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Tibet Travel Tips and Guidelines

General Information.

See below for more information on the Tibet Travel Permit (TTB permit) and Alien Travel Permit (PSB permit). You will also find more general Tibet travel tips

1 – Due to uncertain circumstances in Lhasa, Tibet Travel Permit (TTB) applications may not be successful. You will be informed within 7 days of your departure date, and if unsuccessful you will receive a full refund. We currently advise against making any non-refundable travel arrangements related to your Tibet tour until your TTP is confirmed.

2 – At such high altitude the temperature varies greatly and the sun is very strong. Please bring enough clothes and medication for altitude sickness if required. Avoid altitude sickness by getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of water and avoiding strenuous activity.

3 – Facilities are very basic in most Tibetan areas, especially outside of Lhasa, and food is limited and very simple. We suggest you bring some food and snacks in case the food is not to your liking.

4 – Many tours cover long distances by car affording excellent opportunities to enjoy the landscape. However, it also means a good deal of time in transit between destinations. The tour schedule may have to be adjusted by your guide according to traffic and weather conditions.

5 – The schedule for touring in Lhasa may need to be changed due to Potala Palace entry restrictions.

6 – Default number of people per room is two. Solo travelers and single occupancy rooms will incur an additional fee.

7 – Please digitally photograph or scan and send us the following documents: Passport (photo page) and China visa. If you are not traveling on a tourist visa (L visa), you will need the following additional documents: Employment Statement or invitation letter from a Chinese company (if Z/F visa), China residence permit (if D visa) or study certificate provided by Foreign Affairs Office of your university/college (if X visa).

8 – We will arrange all necessary documents for you and pick you up from the airport.

9 – If you are joining a group tour then pick-up and drop-off are scheduled for precise times; if you miss the pick-up or drop-off, you will need to arrange your own transportation. Free Lhasa Railway Station transfer at any time. Free Lhasa Airport transfer at the following times: Pick-up 12:30pm and 15:40pm, drop-off 09:00am and 12:00pm from your hotel.

Tibet Travel Documents

1 What documents do I need?

To travel in Tibet you need a valid passport, a China visa and a Tibet Travel Permit (also known as a Tibet Entry Permit, TTB, or Tibet visa).

2What is needed to apply for the TTB?

The following documents and information are needed from each traveller in order to obtain the Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (TTB). The time needed changes from time to time, but usually is at least 16 days prior to the start of your Tibet tour because the application must be filed with the provided documents and information. The Tibet Tourism Bureau will issue the TTB permit about 7 seven days or so prior to the tour starting date.

Colour-scan / photo of valid passport photo page.

Colour-scan / photos of valid China visa page.
If you have an L visa (tourist Visa) this is all you need. If you have any other kind of China visa then you also need to provide an additional stamped paper in Mandarin from your school or company in China. It must state your position and give the name and address and telephone number of your employer.

Name the Chinese city from which you plan to enter Tibet

Name the Chinese city which you plan to travel to when departing from Tibet.
Please note that the names of these cities will be printed on your permit. Once the permit is issued you cannot change this information without paying extra fees and taking extra time.

Job Occupation. If you are currently unemployed or retired, please list your former occupation.
Please note that journalists and government officials are not able to book tours to Tibet through a travel agency.

3 Do I need double/multi-entry China visa if I travel to Tibet from Mainland China and return to Mainland China after the trip?

No. Tibet is part of China so only a single entry visa is required if entering from and returning to Mainland China.

4What is a Tibet Travel Permit?

A Tibet Travel Permit is an official document required by all foreign travelers in order to enter Tibet. Granted by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, the Tibet Travel Permit is sometimes called a Tibet Entry Permit, TTB or Tibet visa.

There are two kinds of permits for traveling in Tibet: the Tibet Travel Permit and the Alien Travel Permit (or PSB Permit).

5 When do I need to show the Tibet Entry Permit (TTB, Tibet Travel Permit or Tibet Visa)?

A Tibet Travel Permit is required for all travel in Tibet. You will need to show this permit when purchasing flight tickets or train tickets to Lhasa, when you check in at the airport and when traveling in Tibet by Land Cruiser. This permit will be arranged by your travel agent.

