How to travel from Malaysia to Tibet


Each year, more and more Malaysian travelers are going to Tibet. Read this post to learn how to easily travel to Tibet from Malaysia. For more on tours to Tibet, send an email to:

How to travel from Malaysia to Tibet

For information on a reputable and affordable travel agency to use in Tibet, send an email to:  or go to this page and send us your info: Tibet Trip Planner

Going from Malaysia to Tibet

All foreign travelers going to Tibet must be part of an organized tour that includes travel permits, a private vehicle, a driver and a tour guide. There are no exceptions to these travel regulations. Only a travel agency can arrange a journey to Tibet for you. Group Tours to Tibet are not required, but they are an economical way to travel to Tibet. Solo travelers are permitted to go to Tibet, but still must be part of an organized tour as explained above. You will not be permitted to board any flight or train to Tibet without showing your travel permits, which prove that you have an organized tour arranged. Don’t worry! Going from Malaysia to Tibet is very easy!

Tibet via Chengdu, China

The first way to get to Tibet is by flying from Kuala Lumpur to Chengdu, China as there are no direct flights from Malaysia to Tibet. There are daily flights between KL and Chengdu year-round on Air Asia. Before you fly to Chengdu, you will need to apply for a Chinese tourist visa. A tourist visa for China can be obtained at the China Embassy in Kuala Lumpur or at the China Consulates in Kuching, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. When you apply for a Chinese tourist visa, do NOT list Tibet on your visa application. If you do, you almost certainly will have problems. Read the following link for instructions on how to get a Chinese visa when you are going to Tibet: Do not list Tibet on your Chinese visa application

From Chengdu, China, there are 8 to 12 direct daily flights to Lhasa, Tibet. The flight takes about 2 hours and offers spectacular mountain views. In addition to the daily flights to Lhasa, you can also take the train from Chengdu to Lhasa. The train takes just short of 2 full days to reach the Tibetan capital. It is best to take it easy in Lhasa the first day or two as your body adjusts to the high elevation. Avoid strenuous hiking, climbing the stairs of the Potala Palace and drinking alcohol the first 2 days in Lhasa.

It takes at least 2 weeks for travel permits for Tibet to be processed. You should contact a travel agency in Tibet at least 6 weeks before you plan to arrive in Tibet. If you plan to go to Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar or other areas of far Western Tibet, contact a travel agency at least 8 weeks before you plan to arrive.

For more information on how get to Tibet or for Tibet tour information,  send an email to: 

how to go from Malaysia to Tibet

Tibet via Kathmandu, Nepal

Another option of getting from Malaysia to Tibet is via Kathmandu, Nepal. From Kuala Lumpur, there are daily direct flights to Kathmandu on Air Asia. From Kathmandu, you can either fly to Lhasa or go overland. The flight takes about 75 minutes, while the overland journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa takes 3 or 4 days. As written above, all foreign travelers to Tibet must be on an organized tour, regardless if they enter Tibet from Mainland China or Nepal.

The Chinese visa regulations are much different going from Nepal to Tibet compared to going to Tibet from Mainland China. As explained above, when going to Tibet from Chengdu (or any other city in Mainland China) all you need is a normal Chinese tourist visa, which can be obtained from the Chinese Embassy in KL or at the Chinese consulates in Kuching, Penang or Kota Kinabalu. However, if you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you must get a Group Chinese Tourist Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. If you get a Chinese visa in Malaysia or anywhere else on the planet, you will not be able to use it to go to Tibet from Nepal. The travel agency you use in Tibet will write you a visa invitation letter that you will need to submit to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. While it is technically called a “Group Chinese Visa”, you do not actually need to be in a group to get this visa. Solo travelers, who are on an organized tour to Tibet, can get this Group Chinese Visa without any problems. The Group Chinese Tourist Visa normally takes 2 business days to obtain. The Chinese Embassy is not open on the weekends, so be sure to plan your arrival to Kathmandu to avoid delays in getting your visa.

If you go overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa, it is extremely important that your travel route allows for proper acclimatization. Many budget tour agencies in Nepal and Tibet offer itineraries that do not allow for acclimatization and actually put travelers at severe risk of altitude sickness. Kathmandu only sits at 1350 meters and is not high enough to help with the acclimatization process. Some travel agencies have routes that take customers from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp, elevation 5200 meters, in only 3 days. This is extremely foolish and unsafe. Going that high so quickly can cause serious altitude sickness or even high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). My recommendation is to actually fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu, stay in Lhasa for at least 3 nights and then travel slowly overland back to Nepal via the main sites in Central Tibet, including Everest Base Camp.

how to travel from Malaysia to Tibet


Here is a quick summary of how to go from Malaysia to Tibet:

