Tibet is situated on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau with an average altitude of above 4000m. Tibet Autonomous Region lies in the southwest of China and in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is bounded to the north by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province, to the east by Sichuan Province, to the southeast by Yunnan Province, to the south and west by these countries: Burma, India, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal. The region covers an area of around 1.22 million km2, which accounts for 12.8% of the total of China. The unspoiled alpine scenery and pervasive Tibetan Buddhism atmosphere and easy access to its neighboring country Nepal make Tibet rank high of the travel bucket list. Its distinct topography and geographical location allow it to share the world’s grandest mountaineering and trekking resource with its neighbor country Nepal.
Yes, you should obtain Chinese Visa as well as Tibet Travel Entry Permit in your valid Passport. Depending on your purpose to travel, there are different types of Chinese Visa with different times of entry to apply for, by using your passport.
Visa-free entry regulations: Citizens from Hong Kong and Macau SAR do not require a Chinese Visa, instead, they will use Mainland Visa or Permit to visit mainland China. And passport holder from Singapore, Brunei and Japan is exempted from a Chinese Visa for purposes of tourism business and visiting friends or relatives and stays for no more than 15 days.
There are overall four documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel freely in Tibet.
A) A Valid Passport (All who intend to enter Tibet must hold at least 6 months valid passport)
B) China visa or Tibet Group visa
C) Tibet Travel Permit (TTB)
D) Alien's Travel Permit (ATP/also called PSB permit)
* One is the Chinese Visa, which you can apply for in Chinese Embassy in your country (If you go to Tibet via mainland China). Please be aware that: In case of travelling Tibet via Nepal, you should compulsorily require to apply for Tibet Group visa at Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. If you already apply for the Chinese Visa and willing to enter Tibet from Nepal, then the Chinese Visa will NOT be admitted and allowed to go to Tibet from Nepal at the customs office.
*One is Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (TTB), which you have to obtain in order to enter Tibet. TTB Permit will allow you to enter the Tibet.
*One is the Alien's Travel Permit (PSB) when you are planning to travel to the 'unopened' areas in Tibet.
*The other ones include Military Permit, Foreign affairs permit, which you have to obtain if you are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas.
Tibet Group Visa is a special type of single entry Chinese visa usually maximum for 30 days and issued by Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu Nepal for tourists who plan to travel to Tibet from Nepal, whether by flight or by overland driving. As a special regional visa regulation, Tibet Group Visa only covers all itinerary booked in Tibet or expanded tour in mainland China and is difficult to extend extra days.
Different from Chinese Visa printed on the travelers’ passport, Tibet group Visa is issued on a piece of A4 paper listing with name, sex, date of birth, occupation, nationality, passport number, entry and exit date of China. Please note that group visa is requires for every foreign visitor to join in a Tibet tour organized by local travel agency, but the Tibet group visa can be applied by one single person or group of travelers with arranged tour guide, driver and vehicle and accommodation in Tibet.
Each traveler will get two copies of original Tibet Group visa issued by the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. One will be checked and collected by immigration office when entering Tibet and another will be used for exit formalities when leaving China. All group members are compulsory to enter and exit at the same time and same place.
You can enter Tibet by mainland China, there are flights to Lhasa form different cities of China or you may enter by train to Lhasa. Air China operates weekly flight from KATHMANDU to (LHASA & CHENGDU) every Saturday Jan to March then every Saturday & Tuesday March to June. July - October every day depending upon the weather conditions. The 55 minutes flight offers spectacular views of the Himalayas and the southern Tibetan plateau.
An approach that has great appeal for hardy and adventurous travelers is to enter or leave Tibet by road. Nominally, organized tours must be arranged before you enter Tibet. Moreover to get into Tibet from outside Tibet from Kathmandu. However, you should apply for the permit and Visa in Kathmandu at Chinese Embassy. In case you have already applied the permit in your home land the permit will be invalid.
Tibet is a high altitude plateau set amid tall mountain ranges. The mountain ranges catch the rainfall before it reaches the plateau, so most of Tibet, except for the southeast, is desert steppe, tundra, or permafrost. Most of Tibet experiences frost at least six months of the year, and the highest lakes have ice from October to March. The weather varies a lot from region to region.
From May to October is the best time to travel in Tibet, when the weather is not very cold, averaging above 10°C. This is naturally the busiest travel time in Tibet, when people come for the warmer weather and higher oxygen content.
In general, most healthy people will experience altitude sickness for at least two days. High altitude sickness is also called mountain sickness. It can occur when people who are not acclimated travel above about 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). Lhasa sits at a heady 3,650 meters (11,500 feet), and it is one of the lower altitude destinations in Tibet.
You might feel sick and get headaches until you are acclimated. We advise that before the trip you do aerobic exercise such as jogging. Get into shape and eat well before you go. Also, consult a physician.
It will make your transition easier to spend time in high altitude areas for a day or two. Some of our China tours are designed to give you some time to acclimatize at medium altitude.
At China Highlights we aim to make your tour as enjoyable as possible. Tell us any medical concerns you have and we will do our best to advise and accommodate your needs on a tour.
You may find it helpful to read one of our staff's personal mountain sickness experience, which also recounts the various altitude reactions of her tour group.
Most tourists who stay with their tour and avoid getting involved in the politics of the country, will not experience problems.
The US dollar is the most widely accepted currency. Chinese RMB notes come in RMB. 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500, 1000 denominations. Foreign currencies must be exchanged only through banks or authorized money exchangers. Our Tibetan guide will help you change your money. You can use ATM facilities in Lhasa. You are advised to bring Cash USD, your own travelers Cheque can be changed in Bank.