Tibet travel guide

when is the best time to visit Tibet?

The best time for Tibet travel ranges from April to October when you can savor more beautiful places with more comfortable weather. Tibet is located in Qinghai Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters. Influenced by its special topography, geographical environment and atmospheric circulation, Tibet owns a complex climate – freezing winter and mild summer, featuring in strong sunlight, ultraviolet radiation and dry and thin air. It will get colder with the rise of elevation. In Everest and Ngari, the temperature is much lower than in Lhasa. It will be 10°C only in summer daytime, drops to below zero degree at night. Under the alternant control of west wind in winter and southwest wind of summer, Tibet has obvious dry season and rainy season: every October to next year April is the dry season, every May to September is the rainy season when precipitation counts about 80% ~ 90% of whole year. Precipitation in Tibet reduces from southeast to northwest. Night rains happens quite frequently in summer.

How to obtain Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Visa)?

According to regulations of Tibet Tourism Bureau, all travelers without Chinese passports must travel in Tibet with a travel agency and let the agency provide tour services and arrange essential Tibet travel permits. Tibet Travel Permit (often considered as Tibet Visa) is the most important travel document to be obtained in advance. It is a mandatory travel document for any Tibet tour, and indispensably needed when you take train, flight to Tibet from other cities in China, or get to Tibet from Nepal by overland driving or flight, even when you travel around Tibet. If you travel with us, it’s actually much simpler and easier to get the permit than you think. You only need to send us required documents, we will get it for you to make sure you enjoy trip to Tibet hassle free.

What is a Tibet Travel Permit?

Tibet Travel Permit or Tibet Entry Permit is a regional travel permit issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, Tibet, which approves non-Chinese passport holders’ traveling to Tibet. It has 2 separate pages, marking your scheduled tour itinerary, travel route, date and companions, personal basic information, etc.

Who Needs a Tibet Travel Permit?

All non-Chinese passport holders planning to visit Tibet are required to get a Tibet Travel Permit, including: foreign passport holders (like US, UK and Canadian citizens…), Taiwan citizens and overseas Chinese.
Note: Hong Kong and Macau residents holding SAR passport or Home Return Permit can travel to Tibet independently without the permit.

Is There a Cost for Tibet Travel Permit?

Tibet Travel Permit can NOT be applied separately without booking a Tibet tour. There is no application fee collected by Tibet Tourism Bureau. We also don’t charge extra service fee though we spend lots of time and labor, since it’s already included in your Tibet tour package services.

How to Get a Tibet Travel Permit?

According to official regulation, only licensed travel agencies can apply for Tibet Visa on behalf of foreign tourists. You just need to email us simple materials, and we do all the following work.
Step 1: Book a Tibet tour package. Contact our travel consultant and plan a detailed Tibet itinerary based on your needs and interests.
Step 2: Send scanned copies of your valid passport and Chinese Visa. (passport copy only if getting to Tibet from Nepal)
Step 3: We apply for the permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau, collect and deliver it to the address you provided in mainland China.
Step 4: Take Tibet Travel Permit and leave for Tibet.
Note: Above application procedure only applies to ordinary foreign tourists. For visitors holding a diplomatic passport, service visa, please seek further help from the Foreign Affairs Department.

How Long to Get a Tibet Travel Permit?

After emailing us required documents, it usually takes about 20 working days to receive your Tibet Travel Permit. We will arrange your tour guide and other details, submit application to Tibet Tourism Bureau, wait for its processing and issuance, and then collect and deliver to you. It needs about 1 month if you plan to visit Ngari. So, better plan your Tibet tour as early as possible.

How to Avoid High Altitude Sickness?

It is quite common that most people will suffer from High Altitude Sickness with different levels. Please also note that the High Alitude Sickness usually can heal itself by eventually acclimatizing your body to the altitude, air pressure and temperatures. Below are some useful tips about how to avoid Hight Altitude Sickness in Tibet:
Before Arriving at Tibet

Keep physically and mentally healthy. Keep relaxing in mind.

Take a physical examination and consult your doctor for advice on preparing AMS medication.

Prevent from having a cold and respiratory disease before taking your flight/train to Tibet.

Try to have a get a great night’s sleep at the night before taking your flight/train to Tibet.

On Your Tibet Tour:

Avoid strenuous activities, such as running, jumping or climb up to high mountains during the first 2~3 arrival days

During your arrival and trip in Lhasa, you should walk at slow pace, take deep breaths. Leave plenty of time to acclimatize.

You’d better not take bath on the first day of arrival to prevent from catching cold.

Drinking more water is helpful, but drinking alcohol is not recommended.

Eat more food with rich carbohydrates.

Don’t take depressant drugs.

Less smoke cigarette.

Don’t use an oxygen bottle immediately if your symptoms are not worse, which is helpful to acclimatize faster.

