1. Entering Tibet
By Air: There are two direct flights for Lhasa from Kathmandu operated by Sichuan Airline and Air China. During the flight from Kathmandu to Tibet, you get to see stunning aerial views of the Himalayas.
By Road: Roadways is the common way to enter Tibet. However, due to many inexpensive direct flights to Kathmandu, many tourists find it convenient to fly to Kathmandu and then enter Tibet via land. Kerung, Simikot, and Kodari are the three borders to enter Tibet. After the 2015 earthquake, the Kodari border has been closed temporarily and the Kerung border has been used generally. Tourists traveling to Kailash usually use the Simikot border.
From Mainland China
Train/Railway: China and Tibet are connected by five routes. Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the most famous one and takes 2 days to reach Lhasa from Beijing. You can travel from Xining to Tibet in around 21 hours, whereas the Chengdu-Tibet train departs every other day and takes around 43 hours. Likewise, there is a daily train service from Shanghai to Tibet. The Guangzhou to Tibet train is the longest and takes around 54 hours.
Flights: You can fly and reach from Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu to Tibet in seven hours. During winter, you can find a good deal on flights as many airlines offer special winter discounts. Chengdu to Lhasa flights is the most discounted ones. These are the following cities from where a direct flight to Tibet is available; Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shangri-la, Kunming, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xian, Xining, and Kathmandu. Moreover, several daily flights are also available from Chengdu to Shigatse and Nyingchi, Tibet.
By Land: Entering China to Tibet through roadways is the most expensive and longest way. It takes anywhere from 7-15 days. Qinghai-Tibet Highway (1937km, an estimated 5-7 days), Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (2086km, an estimated 10-15 days).
2. Passport & Visa Information
You need to get a Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. Both of them can be obtained in Kathmandu with the help of a licensed travel agency. Valid visa for China and Tibet Travel Permit is two different official permissions. To acquire the permit, you need to book a guide for your entire trip and pre-arrange private transport. If you are traveling outside Lhasa, you need to get additional permits, which your travel company will arrange for you.
3. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is very helpful if you are traveling in foreign countries and especially in remote areas. Your travel insurance will cover air evacuation, medical bills, and hospital bills in case of any emergency. Therefore, make sure to get reliable travel insurance for yourself.
4. Banking & Foreign Exchange
Like China, Renminbi (RMB) is the legal currency in Tibet. You will find foreign exchange services only in the Bank of China. Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China are the banks you can see in Lhasa. There are no uses for coins in Tibet. If you are traveling in remote areas, make sure to carry enough cash with you as banking services are very limited in those areas.
From pocket friendly to luxury there is a range of accommodations available throughout Tibet. You can choose your stay as per your budget. Big cities like Lhasa have more 4-star and 5-stars hotels available. Normal guesthouses and lodges can be found in other smaller towns. The facilities in the guesthouse/lodge are very basic. If you are traveling to remote parts, then we highly suggest you carry a good sleeping bag as well.
There are many varieties of food available in Tibet. Cuisine from Tibetan, Chinese, Indian, and Continental, you can see several of them, especially in star hotels. However remote areas can limit the options and leave you with Tibetan & Chinese dishes.
Tap water is not recommended during your journey in Tibet. Hotels usually offer boiled drinking water. You can carry water purification tablets and reusable water bottles during your tour in remote areas. Large 5-liter bottles of drinking water are available in most supermarkets.
8. Best Time to Visit Tibet
The best time to visit Tibet is from May to September. These are the most popular months to travel to Tibet because of the moderate weather and pleasant climate. As it is the peak season, the tourist areas are crowded and expensive. You can travel in April or from October to November to enjoy a 20% discount, however, the cold weather will be a little problematic. December to February is the coldest time of the year. Most of the hotels and transport are considerably cheaper.