If you have booked upcoming Tibet travel, or are in the planning stages, check the post below for Tibet travel updates, including news on the changing permit situation in Tibet, and about the transportation options from Nepal and mainland China.
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, and you can learn more in this post by our friend Jamin at the Land of Snows.
- 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.[TibetMiddle]
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.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 (7:14 am US Pacific Time)
Moment of the April 25 earthquake in Gyirong County, Tibet. (Also called Kyirong and in Chinese, on maps, as Jilong) This is the border region of Nepal, in an area still cut off by roads. The quake was also felt in Shegar (also Shelkar), Old Tingri, Dram (Chinese: Zhangmu), and Nyalam. It did not affect Lhasa. Heavy damage in Nyalam and Gyirong. Everest Base Camp experienced the earthquake strongly but no injuries.
Updates compiled from our agents in Lhasa and The Land of Snows:
- We are happy to report that all our Tibet Travel Service travelers who were in the region at the time of the earthquake have now checked in and all are well. All were able to route back to Lhasa as it is impossible to go on to Nepal. One reported:
“We were something like 100 or 150 km from the border, and our driver was out of the car, checking something, and he felt some vibration on the ground, but he didn’t realize that was something so big. After 30 minutes driving we start to saw the houses part destroyed and we stop to wait for information, and so we knew about the earthquake, and decide to come back.”
- The road to the Nepal border town of Dram (Chinese: Zhangmu) from Nyalam on the Tibet side (about 30k distance) is badly damaged and it appears that some travelers are stuck in Dram, as they can’t go over the Friendship Bridge into Nepal, and also can’t get back to Lhasa. Convoys of trucks with disaster recovery equipment/supplies are on the roads headed to this region. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2015-04/28/c_134191352.htm)
- Currently, no one is allowed west of Gyantse, meaning no travelers to Shigatse, Everest Base Camp (EBC), or even Kailash region at the moment. (Though Kailash unaffected by the quake and rumors that permits may open again for travel there soon.) If you have already booked an EBC or Kailash tour, please contact your agents directly for Plan B if needed, and watch here for news of if/when EBC and Kailash reopens.
- Permits are still being issued for Tibet, for Lhasa, and for almost all areas north and east.
Monday, April 27, 2015 (7:30 am US Pacific Time)
- The road and train to Shigatse are temporarily closed to non-local travelers, as they are being used primarily for emergency relief.
- Travelers are not being allowed to cross the Khampala pass from the Lhasa side.
- It seems that at least some parts of the western Tibetan region of Ngari (Ali) are closed as well. This is the region of Mount Kailash, and Lake Manasarovar.
- Permits are being issued for the moment for itineraries in Lhasa and eastern areas including Namtso, Drigung, Kongpo and Reting.
- The eastern Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo are open as far as we know.
- Thanks to itibettravel.com for updates.
Sunday, April 26, 2015 (in the US)
- The road from Nyalam (Tibet) to the Tibet-Nepal border town of Dram (Ch. Zhangmu) is damaged and/or blocked by slides and rockfall, so that there is no way to go by land from Tibet to Nepal. Tourists nearing the border on the Tibet side are being re-routed back to Lhasa.
- The road from Everest Base Camp. News from itibettravel.com on 4/27/15, 5a, Tibet time: “According to our guide friend, visiting Everest Base camp, he was allowed to drive till New Tingri, which is about 100km from North Everest Base Camp in Tibet. There are going to Everest Base Camp tomorrow. we will update about it tomorrow around 10 Am about if there are allow to proceed to Everest Base Camp.”
- Flights for Kathmandu airport may be resuming from April 27: “Dragonair say they plan to fly today (from HK) and to operate flights as normal from 27 April though advise against “unnecessary travel”…” Please see advice below.
- Only the Everest area, and down to the Nepal border appears to be impacted. Other areas are open, and permits are still being issued for travel.
Here’s an excellent US Aid map of the earthquake area, showing intensity by color:
Want to go to Tibet?We have a plan that helps make Tibet Travel simpler and safer so you can feel peace of mind about your trip. Enter your email to take the first step with our FREE 6 Essential Tibet Travel Tips:
Some pages to monitor: