Short and easy guide to plan your perfect tour in Tibet

On this page, you will find easy-to-follow short answers to help you get started.

Too long to read? Contact us and we will help you design your perfect tour:

Can I visit Tibet

Yes! you can visit Tibet. There are a few exceptions: journalists and diplomats must follow different rules, and everyone else can visit Tibet. Hundreds of people visit Tibet every year with us and we can help you plan your visit!

Are foreigners welcome in Tibet

Yes! You will certainly feel welcome when traveling in Tibet. In large cities, people are accustomed to seeing tourists, although you might catch a few curious looks from pilgrims visiting Lhasa from more remote areas. If you are traveling to remote areas, you might become the center of attention, especially with local kids.

Do I have to travel with a group

No, private tours are very popular in Tibet too. Tours can be arranged for single visitors, as well as for groups of travelers.

All visitors need to travel with a local licensed guide and in a tourist car. We can arrange tours even for one person, however, many people travel with groups to lower overall tour costs and meet new people

So, you can travel in Tibet by yourself with a guide and driver, but you cannot travel independently.

What documents do I need

  • Chinese Visa

To visit Tibet, travelers need a Chinese visa and a Tibet travel permit. Citizens of many countries can travel without a Chinese visa and the list is growing! In 2024, rules changed to allow citizens of many European countries to travel visa-free for up to 15 days.

Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit
  • up to 15 days visa-free stay: Austria, Belgium, Brunei, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Malaysia
  • up to 30 days visa-free stay: Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Dominica, Ecuador, Fiji, Grenada, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, Suriname, Seychelles, Thailand, Tonga, and UAE
  • up to 60 days visa-free stay: Mauritius
  • up to 90 days visa-free stay: Armenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and San Marino

Citizens of all other countries need to apply for a visa before traveling to China.

  • Tibet travel permit

With copies of your passport and visa (only for citizens of countries who need visas), we apply for your permits at least 15 days before your tour starts. You only need to send us your documents on time, we will do everything necessary for you. When the permit is ready, we send it to you. You will need this permit to board a plane or train to Tibet. Only local travel agencies can apply for Tibet travel permits.

How to reach Tibet

Flights to Tibet. Lhasa Gonggar airport

You can reach Tibet from all major cities in China by flight or by train.

  • Flights to Tibet

The most significant advantage of flying to Tibet is the speed and convenience it offers. Direct flights from several major Chinese cities can transport you to the heart of Tibet, Lhasa, in just a few hours. On a clear day, you will also get a glimpse of the breathtaking aerial view of the Tibetan Plateau.

The easiest way to reach Tibet is by flying to Lhasa airport (LXA). Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and you will find many flights and trains arriving in Lhasa every day.

Chengdu is the closest city to Lhasa. Chengdu has 2 international airports: Shuangliu airport (CTU) and the newer Tianfu International Airport (TFU) and many daily non-stop flights to Lhasa are about 2 hours and 20 minutes long.

Other cities with easy flight connections are Beijing, Chongqing, Kunming, Xian, Xining, Lijiang, and Shangri-La.

  • Trains to Tibet
Shigatse train station platform

Opting for the train journey offers a unique and memorable experience, with the Qinghai-Tibet railway being one of the most scenic routes in the world. The journey showcases the unparalleled beauty of the Tibetan Plateau, passing through mountain passes, vast grasslands, and remote villages, offering glimpses of wildlife and nomadic life.

Xining is the closest city in China with a railroad connection to Lhasa. The train ride is about 20-21 hours long and the train takes you through the high mountain passes and remote areas with nice views along the way. There is a system pumping supplemental oxygen on all trains going to Tibet.

Other cities with railroad connections and approximate travel times are Beijing (40 hours), Shanghai (47 hours), Xian (31 hours), Chengdu (36 hours), Guangzhou ( 53 hours), Lanzhou (24 hours).