When you need to ascend to higher altitudes, you must ascent gradually. If you begin to feel High Altitude Sickness, stop ascend any higher, or retreat to a lower altitude.

If your AMS reactions are severe, go to the hospital as soon as possible. Some hotels in Lhasa also have Oxygen supply. You can also let your tour guide take you to the local hospital for treatment

Important note:

You’d better have a full medical examination of your health, and take serious about your doctor’s advice. If your health may take risk in high altitude regions, you are not suggested visit Tibet. Commonly following situations not allow you to go to Tibet:
Heavy cold/Severe anemia/High blood pressure/Heart disease/Breathing diseases, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, tracheitis, and bronchitis

Essential & Helpful Tibet Train Tour Tips

It is quite common that most people will suffer from High Altitude Sickness with different levels. Please also note that the High Alitude Sickness usually can heal itself by eventually acclimatizing your body to the altitude, air pressure and temperatures. Below are some useful tips about how to avoid Hight Altitude Sickness in Tibet:

Which gateway city to start

So far, travel can take a train to Lhasa from gateway cities which are also the starting stations with maximum chances to get a train ticket, including Chengdu, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining, and Lanzhou, etc.
Most Recommended – Beijing, Chengdu, Xining: Beijing has a daily train to Lhasa usually departing in the evening and takes about 41 hours. It is easier to buy a ticket from Chengdu to Lhasa(about 42hrs’ trip), but the train only departs every other day. Xining has more train schedules and is the starting place of stunning Qinghai Tibet Railway. One can get to Lhasa from Xining by train within 22 hours.
Other Popular Gateways – Chongqing, Shanghai, Xian: Chongqing is connected to Yangtze River Cruise, Shanghai is popular arrival city in China, but the time spent on the train is a bit long(approx 47hrs). Xian is the perfect place as the connection between Beijing and Lhasa.

Amenities on the train

There are bathrooms, a washing desk with mirror, two smoking zones and a boiled water supply at the connecting zone of two cars. Don’t worry about the oxygen supply. The concentration of Oxygen is always kept in balance. Each cabin has switch for oxygen. Battery charging is available on the train.

Choice of seats

Generally, there are soft sleepers, hard sleepers and hard seats. A cabin has four soft sleepers(top and low) with a door which are relatively quiet and less crowd compared to hard sleeper cabins. Hard sleeper cabin has 6 sleeper(top, middle, low) but without a door. Hard seat is not recommended.


You can go to the dining car where you have flexible options for Chinese cuisine for lunch and dinner, but the price is a bit expensive. You can also buy the budget boxed lunch from the staff when the push the meal cart to your seat. We advise you to pack some snacks with you.

Important tips

1. The train tickets to Lhasa often easily lack storage, so you’d better book ASAP(30 days in advance available).

2. The Tibet Travel Permit is required to book tickets and board the train. 

Other FAQS

How to Obtain the Tibet Permits for Mount Everest?

Mount Everest (elevation: 8,848 m /29,029 ft – the highest mountain in the world) is located at China-Nepal border area. For traveling to its north face and EBC in Tibet side, tourists must get both a Tibet Travel Permit and an Aliens’ Travel Permit. The former needs to be got before your departure while the latter is applied after your arrival in Lhasa. But, it’s no bother at all, because your Tibet tour guide will take your original passport and related material to get it quickly. You don’t have to spend any time or effort to handle it by yourself.

Tibet Tours: a moving, memorable and unique experience

Apart from the appeal of Lhasa and its many attractions, on our Tibet Tours any – or all – of the following can be arranged:

  • Potala Palace – A magnificent icon of Tibet, visiting Potala Palace will be a travel memory you’ll always treasure. Apart from being a surprising example of architectural design, Potala Palace is a place where reverence meets wonder. Both pilgrims and travelers alike sense its reverence, regardless of their origins. Formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama you’ll discover the history behind this sacred, mysterious palace, which dates back to the 7th century.
  • Jokhang Temple – The most divine and respected Buddhist temple among locals and pilgrims, Jokhang Temple has a history of over 1,300 years. Join the waves of awestruck pilgrims prostrating themselves outside the 1300 year old temple, the spiritual center of Buddhism in Tibet and location of the central golden Buddha. The temple presents an interesting mixture of the architectural design of its Tang dynasty, Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese origin.
  • Barkhor Circuit – Feel the spirit of Tibet as you’re swept up into the pulsing surge of pilgrims traveling clockwise around the Jokhang Temple. The walk encircling Jokhang is about one kilometer long, and locals and tourists enjoy both the atmosphere and markets.
  • Ani Tsankhung Nunnery – Located near Jokhang Temple is the only nunnery in downtown Lhasa. Built in the 15th century on a site used for meditation by the 7th century Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, the nuns who live their support themselves through the sale of alms and production of items such as clothing and printed texts.
  • Norbulingka – Built originally on the site of a healing spring three kilometers west of the Potala Palace is the summer palace where the Dalai Lamas worked and lived during summer. Now the extensive residence has become a tourist attraction housing a large collection of Italian chandeliers, Ajanta frescoes, Tibetan carpets and murals of Buddha and previous Lamas.
  • Drepung Monastery – Feel honored touring the center of learning and one of the most sacred monasteries in Tibet, regarded as analogous with the Sorbonne or Oxford. Around 300 monks study at the center. The biggest event is the giant thangka unveiling of Buddha’s picture during the Shoton Festival. This large complex is also home to a valuable collection of porcelain, Thangka, scriptures, Buddha statues, armor and weapons.
  • Sera Monastery –  Gain further insight into the depth of Buddhist learning when visiting one of the Great Three Gelug University Monasteries of Tibet. The group of buildings established in 1434 is known as “Wild Roses Monastery”, in deference to the wild roses originally growing in the area. Sample true tradition of Tibet when you tour the magnificent Sera Monastery and watch the monks practice their physical form of debating which involves an unusual amount of hand slapping and pushing.

