How to Travel in Tibet, China & Nepal

How to Travel in Tibet, China & Nepal
If you look at a map, it may appear that traveling through Tibet, China, and Nepal is easy. After all, Tibet is legally part of the People's Republic of China, and China and Nepal share a border. However, the Chinese government tightly controls tourism to and within Tibet. You may have to take a circuitous route to visit all three, perhaps backtracking through China or Nepal, and any route you choose requires a lot of paperwork. The rules change depending on which route you travel; here are tips on securing the proper visas and permits to negotiate two of the more popular routes: Nepal to Tibet to China (backtracking through Nepal), and China to Tibet to Nepal (crossing the Tibet--Nepal border).


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Starting in Nepal

Things You’ll Need:
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months Passport photos (at least two and perhaps as many as eight)
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Passport photos (at least two and perhaps as many as eight)
Step 1
Secure your Chinese visa before going to Nepal. Applying for the Nepali visa in advance is not necessary, as the Kathmandu international airport has a very reliable Visa on Arrival service. China, however, does not issue VOAs, so if have not secured your visa before embarking on your trip, you'll have to wait for the Chinese Embassy in Nepal to do the paperwork.
Step 2
To visit Tibet from Nepal, join one of the tours that departs from Kathmandu. Joining a group tour is the only possible way to get the visa and regional permits necessary to visit Tibet (or even China) via Nepal. This is an all but clearly stated access-control measure. Some people do manage to sneak across using a Chinese visa issued through a third country, but this is rare and probably due to a mistake on the part of immigration officials.
Step 3
Return to Nepal after your tour of Tibet. Your group visa will not allow you to leave the group and go elsewhere in China.
Step 4
Fly to a Chinese destination from Nepal.

Starting in China

Step 1
Secure your Chinese and Nepali visas before embarking on your trip. China does not have a Visa on Arrival service, so you absolutely must get your tourist visa in advance. Nepal does have VOA, but there are no guarantees that officials at the remote Nepal--China border crossings will be equipped to issue you a visa. Spare yourself the worry and get the Nepali visa in advance.
Step 2
To visit Tibet from China, get a Tibet Tourism Bureau permit. This will clear you to stay in Lhasa. You can apply for this in your home country, but doing so adds substantially to the time it takes to get all the papers processed. If you'll be spending a substantial amount of time in a place like Beijing, it might be better to apply for the permit there, as the usual waiting time there is three days.
Step 3
To travel to Nepal from Tibet, get an Aliens' Travel Permit in Lhasa. The Public Security Bureau in Tibet is the only organization that issues this permit, so you will have to apply for it at the office in Lhasa and wait. You must secure this permit before traveling to the Nepali border, as it grants access to all areas outside of Lhasa that are not considered "militarily sensitive." If you are traveling with a group, they will issue one permit in the group leader's name, and then detail the number of people traveling with that person.
Step 4
Take a minibus to the border town of Dram. Passenger trips to the Nepali border are made by small private operators, as there are no public buses.
Step 5
Pass Chinese immigration and walk across the border from Dram to the Nepali town of Kodari. After passing Nepali immigration, take a minibus from Kodari to Kathmandu.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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