Ways to Get to Tibet

Surrounded by high grand Himalaya mountains, Tibet always keeps a mysterious veil to the outsiders. With the crystal-like lakes, snow-capped mountain, splendid temples, and monasteries, Tibet has become an ultimate dreamy place for most travelers in the world. Every year, thousands of tourists from other countries or cities traveling to Tibet in order to explore the stunning natural views and the traditional Tibetan culture. While how to get to Tibet has confused lots of tourists. In order to help you choose the best way to enter Tibet, I prepare a tour guide of ways to get to Tibet. Wish you have a wonderful time in Tibet.

Normally, there are two main ways for travelers to get to Tibet. The first way is to take a train to Tibet. The second way is to take a flight to Tibet. Here are some details.

Take a Train to Tibet

Taking a train to Tibet is a popular way for most travelers since the construction of Qinghai Tibet Railway. There are several advantages for travelers to take a train to Tibet. The first advantage is to save money. The price of the train ticket is cheaper than the price of the air ticket. The second advantage is to enjoy the attractive scenery along the railway. The scenery along the highest railway in the world is stunning and majestic. The third advantage is to adapt to the high altitude sickness. Owing to the long duration time, travelers have enough time to adapt to the high altitude sickness. At present, there are several Chinese cities which provide the service of booking train tickets to Lhasa. Taking a direct train to Lhasa is the most economical way. However, due to the numerous visitors, booking a train ticket is very hard, especially in the peak tourist season. Therefore, you should book the train ticket in advance. You can book a train ticket in the following Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xining, Guangzhou, Xi’an, and Lanzhou. There are three train kinds of train tickets, including the soft sleeper berth, the hard sleeper berth, and the hard seat. The soft sleeper berth with four berths and the hard sleeper berth with six berths are worthy of being recommended to you. The hard seat is not the best choice for a long trip. You are not allowed to lie down on the seat, so you will feel very tired.

Take a Flight to Tibet

Taking a flight to Tibet is the fastest way. You can save a lot of time on the way to Tibet. If you fly to Tibet in China, you can book a flight ticket in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Nanjing, Chongqing, Yunnan, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, etc. If you fly to Tibet from other countries, you can only buy the direct flight in Kathmandu. If you sit by the window, you can have a chance to witness the beauty of Mt Everest. You should book the air ticket in advance because of the limitation of the seat. If you have any problem with booking a flight ticket, you can ask your travel agency for help.

Tibet Tour from Shanghai

With the development of transportation,more and more international tourists travel to Tibet. Commonly, they get to Tibet from the mainlands of China. Therefore, not only can they have a tour in some major Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, etc, but also they can explore the charming scenery along the way to Tibet. Located in the southeast of China, Shanghai is a modern and flourishing city with a long history. As one of the hottest tourist destinations for international travelers, traveling to Tibet from Shanghai has the main choice for most travelers because of the numerous attractions and convenient transportation. In Shanghai, you can visit some famous places such as the Oriental TV Tower, Shanghai Museum, Expo Site, etc. Then you can transfer to Tibet from Shanghai. At present, there are two main ways for travelers to get to Tibet from Shanghai. The first way is to take a direct train, and the second way is to take the direct flight. Here, I’d like to share these two main ways with you.

Taking a Flight to Tibet

If you have a tight schedule, flying to Tibet from Shanghai is the fastest way. At present, there is only one direct flight flying from Shanghai to Lhasa. This flight operated by China Eastern Airline with a stopover in Xi’an takes off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 06:45 every day, and arrives at Lhasa Kongga International Airport at 14:40. The direct distance from Shanghai to Lhasa is about 2906 kilometers, and the whole duration time is about eight hours. In Lhasa side, it takes off from Lhasa Kongga International Airport at 15:30 in the afternoon, and arrives at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at 21:45.

Taking a Train to Tibet

If you have enough time, you can have an experience on the Tibet train. As is known to us, Qinghai Tibet Railway is the highest railway in the world. Because of the unique environment condition, the scenery along the way is really attractive. Taking a train to Tibet is the best way to explore the charming natural beauty, especially from Xining to Lhasa section. At present, there is only one direct train running from Shanghai to Lhasa. The railway distance from Shanghai to Lhasa is about 4,373 kilometers. Z164 departs from Shanghai Railway Station at 20:10 every day, and arrives at Lhasa railway station at 19:30. It will take nearly three days to get to Tibet from Shanghai by train. At Lhasa side, Z166 departs from Lhasa at 11:30, and arrives at Shanghai railway station at 11:51. There are two kinds of train tickets which are recommended to you, the hard sleeper berth and the soft sleeper berth. The price of the hard sleeper berth is about CNY793.5, and the price of the soft sleeper berth is about CNY1262.5.

Tips for Shanghai Tibet Tour

Do not forget your Tibet Travel Permit when taking flights or trains to Tibet from Shanghai. Book a train ticket in advance, especially in the peak tourism season. You’d better take a train to Tibet for the purpose of adapting to the high altitude sickness.

Travel from Malaysia to Tibet

All foreign travelers must take part in an organized Tibet Tour. Before setting off, your Tibet Travel Agency should organize these things: Tibet travel permits, a private vehicle, a driver and a tour guide. You can’t go to Tibet without these. Your travel permits will be checked when you board a train or flight, which shows whether you have joined an organized tour.

Choosing a reputable, local-owned travel agency in Tibet is a need for you before traveling. They will arrange everything for you and also take great care of you during your trip in Tibet. Take it easy! Traveling from Malaysia to Tibet is quite convenient nowadays.

Entering Tibet from Chengdu, China

Without any direct flights from Malaysia to Tibet, you need to board a plane at the Kuala Lumpur Airport to Chengdu, and then transfer to Tibet–it is the first method. There are flights everyday between KL and Chengdu. Your Chinese tourist visa will be checked at your departure airport. You can get it from the China Embassy in Kuala Lumpur or at the China Consulates in Kuching, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. Please remember, do not list Tibet as your destination in your visa application, or else, it’s difficult for you to get this visa.

There are 8-12 direct flights daily to Lhasa at the Chengdu airport. The journey is nearly 2hrs and you can enjoy spectacular scenery through the window of the flight during the trip. Except taking a flight, another way to Tibet is by train which takes 2 full days. In the first two days, you’d better acclimatize yourself to live in the high elevation and avoid strenuous hiking, climbing the stairs of the Potala Palace and drinking alcohol.

After you contact with a local travel agency in Tibet, it takes at least 2 weeks to get a TTB. So you need to contact with the travel agency at least 6 weeks earlier before the date of your arrival. In the same way, if you want to travel to other destinations in far Western Tibet such as Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar , you need to contact you tour agency at least 8 weeks before your arrival.

If you want to get more detailed information on Tibet tour or the route to Tibet, please contact us.

Entering Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal

Another way to get to Tibet from Malaysia is through Kathmandu, Nepal. There are direct flights everyday between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu. You can choose to go by the overland route or just fly to Lhasa. The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa takes only one hour and 15 minutes. In contrast, the overland journey takes 3 or 4 days. As mentioned above, all foreign tourists to Tibet must take part in an organized tour either from Mainland China or Nepal.

There are many differences on the Chinese visa regulation between going to Tibet from Nepal and Mainland China. As mentioned, when you leave from Chengdu or any other cities in Mainland China, you only need to apply for a normal Chinese tourist visa from the Chinese Embassy in KL or at the Chinese consulates in Kuching, Penang or Kota Kinabalu. But when you leave from Nepal, you must apply for a Group Chinese Tourist Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. That is to say, you can’t go to Tibet from Nepal with a Chinese visa gotten in Malaysia or anywhere else on the planet. If you want to get a Group Chinese Tourist Visa, you need to refer a visa invitation letter to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Pay attention to that you can’t write this letter by yourself but need to request from the travel agency in Tibet. Although it is officially named “China Group Visa”, you don’t need to join in a group in practice to get this visa. Solo travelers also can get this Group Chinese Visa successfully if they are members of organized group tours. It usually needs 2 business days to get the China Group Visa. Remember that you can only get you visa on a weekday at the Chinese Embassy. So please make sure that you have enough time after your arrival, so as to get your visa without any delay.

If you take an overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, you should find whether your route line gives you adequate time for your acclimation to high elevation. While many travel agencies in Nepal and Tibet have short budget, they offer schedules that travelers can’t feel accommodated and it may lead to serious altitude sickness risks. Kathmandu is not high enough to adapt to the altitude change with 1350 meters above sea level. Especially one of the routes covers an elevation to 5200 meters from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp in just three days offered by some travel agencies. This kind of behavior is extremely stupid and crazy. With increasing of altitude, travelers are at the risk of causing serious altitude sickness or even high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). The best way I suggest is to take a flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu, and spend at least 3 nights in Lhasa. And then take a bus back to Nepal during which travelers can enjoy the main sites in Central Tibet, including Everest Base Camp.