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Flights to Tibet from US

  • by Eric
  • Last Updated: 2024-05-19

Every year, numerous Americans come across the Pacific Ocean to travel to Tibet. It is necessary to know some tips about the transportation, attractions, and documents of Tibet travel.

Up to now, about 9,000 Tibetan Americans are living in the USA and Tibetan culture is becoming more and more popular in some districts of the USA. It is an amazing experience for Americans to explore the profound culture of Tibet and appreciate the breathtaking view of nature. In order to have a wonderful travel experience, you are advised to know how to get there, what to see here and what're the necessary documents. Meanwhile traveling to Tibet at an appropriate time makes it count in one's Tibet tour.

How to Get to Tibet?

Fly from Los Angeles to mainland China first, then to Tibet
Fly from Los Angeles to mainland China, then to Tibet.

Americans can travel to Tibet from the US by air. Since there is no direct flight from the USA to Tibet, you have to transfer to other cities in China or Kathmandu, Nepal. Traveling to Tibet by air seems to be the best way for Americans since there are multiple flights from the USA to  China and Nepal across all of the four time zones.

Pacific Seattle San Francisco Los Angeles
Mountain Phoenix Denver Salt Lake City
Central Dollas Michigan Chicago Mississippi
Eastern New York Miami New Jersey Tampa Washington DC Philadelphia

Here we have already designed some time-saving and cheaper itineraries for you.

1. Traveling from Los Angeles to Tibet via Chengdu

Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines offer direct flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)/Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu(TFU). Direct flights typically take around 14 to 15 hours. Flights generally depart in the late evening or early night, allowing for arrival in Chengdu the next morning or afternoon, local time. On average, you can expect to pay between $700 and $1,300 for an economy-class ticket, depending on the season, booking time, and availability.

When arriving in Chengdu, you can take a flight to Lhasa or other cities in Tibet including Nyingchi, Shigatse, and Qamdo. You can take a Chengdu - Lhasa train as well. On the Qinghai-Tibet railway, you will be attracted by the stunning landscape scenery. You can catch a glimpse of the magnificent view of the Tanggula Mountains, Kunlun Pass, Nagqu grassland, etc. Taking a train from Chengdu to Lhasa will take about 44 hours and cost $97 for a hard sleeper berth and $154 for a soft sleeper berth.

>>See more about Chengdu to Lhasa flights

2. Traveling from New York to Tibet via Shanghai

China Eastern Airlines offers a direct flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG). The flight duration is approximately 14 hours and 30 minutes. Flights often depart in the afternoon and arrive in Shanghai the following evening. On average, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,200 for an economy-class ticket.

When arriving in Shanghai, you can take a flight to Lhasa or board a Shanghai-Lhasa train.

>>See more about Shanghai to Lhasa flights

3. Traveling from Chicago to Tibet via Beijing / Shanghai

United Airlines and Hainan Airlines offer direct flights from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). The non-stop flight duration is approximately 13 to 14 hours. Flights usually depart in the afternoon and arrive in Beijing the next day in the late afternoon or evening. On average, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,200 for an economy-class ticket.

When arriving in Beijing, you can take a flight to Lhasa or board a Beijing - Lhasa train.

>>See more about Beijing to Lhasa flights

Alternatively, flying from Chicago to Shanghai is a popular and convenient option for travelers heading to China.

United Airlines, American Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines offer direct flights from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG). The non-stop flight duration is approximately 14 to 15 hours. Usually flights depart in the afternoon and arrive in Shanghai the next day in the late afternoon or evening. On average, you can expect to pay between $700 and $1,300, depending on the season.

4. Traveling from the USA to Tibet via Nepal

Traveling via Kathmandu, Nepal to Tibet is one of the popular ways for American travelers. The flights from the USA to Kathmandu costs from US$900 to US$1,500 depending on departure location and connections. Currently, there is a direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, but only available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Also you may take an overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

>>See more Kathmandu to Lhasa flights

What to See in Tibet

US travelers to Tibet can immerse themselves in a captivating blend of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

Mount Everest


For most Americans, Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world is definitely on their travel list because Mt. Everest can fulfill their desires for adventure. There about 50 thousand Americans go to this region every year from spring to fall when the weather is suitable for seeing the magnificent Mt. Everest. 

Lhasa(Potala Palace & Jokhang Temple)

Grand Potala Palace

Lhasa, the center of Tibet is an attractive place for Americans who wanna explore the profound culture and history of Tibet. When traveling to Lhasa, you can appreciate the Potala Palace, the highest ancient palace in the world with a profound Buddhist culture. You can join the crowd to pilgrim around the holy Jokhang Temple.

Mt. Kailash


Every year, large quantities of foreign tourists head to Mt. Kailash not only to do the pilgrim but also to enjoy the masterpiece of nature. Mount Kailash trekking tour, also known as the kora around Mt. Kailash is one of the most challenging treks in the world.  

What Documents Do You Need When Traveling from the US to Tibet?

Chinese Visa/ China Group visa

If you travel from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai and other cities of China to Tibet, you should apply for a Chinese visa from the Chinese embassy in the USA.

However, if you travel from Kathmandu to Tibet, you should apply for a group visa rather than a Chinese visa. To apply for your China Group Visa, you need to book your Tibet tours first to get an invitation letter from Tibet Tourism Bureau. With the invitation letter, your passport and a passport-sized photo, you can then get your China Group Visa in 3 working days. At present, the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu only issues one group visa per 4 participants. If there are less than 4 people from you, the group visa will not be issued.

Tibet Travel Permit

Every US citizen who is going to travel to Tibet should have a Tibet Travel Permit, which will be checked before you board the flight/train to Tibet, check into the hotel, enter the tourist spot, etc. You should find a reliable travel agency in Tibet to help you apply for the Tibet Travel Permit before you start your Tibet journey.

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