With fabulous monasteries, breathtaking landscapes, peaceful and beautiful lakes, stunning view of the world’s highest mountains, Tibet is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Its unique and superb natural beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from different parts of the world every year.
Lhasa, as the administrative capital of Tibet, is the place where almost every visitor arrives when he/she comes to Tibet for the first time. With many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites like the Potala Palace, Johkang temple and the Barkhor pilgrimage circuit, Lhasa is truly a great introduction to Tibetan culture and history. Many tourists choose Lhasa as both of the start and end point of their Tibet tour. In this way, they can not only explore the culture and history of Tibet, but also can better adjust to the high-altitude sickness. Anyway, Lhasa is truly a spiritual and fascinating city that is worth a visit. If you are planning a Lhasa tour, this guide will give you everything you need, from the way to go, the best time to visit, the itinerary to choose, documents you need to prepare, etc.
There are three ways for tourists to get to Lhasa, by flight, by train and via overland. Every way has its benefits and drawbacks. Train is slow but the scenery along the way is spectacular; Flight is fast but it does not good for tourists’ body to adapt to altitude sickness; Road is the slowest way but it allows tourists to go off to enjoy the scenery. As for what kind of scenery to see, it depends on what kind of experience you expect.
But more importantly than choosing the right way is to obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit, without which, international tourists are not allowed to enter Tibet. For how to obtain a Tibet permit, you can jump to the Part 3 to get it. In addition to a Tibet permit, international tourists must be organized by professional travel agency. If tourists have no idea how to choose a good travel agency, just navigate to the Part 3 to choose the best one.
Currently, tourists can fly to Lhasa from one of major Chinese cities or from Kathmandu in Nepal.
From within China - most of tourists choose this way, since it is more convenient and easier for international tourists to obtain the Tibet Permit. The major popular gateway hub to take flights to Lhasa is Chengdu, capital of China’s Sichuan Province, with up to 8 daily flights year-round on Air China. Less frequent connections to Lhasa from other Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Kunming, Shangri-La, Lanzhou, Xi’an, and Xining. Tourists are often recommended to start their journey from Chengdu, since it operates the largest number of flights to Lhasa each day. Even during the peak travel season (June - August) when the tickets are tight in many other cities, tourists can go to Lhasa without worrying there is no ticket.
Lhasa Tour – Chengdu to Lhasa by Flight
From outside China - Nepal is the only country that operates international flight to Lhasa. Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday of every week from April to late October there is a flight depart from Kathmandu to Lhasa. All coming flights to Lhasa land at Gongkar Airport in the Tsangpo Veally. Then, your tour guide will pick you up at Gongkar Airport and take you to Lhasa.
Lhasa Tour – Kathmandu to Lhasa by Flight
Note: Air China offices in Kathmandu and Chengdu are now refusing to sell tickets for Lhasa to anyone who is not in an official tour group organized through a tour agency. So, you’d better contact a professional tour agency to help you book tickets if you want to start your journey from Kathmandu.
There is no better way to explore the magnificent and unparalleled beauty of Qinghai Tibet plateau than by train. All of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau’s superb natural sights - from verdant valleys to dramatic rivers and sheer mountain peaks - are train accessible. If you are planning a Lhasa tour, don’t miss the wonderful scenery along Qinghai Tibet railway. Currently, there are eight Chinese cities that operate trains to Lhasa, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Xining. Among the 8 routes, we highly recommend you start your train journey from Xining, in Qinghai Province, since it is good for your body to adapt to the high altitude.
Lhasa Travel – Chinese cities to Lhasa by Train
While there are a number of routes into Tibet via overland, but only two are accessible to Lhasa for overseas visitors because of the travel permits restrictions. They are Qinghai and Kathmandu (Friendship Highway) routes.
The main overland route to Lhasa is from Nepal along the Lhasa-Kathmandu Friendship Highway. This three- to four- days, 1300km journey is an epic but beautiful drive covering almost all important sites such as Yamdrok-tso, Samding Monastery, Gyantse, and Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. For that, many visitors book this overland tour. Generally, this tour takes 3- 5 days with stop for sightseeing.
Kathmandu to Lhasa via the Lhasa-Kathmandu Friendship Highway
Another major road into Lhasa is the Qinghai - Tibet Highway from Golmud, in Qinghai Province. This 1947km journey from Qinghai amazes travelers with its appealing landscape, spectacular sceneries of mountains, peaceful rivers, and vast grassland, etc. Though the scenery of Qinghai-Tibet Highway is really fabulous, we do not recommend tourists to take this way, since the terrain is desolate and traffic accidents are frequently occurred along the road. It is safer to take train from Xining to Lhasa.
