How to Travel to Tibet?

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Top things to do , Tibet travel tips, tours and more...


TibetanNatural landscapes and cultural relics make thousands of travelers from the whole world head to Tibet (Xi Zang in Chinese). Unique Buddhism culture makes the capital of Tibet - Lhasa become a holy destination in the world. Numerous Tibetan pilgrims on the way to Lhasa are special beautiful pictures in Tibet. And Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world is deeply loved by challengers. If you are interested in Buddhism culture or Mount Everest, you should really not miss to travel in Tibet.

The best time to visit Tibet

Usually, the best time to travel in Tibet is from May to October every year. And travelers should avoid 2 Chinese golden weeks - May Day (May.1st to7th) and Chinese National Day (Oct.1st to 7th) which are full of Chinese travelers.

How to get to Tibet

Lhasa AirportOf course, the fastest and most comfortable way to Tibet is to fly in and fly out. But if you want to see beautiful scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet railway and experience the train journey, China Travel suggests you to visit Tibet by air and leave Tibet by train. Because train tickets for Tibet are extremely difficult to buy.

And a lot of cities have flights to Tibet including Kathmandu in Nepal and major cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Xining, Changdu, Kunming and Shangri-La in Yunnan Province. You need your Tibet Entry Permit to board the plane so don't forget to bring your permit. And the flights to Tibet are difficult to get a discount. >> Click here to book discout China flights

What to Pack

Good health is one of the most important things on your journey in Tibet because illness makes altitude sickness worse. To prepare enough clothes and suitable medicines are necessary for the journey. There is a big temperature difference between day and night, so warm clothes in summer are still needed. Comfortable walking shoes are needed when you climb to monasteries.
Lip scream, sun block, sunglass and hats are useful to protect you being hurt by ultraviolet rays. You can also prepare some altitude sickness medicine, motion sickness medicine and anti-diarrhea medicine for the journey. Of course, a good camera is the best way to record your unforgettable journey in Tibet.

Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet PermitForeign travelers need a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau during a journey in Tibet. You can take part in a group tour or a private tour in Tibet since April in 2013. Unfortunately, the Filipino and Japanese are not allowed to travel in Tibet at this moment. And travelers can only apply for the permit through a legal travel agency in China. You have to apply for it at least 15 days in advance. Besides, travelers need to book tours with a Chinese travel agency in advance and have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide in the whole journey in Tibet. >> more details about Tibet Travel Permit

We can deal with your Tibet Travel Permit the moment you book a Tibetan tour with China Travel. Contact us and tailor-make a Tibet tour for you.

Travel to Tibet from Nepal

You can visit Tibet from Nepal by about an hour flight or a 5-6 hours drive to Zhangmu port from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. But you need a Chinese visa and the Tibet Travel Permit before your journey. Travelers can get the permit by booking a Tibetan tour with a legal Chinese travel agency. China Travel can help you to obtain the permit once you book a tour with us. And documents for your visa are your passport, a copy of the Tibet Travel Permit and letter of invitation from the Chinese travel company which offers your tour. Once you get the visa, you can visit Tibet from Kathmandu.

Top Things to Do in Tibet

Mainly travel areas in Tibet consist of Lhasa, Shigatse, Chamdo, Lhokha (Shannan), Nyingchi, Nagri (Ali) and Nagqu. Here China Travel recommends some popular must-visit destinations for your unique Tibet travel. You can check out this page for full top things to do in Tibet.

Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Potala Palace consisting of the Red Palace and the White Palace is the symbol of Tibet. The famous palace is an iconic image of the Roof of the world. It has abundant precious cultural and religious relics such as sculptures, Buddha statues and colorful murals. The Red Palace or Potrang Marpo is the religious center for Buddhism study and devout prayers and the White Palace or Potrang Karpo is the winder residence of Dalai Lama. Nowadays, the group of Buddhism pilgrims in Lhasa becomes a unique picture of Tibet.
It is said that the magnificent Potala Palace is the Tibetan leader Songtsen Gampo's gift to greet his bride Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty in the 7th Century AD. With a more than 1300 year history, Potala Palace is top 1 destination in Tibet. But the number of travelers to visit Potala Palace is limited every day and visit time is only one hour. Visitors need to use passports to buy tickets one day in advance.

