To support local Tibetan-owned businesses at a time when they are struggling to survive, ask us for an introduction to a reliable Tibetan travel agency here.
Current Situation of Travel in Tibet
February 15, 2024 4:18 PM PST
Normally, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) closes sometime in February and for the whole of March, but just before the pandemic, this appeared to be shifting.
(You can learn more about that and see a list by year of all TAR closures since 2011 here.)
This year, so far, foreign nationals have gotten permits through mid-February, and no official mention of a closure yet, so it’s possible it may actually be open for travel in March.
(These are just for your information and context. For current info, see above.)
January 12, 2024
Updates on China’s New Visa Policies
For US travelers:
Starting January 1, 2024, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the US will simplify the application process required for tourist visa (L-visa).
Applicants will no longer be required to submit round-trip air ticket booking record, proof of hotel reservation, itinerary or invitation letter.
Visa-Free Program for Various Countries
China is piloting a visa-free program with 6 countries in which travelers will receive a 15 days visa on arrival, with no visa application required previous to travel.
The countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Malaysia. The program began Dec. 11, 2023 and is schedule to run through December 31, 2024.
In addition, there is now a permanent visa-free policy for Thai travelers, starting March 2024.
Singapore is also looking into a 30-day visa-free program.
Note the Usual Shutdown for March, and Parts of February
Tibet is normally closed to international travelers from some point in February through the whole of March due to political reasons. This year, Tibetan New Year begins on February 10.
Typically such an early New Year means that permits would end before Tibetan New Year begins. This year, however, it is not yet clear when permits will stop. In any case, travel almost always resumes by the first week of April. To get the very most recent information, ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent for the latest updates. >>
Group Visa Policy for Entering Tibet from Nepal Changes Again
Our travel partners in Tibet tell us that recent rule changes mean that you now need at least 5 people in a group to apply for the group visa from Nepal to Tibet, and all 5 people have to go together to the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu to apply. (Until very recently the number was 4.)
November 16, 2024
More flights between US and China
The US Civil Aviation Administration announced recently that the number of scheduled direct passenger flights between China and the United States will increase from the current 48 to 70. Note that there are no direct flights to Tibet from anywhere except Nepal.
Good News! The Dram/Zhangmu Border Re-opened for Tibet Tourists
Tourists can now again enter Tibet from Nepal via the Dram/Zhangmu border. The border was opened for tourist in Sept and now tourists can enter Tibet through Dram instead of Kyirong. Dram is better because the distance from Kathmandu to Dram is much shorter than to Kyirong and also the road is in better condition.
At the moment both the Dram/Zhangmu and Kyirong borders are open, but it seems most tourists coming from the Tibet side prefer to go through the Dram/Zhangmu border as it is a shorter distance from the border to Kathmandu than Kyirong is.
However, bigger groups mostly choose Kyirong because with the current situation, all the tourist bus or cars only can drive as far as Nyalam county, which is about 38 km from Dram/Zhangmu. Then, from Nyalam all travelers have to take a designated van to the border. At the moment there are only 6 vans available, so a maximum of around 40 people can travel at one time. Everyone else has to wait for the vans to get back from the 2 hour round trip.
By the way, Dram is the Tibetan name of the border town on the Tibet side. In Chinese it is Zhangmu and in Nepali it’s called Khasa. The closest village on the Nepal side is called Kodari.
Group Visa rules have changed for travel from Nepal to Tibet
“Group” used to mean mean just a tour organized by a travel agency. You could do it as an individual or small group of family or friends. From 2023, however, there is a new rule that you need at least 4 people in a group to apply for the group visa from Nepal to Tibet, and that all 4 people must go together to the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu for the application. See more info on our “Tibet visa” page.
No direct flights from Kathmandu
There have been no direct flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa since early in the pandemic.
Apparently, the Nepali government requested in April 2023 that the flight route resume, but so far this has not happened.
At the moment, you still have to connect in a city like Guangzhou, Chengdu or Chongqing, with a long layer, with minimum total flight times over eleven hours.
To be clear, you can buy a ticket from Kathmandu to Lhasa, but you still have to fly via a Chinese city like Chengdu.
