Gateways to Tibet

The best gateway cities to Lhasa are Chengdu in China with many daily nonstop flights to Lhasa, Kathmandu for those who want to visit Nepal, and Xining with many trains departing to Tibet. In this article, you will find a list of cities with the easiest connection to Lhasa, either via flight or by train. In addition, all these cities are interesting destinations with a lot to see before your departure to Tibet.

Most of the travelers visiting Tibet arrive in Lhasa, the capital city. Lhasa has an airport and a train station. Lhasa Gonggar airport accepts numerous daily flight from major cities in China and one international flight from Nepal.


Although there are 5 airports in Tibet, all except Lhasa Gonggar are rarely used and there are far fewer flight options. The only city with a direct connection to Shigatse and Nyingchi airports is Chengdu. The other two airports in Bangda and Ngari are located at a very high altitude, and you shouldn’t fly directly there without proper acclimatizing.


You can also travel to Lhasa by train from many cities in China. Although the journey takes a long time, it is worth considering. You will enjoy incredible views traveling through Qinghai-Tibetan plateau and even start acclimatizing to the high altitude of Tibet.


If you wish to travel overland, you can do it following road connecting Nepal and Lhasa, a highway from Xining or highway from Chengdu.

Giant Panda in a breeding center, Chengdu,China


  • By air. There are many daily nonstop flights: approximately 2.5 hours
  • By train. Trains depart every other day: 36 hours
  • Overland: via highways G318 or G317. The journey is over 2,000 km long and takes 8-11 days

WHY CHENGDU: The shortest and easiest flight connection with Lhasa from China, and it offers a lot of great sightseeing options. Chengdu has an international airport and it receives many flights from different parts of the world.

Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal


  • By Air. Flights depart every day: 1.5 hours long
  • Overland: it takes about 1 days to drive from Kathmandu to Tibet-Nepal border. Classic tour connecting Lhasa and border is 7 days long.

WHY KATHMANDU: The shortest flight connection with Lhasa. In addition, you will visit the capital of Nepal and spend time in this ancient and beautiful city.

Ta'er Monastery, Kumbum. Xining, Qinghai


  • By train. Several departures each day: approximately 21 hours.
  • By air. Several departures daily: approximately 2 h 20 m

WHY XINING: The shortest train ride connecting China and Lhasa is from Xining. There are many trains going through Xining every day, in addition to a few flights to Lhasa. Xining is a capital of Quingai Province with a lot to see in the city and surrounding areas.

The Forbidden City. Beijing, China


  • By air. Daily nonstop flight and a number of flight with connections: 4 h 40 m
  • By train. Daily departures to Lhasa: 40 hours

WHY BEIJING: There are many international flight to Beijing and it is easy to travel there from almost any part of the world. Also, Beijing, as a capital of China, offers many excellent sightseeing options.

The Terracotta Warriors museum outside of Xian


  • By air. Several daily nonstop flights: 3 h 30 m
  • By train. Trains to Lhasa depart twice daily (one originates in Shanghai, another one in Guangzhou): 31 hours

WHY XIAN: The ancient capital of China attracts visitors with its incredible collection of artifacts. The well-known museum of Terracotta army is located outside of Xian.

Shanghai skyline, China


  • By air. No nonstop flights. Flights with at least one stop take 7+ hours
  • By train. Daily trains to Lhasa: 47 hours long

WHY SHANGHAI: Shanghai is the financial hub of China that grew from a small village into a huge city in several years. Enjoy its iconic skyline walking along the bay.

Guangzhou, China


  • By air. There are no nonstop flights. Flight with at least 1 stop takes about 6 hours.
  • By train. Daily trains to Lhasa: 57 hours.

WHY GUANGZHOU: Guangzhou is a port city near Hong Kong.It was growing rapidly in the last years. The city-lovers will appreciate its unique architecture.


  • By air. Daily nonstop flight: 2 h 30 m

WHY LIJIANG: Beautiful old town with Tibetan population. There are many incredible natural wonders around Lijiang. You will love it if you prefer spending time outdoors in the nature.


  • By air. Several daily nonstop flights: 3 hours
  • By train. Trains to Lhasa depart every other day (alternating with departures from Chengdu): 36 hours.

WHY CHONGQING: The city is not well-known outside of China and tourist from other parts of the world rarely visit it. In China it is known for its colorful festivals and delicious food.




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