How to Plan a Tibet Trip & Visiting Tibet Advices 2023/2024
Tibet is a uniquely spiritual place offering fabulous monasteries, breathtaking natural views, stunning high-altitude treks as well as one of the friendliest people. By visiting Tibet, you will not only appreciate a visual feast and but also experience a lifetime cultural encounter. Since Tibet is a huge land, you can’t see all of it on a single trip. There are some planning ideas for your reference and you can make an ideal tour according to your travel time and preference.
Top Tibet Trips in Tibet 2023
Tibet is vast. If you want to visit most of its tourist destinations, you may need over a month. You can visit its classic destinations first to make full use of your time, such as Lhasa, Mount Everest, Namtso, Gyantse, Shigatse, Mount Kailash, etc. We have selected the 3 best Tibet trips below for your reference:
How to Go to Tibet
In general, you can get to Tibet from other cities in China or Kathmandu (capital of Nepal) directly. There are different transfer means to offer you different experiences.
Get from Other Cities in China to Tibet
Basically, you have two choices – flight and train to get to Tibet from some gateway cities in China. At present, you can take nonstop flights to Lhasa from Beijing(4.5hrs), Xian(3.7hrs), Chengdu(2.5hrs), Chongqing(3hrs), Kuming(3hrs), etc. Among all these cities, Chengdu and Xian have more frequent flights to Lhasa. If you like wonderful train travel, you can take a train from Beijing(40.5hrs), Xian(32hrs), Chengdu(43hrs), Shanghai(47hrs), Chongqing(42hrs), Lanzhou(25hrs), Xining(22hrs), Guangzhou(54hrs).
Get from Nepal to Tibet
Kathmandu is also a good gateway city to Tibet. From Kathmandu, you can have a nonstop flight or an overland trip to Lhasa via Mount Everest. At present, there are about 4 weekly flights operated by Sichuan Airlines from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. There are also some flights with a stopover at Chengdu. If you want travel Mount Everest and some other attractions beyond Lhasa, we suggest you choose an overland driving trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Within only 4 days, you can travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Everest, Shigatse and Gyantse and enjoy many fantastic attractions on the way.
Check more information at How to Get to Tibet>
Tibet Trips of Classic Routes
Lhasa is the tourist center, and most people start their Tibet tour here. They always have a short stay in Lhasa to explore the landmarks and adjust to the high altitude first, and then extend their tour to other destinations like Namtso, Gyantse, Shigatse, Mount Everest, Mount Kailash etc.
Tour Lhasa in 4 Days
For those tourists who have limited time, four days will be plenty to explore the highlights of Lhasa. As the holy city and spiritual center of Tibet, it provides you with a journey of both magnificent architectures and a strong Buddhist atmosphere.
Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa. You can take a flight or train to Lhasa from several major cities in China, including Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xian and so on. Remember to avoid strenuous activity for the first day, and it is advisable that you not take showers. Drink more water, have fresh fruit and plenty of rest will help to prevent the sickness.
Day 2~3: You will visit the can’t-be-missed attractions in Lhasa in the following two days, including Potala Palace – the imposing citadel soaring above the holy city, Jokhang Temple – the holy center of Lhasa Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Street. In these Buddhist sites, you can catch a glimpse of the devoted belief of the local Tibetans.
Optional Activity: Princess Wencheng Drama, a large-scale outdoor live-action show is performed during 21:30~23:00 (late April to Early October). You could go to watch it during your journey.
Day 4: Leave Lhasa for your next destination.
Add 2 or 3 More Days to Visit Gyantse & Shigatse
In addition to Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse are two attractive destinations in Tibet. Gyantse has not (yet) been turned into a Chinese tourism trinket and so you should enjoy a relatively traditional visit to this small mountain village that has retained much of its traditional architecture. Shigatse is the second-largest city in Tibet and historically rivaled Lhasa for influence. Usually, tourists prefer to drive to Shigatse via Gyantse on Day 4, and drive back to Lhasa on Day 5. On the road to Gyantse, you will pass by beautiful Yamdrok Lake and fantastic Korala Glacier. As you get to Gyantse, you will visit Palcho Monastery. Palcho Monastery is famous for three different sects of Tibetan Buddhists living here harmoniously. Its Kumbum stupa is also well-known, and thousands of statues of Buddha are housed there. In Shigatse city, you will visit majestic Tashilhunpo Monastery – the residence of Panchen Lama. If you have an additional day, it will be a good choice to accommodate in Gyantse and you are able to visit Gyantse Dzong and Pala Manor.
