About Tibet

Nature At Its Best

Tibet: An Introduction

Tibet is one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia. Popularly known as "Roof of the World", Tibet has long been a favored destination for visitors. It offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks and stunning views of the world's highest mountains. With an average elevation of 4,000 meters above sea level, and over 50 peaks above 7,000 meters, Tibet has become a real paradise for nature lover,mountaineers and explorers.

Tibet’s capital city is Lhasa. Tibet lies to the north-east of the Himalayas and the available oxygen in most of it is only half of that at sea level. Look at the map and you may find that Tibet lies in the southwest of China and it is whole inland. Internally, it has four neighbor provinces in China: Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai province to its north, Sichuan province to its east and Yunnan province to its southeast. Externally, Tibet borders on Burma, India, the Kingdom of Bhutan and Nepal from its south to west. Tibet covers an area of around 1.22 million km2, which accounts for 12.8% of the total of China. It is divided into six prefectures: Ngari Prefecture, Nagqu Prefecture, Shigatse Prefecture, Lhokha Prefecture, Nyingchi Prefecture and Chamdo Prefecture. And Tibet is divided into three parts according to its topography: the west (known as the North-Tibet Plateau), the south (featured by valleys) and the east (mainly canyons and is marked by a gradual decline in altitude intercepted by small ranges called Henduan Ranges).

Tibet Travelers Information

Tibet Visa and Travel Documents

For foreign travelers, visiting Tibet is different from travelling to other places of China. Foreigners need to apply for at least Tibet entry permit in addition to Chinese visa if they are travelling to Tibet. Tibet Entry Permit is just like a key to open the door of Tibet for foreigners. Besides, Alien’s travel permit and Military Permit may also be required when you travel in Tibet. These permits are issued by different authority bureaus.

It is important for travelers to get full information on what the Tibet travel permits are, how to apply for them, what they are used for, how much they cost, etc. Hence, Tibet travel org gathers all the related information for travelers who are planning to visit Tibet. If you are one of them, our tips may increase your success to get Tibet permit.

  • Visa

Though the Tibet permit policy 2013 makes it much easier to get Tibet visa or permit, foreign travelers should obtain a Chinese visa at first. Here are some tips on how to obtain a Chinese visa to apply for Tibet permit.

Obtaining a Chinese visa is the first step for Tibet travel for you need to email the scanned copy of your Chinese visa and passport to a Tibet travel agency to apply for Tibet travel permit. The Chinese visa must be applied for through a Chinese Embassy in your home country. All individuals entering China must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months for a single or double entry visa and at least nine months for a multiple entry visa.
When you apply for a Chinese Visa, DO NOT list Tibet as the travel destination on the visa application. Otherwise, your application might be rejected. If you enter Tibet from mainland China, It is wise to list the cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu as your travel destination in China. But if you get into Tibet from Nepal, it is not necessary to apply for the Chinese visa in your home country because you need to apply for a group visa through the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Once you get the group visa, your Chinese visa obtained in advance becomes invalid automatically.

  • Tibet Entry Permit or Visa

Tibet Entry Permit, also known as Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit or Tibet Visa, is the basic document for foreign travellers to enter into Tibet. No foreign visitor can visit Tibet without holding the Tibet Entry Permit in their hands. Foreign tourists are required to show both their Chinese Visa and Tibet Entry Permit when they change for the boarding passes of flying to Tibet or board trains to Tibet.

Tibet Entry Permit is officially issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, in purpose of restricting the numbers of foreign visitors. With this permit, foreigner tourists can travel in Lhasa region including Lhasa city, Yamdrok Lake, Ganden, Tsurphu,Namtso, DrigungTil and Reting.

Tibet Entry Permit is not available for independent travelers. Foreign travellers have to travel in tour group and ask legitimate travel agency to apply Tibet tour for you.

  • Tibet Visa from Nepal

According to Chinese Law, travelers who enter Tibet from Nepal or India are required to apply for Group Tourist Visa–a kind of single entry visa. This visa must be obtained at Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Travelers have to enter China and leave China in a specified period of time which is given according to tour itinerary provided by travel agency and no more than 30 days. If you have some other plan to do in China after the tour, please let your travel advisor know and he/she can help you to put the extra days you need into the tour itinerary.
Please be aware that the group visa is the only kind of visa that allows you to enter Tibet. Besides, the other kinds of Chinese visa you may obtain before automatically expire when you get the group visa.
Travelers need to arrive in Kathmandu several days in advance to wait the visa. They have to stay at least 1 working day (Any day among Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). The table below is the service charge of Chinese Visa.

Group Visa fee charged by Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu

  Normal Urgent Top Urgent
American Passport Holder USD 142  USD 164 USD 198
Other Nationality USD 58  USD 80 USD 114

Note: Normal: 3 working days; Urgent: 2 working days; Top Urgent: 1 working day
The working day refers to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

  • Permits for Visiting Mount Everest

If you make a tour to Everest Base Camp in Tibet, you need three permits to visit the Mt. Everest, Tibet Entry Permit, Alien’s Travel Permit and Park-entry Permit for Everest Nature Reserve.

The Tibet entry permit is a must for foreigners to entering Tibet. When you are boarding a plane or train to Tibet, you need to show the Tibet entry permit as well as the air ticket or train ticket. The Tibet entry permit is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau and should be applied through a Tibet travel agency. It takes a few days. Click to see the Tibet permit policy 2013)
The Alien’s travel permit is issued by Public Security Bureau, "PSB". Usually you can apply for it once you arrive at Lhasa. If you book the tour from Tibettravel org, our tour guide will ask you for the passport and TTB permit and submit it to the Foreign Affairs Section of PSB for the Travel Permit. It normally takes several hours.

