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Essential information

At a glance

‘Hello’ in:
‘tashi delek ’
Tibetan
Apr-Nov
Best time to go
Summer
Monday
HRS
21
21
MINS
00
00
Current Time
GMT +6
currency
Rénmínbì, or yuán (¥)

Money and costs

Daily Costs
Budget (up to)
US$75
  • One-way hard sleeper Xining–Lhasa train: US$75
  • Room without bathroom: US$8–12
  • Meal in local restaurant: US$5
Midrange
US$75–150
  • One-way flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu: US$280–400
  • One-way flight to Lhasa from Chengdu: US$180–260
  • Daily shared vehicle rental per person: US$50–60
  • Double room with bathroom: US$30–60
  • Potala Palace entry ticket: US$30
Top end (more than)
US$150
  • Boutique or four-star hotel in Lhasa: US$90–150
  • Main course in a top restaurant in Lhasa: US$8–10

Visas

A valid Chinese visa is required. A Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit is also required to enter Tibet.

When to go and weather

Getting to Tibet

For most international travellers, getting to Tibet will involve at least two legs: first to a gateway city such as Kathmandu (Nepal) or Chengdu (China), and then into Tibet.

The most popular options from the gateway towns into Tibet are as follows:

  • International flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa
  • Domestic Chinese flight to Lhasa from Chengdu, Kunming, Xining, Beijing or many others
  • Train via Qinghai to Lhasa, starting in Xining, Lanzhou, Beijing or other Chinese cities
  • The overland drive from Kathmandu to Lhasa via the new crossing at Kyirong, along the Friendship Hwy.

At the time of writing, bureaucratic obstacles to entering Tibet from China were many and involved signing up for a preplanned and prepaid tour. The situation from Nepal is even trickier because of group-visa requirements. Political events, both domestic and international, can mean that regulations for entry into Tibet change overnight. Nerves of steel are definitely useful when arranging flights and permits. Always check on the latest developments before booking flights.

Note that it can be very hard to get hold of air and train tickets to Lhasa around the Chinese New Year and the week-long holidays around 1 May and 1 October.

Flights, hotels and tours can be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Getting around Tibet

Tibet’s transport infrastructure has developed rapidly in recent years. Most of the main highways are now paved. Airports are springing up across the plateau and the railway line is slowly extending beyond Lhasa. In 2011 Tibet’s Metok county was the very last of China’s 2100 counties to be connected by road.

Car The only way to travel around Tibet at the moment, since foreign travellers have to hire private transport as part of their obligatory tour.

Train Great for getting to and from Tibet but of limited use inside Tibet, unless you are just taking a short trip from Lhasa to Shigatse and back.

Bus Lots of services, but foreigners are currently not allowed to take buses or shared taxis in Tibet.

Health and safety

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