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How to Travel from Nepal to Tibet?

A trip from Nepal to Tibet offers you an opportunity to enjoy the profound Buddhist culture, and breathtaking Himalayan landscapes, and explore the hidden connections between the two tourist destinations. There are currently two options for traveling to Tibet from Nepal. You can either take a car crossing Gyirong Port or take a plane to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. Whichever way you choose, all foreign travelers must first obtain the Tibet Travel Permit through a Tibet travel agency before you enter Tibet. Here are details about how to go to Tibet from Nepal and how to get a permit.

Fascinating scenery on the friendship highway
Fascinating scenery on the Friendship Highway

Why Travel from Nepal to Tibet?

The connections between Tibet and Nepal go back to ancient times. Nepal is the only way from ancient India to Tibet. As early as the Tang Dynasty, the Nepalese princess came to Tibet and married Tibet King Songtsen Gampo. Since then, close trade relations have been maintained between the two adjacent kingdoms, and the religious relations between the two places are also very close. So far, many famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have been preserved in Nepal, so Nepal has become the kingdom behind Tibet.

If you travel from Nepal to Tibet, you are just following the footsteps of the ancient Buddhist pilgrims who made a promise in their lifetime to visit the holy shrines and temples of these two ancient kingdoms.

How to Travel from Nepal to Tibet?

You can either board a flight to Lhasa, Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal or take an overland tour to Tibet. The straight-line distance between Kathmandu and Lhasa is 609 kilometers, while the land distance is about 1,300 kilometers.

Take a plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa

The fastest way and most convenient to reach Lhasa from Kathmandu is by plane. Nepal is the only country that has offered direct international flights to Tibet in the past but it has not yet resumed. Nepal’s main airport is the Tribhuvan International Airport which is around 6 kilometers from Kathmandu's downtown.

Now the direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is remusing, only three direct flights per week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On other days, only connecting flights between Lhasa and Kathmandu are available, operated independently by Sichuan Airlines and Air China. It usually takes about 18 hours to get to Lhasa from Kathmandu by air and costs about $520 for a one-way ticket.

Equipped with your passport and China group visa, you can easily board a flight to Lhasa. Upon arrival at Lhasa, your Tibetan tour guide will greet you with your Tibet Travel Permit at the customs.

Travel Tips: The direct flight from Nepal to Tibet will bring you a stunning aerial view of the mountain tops - Mount Everest (8844.43 meters) and the incredible Himalayas. Since there will be a huge ascent from Kathmandu Valley (1,400 meters) to Lhasa (3,658 meters), it is best to take a good rest in the first few days in Lhasa to accommodate the altitude change. >> See more about the flight schedules from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

Kathmandu to Lhasa flight
See majestic Mt.Everest on the plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Take a Car From Nepal to Tibet

If you opt for the overland journey, you should be ready for a great ride across a 1,300-km road trip that usually takes 3 to 5 days to complete. Along the Sino-Nepal Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway, you will cross the majestic Himalayas to Gyirong Port, witness the north face of lofty Mt.Everest at Everest Base Camp, appreciate stunning holy lake Yamdrokts, and finally arrive in Lhasa to worship the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.

The overland route: Kathmandu → Gyirong → Tingri → EBC → Shigatse → Lhasa

√ 8 Days Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour

Overland route map from Kathmandu to Lhasa
Overland route map from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

And of course, if you want to have an in-depth Tibet tour and cover Mt.Kailash in your journey, you can turn to the west after crossing the Gyirong Port then go trekking at the holiest mountain Kailash and appreciate the stunning lake Manasarovar. After your visit, get back to the Sino-Nepal Highway and travel to Lhasa. The whole tour takes about 12 days.

The overland route: Kathmandu → Gyirong → Zhongba → Darchen → Saga → EBC → Shigatse → Lhasa

Take a Train from Nepal to Tibet

So far, there is no railway linking Lhasa and Kathmandu. But the railway between Lhasa and Kathmandu is being designed by the governments of China and Nepal. It is said that the famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway will extend from Lhasa to Kathmandu. The first extension project of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Shigatse has been completed. In the near future, you might be able to take the train from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

The Necessary Permits for Entering Tibet

As a foreign traveler, you can only enter Tibet from Nepal through an organized group tour. To join an organized tour, you need to secure the necessary documents and permits like the Tibet Travel Permit and the China Group Visa.

Tibet Travel Permit

The Tibet Travel Permit is a "must-have" permit for all foreign tourists who want to enter Tibet via Nepal. It is also referred to as Tibet Entry Permit or Tibet Visa. You cannot board a flight to Tibet or pass through the borders between Nepal and Tibet if you do not have this permit. It can only be applied through a registered Tibet Travel Agency on behalf of the individual traveler. Please confirm your tour and send a scanned copy of your valid passport to your travel agency at least 10 days before your departure date.

However, if you are a journalist, diplomat, or government official, your application for Tibet Travel Permit will be handled by the Tibet Foreign Affairs Office. In other words, all the Tibet Travel agencies can't handle the permit for you.

On the other hand, if you are an Indian passport holder who wants to visit Mt. Kailash, you can secure your Tibet Travel Permit with the help of the Pilgrim Center or Foreign Affairs Office.

At present, any citizen of the 178 countries that have diplomatic ties with China can apply for Tibet Travel Permit.

Tibet Travel Permit is a necessary document to enter Tibet.
Tibet Travel Permit is a necessary document to enter Tibet.

China Group Visa

Another necessary document is the China Group Visa. From Nepal to Tibet, you don't need a China Visa but a China Group Visa. Upon arrival at Kathmandu, you can apply for a China Group Visa at the People's Republic of China's Consulate by taking your invitation letter, passport, 2 passport-sized photos with a white background and the visa cost. Or you can entrust your travel agency to process it for you by spending USD20 as the service fee. The processing of this visa usually takes around 3 working days. Hence, you should leave at least 3 days in Kathmandu before your scheduled tour of Tibet. Please note, from May 2023, China Group Visa only issued per 4 participants. 

How to Secure a China Group Visa?

There are three requirements to qualify for a group visa.

  • You need an official China group visa invitation letter coming from the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
  • There should be a minimum of four persons in your group.
  • All your group members should enter and leave Tibet at the same time through the same entry point and exit point.
China Group Visa
China Group Visa

Nota Bene: We suggest you leave more than 3 working days in Kathmandu as the Chinese Embassy only accepts visa applications between 10 am to 12 pm on workdays. If you want to get your China Group Visa in 3 days, you need to submit it between 10 am and 12 pm in the morning of Mon till Wed, you can get your China Group Visa at 5 pm on Wed till Fri. Please contact our travel consultants for professional advice.


Traveling from Nepal to Tibet is always an exciting tour whether you travel by air or by land. The Nepal-Tibet flight is the fastest and most convenient way to reach Tibet from another country. You will get a bird’s eye view of Mt.Everest and the Himalayas during this flight. The overland route, on the other hand, between Nepal and Tibet is full of spectacular sceneries and surprising sites along the way. Both options are great!

As a reputable local Tibet Travel Agency, from our decades of experience and communication with thousands of clients, we recommend our customers fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa for a safer and better experience. Join us and start your memorable adventure in Nepal and Tibet now!

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Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Susa***

I would like to visit Tibet from Nepal in July or August 2024. I will be by myself. What Document do I need and how do I go about it. I think I might fly one way and take a car on the way back to Katmandu. Thank you Susan

Answered by Merry

Dear Susan, 

According to your inquiry, I recommend 7 days Lhasa Mt. Everest Kathmandu Overland group tour for you. You can take a connecting flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Chengdu. After the tour, we can arrange a jeep to send you back to Kathmandu.


Asked by Ali ***

Can you quote me for a max 7 night trip from Katmandu to Tibet. I can leave on Nov 4 and have to be back on Katmandu airport around noon on Nov 11.

Answered by Jennie

Dear Ali****,

We can arrange a tour for you from Kathmandu to Lhasa then return to Kathmandu in November. 

There's no direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa now. I suggest you take a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Chengdu. Then you can have a 7-day Lhasa Mt. Everest Kathmandu Overland Tour to Kathmandu. You can arrive at Kathmandu airport at night on the last day.

For solo travelers, I suggest you consider our group tour. Currently, we have a group departure from Lhasa on 3 November. Would you consider adjusting your departure date to 2 November from Kathmandu? If you can't adjust the date, we can also arrange a private tour for you. Please let me know your idea.


Asked by Juli***

Hello, now I’m in Nepal until October 22. I would like to ask you a quote for the trip in Tibet, for me/us (probably we are 2 or only me) in the end of September it would be great. How I came back in Nepal after the road trip? Can I come back with bus/car as well (same way) ?Normally people felt bad on high ? Thank you for your help.

Answered by Merry

Dear Juli****, 

Thank you for sending us an inquiry!

As per your request, I recommend 7 days Lhasa Mt. Everest Kathmandu Overland group tour for you. We can open one for you on 29 September if you are booking now. After your Tibet tour, we can arrange a private jeep to take you to Kathmandu from Gyirong Port, which costs USD220.

Now there is no direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa but connecting flights via Chengdu are available. I suggest you fly to Chengdu then to Lhasa. As the tour date is very close, I'm wondering if you have got your China visa yet.

Asked by Luan***

Hi, My husband and I are planning a trip to Nepal and Tibet. Since I have been to China in the past and would prefer not to come back, the idea is to get the Tibet permit while in Kathmandu. But a friend says that the Chinese Embassy in Nepal is 'refusing' more than 90% of the applicants. Is that true? Please let us know. We are keen to organize the whole trip through a travel agency - you, but, although there is always a chance of not getting a visa/permit, don't want to invest the money in air tickets, hotel, vacation days if the chances of not getting it are high. I look forward to hearing from you asap.

Answered by Merry

Dear Luana, 

As per your request, we can arrange Nepal & Tibet tour for you on 11 October if you apply for China visa instead of China group visa in Kathmandu and if you go to Lhasa from Kathmandu by plane not by road.

If you prefer to travel to Lhasa from Kathmandu overland, you are required to apply for China group visa. However, China group visa application requires 5 applicants to present together for an interview and have their fingerprints collected. In addition, 5 applicants should leave China from the same depart port at the same time. That's why your friend says that the Chinese Embassy in Nepal is 'refusing' more than 90% of the applicants. I suggest you apply for China visa and fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu then go back to Kathmandu overland.

Asked by Jami***

Hi I am a Canadian citizen and am cycling around the world. I would like to visit Tibet in April 2023. Can I fly to Lhasa with my bicycle and then cycle to Kathmandu? Is there a requirement to be in China for 90 days before travelling to Tibet?

Answered by Beatrice

Dear Jamie, Thank you for sending us an inquiry! This is Beatrice from Great Tibet Tour at your service. According to the policy 2019, you can take your own bike to cycle from Lhasa to Kathmandu. But still, a tour guide and a vehicle should be equipped. And the info should be added to your Tibet travel permit. Right now, Tibet is still closing and it's very uncertain about your trip next April. There's a quarantine period lasting 7 days to enter China. China's government do not issue tourist visa at the moment and the Tibet tourism bureau requires 90 days' stay in China for issuing permits. So I'm afraid it's difficult to get there. You may contact us later, in February of 2023. If Tibet opens in April, we should be notified then.

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