Recommended Tour with Potala Palace:



Located in the west of Lhasa, Norbulingka is widely known as Dalai Lama's Summer Place. Firstly built in the 1740s, it was deeply loved by the 7th Dalai Lama and became his summer residence to deal with political affairs and hold religious activities. After several expansions and renovations, Norbulingka is turned to a large-scale park to the public. With a meaning of 'Treasure Park' in Tibetan language, it is the largest man-made garden in Tibet.
It is divided into 3 parts including the Front Garden, Palace buildings and Forests. There are abundant rare and priceless plants growing in Norbulingka. Palace buildings reflect local Tibetan ethnical, religious and architectural features. So Norbulingka has been listed into World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 2001 after the Potala Palace.

Recommended Tour with Norbulingka:

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is the ultimate destination for thousands of Buddhism pilgrims. A large number of pilgrims are unique religious scenery in front of the Jokhang Temple. Situated in the Central Lhasa, Jokhang Temple became one of UNESCO's World Heritages in 2000 as a part of Potala Palace. It is one of the most popular destinations on the Tibet journey.

Constructed during the Tang Dynasty, it is built for the Tibetan leader Strongtsen Gampo to welcome his Nepalese wife, a princess from Nepal. It kept a holy image of Buddha brought by the Nepalese princess. The 2nd and 3rd stories of Jokhang Temple are designed and decorated in Nepalese and Indian styles. Later the Buddha of Jowa Sakyamuni brought by Prince Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty is worshiped in the temple instead of the Buddha image brought by the Nepalese wife. Now the Buddha of Jowa Sakyamuni is the most valuable in Tibet.

Recommended Tour with Jokhang Temple:

Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street is a pilgrimage circuit where the pilgrims walk around Jokhang Temple in a clockwise direction. To take part in the pilgrims to make a circuit of Barkhor Street is a popular thing to do there. It is also full of various local Tibetan souvenirs such as Tibetan carpets, tapestries, Thangka and Nepalese style jewelries. Travelers can wander in the Barkhor Street to select some souvenirs and bargain at a cheaper price. But if you want to buy some authentic Tibetan medicine, you need to buy in some formal medicine shops instead of Barkhor Street. All the shops along the Barkhor Street close early in the evening.

Recommended Tour with Barkhor Street :

Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery

Together with Drepung Monastery and Gandan Monastery, Sera Monastery is one of the three largest Buddhism Temples in Tibet. The highlight of Sera Monastery is to watch a live Buddhism debate scripture which is held between 15:00 to 17:00 from Monday to Saturday. Dressed in red robes, most monks at the age of 13 to 28 take part in the debate scripture. During the debate, you can see a vivid Buddhism debate with all kinds of different gestures.

There are a large number of Tibetan Vajra statues and some are from India or other parts of China. Abundant original pretty murals on the walls are well preserved in Sera Monastery. Travelers can bring a torch to see the murals closely and clearly. Due to no debate scriptures on Sundays, our travel guides in Tibet can flexibly change your Tibetan itinerary to make you enjoy the live debate when you book a tour with China Travel.

Recommended Tour with Sera Monastery :

Lake Yamdrok

Lake Yamdrok

On the way to Shigatse- another popular destination in Tibet, Lake Yamdrok is a beautiful natural lake in Tibet. Its name means the Jasper Lake scattered on plateau grasslands in Tibetan language. Travelers can enjoy its natural scenery consisting of vast grasslands with some yaks and oriental Tibetan villages along the Jasper Lake. Colors of the lake are various depending on the sky. Snow–capped mountains and colorful leaves make the lake more amazing.

As one of the top 3 holy lakes in Tibet, Lake Yamdrok's natural beauty attracts a lot of travelers. When you have experienced some Buddhism cultural relics, to visit Lake Yamdrok is a great break to enjoy Tibetan natural beauty. It can be reached by a 2-hour coach journey from Lhasa. And the best time to visit Lake Yamdrok is from April to October as the road in other time is closed because of weather conditions.


