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Overland Driving and flights are the most popular transportation from Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Driving and flights are the most popular transportation from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Nepal Tibet Transportation: Get from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Making a personal pilgrimage to Tibet, and be awed by its breathtaking nature and sacred Buddhist sites make a unique tour in one’s whole life. As the capital city and tourist center of Tibet, Lhasa is well-linked with many cities, including Kathmandu - one of the most popular gateway cities as well as the only international gateway city to Tibet. Tibet and Nepal have much in common but both have their own features, so traveling to Tibet from Nepal is a further tour to enjoy the Himalaya ranges and explore the Buddhist culture. Generally, traveling from Nepal to Tibet means getting to Lhasa from Kathmandu. There are several available transportation means to take tourists from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

How to Get from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Take a Flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Covering a short linear distance of only about 600km, the flight must be the most convenient transportation to Lhasa from Kathmandu. You need not worry about the food or accommodation offered on the road, because the whole journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa takes as short as 1.5 hours. At present, there is at least 1 daily flight flying from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. Up you arrival, you can easily transfer to Lhasa city within one hour’s driving. The Kathmandu-Lhasa flights are operated by Air China and Sichuan Airlines, which are two most experienced airlines to run flights above high plateau areas. At 11:30am (Kathmandu Time) every day, CA408 takes off from Kathmandu and reaches Lhasa at 15:10pm (Beijing Time). Another flight 3U8720, taking off at 12:10pm (Kathmandu Time) and landing on at 16:00pm (Beijing Time), is only available on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the low seasons, the number of flights might be cut down or canceled. In fact, this fast journey also presents tourists the exciting views of the soaring mountains, including Mount Everest – the highest peak in the world and other majestic peaks of Himalaya ranges. Before landing in Lhasa, you can see the winding Yarlung Zangbo River clearly.

Flight to Lhasa
Kathmandu to Lhasa Flight

Check the detailed information of Kathmandu Lhasa Flights:

Flight No.Departure -- ArrivalDurationFrequencyPlaneTicket
Tribhuvan Airport

Gonggar Airport
1h 35m - - T - T - S Airbus A319
4410 ¥
Economy Class
Tribhuvan Airport

Gonggar Airport
1h 25m SM – W – F - Airbus A319
5230 ¥
Economy Class

Important Notice: 1) The departure time and arrival time are on local time and the time difference between Nepal and China is 2 hours and 15 minutes; 2) above flights schedules are only for reference, and please contact us to catch up on the latest information; 3) Air China canceled the Kathmandu Lhasa flights on Tuesday till 10th October, 2017.

Drive Overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa

If you want to envelop yourself in the landscape along the road from Kathmandu to Lhasa rather than hurry to your next destination, overland driving is the best transportation for you.

In additional to Zhangmu Port (influenced by the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and not reopen till now), Gyirong Port has been open to foreigner tourists since 30th, August, 2017. After about 7~8 hours’ driving from Kathmandu, you can get to the border between Nepal and Tibet. Then you can cross Gyirong Port (Rasuwa Port on Nepal Side) and reach Tibet.

The overland distance between Lhasa and Kathmandu via Girong Port is about 1,000km and the non-stop driving takes about 20 hours. Apart from the different scenes Himalayan ranges from different prospects, there are many other great attractions worthy of your appreciation along the road from Kathmandu to Lhasa, especially in Tibet. You are suggested to spend 4~6 days on the Kathmandu-Lhasa journey to have a deep discovery of Tibet landscape and culture.

Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Driving Map Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Driving Map

Kathmandu Lhasa Train is under Preparation

Train journey is always regarded as one of the most comfortable experience. Though there isn’t available railway connecting Lhasa and Kathmandu currently, taking a train from Kathmandu to Lhasa is available in the coming future. According to the Belt and Road China and Nepal Co-building, it is urgent to construct the railway between Nepal and Tibet for the economic development and cargo transport in both countries. The Buddhists in two destinations are also looking forward to the further Buddhism study and communication. The potential railway is expected to pass through Gyirong County as well. It is said that Kathmandu Railway is planned as the extended railway of Qinghai Tibet Railway.

Kathmandu Lhasa Bus is Possible in Fulture

Previously there were one or two international buses weekly running from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Zhangmu Port. Usually, it needed a bit more than 2 days to travel between Lhasa and Kathmandu by bus. Due to the earthquake in Nepal, the road to Zhangmu Port was damaged and the buses were cut off consequently.

Nowadays, you can only take a bus from Kathmandu to the border between Nepal and Tibet. After passing through the port, you must use a booked driving service from the travel agency. Traveling with Tibet Discovery, we can arrange your tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa directly. There will be private guide and vehicle for you and you don’t need to worry about the complicated transfer.  

Cycle from Kathmandu to Lhasa

If the above transportation means cannot fulfil your ambition to explore the nature totally, choose to cycle from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Nepal and Tibet are both famous for its mysterious high plateau views which attract numerous adventurers. It is a tough task to cycle to Lhasa from Kathmandu which demands very good physical quality and perfect perseverance. Undoubtedly, the landscape is breathtaking. If you are fond of a cycling tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, feel free to contact us and we can customize a private tour for you.

