Must-read for foreigners to travel in Tibet

For foreign tourists who want to travel to the Tibet autonomous region, two documents are needed before departure: the Chinese Visa, which you can apply for in the Chinese Embassy in your country and the Tibet Travel Permits (TTP), which you have to obtain in advance in order to enter Tibet smoothly.

All foreign tourists must hold a passport valid for at least six months. If you enter Tibet from inland China, your Chinese visa must be valid. However,entering Tibet from Nepal, either through the Friendship Highway or by air requires a separate visa valid for Tibet from the Chinese Embassy in Katmandu (30-60 day visas are the norm and it usually takes two weeks to obtain it.)

Who needs a permit?

In order to protect the centuries-old cultural relics, the fragile environment and respect the tradition of Tibetan people and considering the limited reception capacity in Tibet, the China National Tourism Administration asks all foreign tourists to apply for Tibet Travel Permits (TTPs for short) issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau or its branches before entering Tibet.

Overseas Chinese and Taiwanese are also included in the stipulation, while Hong Kong and Macao residents need a Home Return Certificate instead.

Foreign tourists need to show TTPs when booking tickets or checking in at the airport.

How to apply?

To apply for a TTP, foreigners have to send their personal information including full name, gender, nationality, occupation, passport number as well as traveling route, time of traveling and contact information to any assigned offices of the Tibet Tourism Bureau directly or via the travel agency.

The assigned offices of the Tibet Tourism Bureau are now available in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu of Sichuan Province and Golmud of Qinghai Province.

The travel agency will return you a confirmation letter upon finishing the procedures. Only with the confirmation letter in hand can you buy a ticket to Tibet and pass the airport check-in counter.


  1. It’s advisable to apply for your travel permit at least 10 days prior to your entry date.
  2. After you have got a permit, your travel agency can buy the air/train tickets for you.
  3. The travel agency is unable to help you get the permit if you do not book any tour package from them. At present, no travel agency can provide permit-only service.
  4. If you want to travel into border areas such as the base camp of Mt.Qomolangma, the Zham Township or the Medog County, a border pass is required both for Chinese and foreign visitors. The border pass is only available in Lhasa, where processing will take several days.


  1. Following are some of the areas where a border pass is needed. The list only includes the most popular places.
  2. Shigatse Prefecture: Zhongba county, Sagya county, Nylam county (Zham), Tingri county, Kangma county, Yadong county, Gampa county, Dinggye county, Gyirong county.
  3. Lhoka Prefecture: Cona county, Lhongzi county, Lhodak county, Nanggarze county.
  4. Nyingchi Prefecture: Mailing county, Nang county, Zayul county, Medog county.
  5. Ngari Prefecture: Burang county, Zhada county, Rutog county, Gar county, Shiquanhe township.

source: China Daily, 16 Aug 2013

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