We’ll keep you apprised as we learn more.
April 6, 2024
Great news! Tibet travel is now open to everyone!
After 3 years of closures, Tibet travel permits are now being processed for all international travelers, no matter if you are traveling from outside China, or if you currently live and work in China.
To travel to Tibet you must have both a Chinese visa and a special Tibet travel permit, which you must get from an official Tibet travel agency. Ask us for an introduction to a reliable Tibetan travel agency here, at no cost to you.
January 5, 2023
China is re-opening to tourist travel from January 8, 2023, but for the time being, Tibet travel permits are not being issued. (That applies to foreign nationals currently living in China and to those of us outside as well.) All foreign travelers require a Tibet travel permit, in addition to your Chinese visa, to enter Tibet. No one knows when permits will resume.
What you can do that is useful right now is to get in touch with our preferred agents, so that they can have you on a list for when the opening does happen. You can request a referral, at no cost to you, here.
December 18, 2022
High infection rates in China generally, and in Tibet, make it virtually impossible for any foreign nationals to get any kind of travel permit to travel to Tibet, whether you are inside or outside of China.
This is, honestly, just the latest in a series of events and government policies that have made Tibet travel largely a no-go since the early days of the pandemic. There have been very brief periods when permits were in theory allowed, but in practice, we only have been able to help one single traveler get to Tibet since 2020, and that was because he, by chance, hit the exact right time of a very brief opening. We don’t recommend seeking Tibet travel at this time.
What is useful, however, is getting in touch with our preferred agents, so that they can have you on a list for when the opening does happen. You can request a referral, at no cost to you, here.
August 10, 2022 5:24p PST
As of August 8, 2022, various cities in the Tibet Autonomous Region, including Lhasa and Shigatse, and towns near Mt. Kailash, are reporting COVID cases, which has resulted in restrictions and mass testing. It is therefore likely impossible to get any kind of travel permit for Tibet for the foreseeable future. See this article. We will keep you updated.
July 6, 4:34p PST
Tibet Permits for Expats Living in China
- As long as you are traveling from a low-risk area (in terms of C19 infections), permits for expats currently living in China are now likely to go through. This is a new thing. Permits for expats have been open IN THEORY since late summer 2021. Until very recently, however, we knew of only one expat who was able to actually travel, and that was in August 2021. Since then, various restrictions have cause all possible trips to be cancelled, even after permit requests were allowed to be submitted.
- The situation remains very unclear and fluid and the government is closing or canceling permits to Tibet when infections rise in the travelers’ area. Tibet itself has been and remains a low-risk area.
- With the agents we refer to, if a trip is cancelled due to permits not being open or being cancelled, you receive a refund of your deposit except for a $50 service fee.
Foreign Travelers not Currently Living in China
The policies here are shifting and never 100% clear but what is clear is that you are very, very unlikely to be able to enter China as a tourist, and even if you could do that, it’s even less likely that you could get into Tibet.
Even if you could, you probably wouldn’t want to, for a lot of reasons, including:
- A number of countries are advising against travel to China due to the increased risk of arbitrary detention, flight suspensions, closures of public transport, lack of access to medical facilities, and more. See US Dept of State guidelines here and Australian guidelines.
- Those who enter China from abroad are subject to a 14-day quarantine and the Tibet permit situation for these is not known.
The latest word on travel for foreigners not living in China is that as of China has extended it’s border restrictions through mid-2022.
We will announce any re-opening news here.
One good way to stay up to date is to ask us for an introduction to a reliable Tibetan travel agency here. The agents we work with always have the most recent information and can keep you on a waitlist to be notified with the situation calms down enough to make bookings advisably.
For foreigners not already in China, it is our guess that when China in general opens to foreign travelers that Tibet will also open to foreign tourists at that time. For now, no one knows, and there are no new rumors.
First Bullet Train in Tibet Autonomous Region Begins Service
The first bullet train in Tibet went into service has gone into service from Lhasa to Nyingchi. We’re interested to visit Nyingchi ourselves, especially in winter, because it is lower in elevation (3,040 meters /9,974 feet) than the rest of the Tibetan Plateau, and so greener and with milder weather.
