Planning a visit to Tibet? Consider the land as the Texas for Asia, where travelers like to lose themselves in order to rediscover themselves! The land bejeweled with lamas, friendly Sherpas and high mountains kissing the skies, can be reached by several ways from both India and Nepal.
How to Reach Tibet from India ?
Those travelling to Tibet must understand that there are no proper borders crossings between two countries open for tourists and travelers. But one may choose to apply for a legal pass that connects India with Tibet. These special legal passes are only available to Indians, Chinese and Tibetans.
A Few Important Points to Be Mentioned About Legal Passes for Tibet Are :
- Backpackers cannot enter Tibet, it is mandatory to visit Tibet with a travel agency of the above mentioned countries. You can choose one from Lhasa (in Tibet), a Chinese agency (from Chengdu or Beijing), a Nepalese one from Kathmandu and an Indian travel agency like Travelogy India.
- No other foreigners apart from the above mentioned three countries (Indian, Chinese & Nepalese) are allowed to visit Tibet.
There are three main passes between India and Tibet :
- Lipulekh Pass – between Uttarakhand, India and Ngari prefecture, Tibet
- Shipki Pass – between Himachal Pradesh, India and Ngari prefecture, Tibet
- Nathu La pass – between Sikkim, India and Shigatse prefecture, Tibet
The Shipki La pass is mostly opted by local traders from both the countries and for pilgrims from India, who visit Mt. Kailash which is located in Tibet. Pilgrims also often use the Nathu La Pass for a trip to Mt. Kailash. A noteworthy point to be mentioned here is, the Nathu La pass is only open for India passport holders.
The Friendship Highway
A popular route to enter Tibet from Kathmandu; but one does require an Indian passport to cross through this highway route. This highway can be crossed by either bus or even through flight. A lot of Indians, Nepalese and Tibetans are known to regularly cross this highway through flights.
But this route is not so recommendable as it is a fairly long route to enter Tibet or return to India. Tibet houses only one international airport which is at Lhasa. It is well connected to the Kathmandu airport in Nepal. It is easy to catch a flight back to India through Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata from Kathmandu.
Note that no direct flights are available from Lhasa to anywhere in India and travelers need to go through Kathmandu first.
How to Reach Tibet from China?
Several Chinese international airports are connected to Tibetan Lhasa airport. One may opt for a flight from Beijing, Chengdu (daily departures available), or from Chongquing, Xining, Chambo, Zhnogdian, and Xi’an along with a stopover at Kathmandu as well.
One may even choose to drive to Tibet from China via the following 5 routes:
- Sichuan (Chengdu) to Lhasa: 2159 km to 2407 km
- Yunnan (Kunming) to Lhasa: 2317 km
- Qinghai (Xining) to Lhasa: 1947 km
- Xinjiang (Yechang) to Lhasa: 2743 km
- Kathmandu to Lhasa
For the safest route it is strongly recommended to use the Friendship Highway from Qinghai and Kathmandu to Lhasa.
How to Reach Tibet from Nepal?
To visit Tibet from Nepal it is necessary to be a part of an organized tour planned by a recognized touring company. It is to be noted, that this is a legal obligation with no exceptions for this rule. One must have the following arrangements made to visit Tibet from Nepal: a permitted private vehicle, travel documents with proper permits, a guide and a driver. It is not necessary to be in group travels one can also be a solo traveler. But they must be a part of an organized tour for touring Tibet.
Routes Over Land
Two routes are available to enter Tibet: first one being from Kathmandu to Tibet, with the border being only 115 km apart from Kodari. The Tibetan border is just a few miles away from Kodari. A private vehicle organized by a proper travel agency will be allowed to cross this border.
After crossing the border one must show paper of travel permit to the Chinese customs. And from here people can easily visit places in Tibet like the Everest Base Camp, Mt. Kailash, Shinghatse and Lhasa.
Note: this route has been temporarily closed for access after the massive earthquakes on 2015 for undetermined period of time, when it may be opened has not yet been announced.