Traveling by train is usually cheaper than buying air tickets, but during the high season tickets are very hard to get. We usually use special agents that can reserve guaranteed tickets in advance and they charge an extra fee for the booking. Online booking systems reserve but don’t guarantee your tickets.

  • Overland from China or Nepal
Danba County, Sichuan Province China. Zhonglu Township, Architectural Style of Jiuaju Ancient Tibetan Village
Tibetan village in Eastern Tibet

Traveling to Tibet overland is a great way to visit off-the-beaten-path places, explore remote areas, meet people with different cultures and traditions, and enjoy incredible landscape views along the way.

The two most popular cities in China where you can start your overland adventure are Chengdu and Xining. You can travel from Chengdu to Lhasa via G318 (Southern Route), which takes about 7 days. Along the way, you will see alpine lakes, glaciers, mountains, and even forests.

Another option is to travel from Chengdu or Xining via the G317 (Northern Route). This road will take you through the Eastern Tibetan province of Amdo where you can visit important monastery centers, printing houses, lakes, glaciers, and vast grasslands.

Another option is to travel from Nepal via the Gyirong border entry and further to Everest and Lhasa or Mount Kailash region in the West.

Can I travel from Nepal

Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

Yes, you can travel to Tibet from Nepal, but the rules are slightly different. Below are a few things you need to know:

  • You will need a different visa type. It is a Chinese group visa issued in the Embassy in Kathmandu. You cannot apply for it in advance and need to wait for it in Nepal for 3-5 business days.
  • It is a group visa and it is currently issued only to groups of travelers (5 people or more) traveling with the same itinerary.
  • There is currently 1 flight per week on Mondays between Kathmandu and Lhasa. Another option is to travel overland.

Is it safe to travel in Tibet

Mountain roads in Tibet

Traveling to Tibet is safe for tourists. Culturally, Tibet is a welcoming place with a deep respect for visitors.

In addition, the government requires all foreign visitors to Tibet to arrange their visit through a registered travel agency, which includes travel permits, arranging traveling in a tourist car, with a licensed local tour guide, and a driver. This regulation ensures that tourists have knowledgeable local guidance, further enhancing safety and ease of travel.

When traveling to mountain areas in Tibet, you will be driving through zigzagging roads and it is important to have an experienced driver. All our drivers are locals with years of experience on the mountain roads in Tibet.

The primary concern for travelers is not related to security issues but rather the challenges associated with high altitude. Altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level, due to Tibet’s average elevation exceeding 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). When visiting Tibet, it is important to acclimatize, stay hydrated, and pay attention to high-altitude sickness symptoms.

“The biggest plus that Wonders of Tibet is very safe and reliable agency. As 2 traveling alone girls we felt ourselves very secure.
Thanks for amazing experience”

“Our driver Ngodrup kept us safe and sound on thousands of kilometers of windy Tibetan highways, not to mention helping me on our trek when I became ill from the altitude.”

What about high altitude

Bharals near Mount Everest base camp in Tibet
Blue Sheep in the Everest region

With an average altitude of 4,500 meters / 14,760 ft, the Tibetan Plateau is the highest plateau on the planet. When traveling in Tibet, you will likely travel through some high-altitude areas. 

  • Lhasa altitude: 3,656 meters/ 11,995 feet
    Some travelers can experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness on the first 2-3 days in Lhasa: shortness of breath, and mild headaches. It is essential to give yourself time to rest, get good sleep, and not exercise. 
    Within a few days, most travelers acclimatize naturally to visit areas at higher altitudes.
  • Everest Base Camp: 5,050 meters / 16,570 ft
    This is the altitude of Everest Base Camp with an incredible view of the highest mountain on the planet (8,848 meters / 29,032 ft). Acclimatizing is required before traveling to the EBC. All our group tours are designed for steady acclimatizing.
  • Mount Kailash area: average about 4,500 meters / 14,760 ft
    Visiting the Mount Kailash area requires acclimatizing before traveling to the high-altitude region. If you are trekking around Mount Kailash, you reach the highest point at 5,640 meters / 18,500 ft (only about 250 meters lower than the height of Kilimanjaro).
  • Lower altitude areas for easy acclimatizing.
    Samye monastery area: 3,580 meters / 11,745 ft
    Nyingchi (also called Tibetan Switzerland): average 3,100 meters / 10,170 ft

