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How to Get to Tibet: Travel to Tibet from China/Nepal

Written by Senior Expert Catherine |Updated: 2024-01-10
Tibet, often referred to as the "Roof of the World," is a dream destination for many foreign tourists due to its unique culture, breathtaking landscapes, and sacred sites However, how to get to Tibet can be challenging due to its remote location and strict travel regulations. This article will provide a comprehensive Tibet transportation guide, discussing the various ways to Tibet, whether by air or train, or land, from China or Nepal.


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  • triangleGet to Tibet from China
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How to Get to Tibet: Transportation Options from China or Nepal

For most international travelers, getting to Tibet will involve at least two legs: first to a gateway city such as Kathmandu (Nepal) or Mainland China and then into Tibet. Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages and the choice depends on individual preferences and circumstances.

1)The most common way to enter Tibet from Mainland China is by air or by train. There are several airports in Tibet, including Lhasa Gonggar Airport, which is the largest and busiest airport in Tibet. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which is the highest railway in the world, also connects Tibet with several major cities in China.

2)Another way to enter Tibet is from Nepal by flight or road. The most popular way to enter Tibet from Nepal is by road, either by driving or taking a bus. The road from Nepal to Tibet is known as the Friendship Highway, and it is a popular route for travelers who want to experience the stunning scenery of the Himalayas. However, it's important to note that entering Tibet from Nepal requires a special permit, and the route may be closed at certain times of the year due to weather conditions.

Get to Tibet from China

Mainland China is the major gateway to enter Tibet. You can easily visit Tibet from mainland China by air, by train. Flying to Tibet is the most convenient option while taking the train is considered the most scenic.

Getting to Tibet by Air - The Most Convenient Way

Flying to Tibet is the most convenient and comfortable way to get there, especially for those who have limited time. Direct flights to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport are available from several major Chinese cities. Non-stop flight connections from cities: Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining, Kunming, ChongqingShangri-La. Direct flights with one stopover connection from cities: ShanghaiGuangzhou. 

Gateway City Flight Duration Flight Type
Beijing 4.5 hour Non-stop flight
Shanghai 7 hours Stopover flight
Guangzhou 6 hours Stopover flight
Chengdu 2.5 hours Non-stop flight
Chongqing 2.5 hours Non-stop flight
Xi'an 3 hours Non-stop flight
Kunming 3 hours Non-stop flight
Xining 2.5 hours Non-stop flight
Shangri La 2 hours Non-stop flight

Flight Travel Tips:

● Book your flights well in advance to secure the best prices and availability, especially during peak travel seasons.● Be prepared for possible flight delays or cancellations due to weather conditions in Tibet.● Carry essential documents such as your passport, Chinese visa, and Tibet Travel Permit, as they will be checked at the airport.● Arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight.● Consider the possibility of altitude sickness due to the rapid ascent and pack necessary medications.

    Potala Palace
Potala Palace
Potala Palace
Potala Palace

Arriving at Lhasa Gonggar Airport

Lhasa Gongga International Airport is located approximately 63.8 kilometers south of downtown Lhasa, in Gonggar County. By taxi or private car, it typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the city center.

Brief Facts about Lhasa Gonggar Airport

Information Details
Airport Name Lhasa Gonggar Airport(LXA)
Location 3,600 meters (11,800 ft)
Domestic Flights Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining, Guangzhou, Kunming,and more
International Flight Kathmandu (Nepal)
Airlines Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Tibet Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Lucky Air, Shenzhen Airlines, and more.
Flight to Tibet
Flight to Tibet
We Welcome Our Dear Guests with Hada
We Welcome Our Dear Guests with Hadae

Getting to Tibet by Train - The Most Scenic Way

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest railway and provides a scenic journey to Tibet. The train passes through stunning landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, and high-altitude lakes. It is also a more affordable option than air travel and allows for gradual acclimation to the altitude. The main gateway cities for traveling to Tibet by train are Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Xining. The journey time varies from 22 to 55 hours depending on your departure city.

Gateway City Train Duration Frequency
Beijing 40-41 hours Daily
Shanghai 47-48 hours Daily
Guangzhou 52-53 hours Daily
Chengdu 36-37 hours Every other day
Chongqing 35-36 hours Every other day
Xi'an 32-33 hours Daily
Xining 21-22 hours Daily

Train Travel Tips:

●Book train tickets in advance, as they can sell out quickly during peak seasons.●Choose a soft sleeper berth for a more comfortable journey.●Bring snacks, drinks, and entertainment to pass the time.●Carry your Tibet Travel Permit and passport, as they will be checked during the journey.●All trains to Tibet pass through Xining Railway Station, which marks the start of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.●The rain is equipped with an oxygen supply system to help passengers acclimate to the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Potala Palace
Life on the Train

Arriving at Lhasa Train Station

Lhasa Train Station is situated on the southern side of the city, at a distance of approximately 8 kilometers from downtown Lhasa. By taxi or private car, it typically takes around 15 to 20 minutes to travel from the station to the city center, depending on traffic conditions. 

Brief Facts about Lhasa Train Station

Information Details
Station Name kilometers southwest of Lhasa city center
Elevation 3,641 meters (11,946 feet)
Trains from/to Lhasa Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining
Train service Qinghai–Tibet Railway,L hasa-Shigatse Railway and Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway
Local Trains from/to Lhasa Lhasa - Nyingchi Railway, Lhasa-Shigatse Railway
Tibet Train Ride Passing Grassland
Tibet Train Ride Passing Grassland
The View from Train Window
The View from Train Window

Get to Tibet from Nepal

Nepal is another popular gateway to enter Tibet, and Kathmandu is the only overseas city that offers international flights to Lhasa. You can also choose to enter Tibet from Nepal by land via the Gyirong border.