6When do I need an Alien Travel Permit (PSB Permit)?

If you plan to travel in restricted areas you will also need an Alien Travel Permit, issued by the PSB in Tibet. Your guide will organise this for you if your trip requires it.

7 How do I get a Tibet Travel Permit?

You need to provide a high quality scanned copy of your passport and China visa, and the following information: exactly the same as on your passport –

1 – Full name

2 – Gender

3 – Date of birth

4 – Passport number

5 – Nationality

6 – Occupation (journalists, government officials and anyone closely involved in politics may have their application refused and should apply through the Foreign Affairs Office in Tibet)

8 Can I apply for Tibet Travel Permit myself?

As no travel agent is able to provide a “permit-only” service we will apply for your Tibet Travel Permit on your behalf when you book a tour. Please see the following note from the Lonely Planet:
“Lhasa PSB will not issue travel permits to individuals and will direct you to a travel agency. Agencies can arrange a travel permit to almost anywhere but only if you book a Land Cruiser, driver and a guide.”

9 How much is the Tibet Travel Permit?

Please note that we are not able to “sell” a permit, we can only help you obtain a permit from the proper local authority when you book a tour. The cost (including the government charge and our service fee) is included in the total quotation for a package tour.

10 How will I receive the Tibet Travel Permit?

A – If your last stop before entering Tibet is in Mainland China we can send your Tibet Travel Permit by Express Mail Service to your home or hotel address (be sure to include the postal code).

B – If you only have a flight connection in one certain city in Mainland China we will have someone come to the airport to give you your Tibet Travel Permit (this will attract an extra delivery fee of CNY 100-300).

C – If traveling by train, you only need a copy of the permit to enter Tibet, and we will fax or email you a copy before you get started on your journey.

11Where can I go in Tibet with the Tibet Travel Permit?

A Tibet Travel Permit allows you to enter Tibet and stay in the Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse areas only. If you are planning to travel beyond these cities you will also need an Alien Travel Permit (PSB Permit) which will be organised for you when required.

12 Tibet Travel Permit: Important Notes

With the exception of journalists and government officials (who should apply to through the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet), there are no restrictions on who can apply for a Tibet Travel Permit.

You will need a Tibet Travel Permit to buy flight tickets to Lhasa, check in at the airport and for checkpoints en-route.

Once you have entered Tibet, your tour guide will retain your Tibet Travel Permit. This is because you are not permitted to travel independently with this permit (and would also require an Alien Travel Permit if you wished to travel farther afield). If you are stopped by the police you will be expelled from Tibet and may face legal action. The travel agency that helped you get the permit will also face severe consequences, therefore no legitimate travel agency can, or will, sell you a Tibet Travel Permit if you do not book a tour with them.

13 Other documents:

Due to an agreement between China and Nepal, if you are traveling to Lhasa from Kathmandu, you must apply for your China visa from Kathmandu. No other China visa is accepted.

14 Medical Issues

You must advise us in writing, either at or prior to booking, of any physical, emotional or mental condition which may require professional attention during the trip or may require the use of special equipment. If you fail to disclose any such conditions, we may refuse to allow you to take the trip and you will forfeit the cost of the trip.

If you are so challenged, you must bring and be responsible for all necessary items related to your condition. If any such condition arises after the trip is booked, you must advise us in writing immediately. Failure to advise us shall release us and all professional personnel from any liability related to such condition or its treatment.

We are not responsible for the costs of any medical treatment you may require during the trip. Under no circumstances are we responsible for the quality of medical care, or lack thereof you may receive while on the trip.

Tibet Travel Tips

1 When is the best time to visit Tibet?

The best time to visit Tibet is from early May to late October when the weather is not too harsh. If you are planning to visit the Mt. Everest Base Camp, this is also the best time to go.

2 What’s the weather like in Tibet?

Lhasa-Shigatse-Lhatse-Tingri-Nyalam: Conditions are basically good all year round though December to February can see problems on the roads as heavy snows begin to thaw. The rainy season in August is best avoided due to the possibility of landslides.

