2012 PERMIT SITUATION UPDATE
Replies: 856 - Last Post: Nov 27, 2013 1:10 AM Last Post By: inocuo
Apr 1, 2012 5:34 AM
30Lhasa and most areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will be reopening the first week of April.
Travel permits for this region have already started being processed for some groups, although there do appear to be some restrictions such that all individuals traveling together must be the same nationality. This has occurred in previous years and seems to be a short-lived requirement for a period of several weeks immediately after TAR reopens to foreigners.
The nationality rule is a backhanded way of the Chinese gov't trying to discourage independent foreign travelers who form up "groups" in places like Chengdu or Xining. Many of these independent traveler groups are mixed-nationality out of convenience and cost-sharing necessity. At the same time, this doesn't affect in the big prepackaged $$$ group tours normally marketed in countries outside China...most of which would be comprised of individuals from the same country... as per TT poster jiejie
There is also a report that the permit for groups to traveling to Mt. Everest and/or to the Nepal border is not likely to be approved. At least, for the moment this seems to be the situation and hopefully it is similar to the requirement for travelers to be of the same nationality, short-lived.
Note that it normally takes travel permits about 3 days to be processed so the first foreign travelers should be able to arrive in Lhasa as early as April 1st.
This reopening is for Lhasa and most of the TAR except for Chamdo prefecture in far eastern Tibet. There is still no information on when this prefecture will reopen.
Edited by: Andreas_at_LP
Apr 4, 2012 10:36 AM
Apr 4, 2012 8:08 PM
32ipfreak - why not, because TT rules do not permit pure businesses/service to advertise nor would I want them to start now. There are some agents and agencies that post on this branch and others but if their posts are ads then they get removed. If their posts are informational then they can remain and sometimes the moderators delete the more egregious adverts.
Apr 5, 2012 3:19 AM
33Re Ruth's post #30, earlier, does anyone know anyone who has actually made it through to Lhasa yet?
I'm in Xining and the story is the same from everyone here. Permits have been turned down or delayed. The rule being quoted as Ruth points out is that they will only issue them to 3 or more foreigners of the same nationality travelling together in the same group. I haven't heard the one about problems with Everest or Nepal yet, but the agency is being typically Chinese with its limited or selective communication.
It strikes me that it might have been good if the agencies had recognised that there may be problems putting foreigners of different nationalities together so soon after the reopening, if as Ruth says it has happened before, and that there also may be problems caused by the three-day holiday between the 2 and 4 April. During fairly extensive research, during which two agencies offered me a start on April 6, no one from the agencies pointed out there may be problems caused by these two things. Making people aware of problems such as this means we are better informed when it comes to choosing a tour or being in the right place at the right time to get on a tour with the fewest difficulties.
If as Ruth says, some permits were likely to be issued to people on April 1, did that in fact happen?
If it continues to be the case that people can only get permits if they travel with others from the same nationality, maybe we should set up a forum to allow that to happen. It's early days yet, but frustrations will mount in the coming days I feel as visas start to look like they will expire. What do people think?
Apr 5, 2012 3:34 AM
34flipside - There is already a travel companions section of the TT which has been used to permit people to find others who are looking to put together groups in the past. My guess is that small groups like this are not generally the folks that the Chinese government wants to encourage.
You are correct that there will be people in Xining and Chengdu whose visas will expire and they will likely leave the country if they can't put together a group that can obtain permits. I don't see that the TT can do more than it does to warn people not to plan to travel to Tibet in March and early April and to always have a backup plan when planning to travel to Tibet.
Apr 5, 2012 8:02 PM
Apr 7, 2012 5:55 AM
I am hoping to be able to do a group tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa in early/mid May. Because of what I read here in the forum I thought this will most probably not happen.
But a couple of hours ago a tour company based in Kathmandu that I'm in contact with e-mailed me that trips from Nepal into Tibet would be okay by then, and he said that even his company sent a group from Kathmandu to Lhasa this morning (Sat 7th April).
Obviously, I'm very surprised to hear this and I'm not sure if I should believe this. Has anyone heard about such things during the last couple of days? Do you think it's anyhow possible at all that there are groups going from Nepal into Tibet right now?
All help appreciated!
Apr 7, 2012 6:00 AM
Apr 7, 2012 8:49 AM
38From my hostel (in Xining) at present, a group of four from the same country left for Tibet yesterday after getting permits applied for on March 29 to go through to Nepal, two from the same country are leaving tomorrow after getting permits yesterday, and a family of four, which have passports from two countries are leaving tomorrow to go through to Nepal, after getting permits yesterday.