The Park-entry permit can be obtained at the Everest Nature Reserve in Baber or in the Snow Leopard Guest House in Tingri. The permit costs RMB400 per vehicle, plus RMB180 per admission ticket per person. Your tour guide will also need a ticket.
Your passport and Alien’s travel permit will be scrutinized at the checkpoint 6km west of Shegar. The park permit is checked at the Chay checkpoint, 3km after turn-off from the Friendship Highway.

You can make a tour from Lhasa to EBC or from Kathmandu to EBC. Most tourists prefer travelling from Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp and then to Kathmandu.

  • Alien’s Travel Permit

Except Tibet Entry Permit, an Alien's Travel Permit is required if you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, such as Mount Everest, Rongbuk Monastery, MountKailash and Lake Manasarovar. Alien's Travel Permit is not needed for places in Lhasa region, towns of Shigatse and Tsetang, or nonstop travel on Friendship Highway.
The Alien's Travel Permit, also called PSB Permit, is issued by People's Security Bureau and you can obtain it after you arrive in Tibet. The Alien's Travel Permit is also available for independent travelers. Foreign travellers have to travel in tour group booked with a legitimate travel agency, like Tibettravel.Org which can help you to obtain the Tibet travel permit.
Different from applying a Tibet entry permit, you are required to show your original passports and Tibet entry permit, not a copy of it. It takes less time to apply the Tibet travel permit, normally only costs several hours and RMB100/person. You even don't have to go to the Public Security Bureau in person. Your tour guide can handle all for you.

The following places are officially closed to foreigners at present:
Tsetang in southern Tibet: Samye Monastery, Yumbulhagang, Trundruk Temple etc.
Shigates in southern Tibet: Sakya Monastery, Mt. Everest, Rongbuk Monastery
Gyantse in southern Tibet: PelkhorChode Monastery, Kubum Stupa
Ngari in western Tibet: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasorovar etc.
Nyingtri in southeast Tibet: Basumtso Lake, Draksumtso, Pomi etc.
Chamdo in eastern Tibet: all the places you will visit such as Riwoche etc.


The climate in highland Tibet belongs to the typical downy special climate. Climates are much different in different areas in Tibet and temperatures vary greatly within a single day.

Climate in southeastern Tibet (e.g. Nyingchi) is gentle and temperate with the average temperature of eight degrees. In western Tibet (e.g. Nakqu), the average temperature is below zero degree while in Lhasa and the central part of Tibet, the climate is normal and nice for traveling. Visitors would neither feel cold in winter nor hot in summer, especially from March to October, the best seasons for traveling. Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from May to September, when the precipitation covers 90 percent of the whole year. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The precipitations gradually decrease from 5000 millimeters in the lower part of southeast to just 50 in the northwest.

So in general the best time to travel in Tibet is between April and October, and peak season is from May to September. The best months are May, June, September or October as July and August are rainy months. Those who travel in their own car or on foot should avoid the rainy season especially when entering Tibet along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, and the sections between Lhasa and Nyingchi and between Lhasa and Ngari. There will be mudslides, cave-ins and mire on certain sections of the road, blocking the passage of vehicles. However, if you are only planning several days in and around Lhasa and getting there by air, there will be no problem for you to travel at any time from April to October.

Altitude Sickness
Some travelers will get mountain sickness when on the Tibetan plateau. We have some tips for you: Before you go to Tibet

  • Seek advice from people who have similar experiences. The most important thing is that you should never be nervous or worried about your trip. Regard the trip to Tibet like a trip to any other cities. You should always be optimistic.
  • If you have respiratory problems, we advise you to postpone your trip till you are fully recovered.
  • A thorough physical examination is necessary. If you have problems like anemia or hypertension, or suffer from heart problems and other illness of lungs, liver or kidney, you should not go to Tibet.
  • You need to bring enough water or drinks and fruits. Snacks with high caloric content, like chocolate, will come in handy.
  • When you are in Tibet
  1. Rest right after your arrival. You should not do anything strenuous on the first day. Brisk walking and running are not advised. We suggest that you do not smoke nor drink alcohol too. Do not eat too much for dinner.
  2. It quite often happens that people feel short of breath. If it is not serious, please do not rely on oxygen equipment all the time so that you can acclimate yourself to the high altitude as early as possible.
  3. Do not take showers or bathes too frequently especially on your first night in Tibet. This will help you avoid catching severe colds.
  4. If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you need to tell your guide about this. You guide could send you to the best hospital available in the area
  • Currency Exchange

In Tibet, only US dollars can be accepted besides Chinese Yuan. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China.

As in the rest of China, Renminbi (RMB) is the legal currency in Tibet. Only the Bank of China offers foreign exchange services and facilities in Tibet and certain up market hotels (Lhasa Hotel, the former Holiday Inn, and Tibet Hotel). The Bank of China has a main office (0891-6835078) and several sub-branches in Lhasa, which all cash travelers' checks while only the main office offers cash advances on major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Amex). Its main office is located on LingkhorBei Lu 28, north of the Yak Statue and its hours of operation are 9:30 am -1pm and 3:30 - 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Another convenient sub-branch lies on Beijing Dong Lu, between the Kirey Hotel and the BanakShol Hotel. Its hours of operation are 9:30am-6:00pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday. The Bank of China Shigatse office, near the Shigatse Hotel, can provide travelers' checks exchange services also. Cash advances on credit cards are not available here. Zhangmu has two sub-branches also. Due to a lack of conversion outlets, visitors may have to change their extra RMB on the black market before their exit.

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