As a mysterious oriental country, China has always been attractive for foreigners. So, when the door was opened by following the policy of opening up and economic reform, aliens could not help coming into this land. According to the data from the Chinese government, in 2000, there were more than 20 million aliens entered and departed from China. The number is 13 times up compared with the one before 20 years. And more surprisingly, it became 54.35 million in 2012! Foreigners visit China for many reasons, such as business, travel, work, study, and so on, among which, travel is the most common purpose. China has no doubt to be one of the top hot tourist destinations for the travelers all over the world.
China covers 9.6 million square kilometers, where you can see different landscapes. From the white ice world of the northern part to the hot southern island, from the western isolated off-the-beaten-path scenery to the prosperous eastern beach, any one of them can get you intoxicated. Most of China is free for foreigners, you can travel alone as a backpacker. But there are two regions have strict regulations for foreign travelers, one is Tibet Autonomous Region, the other is the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Both of them require special travel permits for foreigners to get in.
Compared with Xinjiang, Tibet is famous for its marvelous scenery and devout religious atmosphere. Besides, the convenient transportation is a big advantage. You can reach Tibet by air or train (highways are not available for foreigners so far) from many important gateway cities of mainland China, like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, etc. But, due to the complicated political situation, foreigners need to apply for Tibet Travel Permits (Tibet Visa) for a travel to Tibet. For those outside of China, of course, they have to book a tour from a Tibet travel agency in advance in order to get the necessary Tibet Visa. Then, how to get the Tibet Travel Permit for the foreigners who are working or traveling in mainland China?
Firstly, you also need to book a tour from a Tibet tour company in advance. Because, according to the law of China, foreigners are not allowed to travel to Tibet alone but must be accompanied by a tour guide.
Secondly, we need to know where to apply for Tibet Visa in mainland China. Tibet Travel Permit is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, of which the head office is in Lhasa, Tibet, and branch offices are in Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. But, only Lhasa office can issue permits for foreigners. So, you need to provide the detailed information to Lhasa office, including itinerary, passport, and Chinese Visa. If you are working or studying in China, you have to provide the documents from your company or school with their stamps. It usually takes 10-15 working days to obtain the permit.
Thirdly, the government doesn’t issue the permit for the individual traveler, so, you just need to provide the passport and China Visa to the travel agency which you engaged with and let them handle everything for you.