To avoid altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is a common concern for travelers to high-altitude destinations like Tibet. The key to minimizing the risk is gradual acclimatization. Start by spending a few days at an intermediate altitude before ascending to higher elevations. That’s why most of our tours start in Lhasa, where you can spend the first few days acclimatizing to the altitude before venturing to higher places like Everest Base Camp.

It’s crucial to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol that can cause dehydration, and eat light, high-carbohydrate meals to maintain energy, get plenty of rest and sleep, and avoid exercising in the first few days. Diamox (Acetazolamide) can be taken as a preventative measure, but you need to consult with a healthcare provider before your trip.

If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, dizziness, or shortness of breath, don’t ascend further until they have resolved, and tell your guide about these symptoms. Your guide will also provide oxygen if it is needed.

When is the best time to visit

The front view of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet
Potala Palace in summer

In short, for better views visit in spring or fall, for warmer temperatures visit in summer, for a more authentic and less touristy experience visit in winter.

  • Winter is perfect if you want to enjoy the perfect view of Everest without crowds of tourists. You will also enjoy your time in Lhasa, where many pilgrims arrive to prepare for the Tibetan New Year and popular sites don’t have crowds of tourists. This time is great for photographers and travelers interested in seeing Tibetan culture.
  • Spring is the beginning of the tourist season, but remains a low season with lower prices. Temperatures start rising and it is still mostly clear.
  • Summer is best for travelers who prefer warmer temperatures. Might not be good for photographers who want to see clear views of the peaks, it can be more cloudy and it can rain, although mostly at night.
  • Fall is great for photographers and most travelers as well, as the weather is still warm and mostly clear.

Festivals in Tibet

Drepung Monastery in Lhasa during celebration of Shoton Festival
Giant thangka display during Shoton Festival in Drepung Monastery

Plan your visit around local festivals for an in-depth cultural experience. While the sites of celebrations can be a lot more crowded than usual, you can experience local culture firsthand.

  • Saga Dawa Festival is one of the most important spiritual events in Tibet. It marks the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana (death) of historical Buddha. It falls on the 15th day of the fourth month in the Tibetan lunar calendar, typically in May or June. You can see the main celebration in the Mount Kailash area with the replacement of the Tarboche Prayer Flag Pole, attended by thousands of pilgrims from all corners of Tibet. You can also see Cham Dance in Tsurphu monastery near Lhasa.
  • Shoton Festival also known as the Yogurt Festival, is one of Tibet’s most vibrant and joyous celebrations. It begins on the last day of the sixth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, usually in August, and lasts for about a week. The festival begins with the dramatic unfolding of a giant thangka (image of the Buddha) at Drepung and then Sera Monastery, drawing crowds of locals and tourists alike to receive the blessings. During the festival celebrations, locals flock to Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, to watch outdoor opera performances. After that, everyone gathers with family and friends to have a picnic in the shade of the park trees, enjoying yogurt and other traditional foods.
  • Cham Dance is a ceremonial dance performed by monks wearing elaborate costumes and masks. Rooted in ancient rituals, the Cham Dance serves as a medium for spiritual storytelling, depicting tales of moral victories, the eternal fight between good and evil, and the path to enlightenment. Each mask and costume is richly detailed, representing various deities and protectors in Tibetan Buddhism.