I haven't been given a permit. I was supposed to join a group of 7, coming from all over the place to join up in Lhasa together. Several have had to abandon their plans because of this. My agency still believes it can get permits for those still able to travel next week.
Clearly the "no permits unless there are at least THREE from the same country" rule has been ditched, as has the "no tours to Nepal" rule. The "no permits for solo travellers, even if they join up with others to form a larger group" rule has however, not been ditched. Hopefully for my sake, it will soon.
Seeing as I'm the only one posting with firm knowledge of this, we may never know how many others are getting through. If anyone else HAS got any more solid info about who is getting permits, it would be great if you could do the decent thing to help others and post too...
Apr 7, 2012 11:11 AM
39Thanks for the update flipside. I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I'm still home in the US but hoping to fly out on the 19th and start a tour in Lhasa on the 21st. I would be there alone for the first 9 days in Lhasa, then joining a small group to go to EBC and leave through Nepal. Three different tour agents are telling me I shouldn't have an issue getting a permit that late in April, but I'm afraid to buy plane tickets until I have it. One agent told me they just applied for a permit for a single traveller, they should know by the 9th if it was approved or not and they told me they will let me know. I will give you any updates as soon as I hear them..
Apr 8, 2012 6:03 AM
We are two people from the same nationality and planed to do a trip in tibet begining on april 20th. We applied our permit on 30th march
the travel agency we are dealing with told us there's an unexpected delay at the Tourism Bureau for the first week of April. Permits are still pending as the Tourism Bureau is making the application much longer than normal... they did'nt explain the reasons. But it seems that this is only temporary and they should be able to get our permits around 15 April
I'm not so confident, anyway let's cross the fingers;
Apr 9, 2012 10:47 PM
41zorg, I have also been told that April 15th is expected to be the turning point in terms of being able to get permits. I just paid my deposit yesterday for my tour, they are applying for my permit this week and they say I should know by April 16th for a tour that starts April 21st. As a single traveler, I'm not sure how likely it is that I will get it. I have not yet heard of any single travelers getting through, but the emails I get have been very vague. The tour agent is very confident that it will not be an issue after April 15th, I am not so confident but crossing my fingers also.
Apr 9, 2012 10:57 PM
42I work for Ctrip, a large Chinese travel company. I contacted our activities department (they run tours to Tibet) about the permit situation, and they echoed similar sentiments that have been circling for some time now- April 15th is likely to be a turning point for getting permits as single travelers/travelers of different nationalities, but it is all very vague and uncertain. They will let me know as soon as it becomes clear- whether or not they extend the bans- and I will update this post on the Tibetan travel permit situation as soon more information becomes available. Hopefully they begin easing the restrictions as soon as possible- now is a great time to head to Tibet.
Apr 11, 2012 4:38 AM
43So... I feel as if I am at risk of speaking too soon, but I have my Tibet permits and train ticket in my hand. All I have to do now is get past the dimwit station staff and on to the train tomorrow.
Apparently my permit was issued yesterday, but it only got all sorted today. It looks like the agencies have played a bit of jiggery pokery with potential travellers. My permit says I'm with two other Brits, whereas before I was with seven people, one a Singaporean and another an American among others. But, if it gets you a permit, then so be it.
I haven't heard of anyone else getting permits since my last post. I'm in Xining again and there are only two or three other travellers at my hostel. So, because I was put in a group of two others from the same nationality, I can't say for certain that the rules have been relaxed. But people are getting through.
It looks as though, if the rules are still the same, you are going to have to be flexible for a while if you want to get through to Tibet and possibly have to be prepared for your agency to put you with people from a different agency, going a few days earlier or later than you have hoped. I was supposed to go on the 6th. I will now arrive on the 13th.
As I said before, if anyone else has got through/got permits, it would be very useful to those who come after you to post and state what your circumstances are. It would be a shame if I was the only one giving precise up-to-date information from experience, as it will not be representative.
Apr 11, 2012 8:33 PM
44flipside - I am so happy it all worked out for you! I appreciate the update, it gives me some hope while I wait for my own permit.
I just got an email from a tour agent saying a permit has been approved for a single traveler this morning. This person will be entering Tibet on April 13th. No details on whether or not they had to apply for this permit along with other travelers to form a small group - she only said it was for a single traveler. So things seem to be turning around for the better..
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