Travel & Leisure

How to Travel from Nepal to Tibet?

@catherine 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. 

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 travel agency before they enter Tibet. This article will tell you in detail how to go to Tibet from Nepal and show you the Nepal Tibet map.

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 1300 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 offers direct international flights to Tibet. Nepal’s main airport is the Tribhuvan International Airport which is around 6 kilometers from Kathmandu’s downtown.

Usually, there are two direct flights between Lhasa and Kathmandu, operated independently by Sichuan Airlines and Air China. It usually takes about 1.5 hours to get to Tibet from Kathmandu by air and cost about $460 for a one-way ticket.

The flight from Nepal to Tibet will bring you a stunning aerial view of the mountain tops - Mount Everest (8844.43 meters) and the Himilayan mountains. 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.

Take a Car From Nepal to Tibet

If you opt for the overland journey, you should be ready for a great ride across a 1,300km 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.

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 is in operation now. In the near future, you can take the train from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

Tibet Travel Permit/Nepal Tourist Visa

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.

Visa for Nepal is one of the entry documents into Nepal. Anyone heading for a third country via Nepal, no matter how long he stays or whether he leaves the airport or not, must apply for a visa. Although Indian citizens are not required a visa into Nepal, they have to bring along a photo ID and/or a voter ID card issued by the authority to gain entry.

China Group Visa

Another necessary document is China Group Visa. From Kathmandu to Tibet, you don't need 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 China Group 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.

How to Qualify 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 three persons in your group.

·       Your group should enter and leave Tibet at the same time through the same entry point and exit point.

Final Words

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!


Catherine zhang


A trip advisor based in Lhasa, Tibet.

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