterious holy places in the world. Also known as the "Roof of the world," it is home to several historical sites, ancient Buddhist monasteries, beautiful landscapes, shimmering holy lakes, and vast snow-capped Himalayas. Tibet has so much to offer, from alluring mountain landscapes to fascinating religion, ancient culture, and traditions. 

However, Tibet has specific travel regulations and restrictions. Tibet applies all these restrictions to reduce the impact of tourism on the culture, traditions, environment, and ecology of the Tibetan plateau. So, before you depart to Tibet, here are some essential details you need to know about Tibet Travel Restrictions. 

1. Tibet Travel Permit is an essential document to enter Tibet

Tibet Travel Permit, also known as Tibet Visa, is a single entry visa issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). For all foreign travelers, a Tibet Travel Permit is essential to enter the mystical land of Tibet. With this Tibet permit, you are only allowed to visit major attractions in Lhasa and its surroundings. You also need to show this permit while boarding a domestic flight to Lhasa or Tibet train. So, it is wise to start the Tibet permit application before departure from your country. You can only get these permits with the help of a registered tour operator once you have booked your Tibet Tour.

2. Enter Tibet via mainland China or Nepal

Enter Tibet via mainland China or Nepal

You can either visit Tibet through Nepal or mainland China. You'll not get any direct international flights from foreign countries (except Nepal) to Tibet.

  • Flight from Kathmandu: You can take a flight from Nepal, which is a border to Tibet. There is a direct flight from Kathmandu (the capital city of Nepal) to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport. Check out our blog about  How To Travel From Lhasa To Kathmandu? 
  • Flight from Mainland China: If you are in any of the cities of mainland China such as Beijing, Xi'an, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Kunming, then you can take a direct flight to Tibet. At the same time, the flight from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou requires a stopover at Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi'an.
  • Trains from Mainland China: You can take a train from mainland cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining to Tibet. 

So, if you are planning to travel to Tibet, you first need to get into Nepal or mainland China.

Check out our blog for more information:

How To Travel From Lhasa To Kathmandu? 
How to Travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa?
How to Travel to Tibet from the United States

3. Tibet entry from mainland China- Chinese Visa Required

If you plan to enter Tibet from China, you need both Tibet Permit and a Chinese Visa. At first, you need to get a Chinese Visa to enter China, and then you need to get Tibet Permit, and legally you can enter Tibet. You must apply through a Chinese Embassy in your home country or a third country. When you apply for a Chinese Visa, notably do not mention Tibet as your travel destination. There is a high probability of visa rejection. So, it is wise to mention the cities like Beijing, Shanghai as your travel destinations. 

4. Tibet entry from Nepal- Chinese Group Visa Required

Chinese Group Visa is an essential travel document for travelers who are entering Tibet from Nepal. Even if you have a Chinese Visa, you need to apply for Group Visa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issues this single entry tourist visa. It is usually valid for a maximum of 30 days. It is a paper with the lists of the names of the people in your tour group with their nationalities, birth dates, and passport numbers. You can apply for this visa with the help of a local travel agency in Nepal. Chinese Embassy will not accept your applications. 

5. Tourists are not allowed to travel to Tibet independently

Another Tibet Travel restriction for international tourists is that they cannot travel independently without a tour guide, driver, and private vehicle. With this travel restriction in Tibet, you need to book a Tibet Tour with registered and recognized tour operators. Likewise, if you are a solo traveler, you can join a private tour with only your tour guide and driver. You cannot also visit any major attractions of Lhasa or any other cities without a local tour guide. 

6. Diplomat and Foreign Journalists cannot visit Tibet as regular tourists

If you are a regular tourist, then a local travel agency needs to arrange your Tibet Tours. However, if you are a diplomat, media persona, or journalist with a journalist visa, then you'll not find a travel agency that can arrange your Tibet tour. Your application must go through the China Foreign Affairs Office and get approved. So, if you travel to Tibet as a tourist, we recommend you not apply for China Visa and Tibet Travel Permit as a journalist or diplomat.  

7. Restricted areas need special travel permits

travel permits

In Tibet, being an international tourist, you cannot visit every region. Therefore, your travel expert from a local travel agency will help to create a customized itinerary. Besides, with the help of the following permit, you are allowed to visit some major attractions of Tibet:

Tibet Travel Permit

To visit Lhasa, Shigatse, and Lake Namsto, you require Tibet Entry Permit. So, before you depart from your homeland, apply for it with the help of a local travel agency. 

