2012 PERMIT SITUATION UPDATE
Replies: 856 - Last Post: Nov 27, 2013 1:10 AM Last Post By: inocuo
Mar 6, 2012 7:25 PM
2012 PERMIT SITUATION UPDATETIBET PERMIT UPDATE 2012
SEEKING TRAVEL COMPANIONS OR TREK PARTNERS? Please post only on our Travel Companions branch not on this branch Any such topics posted on this branch will normally be moved by the moderators to the Travel Companions branch without notice. If you also have a travel question then please post it as a separate topic on the appropriate travel branch.
This thread is about travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region (T.A.R.). This thread does not include information about Tibetan areas outside of T.A.R. For questions, about non-TAR Tibetan areas please search the TT and/or start a new thread.
For travelers wishing to travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region a permit is required along with your normal Chinese visa. This permit is checked by officials when boarding any flights to Lhasa, any trains to Lhasa and of course, at the land border crossing with Nepal (Friendship Hwy - Dram/Zangmu/Kodari).
Since 2008 the political situation in the region has deteriorated dramatically, and it is virtually impossible to travel independently as it was prior to 2008. Permits cannot be purchased separately from any source and must be procured through a registered travel agent. The travel agent is required by Chinese law to provide a local certified guide for the entire time you are in the T.A.R. There is currently no way around this rule.
Foreigners cannot travel on public transport in the T.A.R and local inhabitants are put at significant risk if travelers ask them for help in bypassing these rules.
Since 2008 the Chinese government has closed the T.A.R. during sensitive political anniversaries or when any large protests or unrest occurs. The most sensitive period is around March 10th to 14th - the anniversary of the Tibetan uprising in 1959 and the riots in 2008. The government bans the tourism bureau from issuing permits to travel agents during these “closure” periods. This year, 2012, the T.A.R has been closed since early February and is likely to open again in late March or early April.
It must be understood that these closures are based on the government’s assessment of the political and security situation. There is no official reopening date given in advance, so unfortunately for travelers, it is very difficult to plan travel in Tibet during March or even early April. It is unlikely there will be more closures during 2012 – but this cannot be guaranteed by anyone. It is important to understand that there are always rumours flying about when closures may or may not happen – but in the end nobody knows exactly until the Tourism Bureau either stops or starts issuing permits.
A quick google search of “Tibet News” will usually give a range of news information and analysis relating to current unrest and protests in Tibetan areas.
So for first timers to planning a trip to Tibet here are some key things to consider when planning your time in Tibet: 1. There is no visa specific for Tibet. Travelers require a normal Chinese visa to enter Mainland China and in addition, a Tibet entry permit issued through a travel agent from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa. Other permits may also be required for travel within the T.A.R. (also issued through your travel agent)
2. If entering Tibet from Nepal, you are required to have a “Group Visa” which is a document combining a Chinese visa and Tibet Permit. This Visa is only valid for the duration of your itinerary submitted to your travel agent plus two weeks, usually 21-28 days total and the time starts from the moment that you enter Tibet. It is difficult or impossible to extend this type of visa. It is difficult to impossible to leave the group and travel independently in China after your time in Tibet unless you specifically arrange for a separate "individual" group visa prior to the issuing of the visa.
Do NOT get a standard Chinese visa prior to arrival in Nepal as the Chinese consulate in Kathmandu will cancel it in order to issue your group visa.
3. Many people think they have to join a group tour to travel in Tibet. This is not true. You can negotiate with a travel agent for any level of service and any size “group”. However, you must travel with a guide and the high cost of travel on the Tibetan plateau means that if you are a budget traveler, you’ll most likely have to join or form a group to keep expenses within your budget.
4. Permits are not issued instantly. It takes a day or two for the Tibet Tourism Bureau to issue the document. Since the original permit often is required to travel to Tibet, you need to plan in advance to receive the permit before you board the train or plane to Tibet.
These two websites often have up to date and detailed Tibet Travel information: www.cafespinn.com/en/tibet
Tips when planning your trip to Tibet
1. It is not a good idea to mention that you plan to travel to Tibet on your Chinese visa application.
2. Depending upon where you are going, you may require other permits or special permissions
3. Do not plan to travel to Tibet in late February, through the month of March or the first week in April. This is a sensitive time when the Chinese government has closed access for the past 5 years.
4. Always discuss with the travel agency their cancellation policy should entrance to Tibet be restricted after you have made plans or paid deposits.
5. Because you can't ride public transportation outside Lhasa, you are essentially forced to have a driver with vehicle as well as a guide.