Add 2 More Days to Mount Everest
Route - Lhasa/Gyantse/Shigatse/Everest/Lhasa (7~8 days)
Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world attracting numerous mountaineers to conquer it. For regular tourists, it is also available to explore its beauty and mystery. Tourists often travel to Mount Everest after their Lhasa Shigatse tour. It takes about 7~8 hours to drive to Mount Everest from Shigatse. The journey is long but the scenery is worth-seeing. Everest Base Camp is the highest place which tourists can reach. From this great viewing-deck, you can have a good sight of the south face of Mount Everest. Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse and Tent Guesthouses offer basic accommodation in Everest. If you are a lucky dog, you can get an opportunity to admire the most beautiful sunrise, sunset and starry sky here.
Add 5~7 More Days for Ngari
Route - Lhasa/Gyantse/Shigatse/Everest/Lhatse/Tarchen/Kailash/Lhasa (13~16 days)
For some tourists who are thirsty for wild nature and adventure, Mount Everest is not enough. They will have a longer and deeper discovery in Ngari. Ngari, located in western Tibet, is honored as the “Roof of the World’s Roof”. It’s most splendid attraction must be Mount Kailash, regarded as the center of the world by Tibetan Buddhism, Hindism, Bon etc. Starting from Mount Everest, you will drive to Darchen (the starting point of kora around Mount Kailash) with one night’s stop in Saga. Then you spend three days on kora around mount Kailash and turn to Guge Kingdom to discover the lost civilization. Before getting back, you will spend another day enjoying the enchanting landscape of Lake Manasarovar.
Themed Tibet Trips
Tibet is always ready to fulfill your different needs. No matter you want a relaxing holiday or an adventure experience, a history & culture exploration or a sightseeing journey. You can realize your goals in Tibet.
Tibet Train Tours
Since the operation of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, taking a train to Tibet has become well-welcomed. More than transportation, the trains taking you to Tibet also act as a moving viewing-deck, from which you can appreciate the changing landscapes. Moreover, the railway itself is world engineering wonder creating world records. Nowadays, it is available to book a train to Lhasa from Beijing (about 40 hours), Shanghai (about 48 hours), Chengdu (about 44 hours), Xian (about 31 hours), Chongqing (about 42 hours), Guangzhou (about 53 hours), Xining (about 21 hours) and Lanzhou (24 hours). To shorten this long train tour, you are suggested to take a flight to Xining first and then transfer to Lhasa by train. The most beautiful landscape is the long railway between Xining and Lhasa. If you fail to book a train to Tibet (which is very popular among tourists), you can choose a train to leave Lhasa instead. Read more about Train Tours.
Tibet Photography Tour
With so much picturesque scenery to savor, Tibet is a well-deserved paradise of photography. If you are a shutterbug precisely, Namtso Lake is the first recommended destination for you. The waters of Namtso Lake are an almost transcendent turquoise blue and shimmer in the rarefied air. Two days are needed to take a picture of the perfect Namtso Lake, in the early morning, at dusk, or under the starry sky. You could spend two extra days traveling to Namsto Lake after your classic Lhasa, Shigatse or Everest tour.
If time does not permit, it is also a good idea to take Yamdrok Lake as a substitute. It needs only one day to get to Yamdrok Lake from and back to Lhasa. There are four viewing decks to enjoy the Yamdrok Lake. Standing on the highest one - Kamba La Pass, you can get an incredible vista of the lake and the winding road.
Tibet Trekking or Hiking Tour
Stretching your legs in the wild nature of Tibet must be an inspiring, exhilarating and unforgettable experience. You can hike to the monasteries and the valleys or trek around the holy mountains and lakes.
Even in Lhasa outskirts, you can realize your trekking dream. After you visit the landmarks of Lhasa, spend one day trekking around leisurely. You will cover a trekking length of 25km with moderate road conditions. During your trekking road, you can visit various monasteries.
If you love the peaceful and captivating valley views, you can try hiking to Samye Monastery from Ganden Monastery. This is a more difficult trekking taking 4 days, and you need to accommodate in the herder’s camps. It allows you to enjoy an authentic cultural experience.
Want something more challenging? Try a trekking to Mount Everest. The whole trekking takes 4 days, but the air will become thinner and thinner. This adventurous trip will fully fulfill your passion for nature as well and you won’t miss the best sightseeing on the way.
There are many tourists visiting Ngari and trekking around the holy mountain – Mount Kailash. Mt. Kailash trekking is actually a pilgrim circumambulation which local Tibetans always undertake. The road condition is not good and accommodation is very basic. It takes three days to finish the holy trekking
Featured Tibet Festival Tour
Tibetans celebrate festivals almost every month. Visiting Tibet during festivals allows tourists to get a better understanding of their culture. The most eye-catching festivals include the Shoton Festival, New Year Festival, Peach Blossom in Nyingchi, and Horse Racing Festivals in Nagqu.