BUT, a huge drawback is that it is popular with Chinese travelers, and will no doubt be even more so with this train. Note that the famous views of the Brahmaputra Grand Canyon are not available to foreign travelers. Non-Chinese are not permitted in that area because of it’s proximity to India.
According to our guide friends in Tibet, the Nyingchi area is not particularly popular with Western travelers, who find it too touristy.
When and if we do check it out, we plan to see
- Basum Tso/Draksum-Tso
- Namchak Bawa
- Lulang: beautiful Valley with nice towns and flowers
- The Yiyang River
- The Giant Cypress Nature Reserve
- Ranwu Lake
Travel in Kham and Amdo no longer mostly open
Since around the beginning of August, 2020 foreigners now living in China have been generally able to travel to the non-TAR areas of the Kham and Amdo region.
The situation has been a bit shifting, depending on the the state of the pandemic.
To do so, you need a clean COVID health certification. If you are currently living in China, and interested in getting in touch with a reliable, Tibetan-owned agent who can tell you more and help you organize a tour, fill out the short form here.
Though you can travel independently in these areas, we strongly recommend hiring a driver and guide, as tourist infrastructure is not developed and there are changing rules about permits for a few specific areas. For some ideas on tours scroll down to the Kham/Amdo section on this page.
More about travel in the TAR
Tibetan tourism attractions are open to local and domestic travel, meaning Tibetans or Chinese, which we assume will lead eventually to openings for foreign travelers. But no word yet on that.
At the moment, Chinese people can enter Tibet only if they have either a green QR code or a negative result on a nucleic acid test.
Despite the current closures, travelers can pre-book Tibet tours with authorized agencies. Those who book Tibet tours with agencies that we recommend can either re-book or cancel (usually with no fee for either, though you need to confirm that this is still correct) if Tibet is still closed on your travel date. (Get an intro to an agency.)
- The Potala Palace opened June 2, 2020 to Chinese tourists for the first time since the crisis started. There are a Chinese tourists in and around Lhasa.
- The Barkhor square and path around the Jokhang Temple re-opened at the end of April.
Shigatse Area: Everest, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse…
- Shigatse Prefecture re-opened to local and domestic tourism only from around April 29, 2020 including all tourism attractions, such as:
- Everest Base Camp
- Yamdrok Lake
- Tashi Lumpo Monastery
- Shalu Monastery
- Karola Glacier
- Gyantse Fort
- Sakya Monastery
- All the tourist sites are limited to 70% of their pre-virus capacity.
- Both Nepal and China have closed Mount Everest to climbing expeditions for the 2020 climbing season.
Lhasa-Kathamandu Overland Route
- The Kyirong border is closed, as are all flights between Nepal and Tibet. (Some Tibetans are stuck in Nepal due to this.)
Impact of the Virus on Tibetans
- Generally speaking, there have been relatively few cases of infection among Tibetans inside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Thankfully, there are no reported deaths.
- However, local Tibetan-owned travel businesses depend heavily on foreign travelers, much more so than their Chinese counterparts.
- Tibetan travel agencies and all the people they support are struggling to make ends meet with enhanced offers for travelers:
- Early-bird bookings with discounts
- Greater than normal flexibility on the future date of travel
- Chances to get discounts for both group tours and private tours.
- If you wish to be connected with a recommended agency which is planning such discounts, fill out the short form here. It would be an honor to help you and to help the businesses at the same time!
By the Numbers: Infections in Tibetan Regions
It is not easy to get confirmed counts for Tibetan areas, but to our best knowledge, here it is:
- Tibet Autonomous Region: 1 case, recovered. (A Chinese man)
- Ngawa: 1 case, recovered. (A Chinese man)
- Dawu in Garze, Kham: 78 cases, all Tibetans. All recovered and back home except for 2 still in hospital
- There may be other cases in the Tibetan areas of Tsojang, Kanlho, and among the Tibetan community in Siling/Xining.
- To date, there have been no deaths due to the virus anywhere in the Tibetan Plateau.
- It remains to be seen how soon the virus will be contained, and when Tibet travel will return to “normal.”
- We will keep this page updated and let you know as soon as we do.