Cultural considerations and etiquette

Visiting Tibetan monasteries and interacting with monks as well as local Tibetans is an integral part of experiencing the cultural and spiritual richness of Tibet. These are a few suggestions:

  • Tashi Delek is a traditional Tibetan greeting. Tibetans will greet you with this phrase and you can reply with the same phrase.
  • Dress Appropriately. When visiting monasteries, wear modest clothing that covers shoulders and knees.
  • Remove Your Hat and Sunglasses inside the monasteries.
  • Always walk clockwise inside and around temples, stupas, and prayer wheels.
  • Be considerate when taking photos. Always ask for permission before taking photos, especially inside the monasteries, and when you are trying to capture monks or locals. Some areas might be off-limits for photography and your guide can always tell you where it is allowed.

Food in Tibet and what to try

Fried meat yak momos in Tibet

Tibet’s cuisine offers a unique experience, deeply influenced by its high-altitude climate and Buddhist culture.

  • Tsampa, roasted barley flour mixed with yak butter tea, forms a staple in the Tibetan diet that is both nourishing and energizing.
  • Momos, Tibetan dumplings filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables, usually steamed, but can also be served fried.
  • Thukpa, a warming noodle soup with vegetables or meat, is ideal for the chilly climate.
  • Butter tea, a salty black tea with butter, is a very unusual drink, essential to the Tibetan experience.
  • Yak meat, prepared in various forms from dried to stewed is a staple of Tibetan cuisine.

In large cities, you can find a wide variety of options, including Tibetan, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese, and Western cuisines. You also have a choice of restaurants and local Tibetan tea houses serving local staples.

You can always find vegetarian options, there are plenty of dishes with vegetables.

Hotels and guesthouses in Tibet

Everest Base Camp in Tibet tent camp for travelers
Tent camp at the Everest Base Camp in Tibet

Accommodations in Tibet range from traditional Tibetan guesthouses to modern hotels, catering to a variety of preferences and budgets.

In larger cities, such as Lhasa and Shigatse, travelers can find a selection of accommodations, including luxury 5-star hotels (Shangri La and St. Regis in Lhasa, Hilton in Shigatse). But even more modest 3-star hotels offer modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, en-suite bathrooms, and heating, ensuring a comfortable stay.

As you venture into more remote areas, accommodations may become simpler, with only basic guesthouses available at the Everest Base Camp and on the Mount Kailash trek, offering a rustic experience closer to nature.

Regardless of where you stay, the warmth and hospitality of the Tibetan people are sure to make your visit memorable.

How many days do I need to see Tibet

Visiting Traditional Tibetan house

Of course, there are plenty of tour options in Tibet. We arranged tours from 1 day long to 25 days long and everything in between. We will cover more information about the must-see places in Tibet below. Talk to our guides to choose the right adventure for you. 

  • 4 Days: To see the Highlights

If you are short on time, a 4-day tour in Lhasa allows you to see the main highlights of the capital and get a glimpse of the life of local Tibetans. 

  • 8 Days: The most popular option

The most popular option is to spend 8 days traveling from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp. On this route, you explore religious, cultural, and historical sites, as well as some of the most stunning landscapes, including gorgeous lakes, glaciers, rivers, valleys, and breathtaking Himalayas, including Mount Everest.

Tsaparang, The Ruins Of The Ancient Capital Of Guge Kingdom And
Guge Kingdom in Western Tibet
  • 15 Days: In-depth experience

For a more special experience, we recommend a 15-day tour, covering all highlights of Central Tibet, and Mount Everest region and taking you to the Western part of Tibet to trek around Mount Kailash. This immersive experience allows you to explore remote areas, where even nowadays we can often see wildlife roaming on the vast valleys of the sparsely inhabited Western Region.

  • 21 Days: Ultimate experience

For an ultimate experience in Tibet, visit for a 21-day tour that includes off-the-beaten-path destinations in Northern Tibet. Witness numerous incredible lakes, vast grasslands, and likely sites of wildlife in the huge territory of Changtang National Preserve. 

What are the must-see places in Tibet

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and most travelers start their journey here. Explore Lhasa Old Town to see the busy streets lined with numerous stores, restaurants, and tea houses, and join crowds of tourists, pilgrims, and city residents walking around the famous Barkhor street.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet

Tibetans on the way towards Jokhang Temple entrance in Lhasa
LHASA
The perfect place to start your visit

Most travelers arrive in Lhasa first and spend here 2-3 days exploring the capital and acclimatizing to high-altitude

The top places to visit in Lhasa.

