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 exploration of the Himalaya ranges and Buddhist culture. Generally, traveling from Nepal to Tibet means getting to Lhasa from Kathmandu. Based on your own preference, you can take a fast flight, or make overland drive, even have a special cycling tour.
How to Get from Kathmandu to Lhasa
How far is Lhasa (Tibet) from Kathmandu, Nepal?
Kathmandu is the capital and the biggest city located in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Nepal borders Tibet, China in north and east. Lhasa lies in central Tibet plateau and faces Kathmandu in the south across Shigatse Prefecture in Tibet.
The flight distance is about 570km/355 miles between Kathmandu and Lhasa.
Currently, three main transportation are available to take tourists to Lhasa from Kathmandu, including by direct Kathmandu-Lhasa Flight, overland travel and cross-border biking trip.
Take a Kathmandu to Lhasa Flight - Most Time-saving Option
Covering a short linear distance of less than 600km, the flight certainly is be the most convenient transportation to Lhasa from Kathmandu. The whole air travel 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 (during peak season). Up you arrival, you can easily transfer to your hotel in Lhasa city within one hour’s driving.
Now, the Kathmandu-Lhasa flights are operated by Sichuan Airlines, the most experienced airline company running flights above high plateau areas. Every other day, Flight 3U8720 takes off from Kathmandu at 11:30 am (Kathmandu Time) and lands in Lhasa at 15:15 (Beijing Time), with a flight time about 1.5 hours. If lucky, the flight will present tourists nice views of the soaring mountains, including Mount Everest - the highest peak in the world and other majestic peaks of Himalaya ranges. You can see the winding Yarlung Zangbo River clearly before landing.
Besides Air China, Eastern Airlines and Southern Airlines also has connecting flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa with one or two stopovers in Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, spending more than 13 hours to 20 hours.
Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport
Kathmandu to Lhasa Flight
Check the detailed information of Kathmandu Lhasa Flight Timetable:
Departure -- Arrival
about 1h 30m
SM – W – F -
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 has adjust the non-stop flight between Kathmandu and Lhasa to connecting flights via Chengdu.
Drive Overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa - A Long Scenic Journey
Not in a hurry? Why not be a free bird to envelop yourself along the road from Kathmandu to Lhasa? An overland driving is the best recommendation for you.
Gyirong Port has been reopen to foreign tourists since August 30th, 2017. It takes about 7~8 hours’ driving to Gyriong Port (Rasuwa Port on Nepal Side) from Kathmandu, after crossing the border port, then you enter Shigatse, Tibet. Later, you can visit Mount Everest, Shigatse, Mt. Kailash and all the way eastwards to Lhasa.
The overland distance between Lhasa and Kathmandu via Gyirong Port is more than 1,000km and the non-stop driving takes longer than 20 hours. The imposing Himalayan ranges is the biggest lightspot. Along the driving journey, there are also different scenery worthy of your appreciation, especially the snow-capped mountains, sapphirine-like lakes, lovely people and so for in Tibet. You are suggested to spend at least 7 days on the Kathmandu-Lhasa journey to have a deep discovery of Tibet landscape and culture.
Kathmandu Lhasa Overland tour also means a sightseeing journey of magnificent high plateau landscape along the leisure driving to Lhasa. One to two week (7 to 14 days) are suitable for a Kathmandu Lhasa tour with a visit to Mount Everest, Shigatse and Gyantse. More days is needed if add Mount Kailash on the list.
After finishing tour in visiting highlights of Kathmandu, you will firstly be driven to Nepal-China borde area. Your Tibet tour begins once cross Gyirong Port. Then, you will get to Mount Kailash for a sacred pilgrimage, adventure tour of Mount Everest will be followed. From the highest temple - Rongbuk Monastery, you will get close to see the World’s highest peak and its mysterious face, if weather is clear. Next, drive to Shigatse to capture the pretty Tashihunpo Monastery - residence of Panchan Lama. In Shigatse, you can accommodate in starred hotels. Tibet trip continues to Gyantse, a historical hero city famous for the Palcho Monastery. Eventually, you will meet Lhasa via Karola Glacier and Yamdrok Lake. 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.
Cycle from Kathmandu to Lhasa - Mountain Bike Tour
A Lhasa to Kathmandu mountain bike tour is very popular and memorable. Outdoor enthusiasts can also try the opposite route: cycle from Kathmandu in Nepal to Lhasa in Tibet. You eyes will be feasted with each sights, you body will member each sweat. You’re truly a ambitious adventure! Because it is a tough task to cycle to Lhasa from Kathmandu, very good physical quality and perfect perseverance are demanded. Every effort makes harvest. The breathtaking landscape on the plateau area and such special way of travel is your great choice and precious treasure.
Kathmandu to Lhasa Train - Nepal Tibet Railway 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. Now the railway is still in research stage, we’ll keep you updated. More about China Nepal Railway >>
Beautiful Qinghai Tibet Train
Kathmandu to Lhasa by Bus - Possible in Future
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 in 2015, 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 a China travel agency, like Tibet Discovery. 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. More about China Nepal Friendship Highway >>
Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway
Necessary Visas & 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 working days for process. It usually 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 Travel Permit
Tibet Border Pass
Nepal to Tibet vs Mainland China to Tibet
In addition to Kathmandu in Nepal, mainland China also has many other popular gateway cities to Tibet.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway makes Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Xining and more cities running trains to Lhasa. The railway itself is an engineering miracle and the the Tibet trains especially-designed and equipped with different facilities like oxygen supply. Scenery outside the train is quite charming, 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 Chinese 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 Nepal 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 >>