During the Shoton Festivals, wonderful traditional Tibetan operas and dramas will take place in Norbulingka, and a huge Thangka of Buddha will be shown in Drepung Monastery. 6 days Tibet Shoton Festival tour must be memorable.
When Tibetan New Year comes, the whole Tibet will be immersed in the atmosphere of happiness. Many religious and cultural activities will be held to farewell the finishing years. Cham is the performance you must see. Sometimes, Tibetan New Year Festival is not open to foreign tourists.
Maybe you have seen a sea of peach flowers, but you can’t see the lovely peach flowers blossoming under the foot of snow-covered mountains. It is a marvelous view appearing in Nyingchi only. Spare 8 days to visit Tibet during Nyingchi Peach Blossom, and you will have a dream-like journey.
Horse Racing Festival is a festival combining joyful performances and exciting competitions. Various activities will take place, such as horseraces, yak-races, tug of war, stone lifting and performance of Tibetan operas...
Travel Tibet with Other Cities in China
In addition to Tibet, many other cities in China also attract numerous travelers with their unique charm. Some of them are well-linked with Lhasa by flights or trains. Among these gateways cities, the most popular ones include Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, and Shanghai, which operate both flights and trains to Lhasa.
Chengdu Tibet Tour
Regarded as the best gateway city to Lhasa, Chengdu provides most frequent flights to Lhasa. It needs 2 or 3 days to visit Chengdu highlights before heading to Tibet. The must-see attractions in Chengdu include Panda Reserve Base, Jinli Street and Wenshu Temple. If you have more time, visiting Renmin Park, Jinsha Relic Museum and watching Sichuan Opera are recommended. Then you can transfer to Lhasa and have a Tibet tour according to your travel length. Read more about Chengdu Tibet Tours.
Beijing Tibet Tour
As the capital of China, Beijing is connected with most countries by international flights and can be reached conveniently. Besides, it is also a top tourist destination deserving of your visit. You are suggested to spend 3 or 4 days exploring the landmarks of Beijing and then taking a flight or train to Lhasa. Visiting Beijing, you can miss Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and Hutong. Some night activities are also interesting, like Peking Opera, Kunfu Show, bars and so on. As you get to Tibet, Lhasa and Everest need to be covered if your time permits. Read more about How to Travel from Beijing to Tibet and Beijing Tibet Tours.
Shanghai Tibet Tours
Shanghai is a metropolis with inexhaustible energy. You can take 2 or 3 days to feel its charm by visiting the Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Jade Buddha Temple and Nanjing Road. Then turn to Lhasa and begin another totally different tour in Tibet. You are advised to visit Lhasa, Mount Everest and Namtso Lake. Read more about How to Travel from Shanghai to Tibet and Shanghai Tibet Tours.
Tips for Planing Tibet Tour
Must Tibet Permits
To visit Lhasa, including nearby towns and attractions, such as Namtso Lake, Ganden Monastery, you only need to obtain Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Entry Permit). Tibet Entry Permit, issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, is the most important one which has to be obtained before your trip because you must have it to take your flight/train to Tibet. If you visit other places outside Lhasa, Alient Travel Permit is a must. Tibet Border Pass is also needed if you visit border areas like Mount Everest and Ngari. Besides, visiting Ngari, and some places in Shannan and Chamdo, you need to prepare Military Permit.
High Altitude Sickness Notes
The average altitude of Lhasa city is around 3700 meters. You may suffer slightly from high altitude sickness in the first two days, but don't worry you can acclimatize yourself gradually. Visiting other destinations with higher altitude, like Everest, Ngari and Namtso, you’d better take the following measures. Firstly, take a physical examination before traveling to Tibet and pack necessary medicines; secondly, spend some days in Lhasa for acclimatization, then travel to other places at a moderate pace; thirdly, keep yourself warm all the time and prevent yourself from catching a cold; fourthly, keep a relaxing mind. Your tour operator will also prepare oxygen supply for emergency use.
Packing and Wearing Ideas
A large backpack and a smaller carry-on bag are recommended, and you can put your documents and valuables in your carry-on bag. You need to bring warm clothing, needed medicine, and other stuff like sunscreen cream, hats water bottle, gloves, rain gears, solar flashlight etc. It is advisable to dress in layers (both thin and thick jackets) that you can easily add or remove as the temperature changes frequently. Don’t forget your camera, and you will get lots of scenes to record.