Mt. Everest Area: Early May and early October are the ideal times to visit Mt. Everest. December to February is not recommended due to the extreme cold.

Mt. Kailash: May, June, September and October are the most suitable periods to visit though heavy rain and snow can easily make any journey worse in what is already a very inhospitable environment.

Eastern Tibet: Do not visit in July or August when heavy rains can destroy roads and cause serious landslides. Roads are often frozen in the winter months.

Northern Tibet: The high altitude (4,500 meters) limits suitable conditions to the summer months with July and August the prime periods to enjoy the great plains of Northern Tibet.

3 What to bring?

We suggest casual attire and layers. In the daytime you may only need a T-shirt or at most a jacket, but at night you’ll also need a coat. A down coat or similar is necessary if you go beyond Lhasa and Shigatse to more remote areas such as the Everest Base Camp or further to Mt. Kailash. Sunglasses, sun block and moisturizing cream are also necessities. A sleeping bag could also be useful to supplement bedding at high altitude while a quality torch is essential in the more remote areas.

4 Food and accommodation facilities

Restaurants providing a good variety of Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and western food are readily available in Lhasa. Breakfast is usually a hotel buffet (bread, toast, jam, butter, eggs, vegetable, tea and coffee etc.). Outside of Lhasa, choices will be limited due to the high altitude with Sichuan and Tibetan cuisine more common. Snacks such as chocolate bars, dried fruit, candy, beef jerky and flavored drink mixes are much-appreciated trail treats, especially if you find it difficult to adjust to the local food.

Although it may look exotic, accommodation in Tibet is very basic and even in Lhasa hotels can lack proper facilities such as water pressure and hot water. Outside of Lhasa accommodation consists of local guesthouses with no private bathrooms. We kindly request that you keep these local limitations in mind with regard to your expectations of the hotel and accommodation facilities on the tour.

5 What currency is used in Tibet?

The legal tender in Tibet is Renminbi (RMB). Foreign currencies cannot be used directly but can be converted into RMB at the Bank of China, or often at your hotel.

6 Are there ATMs in Tibet?

You won’t have any problems finding an ATM in Lhasa and Shigatse, although you probably won’t be able to find one in remote areas or smaller towns. However, this situation is beginning to change and ATMs are gradually becoming more common across Tibet.

7 What credit cards are accepted in Tibet?

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner’s Club and JCB are often accepted in large shopping stores in Tibet’s bigger cities.

8 What is altitude sickness (also known as acute mountain sickness or AMS)?

Altitude sickness is the result of the human body’s intolerance for a low oxygen environment. When acclimatization lags significantly behind the rate of ascent, the body does not have time to adjust to the change in air pressure and altitude sickness can occur.

9 Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

1 – Hyperventilation (breathing quickly)

2 – Shortness of breath during exertion

3 – Increased urination

4 – Changed breathing pattern at night

5 – Waking frequently during the night

6 – Strange dreams

With high altitude considered to be 1500-3500 meters above sea level (5000-11500 feet), very high altitude 3500-5500 meters (11500-18000 feet) and extreme altitude 5500+ meters above sea level, the Tibetan Plateau sits at a ‘very high’ and ‘extreme’ altitude, with an average elevation of 4500 meters.

10 Altitude chart for destinations in Tibet

A Tibet Travel Permit is an official document required by all foreign travelers in order to enter Tibet. Granted by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, the Tibet Travel Permit is sometimes called a Tibet Entry Permit, TTB or Tibet visa.
There are two kinds of permits for traveling in Tibet: the Tibet Travel Permit and the Alien Travel Permit (or PSB Permit).

11 Tips for avoiding altitude sickness:

A – Try to relax and stay in good spirits.

B – Avoid catching cold.

C – Ensure you are well-rested before flying to Lhasa.

D – Take it easy and avoid planning any tours for your first day in Tibet.

E – When you first get off the plane, walk slowly, take deep breaths and avoid making sudden movements.

F – Ascend to higher altitudes slowly. If you feel unwell, stop and do not continue any higher until you feel better.

G – Ask your doctor to prescribe altitude sickness pills before departure.