- To stay up to date
- Ask us for an introduction to a reliable agency that will help you plan your trip and to enter when Tibet opens
- Sign up for our free Tibet Travel Planning Guide and get on our weekly newsletter, for the very latest news.
Thursday, January 30, 2020 (10:21 am PST)
The Spread in Tibet
The Tibet Autonomous Region has it’s first case of an infected patient, and there is an indefinite closure of all tourist attractions, plus mandatory quarantine of 14 days for anyone entering Tibet. (See report on CNN)
In addition to the confirmed case of the virus in the Tibet Autonomous Region, there are apparently 140 confirmed cased in areas historically populated by Tibetans, though it’s not clear if the sick people are actually Tibetans. (See Radio Free Asia report.)
Impact on Tibet Travel
The impact is far less, at the moment, than it would normally be. This is because the outbreak of the virus in late January happens to coincide with not only the low winter season, but also the leadup into the Tibetan New Year (coming up on February 24 this year), and the annual February/March closures. (See more about when Tibet is normally closed.)
It remains to be seen how soon the virus will be contained, and when Tibet travel will return to “normal.”
Sunday, July 21, 2019 (10:45a PST)
The Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar Buddhist camps in Eastern Tibet
Larung Gar, which has been closed, essentially since July 2016, remains closed, with no sign of reopening any time soon.
Though demolitions have been going on at Yarchen Gar since August 2017 (and at various times in the years before), the encampment has been open at times to foreign travelers since then. However, as of now, Yarchen is closed to all travelers (including Chinese travelers, who are often, even usually, permitted to enter Tibetan regions even when foreigners are not allowed). There is a good thread on TripAdvisor with, so far, recent news.
These camps are in the Kham region of Tibet, outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Travel in Tibet is open as usual this summer. To get your Tibet permits you will need go on an organized tour with a Tibet travel agency. For a free referral to a reliable agency fill out this form.
Sunday, April 21, 2019 (9:11a PST)
To give a recap and followup on the unusual timeline of the February/March closures this year:
For the last decade or so, the TAR has been closed to non-Chinese travelers from roughly mid-February through the whole of March. However, 2019 was a little different. The closure began earlier in February due to Tibetan New Year starting on Feb. 5 this year, and then surprisingly, on February 26 certain Tibet travel companies were told they would be allowed to process permits in March this year. The late announcement meant, effectively, that travelers would not be able to actually travel in Tibet in March 2019, as the permit typically takes about three weeks to process. Still it is welcome news that the TAR may be open in March 2020. Of course no one can be sure of that until it actually comes around next year! Learn more at When is Tibet Closed to Foreigners? To get your Tibet permits you will need go on an organized tour with a Tibet travel agency. For a referral to a reliable agency, fill out this form.
Thursday, February 26, 2019 (6:27p PST)
Tibet will Likely Be Open in March 2019
- Despite an earlier than usual closure to foreign travelers this year (from ~February 1), it is looking likely that the Tibetan Autonomous Region will be open to foreign travelers in March this year. If this proves to be the case, it will be the first time since major protests in 2008 that the TAR is open to foreign travelers.
- Because the potential opening is so unusual and still not officially announced, it is not 100% certain.
- Also, assuming that the TAR does open, there is likely to be not enough time for permits to be completed in March, and the agencies and travelers are likely to be more-than-usually restricted.
- Personally, we advise caution on booking earlier than early April, even if this opening does happen, until things settle down a bit.
- If you’d like us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned agent for the trip and to offer up-to-the-minute information on closures and openings, sign up here.
Is Everest Base Camp Closed?
- Many global news outlets have been reporting that Everest Base Camp (EBC) is closed. This is not the case.
- What happened? Travelers cannot go as near the mountain as they have been able to in the past, but you can still get to the EBC area and get an excellent view of the mountain.
- In years past, travelers could visit various locations in the “Everest Base Camp” area. (See the image below.)
- The first of these, and farthest from the mountain, is Rongbuk Monastery. Note that views of EBC from Rongbuk are excellent and in fact it’s one of the best spots to photograph Everest.
- The next spot, about 4 kilometers closer to Everest than Rongbuk, is the “tent city” where travelers could stay overnight.
