It’s not strange that there are various of regulations to limit the behaviors of foreigners when traveling to Tibet. As an autonomous region of China, Tibet has a certain extent of autonomy indeed. However, due to its political sensibility, Tibet is monitored by China government eventually. Foreign travelers who want a trip to Tibet must book a tour from a Tibet travel agency in advance. With the fixed itinerary, they can get the Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Visa) to enter Tibet. Except for the part of your Tibet tour company’s work, I list some very important tips for you. Please read them carefully if you are planning to visit Tibet.
- About China Visa
If you intend to enter Tibet from mainland China, you have to apply for the China Visa in your country. It’s better not mention anything about Tibet during the visa application because you may get refused by the Embassy. You can provide the tour itinerary and hotel booking in other cities of China, like Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, etc. In general, the government will approve your visa. You can get the above information from your Tibet tour company, which I think would love to help you.
- Please pay attention to choose the hotels without a cancellation charge if you must provide the hotel booking information to the Embassy.
- Please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months. Otherwise, the Embassy will not issue the China Visa for you.
If you decide to travel to Tibet from Nepal, there are no worries about China Visa as you need to apply for a kind of China Group Visa in Kathmandu which is totally the travel agency’s work. What you should do is only to give them the original passport when getting to Kathmandu and wait for around three days. Perhaps you can have a Nepal tour during the waiting period. The validity of China Group Visa is 30 days. You can also visit other places in China with it. And it’s easy to extend the time at the Immigration Office in big cities.
China Embassy in Kathmandu will issue two sets of China Group Visa for you, one for entering Tibet while another one left in the customs. Please do remember to bring them all. Or you could not get to Tibet, no matter how you explain to the customs officers.
- About Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Visa)
Besides of the basic Tibet Travel Permit which is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, foreigners need some other permits to visit the areas out of Lhasa City. For example, Aliens’ Travel Permit for an Everest Base Camp Trekking tour, Military Permit for a Mt. Kailash Kora Tour. But it’s nothing big. Your Tibet tour company will handle all the necessary permits for you as long as you are engaged with a reliable one.
It usually takes 10-15 days to get the Tibet Visa, including the delivery time to your hotel in mainland China, from where you will fly to Tibet. The copy of Tibet Travel Permit is enough for boarding the train unless you are going to Lhasa from Xi’an or Chongqing.