• Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Capital: Lhasa

Facts

  • Population: Estimated 3.2 million
    • Least populated region of the People’s Republic of China
  • Ethnic Groups: primarily Tibetans; Menba, Lhoba, Mongols, Hui and a growing number of Han Chinese
  • Religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Animism
  • Languages: Tibetan, Chinese
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)

Notes

  • Tibet is governed as an autonomous region of China.

Geography

  • Area: 1,228,400 km²
    • Twice the size of France, or four times the size of Arizona
  • Cities: Lhasa (Capital), Shigatse, Gyangtse, Qamdo, Jyekundo, Dartsedo, Golmud, Lhatse, Maqin, Pelbar, Sakya, Tingri
  • Located on the northern side of the Himalayas
  • North of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar (Burma)
  • On the barren tableland of the Tibetan Plateau
  • The world’s highest region with an average altitude of more than 4,000 m above sea level

Tourism

  • All travel to Tibet, whether from Nepal to Tibet or mainland China to Tibet, must be arranged in advance.
  • Common Chinese Visa does not allow foreigners to enter Tibet from Nepal. A Group Chinese Tourist Visa is required.
      • Other travel documents that will be required to travel in Tibet include:
        • Tibet Entry Permit – Issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, it is also called TTB permit. Required to enter Tibet.
        • Alien Travel Permit – foreigners travelling beyond Lhasa to other prefectures, such as Shigatse, Shannan, Ngari, require an Alien Travel Permit
        • Border Pass – To pass the China-Nepal border area, travellers must hold a Border Pass which is issued by Tibet Armed Police Border Corps. Individuals cannot apply for it themselves and must go through a travel agent.
        • If you want to travel to Mount Kailash, you will require a Tibet Military Permit
    • Travel permits for Tibet require a minimum of 14 days to arrange
      • Travel permits for Western Tibet and Mt. Kailash take about 4 weeks to arrange
  • Canadians must obtain a permit and be taking part in an organized tour to travel to Tibet.
    • All foreign travellers must be on an organized tour that only a travel agency can arrange
  • When you go from mainland China to Tibet, a normal Chinese Tourist Visa, which can be obtained from the Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country or at most Chinese consulates across the globe is all that is needed.
    • When travelling from Nepal, a Group Chinese Tourist Visa, which can only be obtained from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, is required.
      • Group Chinese Visa’s can be issued to solo travellers
  • A normal Chinese Tourist Visa can be extended at least once (and sometimes twice) in China, but the Group Chinese Visa cannot be extended.

Overlanding

  • It is possible yet complicated and expensive to obtain travel through Tibet with your own vehicle
    • Just as it is for overland travel in mainland China.
  • You will not be able to cross enter Tibet without an organized tour.
    • All foreign travellers must be on an organized tour in order to enter Tibet. An organized tour might include travel permits, a tour guide, a private vehicle, and a driver. The route must be pre-approved.
  • From Kathmandu, Nepal the Tibet border is about 130 km north via Rasuwa, the border town on the Nepal side.
    • From this crossing, it is possible to overland to the Everest Base Camp, Mt. Kailash, Shigatse, Sakya Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Palcho Monastery, Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Lhasa and many other places in Tibet. (always must be pre-organized by a travel agency)
  • The overland route from Kathmandu to Lhasa is approximately 1000 km.
  • The border crossing at Kodari is closed to foreigners. It is only open to Nepali and Chinese passport holders.

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