6. It is possible to request a Tibetan guide and driver.
7. Be careful when comparing tour packages as some include accommodations, admissions and other features, while others don't.
8. Tibetan agency names can be confusing and agency reputations can be difficult to assess unless you match the exact names. There are lots of similar agency names, which are not the same company.
9. Even though you are required to hire a guide, you do not need to spend 24/7 with the guide. You can negotiate some free time for wandering or shopping but if you wander off to someplace that you aren't supposed to go, your guide and the travel agency may get in trouble.
10. If you have a special interest, there is probably a company and a guide who can fulfill provide the services you want.
11. Like any place else you visit, you get what you pay for. If you don't pay much then don't be surprised at what you get. To get quality, you need to pay for it.
The previous Tibet sticky can be found here: Permit Situation Update
Mar 7, 2012 4:24 AM
1Thank you everbrite finally!
Hoping for the peace and reason returning to Tibet and for the Tibetans.
Tibetans will get their life back, and travellers will be able to visit again this enchanting place.
Mar 8, 2012 7:42 PM
Mar 8, 2012 9:00 PM
3Any word on whether or not they'll be extending the closures at all? The Tibetan regions outside of the TAR have seen considerable unrest in the last few months. Not sure how this will affect traveling inside the TAR though. The last update I heard about the Tibetan closure was this one. Do any of you have up-to-date information on this situation? Last year it was closed for the better part of the year, first in the winter/spring and then again in the summer.
This most recent spate of immolations has only made tensions higher here in China. The Tibetans will not capitulate without a struggle- things could get very ugly.
Mar 10, 2012 7:57 AM
4Obviously there is cultural genocide happening within Tibet and the Tibetans are revolting. Think of Tibetans today as the American Indians... eventually most were killed for their land.
Tibet permits are controlled by the Chinese government - See: How to get a Tibet Permit with Ease , and as such a black market has now been created for the permit.
If you want to "sneak" into Tibet, the best way would be to travel overland via Zhongdian... no one really checks for permits in that area. Once you are in Tibet, no one will ask you for a permit. If your in Shigatse or surrounding area for example and someone does ask you, eg. cop, you can bribe him with 10 Yuan.
Mar 11, 2012 6:32 PM
5The idea that you can "sneak" into Tibet is just plain incorrect. Perhaps years ago it would have been better advice, but in today's Tibet the idea that you can travel permit-less and bribe your way across the Plateau is simply false, and to tell people that you can just seems irresponsible.
There are FREQUENT checkpoints across the country, and without a Tibetan travel permit you will be caught- if you were even able to bribe a police officer, as the previous post implies, it would certainly be more than RMB 10, and you cannot count on every cop you meet accepting a bribe.
You will get caught, simple as that. Get a permit- trying to do what the previous person suggests will not only result in you being taken in by the authorities, fined and deported, but it also jeopardizes the ability of other travelers to visit Tibet.
Do not go to Tibet without a permit. It is irresponsible and selfish.
Mar 11, 2012 11:40 PM
6I was told by a travel agent (Tibettravel.org) that if I enter Tibet by boarding a train in China, a scanned copy of the permit, and not the original copy, will suffice. If I enter via plane, I will need the original permit. Is this information correct?
Hoping to go in the first week of April but obviously since applications are still not being accepted at the moment, time will be very tight as to whether an actual permit could reach me in time.
Thanks for your help.
Mar 12, 2012 1:06 AM
7I wouldnt count on getting a permit for April. All travel to Tibet has been disrupted for that month since 2008.
Mar 12, 2012 4:08 AM
Mar 13, 2012 8:25 AM
9For some reason this post isn't showing up for me when looking at the Tibet branch. I had to google it. Can a moderator check into this?
Mar 13, 2012 11:58 AM
10Nothing for mods to look into!! Its a 'sticky" on NE Asia Branch, not Tibet Sub Branch.
Mar 13, 2012 1:50 PM
11I have asked the moderators to try to make it a sticky for the Tibet subbranch. It may be that the only way to do this is to repost it. If that's the case, I will repost after the moderator I contacted gets back to me.
Mar 14, 2012 7:49 AM
This thread should now be showing up at the top of the Tibet sub-branch. Please let me know if there are any problems.
Mar 14, 2012 11:54 AM
Mar 14, 2012 1:29 PM
14ual90 - yes although you can't just email and agent or hostel, you need to choose where you want to go, how long your want to travel, whether accommodations are included, etc. And the agency doesn't need to be located in Chengdu. Since the Permit has to come from the Tibet Tourism Bureau, the agency can be located anywhere, including Tibet.
Any decent company can arrange to deliver your permit anywhere you want.
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