- The next spot, another 4.5 km closer to the mountain, is “Mountaineering EBC.”
- Another spot is Dza Rongbuk, some cave temples different than Rongbuk monastery, about a 30 minute hike from the tent city.
- Through the years, the closer access has decreased:
- Until around 2009 (we don’t know the exact year), travelers could sleep at the tent city and walk or take a horsecart to the Mountaineering EBC spot for photos.
- Around 2009, the horsecart was changed to a minibus, which was, incorrectly, called an “ecofriendly” car.
- Around June 2017, the minibus was cancelled, and tourists can only hike to Dza Rongbuk from the tent city.
- Since December 2018, travelers can only go to Rongbuk Monastery (not to Dza Rongbuk or the tent city). The word now is that there are negotiations for a location to put the tents near Rongbuk Monastery, in part because the Rongbuk monastery guesthouse can’t handle all the travelers who want to stay overnight, and also because the local tent owners depend on the tent guesthouses as their main income.
- In summary, you can still visit the Everest Base Camp area, and though you can’t get as close as you used to, the view of Everest is wonderful from Rongbuk Monastery.
If you’d like us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned agent for the trip and to offer up-to-the-minute information on closures and openings, sign up here.
Saturday, February 2, 2019 (6:18p PST)
The Tibetan Autonomous Region February and March Closures
- As anticipated, the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) closed to foreign travelers as of February 1 this year, and will remain closed through February 15. Apparently, this is due to Tibetan New Year starting on Febuary 5 this year.Then, starting on March 1, the annual March closure will take place, through March 31. Permits for foreign travelers typically resume from April 1, but we recommend not booking your travel until after the end of the first week of April, just to be on the safe side.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 (3:34p PST)
The Tibetan Autonomous Region will Likely Close in Early February
- The annual March closure of the TAR is coming up, but it looks likely that the closure will start much earlier than normal due to Tibetan New Year starting on Feb. 5 this year. Usually the official announcement is made quite late, so one knows for sure. Generally speaking, if you hope to visit Tibet before March, you will need to be out before early February. Since permits take 3 weeks or so to obtain in winter, these are the final days for anyone who wants to travel to the TAR before Spring to be making plans with agencies.
Sunday, April 8, 2018 (10 AM PST)
The Tibetan Autonomous Region is Open
The annual March closure of the TAR typically lifted on April 1. We expect permits to begin to be issued soon. This year the closure was a little longer than usual — from February 10 to March 31. And the government held the permits longer than normal — not releasing them until March 28 for trips starting on April 1. This can be nerve wracking if you are a traveler hoping to enter Tibet in early April, so if you don’t have steely nerves you may want to avoid early April travel! If you’d like us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned agent for the trip, sign up here.
Thursday, March 29, 2018 (6:00 AM PST)
Tibet is Open to Norwegians!
- The Tibet Tourism bureau announced on March 15 that Norwegians will now be allowed to obtain Tibet travel permits. Yay!
March Closure Lifting Soon
- The annual March closure of the TAR typically lifts in the beginning of April. We expect permits to begin to be issued soon.
Sunday, January 15 2018 (8:59 AM PST)
The T.A.R. will be closed to foreigners from February 10, 2018
- The Tibet Tourism bureau has announced that all international travelers must leave the Tibetan Autonomous Region before February 10. It’s an early start to the annual March closure, probably due to Tibetan New Year falling on February 16 this year.
Tibet-Nepal Border is Open
- The new crossing is at Kyirong instead of Dram. If you’d like us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned agent for the trip, sign up here.
Sunday, October 8, 2017 (3:49 PST)
The T.A.R. will be closed to foreigners from Oct. 18-28, 2017
- Officially, the T.A.R. is open throughout October, but foreign travelers will be unable to get permits from October 18 to 28, according to multiple sources in Tibet.
Larung Gar in Kham is still closed
- Despite some reports that Larung Gar is, unofficially, open again, our sources say that as recently as Oct. 8, it was difficult/impossible for foreigners to get in. Check with your travel agent for the most current news.
Friday, September 1, 2017 (3:28 PST)
The Tibet-Nepal Border has Re-opened!
