Tibet Travel Guide

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Tibet Facts:

Chinese Name: 西藏 (xī zàng)
Abbreviation: Zang
Admin. Type: Autonomous Region
Capital: Lhasa
Average Altitude: Over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet)
Location: 26°50' to 36°53' N,  78°25' to 99°06' E
Area: 1,228,400 km²  (474,288 mi²)
Population (2019): 3,505,600
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Brief Introduction

Tibet enchants tourists from China and abroad with its landscape, religious traditions, culture, and its unsolved mysteries. At any mention of this land, the images of snowy mountains, mirror-like lakes, Potala Palace and Buddhist disciples immediately come to mind.

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) occupies one eighth of the China’s territory. Due to its high altitude, it is often called the 'Roof of the World' and the 'Third Pole of the Earth'. It boasts the world's highest peak, the splendid Mount Everest, and the Tibetan Plateau, where the Yangtze River and Yellow River both begin.


History and Religion

The history of Tibet can be traced back by about 4,000 years, during which the Buddhist religion, Zang Language and culture are shaped up. Most of local inhabitants practice Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. They maintain many unique practices, such as pilgrimage prostration and sky burial, where the bodies of the dead are exposed to birds of prey. Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Toling Monastery are among the most famous Buddhist temples.

Language and Culture

Most young and middle-aged people have command of two languages, their own language and Mandarin. The people living in this vast land are mainly Tibetan, an ethnic group with bold and uninhibited characteristics. Most live a pastoral lifestyle, earning a living by raising yaks, farming, as well as by making crafts. Some cultural highlights include the thangka, a style of Buddhist painting on cotton or silk applique, herb medicine, and local operas. The local people celebrate various festivals, such as Tibetan New Year, the Shoton Festival, the Monlam Prayer festival, the Butter Lamp Festival, and the Saga Dawa Festival.
See more about People & Life, Festivals.

Travel Restrictions

It is extremely difficult for non-Chinese citizens to travel independently in Tibet. There are various restrictions on foreign tourists. All foreign visitors are required to join an organized tour operated by authorized travel agencies. Diplomats, journalists, and government officials are not allowed to enter alone or with a tour group. There are also many areas closed to foreign travelers, like the areas near China’s border and military bases.
 A travel permit is required for every foreign visitor. The only way to obtain a permit is to book a tour package with an authorized travel agency in China, which can help apply for the Travel Permit through the local tourism bureau. No agency can provide "permit-only" service, and overseas tourists must book their tours with a private vehicle, driver and tour guide. Citizens of all nationalities can apply for the permit.


In recent years, the local transportation transportation has improved drastically, particularly so with the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The Lhasa Gonggar Airport also operates flights to the first-tire cities of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an. A few international flights are also available.
How to Travel from Nepal to Tibet
 1. High Altitude: The Tibetan Plateau’s elevation can reach about 2 miles (3,000 meters) above sea level. As a result, people will be exposed to stronger ultraviolet radiation, increasing the risk of sunburn. The high elevation also means that the air is thinner, which can result in altitude sickness in those who are not acclimatized to less oxygen. Travelers are strongly advised to bring sunscreen and medication for altitude sickness.

2. Extreme Weather: The extreme climate makes Tibet one of the world’s harshest places to live. Although its summers are cool, winters are viciously cold, and the differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures can be vast. Visitors are strongly advised to prepare appropriate clothing according to the season they are traveling in. Summer and autumn, from June to October, are considered to be the best times to visit.
See Also: Best Time to Visit Tibet

3. Religious Etiquettes and Taboos: Tashi Delek is a common greeting phrase, which means “Good Luck”. And presenting a Hada or Khata, a type of silk scarf to local people is also regarded as a practice to show respect, give blessings, and hospitality. Travelers are also advised to observe local taboos when visiting monasteries. Spitting, talking loudly, as well as touching, walking over, and sitting on sacred objects are considered taboos. According to the Buddhist custom, one must always walk clockwise around shrines, stupas, Mani stones and prayer wheels or risk bad luck.

 Further Reading:

- Last updated on Jun. 26, 2023 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on Tibet Travel
Asked by Elvis from USA | Apr. 28, 2023 03:13Reply
Tibet visa from Kathmandu or from home-country?
Please suggest tibet visa from Nepal(kathmadu) as we are plan to visit Nepal and Tibet both. or can travel first from Tibet and then Nepal. Could you explain the procedures and supported documents to get Tibet visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by Andrew | May. 03, 2023 23:11

If you want to travel to Tibet, you need to apply for a Chinese visa first and then foreigners need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit. That means you cannot travel to Tibet on your own but you have book a Tibet tour with a qualified tour agency. You can contact TravelChinaGuide to complete the procedure and generally it usually issues about 15 days prior to your entry to Tibet.

Generally, the documents include photos or copies of your passport, visa and other related information required by travel agency.
Asked by Sylvia from AUSTRALIA | Apr. 07, 2023 19:16Reply
permitted mode of transport in Tibet
I am starting a world tour on a recumbent quad I bought in China. I will start in China and I would like to go to Tibet and go on to Nepal. Is it allowed to use a recumbent quad to enter and exit Tibet at the Nepal border? Do I need a special permit in addition to the usuel permit to enter Tibet. I am an Australian citizen. I have visited China every year since 2007 until the Covid pandemic.
Answers (1)
Answered by Nina | Apr. 10, 2023 19:54

As I know, foreigners are not allowed to travel to and around in Tibet on their own. In other words, they must join a tour organized by qualified agency. In the case, you are advised to consult your agency if they can meet your travel needs.
Asked by rosemai from CANADA | Jul. 23, 2021 03:33Reply
am i going to find my own place to live this year ?
i am looking to buy a house this year is it going to happen ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Iris | Jul. 25, 2021 20:08

If you have enough money, you can buy a property this year.
Asked by LILLIEHO88 | Jan. 06, 2020 23:22Reply
Lhasa Railway Station
I am a solo traveler planning to travel on the Ningxi-Lhasa Express. I understand a foreign solo traveler is not allowed to enter Tibet unless joining a tour agency which I do not intend to do.

If on arriving Lhasa from Ningxi, I plan to board the soonest train to Qinghai without leaving Tibet Railway Station. In other words, it is form of TRANSIT. Please advise and give full details. Thank you.
Answers (4)
Answered by Chris from CANADA | Jan. 07, 2020 19:25

According to the rule, foreigners entering Tibet need to process the Entry Permit, which will be handled by the local travel agency in Tibet. So I think you might even not be able to take Ningxia-Lhasa train. Even you can, you may not be able to go through security check.
Answered by LILLIEHO88 | Jan. 08, 2020 00:27

Hi Chris,

My travel plan is having a train journey to enjoy the scenery on a moving train. I am prepared to stay and remain on the Lhasa Railway Station to board the soonest next train to Qinghai. In other words, I do not intend to leave the Lhasa Railway Station at all. So where and why the security check?
Answered by Chris from CANADA | Jan. 08, 2020 19:18

To be honest, I can't give you a correct answer. I think you can consult staff at Ningxia Railway Station.
Answered by Jack | Sep. 10, 2020 08:03

You will not be able to even board a train to Lhasa without a Tibetan travel permit. You will be asked for it when boarding the train, and usually again while on the train.
If somehow you managed to evade your way and arrive at Lhasa train station, you would be asked for it again and find yourself in serious trouble if there, in Tibet, without one.
Asked by Kwooi Hoon See from MALAYSIA | Jul. 07, 2019 19:04Reply
May I know, China tourist guide can help us apply the permit to enter Tibet?
Answers (2)
Answered by Kwooi Hoon See from MALAYSIA | Jul. 07, 2019 19:12

May I know, China tourist guide can help us to apply travel permit to enter Tibet?
Answered by Mia from CANADA | Jul. 09, 2019 02:34

As I know, if you book a tour with TravelChinaGuide, they can help you to apply for it.
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