Enjoy your time in Lhasa exploring the most famous historic and religious sites, while also enjoying some of the best hotels and restaurants in Tibet.

Spend time exploring the winding streets of Lhasa Olw Town or take a stroll in the evening to see the lit-up Potala Palace.

UNESCO World Heritage site Potala Palace in Lhasa
Potala Palace

The magnificent winter residence of the Dalai Lamas.

Jokhang Temple, view from the Barkhor Square in Lhasa, Tibet
Jokhang Temple

The 7th-century temple housing the 2500-year-old Buddha Statue.

Drepung Monastery complex in Tibet
Drepung

One of the largest and most impressive monasteries in Tibet.

Monks in Sera Monastery,Lhasa, Tibet
Sera Monastery

We visit to witness monks’ debates as they study Buddhism.

Tibetan monks in front of the Norbulingka - summer residence of the Dalai Lama
Norbulingka

The summer palace of Dalai Lamas. Visit if you have extra time.

Tibetans walking along the Barkhor Street in Lhasa, Tibet
Barkhor Street

Walk around Jokhang Temple following this busy street.

Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest and Rongbuk monastery in Tibet

Enjoy magnificent view of Everest without any trekking

Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Tibet can be easily reached by car. The mountain road is in very good condition and you will enjoy stunning views of the Himalayas and its top peaks along the way. You will see the North Face of Everest and its unobstructed view.

Facilities in the Base Camp are still simple, but regularly improving, and you will have plenty of time to enjoy the view and visit Rongbuk – the highest monastery on the planet.

Group tour at Everest, Tibet
Visiting EBC in Tibet

Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake

The unclimbed mountain sacred to 4 religions and the sacred lake.

For a more in-depth experience of Tibet, venture into the Western Region, traveling through vast valleys where wildlife is still often seen to the sacred Mount Kailash.

We join pilgrims to complete the trekking route around Kailash taking 3 days and allowing us to see all 4 faces of this gorgeous mountain.

Stunning landscapes in Tibet

From majestic Himalayan peaks to alpine lakes, glaciers, dense forests, and grasslands – Tibet has it all.

While traveling in Tibet, you will see many of these amazing destinations along the way. Plan if you want to see something in particular.

White yak by holy Yamdrok lake in Tibet

Yamdrok Lake

Turcuoise-colored sacred lake with lots of photo opportunities. We visit it on many group tours.

Peach blossom - spring views in Eastern Tibet

Peach Blossom

Gorgeous views of blooming peach trees with dense forests and snowy mountains in Eastern Tibet.

Karola Glacier with stupa and prayer flags in Tibet

Karola Glaciers

Stunning glaciers and you can so come close to them that you can feel their cold breath.

Namtso lake and white yak on the shore, Tibet

Namtso Lake

Sacred saltwater lake with white yaks on its shore and stunning snow-capped mountains in the background.

Monasteries and religious sites in Tibet

The majority of Tibetans are Buddhist.
You will see many monasteries and religious sites while traveling in Tibet.

Below we list the most famous and interesting religious sites. There are, of course, a lot more exciting places to visit in Tibet if you have time to explore.

View on the Ganden Monastery in Tibet
Ganden Monastery

Established by Lama Tsongkhapa in 1409 Ganden remains one of the main religious centers in Tibet.

Visiting Drak Yerpa complex
Drak Yerpa

It is a complex of temples, monasteries, and meditation caves nested on the mountain.

Nine storey Kumbum Stupa, the largest s
Kumbum Stupa

Kumbum means 100,000 images in Tibetan. There are nine levels, 108 cells, and 75 chapels.

View of Samye monastery from Hepo Ri
Samye Monastery

The first monastery in Tibet built in the shape of a mandala representing the Buddhist Universe.

