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Travel to Tibet from Japan

  • by Cherry
  • Last Updated: 2020-06-24

Many Japanese tourists travel to Tibet to explore the stunning plateau landscape and unique culture of Tibetan Buddhism and architecture. Fortunately, Japan is very close to China, so it's easy to get to Tibet from Japan via mainland China. Alternatively, you also can get to Tibet via Kathmandu, Nepal.

Air routes from Tokyo to Lhasa.

Travel to Tibet via mainland China

First, we'll talk about reaching China. You can take the flight to China from  Narita International Airport, Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Osaka International Airport, and Central Japan International Airport in Nagoya.   

Three major cities in Japan now have direct flights to China.  Please check the flight duration below,

to Beijing  to Shanghai to Guangzhou  to Chengdu to Hongkong
Tokyo  3h 50min 2h 50min  4h 40min  5h 30min  4h 35min
Osaka  3h 20min 2h 20min  3h 45min  4h 15 min  3h 40min
Nagoya  3h 20min  2h 15min  4h 10min up to 9h 5min(1 stop)  4h 10min

If your schedule is tight, you can choose to fly from Japan to Shanghai first. If you prefer budget flight tickets, indirect flights are the best choice. You can find multiple online flight ticket booking sites to compare plane cost, which varies according to peak-season or off-season. Generally, China Eastern Airlines offers the least expensive flight tickets with one to two stops. The stops are either in Shanghai, Beijing, or any other major city.

What permits do you need?

China and Japan are friendly neighboring countries, and Japanese tourists can enjoy visa-free access within 15 days. But for visiting Tibet, you will be required the Tibet Travel Permit, which needs to apply for your China Visa first.

China Visa

You can apply for a China visa at the Chinese Embassy in Japan. It is important to note that you should not mention Tibet during the visa application process. If the Chinese embassy requests more details of your tour, your Tibet travel agency will provide supporting documents for you.

Tibet Travel Permit

All foreign travelers need to obtain Tibet Travel Permit before getting to Tibet.  After you book your Tibet tours, you need to send copies of your China visa and passport to your travel agency. Usually, they can get your permit within 20 days.

Tibet Flights to Lhasa  

Some airlines offer trips to Lhasa, namely, Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China, Tibet Airlines, and China Southern Airlines. We list three major gateway cities here,


During the peak season of tourism, there are more than ten flights every day to Lhasa. During the off-season, the frequency drops to under five flights a day between morning and afternoon. A one-way ticket to Lhasa costs around 260 USD with 30 USD included for the Airport Tax.


Air China and China Southern Airlines, both offer a one-morning 5-hour flight from Beijing. It comes with a stop in Chengdu, which reaches Lhasa in the afternoon. During peak seasons, tickets can go as high as a 395USD.  


Flying through China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai at an all-year consistent rate of about 445USD (total), 6-hour flight. For the best price, call them directly.

The Gonggar Airport

Tibet Train to Lhasa

Taking a Train is the best way to travel to Tibet. As you will stay at least 20hrs on the train, you can adapt the altitude gradually, therefore minimize the occurrence of acute altitude sickness. Qinghai-Tibet railway is also the highest railway in the world. The entire journey is a breath-taking experience.

Train from Beijing

Traveling from Beijing will turn to be one of the highlights of your trip.  Being 3,757km long, it vastly covers eight provinces in the Northern China Plain. This train journey takes about 41 hours.

Train from Shanghai

The only train to Lhasa, Z164, leaves from Shanghai at 08:10 pm. It reaches Lhasa at 07:50 pm on the 3rd day.

Train from Chengdu

Traveling to Lhasa from Chengdu, via Z322, it takes you the least amount of time besides Lanzhou and Xining. The Chengdu-Tibet leaves at 02:48 pm on Day 1 and reaches by 09:55 on day 3. The train from Chengdu to Lhasa runs every other day. So, you need to check with your trip consultant to see if there is a train from Chengdu to Lhasa on your departure date.

Train from Xining

Sitting at 7500 ft., Xining, capital of Qinghai, is about 1230 miles far from Lhasa. It is one of the shortest train rides to Lhasa. If you're not going to spend too much time,  flying to Xining and take the Xining-Lhasa train is the best option for you. You can experience the Qinghai-Tibet railway and acclimatize your body at the same time. There are five trains from Xining to Lhasa every day. Z165 is the best train to explore the scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as travelers can view the most beautiful highlights in the day time.

Tibet train

Travel to Tibet via Kathmandu

If you are interested in visiting the other side of the Himalayas and exploring the exotic culture,  getting to Tibet via Kathmandu is a good choice. As you can omit the China Visa application process, instead, you need to apply to China Group Visa with the help of your Tibet Travel Agency.

Flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa, which is considered as one of the most beautiful air routes in the world. During the flight, you will see Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga, and other peaks of the Himalayas. And the flight duration is not so long, about 1.5 hours. You will feel convenient and comfortable to travel in this way. There are 2 or 3 direct flights from KTM Airport to Lhasa every week in the low season. In peak season(from April to October), there's a direct flight every day.

Overland trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa

There is a highway connecting Nepal and Lhasa - China-Nepal Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway. Driving along the friendship highway is a unique experience.  Along the way, you will see the winding Yarlung Zangbo River, holy lake Yamdroktso, majestic peaks of the Himalayas at an altitude of 8,000 meters, as well as forests, canyons and streams, etc. The natural landscape on this road will make you fascinated.

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