Gyantse Attractions
Beautiful Qinghai Tibet Train
Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway
Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway
Cycling from Kathmandu to Lhasa
Cycling from Kathmandu to Lhasa

How to Plan a Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Tour

Kathmandu Lhasa Overland tour also means a sightseeing journey of magnificent high plateau landscape along the leisure driving to Lhasa. 10~12 days are suitable for a Kathmandu Lhasa tour with a visit to Mount Everest, Shigatse and Gyantse. Your are advisied to spend 3 days exploring the highlights of Kathmandu Valley. Don't miss the Three Durbar Squares, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupa. On the next two days, you will have a long driving journey to Mount Everest via Gyirong Port. As you get to Rongbuk Monastery, you can get a good view of Mount Everest if the weather is clear. After the adventure of Mount Everest, drive to Shigatse on the third day, where you can explore the gorgeous Tashilhunpo Monastery – the residence of Panchen Lama. There are some starred hotels in Shigatse for accommodation. On the next day, drive about 2 hours to Gyantse, and explore this historical city by visit Palcho Monastery. After that, turn to Lhasa via Karola Glacier and Yamdrok Lake. You could also choose to stay one more day in Gyantse to have a deep exploration of its historical sites. As you get to Lhasa, you must fall in love with this city. The towering Potala Palace will catch your eyes at the first sight. The devoted Tibetan pilgrimages turn their prayer wheels and greet you with smiles. The following days you can visit the landmarks of Lhasa, like Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery etc. See more at Kathmandu Lhasa Overland Travel.

Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery
Seeing Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery

Necessary Permits for Traveling to Lhasa from Kathmandu

Tibet Group Visa from Nepal

Tibet Group Visa from Nepal (Group Visa for short) is a must for anyone who wants to enter Tibet from Nepal by any transportation means. The Group Visa can be only applied from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu by travel agency on behalf the tourists. The application will be accepted only in the morning of Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Your original passport is required for 2~3 days for process. It always takes 3 working days to get the ordinary Group Visa, and it is also possible to obtain it in 1 or 2 days but you need to pay more service charges. The Group Visa information will be given in a paper sheet instead of stamping on your Passport. It is usually valid for 28 days or less and can’t be extended, but you can visit mainland China with it. See more at Tibet Group Visa from Nepal>

Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit is the first important document for any foreign tourists to enter Tibet from any gateway cities. Without it, you can’t apply Tibet Group Visa, or board the flight to Tibet. Only the local travel agencies are qualified to apply the permit for travelers. Tibet Travel Permit must be applied at least 20 days in advance. Just send your scanned copies of yours passport (and Chinese Visa if you enter Tibet from mainland China), and then we can obtain Tibet Travel Permit from Lhasa Tourism Bureau. As the permit is issued, we will send it to you by post. See more at Tibet Travel Permit>

Tibet Border Pass

Tibet Border Pass is another document issued by Tibet Armed Police Border Corps, only needed when you visit the border areas in Tibet. Getting to Tibet from Nepal, you have to cross the border and Tibet Border Pass becomes indispensable. Just like other permits, Tibet Border Pass can’t be applied by the traveler individually. Before applying the Tibet Border Pass, you have to get Tibet Travel Permit first. If you take a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, the scanned copy of the Tibet Border Pass is ok for boarding the flight. See more at Tibet Border Pass>

Tibet Group Visa from Nepal
Tibet Group Visa from Nepal
Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Border Pass
Tibet Border Pass

Nepal to Tibet vs Mainland China to Tibet

In addition to Kathmandu in Nepal, there are many other popular gateway cities to Tibet in mainland China. With the operation of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, there are many cities operating trains to Lhasa, including Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Xining etc. The trains to Tibet are especially-designed and equipped with different facilities like oxygen supply. More than the facilities, train journey to Lhasa attracts tourist most for the scenery outside the train, varying from bustling cities to soaring peaks, peaceful valleys, vast prairies, fascinating lakes etc. If you want an efficient transfer, flights to Lhasa are also available. There are over 18 cities in China operating flights to Lhasa, especially Chengdu, Beijing and Xian providing 6~17 daily flights. Within 2~4 hours, you can get to Lhasa conveniently.

It all depends on you to enter Tibet from Nepal or mainland China. Generally, if you want a quick transfer to Tibet directly, China is more recommended. Compared with the limited flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa, there are much more choices for you to travel from China. If you want a full-scaled China tour, have a China tour before Tibet. Because the Group Visa from Nepal is only valid for at most 28 days, you can’t extend it or apply Chinse Visa again. However, Nepal is a holy destination for Buddhists or those who are interested in Buddhist culture.

Tips for Getting from Lhasa to Kathmandu

High Altitude Sickness: On your way to Mount Everest, the altitude will increase to 5,200km (in Everest Base Camp). If it is your first time to high plateau area, you need to pay great attention to your body to avoid or reduce the high altitude sickness.

Road Condition: The road from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port might be narrow and rugged. The road in Tibet is relatively wide and plain, but your will also experience very wind road to Mount Everest and Yamdrok Lake.

Food Supply: It is suggested to bring enough water and food with you, because the food provided in the roadside restaurants might not stimulate your appetite. Some snacks will also be helpful to kill the long time of the road journey.

Accommodation: Only in Lhasa and Shigatse, there are various starred hotels for your choice. Be ready for the basic accommodation with limited facilities in other areas, especially in Mount Everest.

Recommended Tibet Tour Packages

Tibet Discovery Tours is specialized in finding unique experience of Tibet, and leading you to explore what interests you most. Our Private Tibet Nepal Tours will take you to explore deep into the Holy Land, with loads of options, freedom & flexibility. You can choose from the following hand-picked tour packages which have been successfully operated for many years and created loads of amazing experiences for our customers, or check more Nepal Tibet Tours >>

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