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Travel to Tibet from United Kingdom

  • by Eric
  • Last Updated: 2022-01-19

We are often asked by clients from the United Kingdom a question, “How to travel to Tibet from my hometown ?” As a professional Tibet-based tour operator, we are fully competent to help you get to Tibet. Meanwhile, we could provide you with detailed information about the way to Tibet from London as well as the necessary documents you need, which could make it easier to enter this autonomous region with no worries.

How to Travel from U.K. to Tibet?

In general, there are two options for tourists from the U.K. to Tibet, flying to Kathmandu(the capital city of Nepal) or mainland China first. Currently, the only international flights to Tibet are from Kathmandu, or else, you can fly to a major city of China first, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, etc. then take domestic flights to Tibet. There's one point you may need to know beforehand, flying to Kathmandu then to Lhasa(the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region) may take extra 3 working days for applying for your China Group Visa. So if you don't have any plan to stay in Kathmandu, Nepal, you may consider flying to mainland China first. We will talk about the China Group Visa later in this article.

Arrive in Tibet through Nepal from U.K.

There is a great choice for British tourists to get to Tibet which is the flight from London to Kathmandu. This route deserves your consideration because it is really fast and convenient, only taking as little as 12 hours to reach Kathmandu, which takes around  £370. And then you could select 2 ways to arrive in Tibet, by flight or road.

From Kathmandu to Lhasa by Flight

After you land on the first exotic area, two direct flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa are available for your choices, operated by Air China and Sichuan Airline respectively. Only 1hour and 25 minutes are taken for this Kathmandu Lhasa flight trip. Besides, the best part of it is, you could take a look at the magnificent Mt. Everest, appreciating the charm of the world’s highest peak. However, the flight is a little bit expensive which is around £530. If you desire fast arrival in Lhasa, it will be beneficial for you to take this flight tour. Moreover, please choose the right seats by the window, as you will view the magnificent Mt. Everest on the plane!

Overlook Mt. Everest from a plane

From Kathmandu to Lhasa by Land

Besides the flight trip, you could enjoy the great overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa as well. This overland tour is highly recommended by tourists for a fascinating experience along the friendship highway, and viewing both sides of the Himalayas. At the Nepal side, you will feel the warm moist air as well as lush plants; while at the Tibet side, You will feel the opposite and view the landscape of Mt. Everest, Karola Glacier, and Yamdrok Tso Lake, as well as Tibetan monasteries such as Tashilumpo Monastery, Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street along the way.

Friendship highway
The landscape of the Friendship Highway

Arrive in Tibet through China from U.K.

Alternatively, you also can come to Tibet through China by flight or by railroad. Firstly, you need to take a flight from U.K. to the gateway cities of China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and so on. This is a good way for tourists who desire to travel to some of the Chinese major cities at first. You could visit these cities for various attractions before you fly to Lhasa, or take a Tibet train journey. Whatever you plan to do, we can provide a one-stop service by arranging all your tours in China.

From U.K. to China by Flights

Some flights from London to Chinese gateway cities are listed below. Prices here are only for your references and could vary a lot due to the different days and airlines you select.

Flights Duration Costs
London to Beijing Around 10h Around £1000
London to Shanghai At least 11h 15m Around £1220
London to Guangzhou At least 11h 10m Around £802
London to HongKong At least 11h 35m Around £800
London to Chengdu At least 10h 40m Around £800

From Chinese Cities to Tibet by Flights

There are some flights that start from Chinese major cities to Lhasa including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hongkong, and Chengdu. Please note that duration and prices are listed here for your reference only.

Flights Duration Costs
Beijing to Lhasa At least 4h 25m Around £420
Shanghai to Lhasa At least 7h Around £500
Guangzhou to Lhasa At least 6h Around £400
HK to Lhasa At least 7h 50m Around £445
Chengdu to Lhasa Around 2h 20m Around £250

From Chinese Cities to Tibet by Trains

A railway is also an option for visitors, and actually, it could be more fun to take a train tour than to take flights. About your Tibet Train Tour, there are three classes of tickets for your choice, namely, soft sleeper, hard sleeper, hard seat. From the top to the end, the cost of the train tickets decreases a lot. And, of course, the standard is quite different, you may check inside Tibet Train to know more details. However, if you purchase a soft-sleeper ticket, you could stay more comfortable in a cozy cabin instead of sitting in a hard-seat carriage with a bunch of passengers around you.

Qinghai Tibet Railway
Qinghai Tibet Railway

So if you are not on a tight budget, or you are taking the elderly or children with you, the soft-sleeper ticket is your first choice. Here is a chart for you containing the duration and approximate costs of the Tibet train tour from some Chinese major cities. You can check it out and find one that fits your plan most.

Number of Train Trains Duration Costs(soft-sleeper ticket)
Z21 Beijing to Lhasa Around 40h 40m Around £135
Z164 Shanghai to Lhasa Around 47h 20m Around £150
Z264 Guangzhou to Lhasa Around 52h 34m Around £175
*K2616+Z223 Chengdu to Lhasa Around 37h 30m Around £135

(*Please note that there are many combinations of trains that go to Lhasa from Chengdu, not only one listed in the chart. See more schedule of Tibet trains.)

Tibet Travel Permits Required for British Tourists

As we all know, Tibet is an autonomous region with special regulations for tourists who intend to enter it. Here are some necessary documents you need to know beforehand.

Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit is required for every foreign passport holder. Generally, this permit is applied by the local travel agencies in Tibet. As the top Tibet-based tour operator, Great Tibet Tour team has arranged thousands of applications for this kind of permit. We are experienced and qualified enough to help you get it, as well as make you have a great trip. For applying for Tibet Travel Permit, we need the scan of your valid Chinese Visa page and passport page after booking with us. Please send us these documents at least 20 days in advance before you start the journey.

Group Tourist Visa

China Group Tourist Visa is required for tourists who have plans to enter Tibet from Nepal. As the local tour agency, we can also help you get this document by sending invitation letters from Tibet. With the invitation letter, your passport and 2 photos(same size as the photo in your passport but with white background), you can apply it from the China Embassy from Kathmandu. It often takes 3 working days for applications. After you arrive in Kathmandu, our staff would assist you to accomplish this application as soon as possible before you start a magical journey on this ancient land.

Final Words

As above, we have introduced the specific flights and trains from Britain to Nepal or China, and some permits you require. Now it is your time to make a plan related to the itinerary, budget, and transportation. We are sincerely looking forward to your arrival, and joining in our great Tibet Tour!

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Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Ri S***

Hi there, wondering if tibet is open for tours from Nepal for people travelling from UK / are your tours operating? Or a way to get bus and train from Nepal to Hanoi in Vietnam? We are looking from 12th April this year, 2022. Many thanks, Ri (UK passport)

Answered by Beatrice 2022-03-25

Dear Ri Sham,

Currently Tibet has not yet been opened to international tourists. so I'm afraid your Tibet trip starting from April 19 is not applicable at this moment. By the way, you can take a car from Kathmandu to Lhasa, but there's no train connecting the two places. If you want to go to Hanoi in Vietnam, you may need to get to Lhasa from Kathmandu first, then take connecting flights to Hanoi via Chengdu or Xián in mainland China.  Hope the above info helps. Also, Tibet might get open in the second half of the year. If you can travel here later, please feel free to contact us.