China Travel FAQ

Tibet Travel FAQ & Tips


When is the best time to travel Tibet?

The best time to visit Tibet varies from what part you plan to visit. Generally, May to June and September to October are regarded as the good travel time when the most parts of Tibet have relatively mild weather and beautiful scenery. 


Sunscreen, good sunglasses, hat, etc. are recommended to protect your skin from the intensive sunshine of this plateau area, especially in summer.

It is advisable to bring some necessary medicines like cold cure, vitamin C, intestinal medicine, etc. When you don't feel well, don't hesitate to let your guide know and go to hospital for further care when necessary.

Since it is dusty and windy in Tibet, contact lenses are not suggested.


Do we need any permits to tour Tibet now?

Yes. Specific permits are required when entering Tibet for the safety's sake.

At present, Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is compulsory for foreign tourists that want to enter Tibet. If you plan to tour certain restricted regions (Gyangtse, Tsedang, Mount Everest, etc.), an Alien Travel Permit (ATP or PSB Permit) is required as well.

It takes about 5 working days to get the TTP. The permit is part of the Tibet tour package and no travel agency can provide 'permit-only' service.

Steps of arranging the Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) through a tour agency:

  1. Send the scanned copy of your China visa plus the information page of your passport to your travel agency in China.
  2. Enter China and receive either a photocopy or the original one of the Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) (by email or courier service) from your travel agency.
  3. Enter Tibet by flight (original copy of permit is required) or by train (photocopy of the permit is required).

How to get the Alien Travel Permit (ATP or PSB Permit)?

Generally, upon your arrival in Tibet, your tour guide will ask for your original passport and Tibet Travel Permit to apply for it in local Public Security Bureau. It can be processed in one day.

The following table may help you better clear about the issue:

Place to visit China Visa TTP ATP
China Mainland (except Tibet)




Tibet (opened areas)




Tibetan restricted regions
(most Tibet areas out of Lhasa and Nagqu regions )




Do I have to hire a tour guide and a vehicle or join in a tour group when touring Tibet?

Well, it depends on where you are going to visit.

Hiring a tour guide and vehicle is one of the requirements for getting the permits via a tour agency. And yet actually you are still free to look around Lhasa by public transport by yourself without your tour guide. But a tour guide is necessary if you want to enter Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. If you were found in the above places without a tour guide, your Tibet tour agency will be fined.

If you mean to travel out of Lhasa, a tour guide is required to accompany you along the entire way for the road checks.


How can we go to Tibet from other parts of China?

By Plane

There is direct flight from Lhasa to Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Qamdo and Katmandu. Passengers can take the airport shuttle bus (CNY35 to CNY40, 50minutes) to the downtown (CAAC Office) which is 60 km far from the airport. Or take taxi (CNY100) to anywhere you prefer in the downtown.

There is only one flight line on Friday between Chengdu and Nyingchi.

  • Chengdu-Nyingchi (CA4431/CA4432) 7:50-9:20
  • Nyingchi-Chengdu (CA4431/CA4432) 10:05-11:35

There are flights from Qamdo to Lhasa and Chengdu at the Qamdo Bangda Airport. Passengers can take a taxi (CNY250-CNY300) from airport to Qamdo town.

By Train

Passengers from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'ning, Lanzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou can take a train to Tibet via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The long train journey could enable you to gradually adapt to the breathtaking altitude of Tibet as well as to marvel at its breath-taking view along the way that you may miss on the flight.

By Bus

Sichuan-Tibet Highway

Passengers can also take bus from Chengdu to Lhasa along the National Highway 318 which passes by Ya'an, Kangting, Yajiang, Batang, Markam, Zogang, Bangda, Baxoi, Bowo, Nyingchi, Gongbo'gyamda County, Maizhokunggar and arrives in Lhasa. Sichuan-Tibet Highway is the most beautiful tour itinerary to Tibet by road, but it is also the most dangerous. It is frequently subjected to natural disasters and backed with only the basic facilities, so it tend to be more suitable for those who like to explore off-the-beaten track.

Qinghai-Tibet Highway

Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the safest road to enter Tibet with its good facilities and yet its scenery is relatively plain. So it is welcomed by those who prefer a substitute for flying.

Nepal- Lhasa

Group visa is required if you want to enter Tibet from Nepal. You can apply the group visa in the Chinese embassy in Katmandu. It is an A4 size sheet of paper listing all members' detail information like date of birth and their professional, .entry and exit date, etc. Please seize your tour days in Tibet if you plan to visit other parts of China like Xian, Beijing, Shanghai, etc. since it is nearly impossible to apply for visa extension after your Tibet tour. Otherwise you can also opt to go to Hong Kong and get another visa to enter China again.

Are there any specific tattoos the tourists should aware of when touring in Tibet?

Yes. In order to avoid impoliteness and trouble, some basic customs should be learned before you go or consult your guide according to the actual situation. The followings are some notice items for your reference.

  • Please do not goad or hurt flocks and herds in red, yellow and green cloth for they are the sacrifice to gods of Tibetan.
  • Please do not enter a temple, touch Buddhism statue, inscriptions, take picture without permits; follow the rule when walk around some temple or pagodas, namely going clockwise around the religion buildings and no smoking inside. Ladies may be not allowed to enter some specific places.
  • Please do not step on the threshold or spit when you are entering a local Tibetan house.
  • Please don't feel upset when local Tibetans stick out their tongue at you as they are showing their respect rather than contempt.
  • Please don't purchase any fur, bones or horn of the wildlife in Tibet area for they are protected by the government.


What is the cuisine in Tibet?

Tibetan cuisine tastes very light, aromatic, sweet and crispy. Most of the dishes are mixed without spices except some salt, shallot and garlic. Tibetans like eating meat to strengthen their body in the cold winter. The yak and sheep meat is their most favored. Dog, horse, and donkey is taboo dishes here. Some local people do not eat chicken or even eggs. Food Taboos differ from area to area and consultation from your guide is advised before you order.

If you are sure not being used to the local taste, then you can try some other cuisine like Sichuan cuisine or west meals there.

Tsamba, Sweet tea, yogurt and Chang is common food of the Tibetan.


Any suggestions for Tibet souvenir purchase?

There are many special local products worthy your buying like Tibetan costumes, Thangkas, Tsa-Tsa, Tibetan knives, etc.

  • Tibetan Costumes: Tibetan Costumes differs a lot from other ethnic costumes for retaining its unique original style and color.
  • Thangkas: Thangkas is used for conveying religious doctrines in Tibet. It is a delicate scroll painting mounted with embroidery or painted satin.
  • Tibetan Knives: Many of the Tibetan Knives are decorated with shinning jewels or other exotic items. But make sure whether you can bring away by plane before you buy one.

Where are the main Tibet shopping markets?

Most tourists will go to the Barkhor Street for shopping in Lhasa, and the free markets in Shigatse for purchasing various kinds of Tibet products. Bargain is accepted in those markets.

Fake goods frequent the market, thus comparison of different stalls is required before you buy one.

If you are interested in Tibetan medicines, please go the Pharmaceutical Factory of Tibetan Medicine. Bargain is generally not accepted in those places. Meanwhile, if you do want to buy a real Thangkas, an expert's company is advised.

Communication & Money:

How is the mobile phone signal in Tibet? Can the internet be accessed there?

Cell phone can be used in Tibet. The signal in Lhasa and some small tourist cities( like Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, etc.) will be better than the land areas.

Internet access is available in Tibet. Some hotels and many internet cafes in the cities can offer you the internet service.

Are credit cards accepted in Tibet? Where can I change money into RMB?

Actually it will be trouble-saving if you bring more RMB cash. Though credit cards are accepted in some hotels and banks of Tibet, and yet they sometimes could be affected for the bad plateau communication system.

Generally speaking, you can exchange your currency to RMB at the Bank of China or your hotels (Tibet top-rated hotels). If you plan to tour outside of Lhasa, it is sensible to change as much money(better to get them in small denominations for the big note like 100RMB and 50 RMB may be hard to get rid of in the rural places) in Lhasa as you think you need to avoid the exchange-service inaccessible in the remote area.


Are there any local festivals in Tibet?

Yes. There are at least one or two festivals in every month of a year. The followings are the grand main festivals in Tibet.

Tibetan New Year usually falls on February. It is the biggest holiday for Tibetan and many religion activities are held during festival.

Shoton Festival is usually held at late June and early July of the Tibet Calendar (late Aug-early Sep). Lots of Tibetan Operas are played on the festival. The most impressive thing is the colorful tents in Norbulingka of Lhasa inside which people chitchat, sing and drink to celebrate the great festival.

Nagqu Horse-racing Festival is the greatest festival among the various horse racing festivals in Tibet in August. Many exciting programs are held during the festival days, such as horse racing, yak racing, archery, horsemanship and commodity fair.