With the development of transportation, more and more vehicles such as train and airplane are available for tourists who want to travel to famous cities in the world. For people from America, they can go to cities of other countries by flights. However, there is no direct flight from America to Tibet. If people want to plan a Tibet tour from the United States, they need to firstly take flights to mainland China and then transfer flights or trains which head for Tibet. Another choice is that they can take flights to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Once upon their arrival in Nepal, they can get to Tibet via flights or overland (train is unavailable). Several flights from America to Nepal are available every day.
Tibet is a special region in China. American tourists must apply for a Tibet Travel Permit to visit Lhasa, Shigatse and other areas of Tibet, along with passport and valid Chinese Visa or Tibet Group Visa. Once upon your arrival in China, you can get your Tibet Travel Permit from the reception desk of the hotel you booked. Otherwise you won’t be able to get aboard trains or flights to Tibet. Compared with flights, taking trains to Tibet is more popular among tourists, as they can enjoy incredible scenery along the way while taking the train which is run through the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Soft sleeper, hard sleeper and hard seat are three major types of train ticket, among which the most expensive one belongs to the soft sleeper ticket. However, in spite of the high prices, owner of a soft sleeper ticket can enjoy better privacy and comfort while taking the trains. A soft sleeper cabin with lockable door can accommodate 4 passengers and facilities such as TV set, folding table, oxygen outlet, and battery charger are available in the cabin.
Unlike its name, a hard sleeper is softer than people think. A hard seat cabin may be cramped as it accommodates 6 passengers and there are also folding tables inside. For those who want to save money, they can buy a hard sleeper ticket. However, a hard seat is not recommended, as the train journey to Tibet is relatively long and people might feel uncomfortable after sitting on the seat for a very long time.
Beijing and Shanghai are two popular gateway cities to Tibet for foreign visitors, as the former is the capital of China and the latter is the most thriving city in China. For American travelers, they are suggested to take direct flights to Beijing or Shanghai from any airports in America, and then transfer flights or trains to Tibet.
An airline ticket from America to Beijing ranges from USD 1,100 to USD 1,300, with a flying duration between 21 to 25 hours. The railway distance between Beijing and Lhasa is as far as 3757 kilometers, crossing 8 provinces and over 30 cities. A hard sleeper ticket is 720 RMB and a soft sleeper ticket is 1,144 RMB, which is much cheaper than an airline ticket. Taking trains to Tibet from Beijing is a good choice for those who have much time for travelling, as they can enjoy spectacular sightseeing during the 41-hour train journey.
It usually takes about 17 to 23 hours to fly from America to Shanghai. Travelers are suggested to buy a round-trip ticket if they want to take flights to Shanghai before getting to Tibet, as a round-trip ticket between America and Shanghai is only about USD 1,200. The Shanghai Lhasa Train is the second longest railway route in China, only after the Guangzhou Lhasa Train. Therefore, taking trains to Tibet from Shanghai is a good choice for those who have much time for travelling, as they can enjoy different scenery from eastern China to southwestern China during the 48-hour train journey.
People from America can also take flights to Hong Kong first and then transfer flights or trains to Lhasa. They can also stay in Hong Kong for a few days as they don’t need to apply for a visa while in Hong Kong. An airline ticket from America to Hong Kong ranges from USD 550 to USD 3,000. For people who want to save money, they can take the fight operated by Philippine Airlines (PAL), which takes off from Los Angeles and lands at Hong Kong, with a flying duration of around 15 hours. The airline ticket is about USD 600. Travelers had better book tickets on the internet in case they should miss the best discount.
Fares of flights change over various factors like airline companies, flight time and particular service, but on average, a round-trip ticket between Hong Kong and Chengdu ranges between USD 590 and USD 700 (taxes included). According to the differences of departure locations and transfer stations, one-way flying duration is between 17 and 20 hours. The railway connecting Chengdu and Lhasa covers a distance of about 3,360 kilometers, which is 44 hours’ train journey. A hard sleeper ticket is 668 RMB and a soft sleeper ticket is 1,062 RMB.
People from America can also choose to take flights to Nepal at first and then get into Tibet via flight or overland (train is unavailable). According to the differences of departure locations and transfer stations, an airline ticket from America to Kathmandu ranges from USD 1,200 to USD 1,400, with a flying duration between 22 and 26 hours. For more details and arrangement of the overland route, you can contact our travel consultants.
Kathmandu is the only foreign city where direct flights to Lhasa are available. With short distance (about 600 kilometers) and fly duration (about 90 minutes), a lot of travelers choose to get to Lhasa from Kathmandu by flights. The Kathmandu Lhasa air route is considered to be one of the most beautiful air routes in the world, as visitors can get a bird’s-eye view of the summit of Mount Everest when the plane flies over the Himalayas. Flights between Kathmandu and Tibet are available every day and the price for an airline ticket from Kathmandu to Tibet is usually around USD 275. Please don’t forget to bring your passport and visa before you set off, because we will need the two documents to help you get your Tibet Travel Permit and Group Tourist Visa, which are foremost and compulsory for foreign passport holders to enter Tibet.
Traveling from Kathmandu to Lhasa via overland is more popular than taking flights, as visitors can enjoy different scenery of Himalayan ranges from different prospects, and can enjoy sightseeing of great attractions. The overland distance between Lhasa and Kathmandu via Gyirong Port is about 1,000 kilometers and journey along the way is just like an epic adventure. If you don’t want to worry much about the complicated transfer, you can hire tour vehicles from our company to take you to Girong Port, the border between China and Nepal. When you are through with the customs formalities, your guide and the driver will take you to Gyirong Town, where you can acclimatize the abrupt altitude changes. Then you can move eastward to Tingri, EBC, Shigatse and finally arrive in Lhasa. This classic route will provide you chances to have a look at the magnificent Buddhist monasteries and holy alpine lakes, communicate with local Tibetans, and know more about the exotic culture and custom of Tibet.
With its profound religious and unique cultural backgrounds, Tibet has always been a holy land full of mysteries. If you always have a feeling of incomplete deep inside yourself, just go to Tibet and you will realize what you have lost and will find yourselves again. This is a trip that you won’t forget in your life and it is also a trip that you can tell younger generations proudly in your age.