- The big news now is that the overland border between Nepal and Tibet has re-opened to foreign travelers, after having been closed for over two years after the April 2015 earthquake damaged the border areas. If you’d like us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned agent for the trip, sign up here. The new crossing is at Kyirong instead of Dram
- Yarchen Gar in Kham is open.
- Larung Gar remains closed (see below). There are 3-4 checkpoints and even Malaysians, Singaporeans and Taiwanese cannot enter.
Thursday, March 2, 2017 (7:05p PST)
- March closure: As happens every year around this time, the Chinese government has shut down permits for the Tibetan Autonomous Region between February 25 and March 31. Generally speaking, it’s okay to travel again from April 7 or so. If you’re planning, maybe good to plan to enter Tibet after April 15 to be on the safe side.
- Nepal-Tibet border crossing remains closed (see below).
- Larung Gar remains closed (see below).
- Pricing: Prices shot up in 2016 when the government centralized much of the transportation system in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Fortunately, from Jan. 6, 2017, the government released new pricing that is significantly lower than their original hike, though still higher than they were before the hike. The upshot is that it will cost you about 10% less to travel to the TAR in 2017 than it did in 2016. (See How Much Does it Cost to Travel to Tibet?)
- New restrictions for the Tibet Group Visa for travel to Tibet from Kathmandu:
Thursday, December 8, 2016 (7:24a PST)
- Nepal-Tibet border crossing: We continue to get a lot of questions about the possibility of overland travel between Tibet and Nepal. There was a huge landslide (see entry below) at new border crossing at Kyirong in the summer, before it opened to tourist traffic, and there is no word now, official or otherwise on if, when or where a new border crossing may open. For the time being, you should not plan on the overland drive, though you can fly from Kathmandu. See the section on special visa requirements for travelers entering Tibet from Nepal on this post >>
- Larung Gar: The huge Buddhist encampment near Serthar, Kham also remains closed for the foreseeable future. The area has become very politically sensitive due to the ongoing destruction of nuns and monks huts, and it is unlikely that it will reopen any time in the next year. Yarchen Gar is still open, as of two weeks ago (mid November 2016) and is an amazing place to visit. We encourage donations to the nuns who live there, in very rough conditions. You can give to individual nuns — just check with your guide about the best way to do it.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016 (7:40p PST)
- The proposed summer opening of the Nepal-Tibet border at Kyirong to tourists has not happened, and is not looking good for a long time. Just before it opened to tourists, apparently, there was this huge landslide. See the video here >>
The Chinese government has begun to implement their planned demolition of 5000 residences at Larung Gar. The situation is of course very bad and precarious, so Larung Gar is extremely unlikely to be reopened to visitors any time in the foreseeable future. You can see video of what is happening in an update at the end of this post. Despite the very bad conditions at the proposed Tibet-Nepal border and at Larung Gar, all the other areas of Tibet that are open for visitors are open as usual. Travelers are entering by train or flight, as they have had no choice but to do since the 2015 earthquake. Lhasa, Everest and Mt. Kailash tours are all operating normally.
Sunday, July 17, 2016 (6:30p)
With Larung Gar still closed in the Serta (Serthar) region of Kham, we’re getting a lot of questions about whether Yarchen Gar, the large Buddhist encampment with a majority of nuns, is also closed. As of today, it is still open.
Thursday, June 16, 2016 (10:51a): Larung Gar Closed to Tourists
Two updates today, neither of them good:
1. Police at Larung Gar, near Serta in Kham, have been turning back foreign travelers in recent days. This is no doubt related to news that the Chinese government is planning to demolish all but 5000 of the monk and nun huts at Larung Gar by September 2017, cutting the institution by a huge portion. We would be surprised if Larung Gar opens to foreigners again in the next year.
2. The reported possible opening of the Tibet-Nepal border from June 1st obviously did not happen, and there is no word yet on when or if it will happen this summer.
