Do I need a permit to travel to Tibet?

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Organizing your travel to Tibet can seem daunting. You might be wondering, “do I need a permit to travel to Tibet? And if so, which ones? The paperwork looks as though it will mount up as high as Everest before you can so much as reach base camp. Luckily for you, if you travel with WildChina we’ll apply for the permit for you to take all the hassle and stress out of the process.


To better assist you, we’ve created this guide to help you through the process and help you understand the requirements necessary to reach this magnificent plateau.

Getting A Permit:

When traveling to China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, foreign travelers are required to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit. This ought not to be any more strenuous than the application and receipt process you likely went through to receive your China visa.


Potala Palace, Lhasa – Photo via Pixabay

It’s best to give yourself up to 2 weeks to process as permits must travel from Tibet, but it usually takes no longer than a week. WildChina can help you understand the process of applying for your Tibet permit. We’re with you every step of the way.

Depending on the type of Chinese Visa you hold you will need to provide different documentation. For holders of the L / Tourist Visa you will need to provide an enlarged copy of your Passport and Chinese Visa. Please note: you must already have your Chinese Visa before applying for a Tibet Permit.

Additional Permits: 

There are some parts of Tibet that are even more closed off to foreign visitors and require additional permits. Prefectures such as Nyingchi and Ngari are included in this category.


Nyingchi Prefecture – Photo by tommy@chau via Flickr

Should you wish to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and plan to scale the world’s tallest mountain (above sea level) – Mount Everest, you will also need additional permits.

In order to reach base camp you will need to secure two extra permits in addition to your Tibet Travel Permit. To go any further you will need a mountaineering license and a professional guide. With WildChina, you will embark on a 4-5 hour hike from Base Camp and pitch up your tent at an area less frequented by tourists. Here you can skirt around alpine lakes and huge glaciers while trekking from Kartha Valley to Everest Base Camp over the course of ten days.

Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp – Photo by emifaulk via Flickr

Where & When You Don’t Need A Permit:

The Tibetan culture, architecture, language, food and people are much further reaching than a designated zone. Neighboring provinces reflect the Tibetan lifestyle in just as meaningful and authentic a manner and when traveling from China require no additional permits.


Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Shangri-La, Yunnan – Photo by Kevin Poh via Flickr

China’s ‘Shangri-La’s’ offer authentic Tibetan culture, landscape, food, culture and heritage and you can visit them with just your China visa in hand. The better known Shangri-La and the first to adopt the name of James Hitlon’s revered Lost Horizon is located in Yunnan Province. Journey along the Songstam Circuit and explore the South-Eastern boundary of the Tibetan plateau. Here you can find a life of Buddha’s relics interred in white stupas, of yak-butter tea simmering on the stove, and of incense burning in golden-rooved temples. You can get in touch with true Tibetan culture and wander through the gilded pillars and incense-filled rooms of Songzanlin Monastery.


Riwa Village

Alternatively head to Western Sichuan where many claim you’ll find the true Shangri-La in the hillside town of Riwa and entrance to the Yading nature reserve . Follow the On the Trail of Pilgrims tour across grasslands, over sacred mountains and aside serene lakes.

We have a number of tours that take you across the Tibetan plateau or into the Tibetan Autonomous Region such as On the Trail of Pilgrims and Soul of Tibet. Get to know your options in Tibet and talk to us, we’re experts and can make the whole process easy for you.