Skip to content

How to get the Tibet Travel Permit

If you’re planning a trip to Tibet from another region of China, you’ll need to get your hands on a Tibet travel permit. In this article, I’ll tell you how to obtain this important document during the final leg of your journey to Lhasa.

lhasa sunset

The Tibet Travel Permit is a mandatory travel document you must obtain after getting your Chinese Visa. This permit allows you to visit Tibet, and the Tibet Tourism Development Committee in Lhasa issues it. You won’t be able to get it anywhere else, not even at Chinese embassies or authorities in other parts of the world.

The permit will only be issued within a week of your arrival in Lhasa and can only be obtained through an authorized travel agency, and the agency that will help you get it will have a limited amount of time to send it to you. Remember that Tibet has a travel policy called Tibet Travel Regulations, which requires all international visitors to organize tours with a local travel agency in Lhasa. This local travel agency will arrange tour services, including a tour guide, a private vehicle for the tour, and the Tibet entrance permit. I wrote an extensive Tibet travel guide in a previous post. You can read it here.

Let’s talk about how to obtain a physical permit based on your mode of transportation.

Flying to Lhasa

If you’re flying to Lhasa, you must show the original copy of your permit before boarding. Note the emphasis on the word ORIGINAL. I’ve heard stories of people refusing to board the flight because they only had a copy of the permit.

Generally, you’ll have two options for obtaining the permit:

  • The agency can send it to your hotel in a transiting city in China. Just give the hotel’s address in Mandarin and English, their phone number, and hotel booking number to the agency, and they’ll send you the original copy. It’s recommended to inform the hotel that you’re expecting a package from Lhasa and remember to pick it up at check-in.
  • Have an agent deliver the permit to an airport. If you don’t want to stay overnight in a hotel, I recommend choosing Chengdu as your transition city. The delivery agent will meet you there, holding your name as you leave the arrival gate. Send your phone number and messaging app details (preferably WeChat) to the agency so they can contact you in case of any issues at the airport.

Taking the train to Lhasa

bullet train china

If you’re taking the train to Lhasa, you’ll need to show a copy (in this case, the original is not required) of your permit twice: once at departure and the other on arrival to Lhasa. The agency will send you a scanned image of the permit via email. Make sure to have a VPN before travelling to China because most websites, including Gmail, are censored.

Things are a bit different for those taking the train from Chongqing to Lhasa: you’ll need the original copy of the permit at the Chongqing train station. The agency can send the original copy to your hotel in Chongqing, so they’ll need your hotel address, phone number, and booking number.

Overland journey to Tibet

If travelling to Tibet overland, remember you cannot take public transportation. However, if you arrange a private vehicle and tour guide with any agency, you can travel overland to and from Lhasa. Your tour guide will meet you with the Tibet travel permit at the TAR border or the departing city on the mainland.

I recommend booking your trip to Tibet with Wonders of Yunnan, a travel agency based in Yunnan that specializes in arranging trips for foreigners in Yunnan, Tibet, and Guizhou.

That’s it. This information lets you get your Tibet travel permit and explore this incredible region. If you want to know a basic itinerary to Tibet, check out my guide. Here you can find my travel guide to China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *