So, did you already add Tibet to your must-go-places list? If yes, here are some useful tips for your reference.
No. 1 Tibet Visa/Permit
I don’t think this is strange to foreigners in nowadays. Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of China. So, you should have a China Visa first to travel to Tibet. But due to the especially geographic and political situation of Tibet, only a China Visa is not enough for foreigners or Chinese who have no Chinese passports. Thus, Tibet Travel Permit also called as Tibet Visa has become a necessary paper for foreigners to enter Tibet. Tibet Permit/Visa is issued by Tibetan Tourism Bureau, that’s why the insiders call it “TTB” as well. Although it’s a must certificate for traveling in Tibet, it’s not hard to obtain the permit. Just book a tour with a Tibet tour company, and send them the copy of your passport and China Visa. They will apply for it on your behalf.
Some people may ask can I apply for Tibet Visa/Permit by myself? The answer is no. Firstly, Tibetan Tourism Bureau doesn’t issue Tibet Permit for an individual traveler. Secondly, foreigners are not allowed to travel in Tibet alone but must be accompanied by a tour guide. It means you must book a tour in advance. And all the information, including your fixed tour itinerary, passport, China Visa, tour guide, etc. will be provided when applying for Tibet Permit/Visa. So, you cannot do it by yourself. By the way, nearly all the Tibet travel agencies offer it as a free service as long as you book a tour from them. Why not let them take care of it?
Normally, it takes 12 working days to issue Tibet Permit/Visa. If it’s less than 12 working days before your tour starts, you should contact your tour agent as soon as possible. And you might need to pay an extra charge for a quick service.
If you only stay in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, a Tibet Travel Permit is enough. But if you want to travel out of Lhasa, you may need other permits. For example, foreigners need an Aliens’ Travel Permit for an Everest Base Camp trekking tour. And need a Military Permit for visiting Mt. Kailash, Nyingchi Prefecture, etc.
1. Foreigners need the original Tibet Travel Permit to board the flights to Tibet from mainland China. If taking a train to Tibet, usually, a copy of Tibet Travel Permit is okay, except for the train from Xi’an, Chongqing, and Lanzhou, which only accept the original permits.
2. If foreigners travel from Nepal to Tibet, a China Visa is not needed to get in advance, but to apply for a China Group Visa in Kathmandu. So, the Tibet travel agencies only need your passport copy to issue the Tibet Travel Permit.
3. All your necessary permits will be checked randomly in Tibet whenever and wherever. Thus, please bring them all the time when traveling in Tibet.
4. Tibet Visa/Permits are not available from mid-February to the end of March in 2018, when Tibet will temporally close for foreigners because of the Tibetan and Chinese New Year. If you are planning travel to Tibet during that time, I suggest you change the tour plan. Bring forward or postpone it a little bit.
—to be continued