Tuesday May 17, 2016 (8:02p): 6-Day Closure in June
We’re sorry to have to report that our Tibetan agents in Lhasa are reporting internal (not yet official) news from the Tibet tourism bureau of an unexpected June closure in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Tibet travel permits will not be granted to foreign tourists traveling from June 18-23, 2016. This means that foreign tourists will have to leave the TAR before June 17 or arrive after June 24. If you have an itinerary that includes the closure dates you will almost certainly have to change it. Travelers that have booked with our partner agents will be contacted for alternative plans. We await the official news but this sounds pretty solid. Please note that this is coming from the government, and the agents in Tibet have no choice about these changes.
Thursday May 12, 2016 (8:07p): Tibet-Nepal Border Said to Open
Big news today. According to CCTV Chinese news, the overland route between Tibet and Nepal will reopen to foreign travelers from June 1st, at the Kyirong border. The new border, when it does actually open, will replace the old Zhangmu/Dam border crossing which was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. The opening of the border will allow the resumption of Tibet-Nepal overland travel between Lhasa and Kathmandu. Note that this opening is just an announcement, and is NOT YET CONFIRMED. Contact our Tibetan agents here for more information on specific new trips for when the border does open. (Just ask about new overland Tibet-Nepal trips in the comments section at the bottom of the form.)
Thursday May 12, 2016 (7:00p)
This week, our Tibetan agent has been informed that the government-imposed transportation fees have been slightly lowered (see the previous update) due to the number of agencies complaining that the new transportation fees were too high, causing many travelers to drop their plans. Contact your agent to see how the policies, which may still be changing, may impact your trip price!
Wednesday May 4, 2016 (6:32p)
- Recently, the Chinese government has implemented major changes to the system of tourism vehicles. These changes are dramatically increasing costs for Tibet travel. The agents have no choice in this terrible new situation. They will no longer be able to own the vehicles they use for tours, and will have no control over the cost of using the vehicles. The prices are set by a government “co-op” and they are much, much higher than previous prices. The bottom line is that the changes are rolling out starting now, but the timing is not yet fixed so the Tibetan agents don’t know yet when the highest prices will be forced on them. Please talk to your agent about possible cost increases over the summer.
- The Nepal-Tibet border is still closed and there is no official open date. It seems likely that the main border crossing for travelers will be relocated to the Kyirong area, and there is a chance this could open this June 2016 but there is no guarantee and no official word at all. We will let you know here when we know more.
Sunday April 3, 2016 (9:38a)
The usual March closure of the Tibetan Autonomous Region is finished and permits are being processed again.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (7:37a)
Two items of interest in this news piece by AsiaOne:
1. ‘”Tibet will be more open to domestic and foreign tourists in the next five years. We will simplify the procedure for foreigners to obtain travel permits and cut the waiting time,” said Hong Wei, deputy director of the Tibet tourism development commission and a deputy in the Tibet delegation to the National People’s Congress.’
Permits now take about 15 days. There is not specific mention of when the changes will happen or how much the wait will be cut.
2. Construction on the second Tibet railway (from Sichuan to Tibet) is being accelerated and expected to be completed in the early 2030’s.
What do these mean to you? Number 1 means that tourism will rise even more in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, when the changes are enacted, although foreigners constitute a fraction of the overall numbers of tourists in Tibet. On a practical level, it will make permits easier and faster. Number 2 means that Eastern Tibet will become more easy to get to by Chinese people, and all tourists in general. If you want to see the still wild and beautiful lands of Kham and Amdo, you’ll want to do it before sections of the train track are completed.
Friday, March 4, 2016 (8:45 pm)
As is customary, the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is closed for the whole of March to all but foreign travelers. It is sometimes possible to enter by early April, but generally speaking we recommend that you do not try to travel in the TAR before April 15.
As of this writing Norwegians are the only nationality who cannot get permits for travel to Tibet. Every foreign traveler has to have a permit to enter the TAR, and must be on an organized tour, but the tour can be a private tour. (Unlike in some previous years when everyone had to be in a group.)
