To board a plane or train to Tibet you need a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit, and to get this you must book a guide for your entire trip and pre-arrange private transport for trips outside Lhasa.
Tibet Travel Permits (or Tibet visa) are the necessary documents required for a tour to Tibet in addition to Chinese visa. Tibet Travel Permits vary according to the places that travelers plan to visit, but the most basic one is the permit issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau. It is required as a must entry pass to Tibet for every foreign traveler.
Due to Tibet’s unique ethnic traditions, cultural heritage, tourist service facilities, reception capacity, ecological protection needs and traffic situation, the National Tourism Administration prescribed that foreign tourists, Taiwan and overseas Chinese tourists (except for Hong Kong and Macao residents holding Chinese passports or return certificates) have to get a Tibet Travel Permit before they are allowed to enter Tibet. All tourists can get it through a travel agency except for diplomats, journalists and government officials. They have to go through the Tibet Foreign Affairs Office.
Please keep in mind that foreign tourists are generally required to have four kinds of documents to travel in Tibet.
Tibet Travel Permit For Hong Kong Residents and Macau Residents:
For the residents of Hong Kong and Macau, it is no need to apply for the Tibet travel permit (Tibet visa). All you need to take is your HK/Macau SAR Passport and Home Return Permit.
As Tibet is under the jurisdiction of China, tourist will need to obtain the first document, Chinese Visa, for the purpose of entering China. Tourists can apply for it in a Chinese Embassy overseas or in Hong Kong.
Tibet Travel Permit
The Tibet Travel Permit is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). It is also called Tibet visa, for the purpose of entering Tibet.
Travelers need to have Tibet Travel Permit to enter into Lhasa or any other parts of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. It is obtained through tour operators for most tourists. When you take a flight or train to Lhasa, you will be asked to show this permit during check-in. Furthermore, the permit is also needed by groups traveling by road. But this will be arranged by the travel agency organizing the trip.
Important Issues About Tibet Travel Permit
1. Only after having your Tibet Travel Permit can a travel agency buy air tickets for you. You can then pass airport check-in.
2. Even if you have the Tibet Travel Permit, you are not allowed to travel anywhere outside of Lhasa city. If you want to get out of Lhasa, you have to apply for another permit, Aliens’ Travel Permit.
3. Generally speaking, it takes three working days to get the Tibet Travel Permit if you submit all the necessary documents on time.
Aliens’ Travel Permit
The Alien’s Travel Permit is issued by the Public Security Bureau. It is required when tourists are planning to travel to the ‘unopened’ areas of Tibet, like Mount Everest Base Camp in Shigatse, Samye Monastery in Tsedang.
Aliens’ Travel Permit is required to visit ‘unopened’ areas. It is issued by the police (Public Security Bureau, “PSB”). Usually, you can apply for it once you arrive at Lhasa. For tour groups, our guide will ask you for the passport and Tibet Travel Permit, which they will submit to the Foreign Affairs Division of the PSB for the Aliens’ Permit. It normally takes several hours and the cost is 50 CNY per person. If you travel alone, you need to join local tours to ‘unopened’ areas, and the local travel agencies will arrange the PSB for you as well. Pay attention, no travel agency can provide ‘Alien’s Travel permit-only’ service.
Notice: If you want to do a Tibet overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Xinjiang province to Tibet, you must got the PSB permit before your tour starts.
Which parts of Tibet are listed as the closed areas?
At present, you have to apply for a Alien’s Travel permit if you are planning to visit the following places:
- Tsedang: Samye Monastery, Tomb of Tibetan King, Trundruk Monastery, Yumbulakhang
- Shigatse: Sakya Monastery, Mt. Everest, Rongbuk Monastery
- Gyangtse: Pelkor Chode Monastery & Kubum Stupa
- Ngari Region: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang, Years, etc.
- Nyingchi Region: Basum-tso, Pomi, Rawo-tso, etc.
- Chamdo Region: Chamdo, Riwoche, Tengchen, etc.
Military Area Entry Permit
The military area entry permit is required if tourists are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas in Tibet. Like Mount Kailash in Ali, Rowok Lake in Chamdo.
Sensitive borders such as Mt. Kailash and eastern Tibet not only require a Military Area Entry Permit, but also a Foreign Affairs Permit. For Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet, you will also need a permit from the local Cultural Antiquities Department. All these will be arranged by our travel agency one month before you enter Tibet. The Military Area Entry Permit is issued by the military affairs office while the Foreign Affairs Permit is issued by the Foreign affairs office in Lhasa. It normally takes 10-15 working days to get them all.