Aliens' Travel Permit

To visit Nyingchi and Mount Everest, you need to get an Aliens' Travel Permit. So, you need to apply for this permit when you are in Tibet with the help of a local Tibetan guide. 

Military Area Entry Permit

To visit some restricted areas of Tibet such as Bome, Rawu, Shanna, Naidong, Gajah, Nang County, and Ngari, you need to obtain a Military Area Entry Permit. 

Moreover, beyond these places, you cannot visit some places in Tibet even if you have Tibet Travel Permits, Alien's Travel Permit, or Military Area Entry Permit. Some locations include Tibetan Kings' Tombs and Lhamo Latso in Shannan, Brahmaputra Grand Canyon, and Nayi Valley in Nyingchi, Yatung, Tsonag Chamdo, where you can not get entry.

Recommended Read: How to Get a Tibet Travel Permit?

8. Tourists can not enter Tibet during Tibetan New Year

Tibetan New Year (locally called Losar) is the most important and celebrated festival in Tibet. During this festival, the local people perform different activities and celebrate this festival in full swing. Despite that, during Tibetan New Year, Tibet is closed to the outside world. In general, this festival falls in February or March, and you being an international tourist, cannot enter Tibet during this period. But, it will often reopen from early April. 

9. Some places in Tibet are closed in the winter season

Since Tibet lies at such a high altitude, the weather is freezing in the winter season. So, heavy snow covered many places, which made it difficult to travel. Thus, some high-altitude places like Mt. Kailash and Namsto Lake are closed during winter. For safety purposes, we also highly don't recommend you travel to these places during winter. Likewise, the best time to visit Tibet is from April and October. However, if you plan for a winter trip to Tibet, there are still other beautiful destinations such as Shigatse, Yamdrok Lake, Tsedang. Indeed, in the winter season, Lhasa is an ideal place in Tibet to travel. During this season, the weather will be warm and stable. 

10. No age limit to visit Tibet

Unlike other travel restrictions to Tibet, there are no age restrictions while visiting Tibet. However, if you are going with your kids and elderly parents to Tibet, you must be cautious and give extra attention.

Undoubtedly, the altitude of Lhasa, Tibet, is 3,650 meters above sea level. So, while traveling to Tibet, you must be careful about altitude sickness. Older people, especially those above 65 years old, are prone to altitude sickness. They might have serious issues depending on their physical health condition. Likewise, kids are too young, so they cannot communicate well with you regarding not feeling well immediately. Moreover, people suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease should reconsider their visit or consult with the doctor before their visit. 

Final Say

No wonder Tibet is the best travel destination around the world. It is famous for its beautiful natural scenery and mysterious religious culture. You definitely want to explore this holy land at least once in your life. However, you might think the Tibet Travel Restrictions might make your Tibet tour problematic, but it actually makes your trip safe and secure. 

Nonetheless, you cannot travel independently, so we are here to guide you. Our travel experts will arrange a perfect customized Tibet tour as per your needs and preferences. We will help you get Tibet Travel Permit and other essential permits too.

If you are ready for your next Tibet tour, you can look at our popular Tibet tours below and just contact us with your interest and requirements, and we will help you create a perfect Tibet Tours. Be ready to make the trip to Tibet one of the most amazing journeys of your life!


  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Tuesday Oct 12, 2021
Naba Raj

About Author - Naba Raj Amgai

Naba Raj Amgai, stepped into the world of travel and tourism in 1996. He is Founder and Managing Director of Third Rock Adventures.

Beginning his journey in the tourism industry as a humble Porter Guide to founding hospitality establishments and an adventure travel company, he has come a long way.

In a career spanning more than two decades, he has achieved more than anybody dreams of achieving. Along with his professional achievements, his selfless contribution towards his community and society has won him a lot of accolades and praises.

Having dedicated more than two decades in the tourism and hospitality sector, he has amassed a wealth of experience.

After passing high school, he began helping out some trekking guides and was soon recruited as a porter guide at a reputed trekking agency. Within a short time, he was individually guiding clients across the well-known trails of the Himalayas.

He went on to lead tour groups on multi-country tours to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Being a part of mountain climbing expeditions familiarised him with expedition logistics and operations. Later on, he went to become the Executive Director and took over the reins of Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. Spending several years in the tourism field has made Naba Raj Amgai a destination expert.

Travelling is his passion and he has been to many countries across the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Holland, Germany, Austria and many parts of Asia.

His journeys to different parts of the world have enriched his travel experience and knowledge. This experience has been instrumental in planning and organizing successful trips for several clients.

As of today many reputed travel companies, hotels and restaurants are under his leadership. A dynamic and proactive leader, he continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

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