Yumbulakhang the oldest building in Tibet
Yumbulakhang

Originally the first fortress in Tibet, Yumbulagang is also the first palace in Tibet.

Shigatse and Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Famous for its largest gilded statue in the world. The Future Buddha statue is 26 meters tall.

What are the tour prices

With private tours, you have more flexibility and can choose itinerary and starting dates. The price depends on the number of people traveling together and the season.

For group tours prices are fixed as well as departure dates. Below are our most popular group tours.

How to travel to Tibet on a budget

Young Tibetan monk

The best ways to keep the tour prices reasonable:

  • Check if you can travel to Tibet visa-free, this option is now available to passport holders of many countries (see information about Chinese visa requirements for details)
  • If you are traveling alone or with 2-3 people, joining a group tour will be more affordable than a private tour.
  • Plan your vacation during less expensive spring or fall seasons.
  • Avoid traveling during the large holidays in China when all air tickets become more expensive (1st week of May and 1st week of October, as well as during Chinese New Year celebrations)
  • If convenient, travel to Tibet by train. It is usually less expensive than flying to Tibet.

How to get a premium experience

Wild donkeys grazing in Northern Tibet

There are many opportunities to have a more elevated experience in Tibet:

  • Choose a customizable itinerary to create a tour based on your interests
  • Reserve a 5-star Shangri La or St. Regis hotel in Lhasa and have a luxurious experience while exploring the Tibetan capital.
  • Watch “Princess Wenchen” show in Lhasa
  • Have a traditional Tibetan meal in one of the best Lhasa restaurants. Our guides will happily make suggestions based on your interests and taste.
  • Stay in a boutique hotel by the Yamdrok Lake to enjoy the view and experience sunrise and sunset by the lake without crowds of tourists.
  • Book a 5-star hotel in Shigatse to take advantage of comfortable amenities in the second-largest city in Tibet.
  • Travel to remote areas with fewer tourists and more wildlife.

Contact us to arrange your unforgettable journey

Traveling in Tibet with mountain views

Why travel with us

why choose us?

  • Travel with Tibetan-owned agency
  • Affordable group tour rates and regular departures
  • Always local Tibetan guides and authentic experience
  • Excellent reviews from our clients
  • Absolutely no forced shopping
  • Support local Tibetan businesses
Tourists jumping for a photo when traveling in Tibet

“I travelled with Wonders of Tibet on the 15 Days Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Tour. Every member of the team that I met delivers high standards of service as mentioned by other clients in their reviews.”

Review on TripAdvisor
Group tour visiting Mount Kailash in August 2023

“The trip was enjoyable and interesting. It was a pilgrimage for me. I met with many interesting characters along the way. All of us in the group were above 70 years old. The journey was based on trust.”

Review on TripAdvisor
Red and white stupa and view on Mount Kailash

“I joined Wonders of Tibet for a 15-day Mt. Kailash tour in August 2023 and am very impressed with the high standard of organization. Very clear and prompt communication long before our arrival in Tibet and well designed itinerary to ensure we are fully acclimatised”

Review on TripAdvisor
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Our local Tibetan guides will help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime journey

Ethical travel in Tibet

Tent set up at 5000 meters trekking and camping in Tibet

Ethical travel in Tibet means respecting the local culture, environment, and local Tibetans.

  • Use local businesses. We are a 100% Tibetan-owned agency and always encourage staying in Tibetan-owned accommodations and buying handmade crafts directly from artisans.
  • Take care of the environment, especially while trekking. We always encourage all travelers to follow the leave no trace principles.
  • Avoid political discussions with locals. Don’t bring any items that are not allowed in Tibet (such as religious photographs and books) and don’t ask locals questions that make them uncomfortable while traveling in Tibet.
  • Respect religious and cultural sites.

By prioritizing ethical practices, all of us can contribute positively to the sustainability and well-being of Tibetan communities, ensuring that the beauty and richness of Tibetan culture and land are preserved for the future.

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