For help in organizing your trip, fill out our quick and free-to-use Tibet Travel Service form. Our agents will manage your permit for Tibet.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 (7:04 am)
For February travel in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), please note that the Chinese government has confirmed to our agents in Lhasa that every foreign group should exit Tibet before the 18th of February, in relation to the customary closure of permits for the whole of March. Generally speaking we recommend that you do not try to travel in the TAR between February 18 and April 15.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 (7:47 am)
At the moment, the Tibet travel situation is normal, with the exception of the overland route from Nepal through the border town of Dram (Chinese: Zhangmu) to Shigatse in Tibet. The border crossing, we understand, is still closed, and the road on the Tibetan side is open, but not for foreign tourists. This situation is unlikely to change this year. This means that you cannot travel overland from Nepal to Tibet for the foreseeable future. (If it is any consolation, it is not advisable to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa, anyway, as it puts you at high risk for getting altitude sickness.) All other destinations that are normally open are now open, though we are now in the Winter travel season, and most folks stick to Lhasa tours and the nearby destinations rather than Everest, Mount Kailash, Lake Namtso, or the Kham and Amdo regions.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 (07:10 am)
For some time there have been rumors that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will be closed to non-Chinese travelers in September, due to the 50th anniversary of the creation of the TAR. While there are still conflicting reports, and word is not definitive yet, it does seem very likely that the TAR will be closed from late August up to mid-September. If you have a choice about when to travel, it is safest to book your travel after September 15, 2015. At the moment, all the normal destinations are open, except for the Nepal-Tibet border and surrounding areas, which remain closed with no foreseeable opening.
Monday, June 29, 2015 (12:17 pm)
Multiple sources inside Tibet are reporting that permits are now being issued for the Tibet-side Everest Base Camp. The overland route from Tibet to Nepal, however, remains closed with no word on when or if it will reopen. All other typical tourist destinations in Tibet are open as of this writing.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 (6:54 pm)
Places that were closed due to the earthquake are beginning to open. Shigatse and the Mount Kailash area are both open again. Everest Base Camp on the Tibet side is not open and it has been officially announced that it will remain closed until late June. The Dram region and Nepali border areas remain closed to travelers and are likely to remain closed for a good long while. Essentially, travelers stand a decent chance of getting permits for Everest Base Camp after the end of June, but it is unlikely that the popular overland from Lhasa to Nepal trips will be running any time soon. This doesn’t mean by any stretch that you should cancel your plans for Tibet travel. The majority of the country was not impacted by the quakes and you have a huge amount of options. If you have questions, fill out our Tibet travel service form as best you can, and our Tibetan agents will respond and provide guidance on alternative routes as needed and on the permit situation and openings as they happen.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 (8:08 pm)
Today’s new major earthquake in Nepal, very near the Tibet border, has raised new uncertainties about travel in the Everest region on the Tibet side. Due to the severity of this second quake, and the lack of information coming out of southern Tibet, we won’t know for some days at least how this will impact travel in the coming months to the Everest region in Tibet. As of this writing, permits are being granted to everywhere in Tibet except for the Nepal border and EBC.
Friday, May 8, 2015 (7:28 am Pacific US Time)
We hear from our agents in Tibet that permits for Mount Everest are back open from today.
Monday, May 4, 2015 (7:16 pm Pacific US Time)
We’re hearing that the Tibet tourism bureau has told some agents that tourists are allowed to go to Gyantse and Shigatse as long as the route is Lhasa to Gyantse to Shigatse, meaning the direct Lhasa-Shigatse path is still needed by relief vehicles. (It is said to be okay to come back directly from Shigatse to Lhasa.) Not yet confirmed by actual groups doing it.
Also, permits have been processed by the Tibet tourism bureau for Mt. Kailash from May 20th, so it would seem that the Kailash area will open at least by then.
Saturday, May 2, 2015 (10:58 am Pacific US Time)
The Tibet-Nepal highway has been cleared. (https://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/tibet-nepal-highway-cleared-debris-quake-113101440.html) The highway on the Tibetan side of the Nepal border is now clear, allowing evacuation from areas still threatened by landslides. The clearing of the roads is also a step toward the opening, at some point, of travel to Gyantse, Shigatse and onward, including Everest Base Camp and Mt. Kailash. More on that as we hear more.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 (12:05 am US Pacific Time)
Our Tibetan agents inside Tibet think that Everest Base Camp and the other areas, like Kailash, currently closed due to the earthquake should be open by June, with the exception of the Nepal border regions directly affected by the earthquake. There are no guarantees, of course. We’ll keep you updated here.