Tibet Travel Guide: Permits, Best Time to Visit, Getting In and Booking a Tour

Are independent travellers allowed in Tibet?

Since 2008, independent travel in Tibet has been prohibited. Therefore, all travellers must join an organized tour group or arrange a private tour through a local Tibet-based agency. This is because foreign travellers are required to obtain a permit to enter Tibet, which can only be obtained by local travel agencies authorized by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and other relevant departments.

Do you sell Tibet permits separately?

Travel agencies in Tibet do not sell Tibet Travel permits separately as it goes against the local tourism policy. However, when you book your tour with us, we will arrange all the necessary travel permits for your group.

When is the best time to travel to Tibet?

The best time to visit Tibet is from April to October for warm and beautiful scenery. However, visiting during winter from November to February can be pleasant if you want to experience local culture and avoid crowds. May, June, July, September, and October are the best months for Mt. Everest tours, while May, June, July, and September are ideal for Mt. Kailash and the western part of Tibet. August is the best time for Tibetan festivals, and May to September is the prime time for trekking.

When is the high or peak travel season in Tibet?

The peak travel season is from May to September, these are the best and most popular months to visit. The rainy season starts at the end of July and lasts almost all of August; fortunately, most of the rain falls during the night and there is not much heavy rainfall in the day. Despite the rain, there are many festivals in August you can’t miss if you are interested in Tibetan culture and tradition. <br/>The tourism seasons in Tibet are defined below:

  • High season: June 1st to October 30th
  • Shoulder season: March 1st to May 30th and November
  • Low season: November 1st to February 30th
  • The high season marks the best time of the year to travel in Tibet; the climate is comfortable, and there are many festivals, local activities, holidays and lush green surroundings. During this period, all the hotels and airlines will be at their busiest making travelling costs higher than the rest of the year.

Avoid taking a train in Tibet during the first week of May (May Days Holiday), the first week in October (China National Day), and late January/early February (Chinese Spring Festival). These times attract many Chinese tourists, making train tickets both expensive and difficult to obtain.

How to get into Tibet?

There is only one international flight to Tibet from Nepal. China domestic flights are available from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Zhongdian, and Xian. Trains to Tibet are available from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xian, Lanzhou, Chongqing, and Xining. Overland tours in Tibet can be taken from Chengdu, Qinghai, Yunan, or Kathmandu. However, availability may vary due to political sensitivity and landslides during the monsoon season.

What are the easiest gateway cities to Tibet?

Flying from mainland China is the easiest way to reach Tibet. If you prefer to travel by train, Xining is the best option as the journey takes only 24 hours and offers breathtaking scenery through the northern plateau. The train also passes through the magnificent Thangula range and boasts the highest railway in the world.

How can I book a Tibet tour?

To facilitate the process, we have classified three methods for booking a tour according to your preferences.

If you are unfamiliar with Tibet or unsure about what to do there, we offer a Tailor-made Form to fill out basic information and customize a tour based on your interests. If you have a rough travel plan, you can use our Design Your Own Tour Forms to choose destinations and activities that we will adjust to meet your needs. If you already have a clear travel plan, you can choose one of our pre-designed Tibet Private Package Tours and submit it to receive a quote.

Can I have some free days in Tibet?

Currently, independent exploration in Tibet is prohibited. It is mandatory to be accompanied by a guide while exploring the region.

What is the currency of Tibet?

The Chinese renminbi (RMB), also known as the Chinese Yuan (CNY), is the currency in Tibet. Only RMB is accepted for shopping, but the Bank of China accepts credit cards and traveller’s checks in exchange for cash. Cash can also be withdrawn from ATMs in Tibet, which are readily available in larger cities such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Tsedang and others.

Can I withdraw cash from local banks in Tibet?

Accepted credit cards: American Express, Diners Club, JCB, Master, and Visa are accepted at large hotels and tourist stores. Cash can be withdrawn from Bank of China ATM machines in Lhasa, Shigatse, and Tsedang. Occasionally, China Constructional Bank also accepts these credit cards, but a $2-4 (USD) surcharge is applied per transaction. Please note that rural villages do not have ATMs or banks, so it is advisable to carry cash when visiting.

How should I respond to beggars in Tibet?

Religious beggars are a societal norm in Tibet, where offering money or food to a pilgrim is seen as a virtuous deed. Donations ranging from one yuan to five Yuan are deemed suitable. However, it is advised to disregard the young beggars on the streets, as they are often professional beggars. Providing them with monetary assistance hampers their ability to become self-sufficient, a practice that the locals discourage.

What should I bring for the plateau climate?

Tibet’s high altitude and clear atmosphere intensify solar radiation. Sunscreen with a high SPF, quality sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat are essential to prevent sunburn. Calamine lotion is effective for mild sunburn. Additionally, moisturizer is recommended to prevent cracking of lips and nostril tissue due to dry air. A comprehensive Packing List will be provided in the logistic guidelines before your trip.

What should I consider during my stay in Tibet?

Tibetan people are generally kind and friendly, but there are certain aspects to be mindful of:

  • Do not take photos of anyone without their permission; always ask permission first!
  • Do not discuss sensitive topics like political matters!
  • Do not wear hats or caps when you enter a chapel!
  • Do not touch Buddha statues or ritual offerings inside of a monastery!
  • Do not kiss or hug in public places, especially in monasteries!
  • Do not step across someone’s feet, cups or cooking gear!

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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