Mount Everest

Mount Everest

To glance at Mount Everest becomes thousands of travelers' dreams. With a height of 8844.43 meters, the highest mountain in the world- Mount Everest is a big challenge for most travelers. Mount Everest in Tibetan language means the Scared Mother Mountain. On the border of Nepal and Tibet in China, it attracts a lot of professional mountaineers from the world. To most travelers, the terminal destination is the Mt. Everest Base Camp which is about 5200 meters. Although it's a long journey from Shigatse, it is worth taking some photos and admiring the highest peak.

Most travelers can only stay in the camp for about 30 minutes because of serious altitude sickness. Travelers who have faint heart problems are not recommended to visit the Mt. Everest Base Camp. Each traveler in the camp is affected by altitude sickness so it's really risky for the faint-hearted. And to visit the camp with an experienced local guide is necessary.

Recommended Tour with Mount Everest:

Lake Namtso

Lake Namtso

As the highest saltwater lake in the world, Lake Namtso is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Located in the central Tibet, Lake Namtso is heavenly lake in Tibetan language. Crystal-clear blue water, clear sky and various wild animals wandering along the lake combines a beautiful picture of Lake Namtso. And the lake reflects numerous white clouds with different shapes. Summer is the best time to visit Lake Namtso as a large number of wild animals including wild yaks, hares, and birds are extremely active in the area.

There are thousands of colorful prayer flags hanging on the bank of the lake. It is an absolutely fantastic destination for photography. Main scenic spots along the lake include Spouse stone, Stone of Clasping Hands and Hole of Good and Evil. Lake Namtso is 1100 meters higher than Lhasa, so enough water and relax time are needed during the journey.

Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery

Situated at the foot of Mount Gephel in the west of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery is one of monasteries not to miss in Tibet. Together with Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery are one of the 3 most important and famous monasteries in Tibet. Constructed in 1416, the monastery has rich priceless Buddhism murals and images of Buddha.

Drepung Monastery has the meaning of rice heap in the Tibetan language because of its shape. It was the monastery that held the Sitting-in-Bed Ceremonies for the 2rd, 3rd and 4th Dalai Lama. Besides, the Ganden Potrang in the southwest of the monastery was the residence of the 2nd, 3rd,4th and 5th Dalai Lamas. Nowadays, it is the most important religion relic for the Gelugpa of Tibetan Buddhism. And 3 hours are enough for your visit to the Drepung Monastery.


Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Situated at the foot of Drolmari in Shigatse City, Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the six grandest Monasteries of Gelugpa in Tibet. With a meaning of Heap of Glory in Tibetan language, it was founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447 during the Ming Dynasty. Later it became the seat of successive Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama. The architectures in the Tashilhunpo Monastery including the Maitreya Chapel, the Panchen Lama's Palace and the Kelsang Temple are one of highlights within Tashilhunpo Monastery. Well-preserved precious colorful murals about Buddhism are worth seeing. Besides, there are some rare sutras, thangka, and porcelain of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in the monastery.

There is annual exhibition of holy Buddha images there around May.15th in Tibetan Calendar. The exhibition shows three grand embroidered images of Buddha for monks and Buddhism lovers to worship for more than 3 days. Recommended visit for Tashilhunpo Monastery is 3 hours.

Recommended Tour with Tashilhunpo Monastery :

>> Check out for full list of Top Things to Do in Tibet

Tailor-make a trip to Tibet

With rich travel service experience, China Travel is specialized in Group Tours with Solo Adventure. We offer free consultative service. If you want to visit Tibet , China Travel also can tailor-make a tour including Tibet, which can save your time, money, and trouble. Please feel free to tell us your tour ideas! >> Tailor-make Now! 

More tips for a Tibetan trip

Tibet is a holy destination for the Buddhism. To respect local people's life and culture is very important for ever traveler. It is a wise idea to know some Tibetan taboos before you trip to Tibet.

Travelers can exchange foreign currency in the Bank of China in Lhasa. If you want to makes friends with Tibetan family, some candies, pencils, notebooks and pens are good gifts for children. And you can also change some small notes such as a lot of one Yuan in case you need.