In fact, there is no bad time for visiting Lhasa. It depends largely on the views you want to see and the budget you have. If you want to have a Lhasa tour that is relatively cost effective, the best time is from Dec. to Feb when is the off-season, at which most of flights, travel agencies, hotels, attractions’ entry fee, etc may offer tourists big discounts. But these months also have fewer tourist activities and worse weather. If you want to have a once in a life experience and don’t want to be bothered by the bad weather, the best time is spring and autumn (from April to October), when the weather is very good.
Spring and Fall are colorful seasons in Lhasa, as flowers and trees are in full bloom and weathers are good and comfortable. During these months, tourists can certainly experience some natural beauty of Lhasa.
Spring (March - May) brings pleasant temperature, good weather, few crowds and discounted hotels, making it a good season to visit Lhasa. Moreover, the major festival of Saga Dawa will be celebrated in May or June. At that time, huge number of pilgrims walk Lhasa’s Lingkhor circuit, which is a good chance for tourists to experience the Tibetan culture.
Tibet Tour in Spring
Autumn (September - October) is also an ideal season for tourists to visit Lhasa. Pleasant weather, mild temperature and good visibility makes it possible to see the peak of great mountains like Mt. Everest and Mt. Kailash. Besides, autumn is also the best season for trekking. If you are planning a Lhasa tour in autumn, remember to pre-book the hotels, flights or entry fees at least 2-3 months in advance. Otherwise, you might fail to book your favorite hotel or ticket.
Lhasa Tour in Autumn
Summer is the best and busiest travel season for tourists in Lhasa. In summer during Lhasa’s high season, all tourist spots are ideal to visit, such as Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, Barkhor Street, and Drepung Monastery. But in summer, the prices of flights and hotels usually increase and accommodation can be over-demand, particularly in July and August, when Chinese tourists flock to Lhasa. If you want to go to Lhasa in summer, remember to book hotels in advance. Notably, sunscreen is necessary in Tibet, especially during the summer months when days are getting longer, with abundant sunshine, the ultraviolet is very strong.
Note: Summer is also a rainy season with a bit rainfall (sometimes even abundant) in Lhasa. To escape bad weather, you are suggested to learn about summer weather before heading there.
Lhasa Tour in Summer
Winter is the cheapest time to visit Lhasa. As one of the highest cities in the world, Lhasa can get quite frosty during the winter. Many tourists may wonder if it is too cold to visit Tibet in winter, and the answer to that is “No”, as you may feel warm during the daytime when sunshine is sufficient. A major benefit of traveling to Lhasa in winter is Cost. During this time, many hotels, flights, tickets and entry fees may offer tourists off-season bargains and lower price. Some of the hotels and many entry tickets are discounted by up to 50%.
Lhasa Tour in Winter
Whenever you choose to travel to Lhasa, a full preparation for Lhasa travel is needed. Otherwise, your Lhasa tour might be spoiled by accidents like high-altitude sickness.
Before getting to Lhasa, you are required to prepare for some necessary documents, a list of packages, medicine for high altitude sickness and a reliable travel agency. And you are recommended to start planning their Lhasa tour two months in advance, since agencies need at least 2-3 weeks to arrange permits.
Note: If you planning to enter Tibet from Nepal, you will have to travel on a short-term group visa available in Kathmandu, which is tricky to extend.
Any successful journey begins by packing your luggage full of imagination. Here we will give you a list of packing list for your Lhasa tour. It is also ideally suited for other Tibet tours like Mt. Everest tour and Mt. Kailash tour.
When tourists ascend to Lhasa for the first time, they might experience different level of high-altitude sickness, which is group of general symptoms that are brought by suddenly getting to a high-altitude area that is low in oxygen level. Generally speaking, tourists won’t feel uncomfortable immediately after tourists’ arrival at Lhasa. But after 3-5 hours, they might experience some symptoms of high-altitude illness like headache, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
High-altitude sickness is unavoidable, but tourists can lessen the effects of it in the maximum extent by making a full preparation before starting their Lhasa travel. In this guide, we collect everything tourists need to know about high altitude sickness, from the definition of it, how to it will last, how to prepare for it to how to cope with AMS under emergency.
Finding the right travel agency is very important. A good and professional travel agency will provide tourists with professional travel advice. More importantly, it can help you arrange necessary documents, such as Tibet permit. When you choose travel agency, don’t forget to choose those that are closer to Tibet, since the closer the travel agency away from Lhasa, the cheaper it will be. For example, the tours start from Xining and Chengdu are generally cheaper than the tour starts from Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou.
In addition to the advice we give you above, a designated travel itinerary is also necessary. Since a perfect itinerary can ensure you a
Highlights are subjective - they really depend on your interests. Some travelers like to see palaces like the magnificent Potala Palace and Norbulingka, while others like to see holy monasteries and temples like Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, and Jokhang Temple. Based on personal favorite, we compile a shortlist of must-see attractions in and around Lhasa for tourists to refer.
Here are some classic and popular tour routes in and around Lhasa. All of them are most popular routes among Tibet tour. Tourists can choose any of them to pay a visit.
A good accommodation is necessary for all travelers who are traveling far away from their homes to Lhasa. It cannot provide safety for travelers but also help them to explore Lhasa in a better way. Anyway, accommodation influences tourists’ holiday in many ways. So, it is important for tourists to choose the best hotel in Lhasa. If tourist have no idea how to choose the best one, just refer to this guide, which will provide tourists with 4 kinds of Lhasa hotels covering luxury 5-start hotels, boutique hotels, budget hotels and some most recommended hotels to choose from.
Hotels in Lhasa
Eating is another crucial factor in a Lhasa travel. In addition to Lhasa’s beautiful scenery, the special Tibetan food and drink are also unmissable. Some delicious and famous Tibetan foods like Tsampa, Air-dried beef and mutton, Tibetan noodles, Tibetan Potato bun are really worth a try. More importantly, Lhasa also specialize in vegetarian menus and there are many vegan-friendly restaurants and vegetarian food for vegan tourists to choose from.
What to Eat and Where to Eat
Lhasa-Princess Wencheng Live Show - we strongly recommend tourists to spend a day exploring some of the world’s best show - Princess Wencheng Live show, which is a nightly outdoor performance that presents an ancient Chinese and Tibetan history of “Princess Wencheng’s marriage to the emperor of Tibet”. This is more than an operatic romanization of ancient history, it is a tale of how China brought civilization to its wild west.
Princess Wencheng Show
Act Schedule: Monday - Sunday 21:30-23:00
Frequency: About 180 scenes every year
Ticket Price: 380/480/580/880/1280 CNY
Address: Princess Wencheng Theatre, China Tibetan Culture and Tourist Creative Park, Cijiaolin Village, Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet, China.
Note: Remember to wear a winter jackets, since it would be very cold during the production.
Bars and Pubs in Lhasa - Bars and pubs in Lhasa are often attractive to tourists for their unique exotic flavors. It is also a good place for tourists to meet new friends or share stories with someone else. There are many popular bars like Ganglamedo Café&Bar, Makye Ame bar, Backpacker, and National Music Country, etc.
Bars in Lhasa
The most famous shopping place in Lhasa is Barkhor Street, where gathered all kinds of travel souvenirs, artworks, decorates, carpets, and handcrafts. Tourists can not only buy souvenirs they want but also experience the real local life there. Besides the Barkhor street, there are many other shopping places like Chongsaikang Tashi market, Lhasa Ethnic Tourism Handicraft Market, Yazi Kampot Tibetan Special Products Market, and Le Bai Long Square. Here are some of the information of the shopping places.
The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.
Hello I am planning a trip to Katmandu and on to Lhasa and Mt. Kalias. I am pilgrim. Let me know costs and details I intend to fly or go overload from Katmandu Lhasa etc. Thx.
Dear Mr. To***,
Thanks very much for your inquiry. Travelling to Tibet from Nepal, you need to apply for Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu. Firstly, we'll apply for visa invitation letter with copy of your passport. Next, we'll send visa invitation letter to you and our partner in Kathmandu. When you arrive in Kathmandu, you need to meet with our partner and give them your original passport, then they will go to Chinese embassy and apply for Chinese Group Visa for you. When you board plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa, they'll only check your passport and Chinese Group Visa. Apart from Chinese Group Visa, you also need Tibet Permit, we'lll apply for Tibet Permit for you in Lhasa, and our guide will pick you up at Lhasa airport with your permit. I will send detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Thanks & Regards
Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side