Getting to Tibet by Air - The Fastest Way

For those coming from Nepal, the fastest and easiest way to reach Tibet is by air. Flights depart from Kathmandu and fly directly to Lhasa Gonggar Airport, with a flight time of around 90 minutes. Traveling by plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa can also provide a bird's-eye view of the Himalayan Mountain Range, including the peak of Mt. Everest. If the weather is clear, it may be possible to see Mt. Everest from the window during the flight.

Flight Route Dep. Arr. Frequency Flight code Airlines
Kathmandu to Lhasa 12:10 16:00 every other day CA408 Air China
Kathmandu to Lhasa 11:30 15:05 every other day 3U8720 Sichuan Airline


1. The above schedules are just for your reference, since the flights are greatly affected by climate and seasonal change.2. The departure time and arrival time are on local time and the time difference between Nepal and China is 2 hrs 15 mins.

Travel Tips:

●Book your flight in advance, as there are limited flights available.●Check the baggage allowance and restrictions before packing.●Prepare your Group Tourist Visa  as they will be checked at the airport.●The Tibet Group Visa is not the same as the Chinese Visa. Chinese Group Visa is a single-entry tourist visa issued by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.●Consider the possibility of altitude sickness and pack necessary medications.

The view from the plane window
The view from the plane window
 Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Lhasa Gonggar Airport

Getting to Tibet by Land - The Overland Adventure

If you're feeling adventurous and have more time, traveling overland from Nepal to Tibet via the Gyirong Port border crossing is a popular option. This overland route starts from Kathmandu and passes via the Sino-Nepal Highway, and ultimately arrives at Girong Port, situated on the China-Nepal border, which takes about 7 to 8 hours. The special thing about this road trip, you can drive along the winding roads and vibrant canyons on the edge of the magnificent Himalayan Mountains with steep canyons, virgin forests, and rushing waterfalls.

Travel Tips:

●For road conditions, most sections are not paved and are narrow, with winding paths along the mountainside, so it may cause driving longer time.●Plan your itinerary at least 1 month in advance, as it takes at least 15 days to apply for Tibet Permits.●Hire a reliable tour operator to handle Tibet permits, Group Visa for you, as individuals cannot apply for on their own.●Carry essential documents such as your passport, you need to fly to Kathmandu at least 3 days earlier and apply for the Group visa with your original passport.●Pack warm clothing, as temperatures can drop significantly during the journey.

Everest Camp Base
Everest Camp Base
Mount Everest
Mount Everest

Arriving in Gyirong Port 

Girong Port is a land border crossing located between China and Nepal. It is situated about 160 km from Kathmandu and about 820 km from Lhasa, Tibet. It takes at least 7-8 hours to reach Girong Port from Kathmandu. Tourists can find accommodation in the town of Gyirong, which is about 25 kilometers away from the border crossing.

Brief Facts about Gyirong Port 

Information Details
Airport Name Gyirong Port
Crossing Type A border crossing between China and Nepal
Elevation 2,800 meters (9186 feet)
Distance from Kathmandu 160 kilometers (99.42 miles)
Distance from Lhasa 820 kilometers (510 miles)
Nearby Attractions Mount Everest Base Camp, Tingri
Accommodation  Gyirong Town, about 25km away
Gyirong  Port
Gyirong Port
Gyirong Town
Gyirong Town

How to Plan Your Tibet Tour

For first-time visitors to Tibet, we would like to suggest spending 8 to 15 days to fully explore and appreciate the region's culture, history, and natural beauty.

Tour Lhasa city and surroundings 4 Days or 5 DaysFor 4 days, it is highly recommended to visit  Lhasa Private Tour for Best HighlightsFor 5 days, it is highly recommended to visit  Lhasa Essence Tour with Great Three Monasteries

Add 2 or 3 More Days to Visit Gyantse & ShigatseFor 5 days, it is highly recommended to visit Lhasa & Yamdrok Lake Private TourFor 6 days, it is highly recommended to visit Lhasa Yamdrok Lake Shigatse Private Tour

Add 2 More Days to Mount EverestFor 7 days, it is highly recommended to visit Tibet Nepal Overland Tour from Lhasa to Gyirong via EBCFor 8 days, it is highly recommended to visit Tibet Discovery Tour from Lhasa to Mount Everest Base Camp

To extend further, you can cover Mount Kailash (3 Days), Guge Kingdom & Zanda Earth Forest (1 Day), Namtso Lake (1 Day), etc.9 Days Panorama Tibet Tour from Lhasa to EBC with Namtso Lake15 Days Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Tour with Lhasa Shigatse & EBC

Explore Tibet with Asia Odyssey Travel

Local based in Lhasa and Tibet for over 10 years, our local team at Asia Odyssey Travel has carefully designed Tibet tours that offer a truly authentic and unforgettable experience. You can choose to travel in the comfort of a Tibet Private Tour with a flexible itinerary or join a Tibet Group Tour that's budget-friendly without compromising on quality. Whatever your preference, Asia Odyssey Travel has a tour that caters to your needs and desires, ensuring that your journey to Tibet is an unforgettable adventure.

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