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How to Travel from the United States to Tibet

Travelling from the United States to Tibet via China or Nepal requires careful planning and coordination of flights, visas, and permits. Whether you choose to travel through China or Nepal, there are important considerations to keep in mind to ensure a smooth travel experience. Here is a detailed breakdown of the information you need to know:

Flight Information from the United States to Tibet via China:

Direct flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou are available from major cities in the United States. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Air China are among the carriers that offer these flights. The flight duration from major US cities to Beijing or Shanghai is about 12-14 hours, while flights to Chengdu or Guangzhou may take a bit longer. It is recommended to consult with airlines or travel agents for the most accurate information on flight schedules and availability.

For travellers with alternative preferences or when direct flights are unavailable, various airlines provide indirect flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou from the United States. These flights typically include layovers at major Asian hubs like Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Taipei. The duration of these flights can vary from 16-24 hours, depending on layover times. To obtain accurate and current information, it is advisable to consult with airlines or travel agents.

Flight Information: United States to Tibet via Nepal:


If you choose to travel to Tibet via Nepal, major airlines such as Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific offer flights from the United States to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city. These flights usually involve layovers in their respective hub cities, such as Doha, Istanbul, Dubai, or Hong Kong. The flight duration from the US to Nepal can range from 18-24 hours, depending on layover times. As always, it is advisable to check with airlines or travel agents for accurate and up-to-date flight information.

Tibet Travel Permit:

To travel to Tibet, whether from China or Nepal, you will need a Tibet Travel Permit. This permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and is required for both Chinese and foreign travellers. It is important to note that travelling to Tibet independently is not permitted. You must book a tour or trek through a licensed travel agency in China, which will then arrange the necessary

tibet travel2

Foreigners need the Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet. It is necessary due to the region’s unique situation and to preserve its integrity. The permit requires working with a travel agency and being part of an organized tour for safety reasons. It involves submitting documents like a passport and Chinese visa. Additional permits may be needed for specific destinations. 

There are a few options for travelling from major cities in China to Tibet by flight and train. Here are some of the most common routes:

Flights from the United States to Tibet via China 

From Beijing: There are direct flights from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) to Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA). The flight duration is around 4 to 5 hours.

– From Shanghai: There are direct flights from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) to Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA). The flight duration is around 6 to 7 hours.

– From Chengdu: There are direct flights from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) to Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA). The flight duration is around 2 to 3 hours.

From Guangzhou: There are direct flights from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) to Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA). The flight duration is around 4 to 5 hours.

Trains From major cities of China to Tibet

– From Beijing: Take a direct train from Beijing West Railway Station to Lhasa Railway Station, with a journey time of approximately 40 to 48 hours.

– From Shanghai: There is no direct train to Lhasa from Shanghai. Travellers can board a train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Xining Railway Station, and then transfer to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway for the rest of the journey to Lhasa.

– From Chengdu: Board a direct train from Chengdu East Railway Station to Lhasa Railway Station, with a journey time of approximately 36 to 42 hours.

– From Guangzhou: There is no direct train to Lhasa from Guangzhou. Travellers can take a train from Guangzhou South Railway Station to Chongqing North Railway Station, and then transfer to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway for the remaining journey to Lhasa.

When travelling to Tibet, it is essential to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit. It is advisable to arrange this permit in advance through a registered travel agency. Additionally, it is recommended to check with airlines or railway companies for the latest information on flight and train schedules, as they may vary.

Tips for Traveling from the United States to Tibet.

  1. Apply for a Tibet Travel Permit: As mentioned earlier, you will need a Tibet Travel Permit to visit Tibet. Contact a licensed travel agency in China to help you obtain the permit.
  2. Book Flights: Domestic flights are the best option to travel to Tibet from major cities in China. Check with airlines like Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Tibet Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines for flight availability and schedules.
  3. Plan in Advance: Start planning your trip well in advance to allow ample time for visa and permit processing. This will also help you secure the best deals on flights and accommodations.
  4. Join a Guided Tour: To ensure a smooth travel experience, it is recommended to join a guided tour or hire a local guide in Tibet. They can take care of the necessary arrangements and provide you with valuable insights about the region.
  5. Acclimatize to the Altitude: Tibet is at a high altitude, so it’s important to acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness. Take it easy upon arrival, gradually ascend to higher altitudes, and rest when needed. It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before travelling to ensure you’re in good health.
  6. Pack Appropriately: Pack warm clothing, as Tibet can have cold weather even in summer. Additionally, bring any necessary medication and consider carrying altitude sickness prevention medication as a precaution.
  7. Respect Local Customs and Traditions: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the local customs, traditions, and cultural sensitivities of Tibet. Be respectful to the local people, their beliefs, and their sacred sites.
  8. Stay Updated: Travel advisories and flight information can change, so it’s important to stay updated. Contact travel agencies or airlines for the most recent information and any travel advisories that may affect your trip.
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About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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