Want to attend a traditional Tibetan festival on your Tibet tour?

Our Tibet tours can be scheduled to align with the timing of important spiritual festivals in the region. Be sure to enquire about the possibilities of this inclusion on your Tibet tour when you speak to our team.

  • Celebrate the Shoton Festival – A highlight of the Tibetan calendar, the Shoton Festival marks the end of the Tibetan monks’ hundred day summer retreat. Known for its Tibetan opera and Buddha paintings, the Shoton Festival is the most important for Tibetan people. Join the local people as they view the famous Buddha Thaka.
  • Experience Thangka – Bright, beautiful and holy, Tibetan Thangka is a unique art genre that must be experienced in Tibet. Attend a Thangka ceremony and watch the art come alive.
  • Visit Namtso – The second largest alpine lake in Tibet, Namtso is a little over 4,700 meters above sea level. Not only is Namtso beautiful, getting there is a treat too. Take in the snow-capped Nyenchen Thanglha Mountain Ranges, trek around Tashi Island, or simply admire the sunrise view of the Namtso Lake.
  • Stay at the Everest Base Camp – If you’re looking for more adventure, why not take in the Everest Base Camp? With cycling and trekking options available to more intrepid travelers, Everest Base Camp is a must-visit destination in Tibet. Our team can easily arrange travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Just ask us!

Looking for a custom Tibet tour experience?

All our Tibet tours can be customized to individual travel timetables and interests, including extending stays and arranging visits to other locations in the region. With our experienced team of travel consultants, we’ll design the ideal Tibet tour that stays with you for a lifetime.

Travel further on a China tour including Tibet

If you’re already in China or have booked a separate vacation, you might opt for a tour that includes just Tibet. With our goal to provide maximum flexibility one of the highest priorities for our customers, we can add your vacation in Tibet onto any other travel arrangements you have. There is no need for stress about coordinating arrivals, departures and everything in between because we look after all the details. Hotels, transfers, flights, trains, meals, and bespoke experiences – we can take care of it all.

In addition to our Tibet only tours, three of our most popular best China tours include multi-day stays in Tibet. These tours are all offered as private tours and may even be customized if you want to add to the itinerary. This is a great option if you want to extend or reduce your stay or add destinations to your travels. Need help? Just ask us. We’ll design the perfect tour of China including Tibet that makes the most of your time and ticks off your bucket list.

Explore beyond Lhasa and discover the mysteries of Shambhala

Awaken to the beauty, enlightened spirit, and living heritage of Tibet by traveling to Shambhala, said to be the inspiration for the mystical Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon

There is no doubt that extending your adventure beyond Lhasa opens up a hidden, and in many ways, an idyllic world that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Pristine landscapes encompassing breathtaking alpine views, endless horizons, and deep green valleys make for postcard-like scenes as you travel between the villages of local ethnic minorities discovering ancient traditions still beautifully intact. 

A Tibet tour beyond Lhasa offers the chance to immerse yourself in an authentic experience of the local people, traditions and culture, with the accommodation en route set amongst the gorgeous alpine landscape. With a focus on showcasing traditional culture in harmony with Tibet’s rich biodiversity and beauty, you will discover there is much more to this exquisite region than the amazing capital, Lhasa. Along the way, savor the unique insights to be gained in authentic traditional Tibetan craftsmanship, materials, and skills. It is a journey that can only make for treasured travel memories.

Appreciate the opportunity to travel at dramatic altitudes within the Tibetan plateau, which is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites and over 25 ethnic minorities in the Yunnan Province, itself a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Among the highlights of these tours are the local artisans and communities, the Meili Snow Mountains, Mount Kawagebo, Three Parallel Rivers, Napa Lake, picturesque snow-capped mountains, gorgeous glaciers – and what every discerning traveler seeks – an incomparable peace. If you’re ready to journey within, we can take you there with our selection of Tibet tours beyond Lhasa. Just ask us.

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