  • Traveling from Malaysia Tibet is not difficult
  • All travelers going to Tibet MUST be on an organized tour
  • Only a travel agency can arrange travel permits and organized tour for you in Tibet
  • The 2 main ways to get from Malaysia to Tibet are via Chengdu, China or Kathmandu, Nepal
  • If you go to Tibet via Mainland China, will need to get your own Chinese Tourist Visa BEFORE arriving
  • If you go to Tibet via Nepal, you MUST get your Group Chinese Visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu
  • Do not list Tibet on your Chinese visa application
  • Group travel to Tibet is not required, but is an economical way to travel Tibet
  • Contact a travel agency at least 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to go to Tibet
  • If you go overland from Nepal to Tibet, make sure your travel route allows for proper acclimatization to high altitude

For more information about traveling to Tibet or for information on Group and Private Tours to Tibet, send an email to:

Tibetan nomads

51 thoughts on “How to travel from Malaysia to Tibet

  1. Brian Choong

    Im planning to go alone or with one more person from Malaysia country to Chengdu city before taken train to Lhasa city . Therefore, we are Backpackers . I need to know is that i still have to apply GROUP ( with min 4 person ) for the travel permit to Lhasa or may i apply alone with my friends. I understand that i should apply first Chinese Tourist Visa First before went to Chengdu but how about the Lhasa city .Please advised me

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Group Travel in Tibet has not been required in a long time. It is important to know the current travel regulations for Tibet and not go by very outdated ones. You are free to travel with just your friends to Tibet. There is no group minimum size and there is no need to travel with people from the same country. Solo travelers, on an organized tour of course, can travel in Tibet as can groups of friends and family. Getting to Tibet is VERY easy….as long as you know the current travel regulations.


    2. Lily

      Hi, Brian.
      When are you heading to tibet? I am from Malaysia too!!! I am actually interested to go to Tibet(backpack too), but with limited knowledge regarding the visa. Are you heading there alone? I am actually looking forward to homestay at tibetan mountain home. I wanted to go so bad but having no clue how at all.

      1. SH

        Hi lily & Brian, when u guys planning to go tibet? I also interested to go. Can I join in? I’m from Malaysia too.

    3. Ai Hui

      Hi, Brian and Lily ! Nice to meet you. I’m from Malaysia as well. I’m planning to travel to Tibet alone in September, possibly by train from Beijing to Lhasa. I’m looking for travel mates at the moment, because private tour could be cheaper if there are more people traveling together. By chance, if you prefer a private tour instead of joining a group tour, do drop me an email at Thank you !

      1. PY

        Hi Brian, Lily, SH and Ai Hui… I’m writing this on behalf of my friend, he’s Malaysian too and he don’t have an email 🙂

        He’s very keen to travel to Tibet and wish to go Bhutan too. Do you guys have any plans now? If not yet, please drop me an email at


  2. PeiJy

    Hello Lobsang,

    Thanks for the great website providing very useful info for foreigners traveling to Tibet. And extremely thankful for this piece of Malaysian traveling to Tibet 🙂

    I’m planning a trip with my parents, hopefully this coming September 2016. It’s just the 3-of us. I’m quite confused if it’s alright to travel to Tibet in a group of 3 (same country) or there’s a minimum requirement of 4-pax?

    I’m also planning to get a local tour/agent there, can you pls email me your recommendations?

    Thanks a lot!


    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello…Foreigners have not been required to be in groups from the same country in many years. That is an outdated regulation that no longer applies. I have sent you further information by email to help you easily get to Tibet. Enjoy your journey!!


        1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

          I have emailed you some info. Getting to Tibet is NOT complicated. In fact, it is very easy as the travel agency you use in Tibet will literally take care of ALL arrangements in Tibet for you. If you can send 3 or 4 short emails to an agency in Lhasa, you will be well on your way to Tibet.


  3. marvin

    Hi Brain, Ai Hui, SG and all,

    My wife and me are Malaysians too and looking to either join a local tour or join another group like this during the 15/07 to 15/09/16 timing to following destination .
    Must-do: Xining, Train to Lhasa, Lhasa
    Optional:Yamdrok Lake or Shigatse ( Xigaze)

    our profile ? – we are retired nurse/engineer, Malaysians, early 60s ( but still avid backpackers and reasonably healthy).
    The arrangements should include:
    1). the tibet visa and other necessary documents for Tibet
    2). local tours inclusive of accommodation & board ( lump sum quote and in RMB is preferred. Let us know what’s included/ what’s excluded)
    3). looking for 7 to 14 days package
    We intend to join from Xining ( preferred and all travel arrangements to/from this point is by us) or if better suits all, can be from Chengdu or ? too. We are flexible.
    Please direct eMail me at Thank you.

  4. LEE

    Hi, I am Lee from Malaysia. Thanks for the post, it’s indeed helpful. I’m planning a trip to western part of Tibet, the Ngari Prefecture but me and 2 of my friends have only 12days in Tibet, including traveling days from Chengdu to Lhasa. Would it still be possible for us to do it, within 12days? Kindly advice. Thank you.

  5. Pearl Yong

    Dear Lobsang, I’m Yong from Malaysia too and we have a team of 4 or more & plan only for next year. What we plan is we would like to use 318 from Chengdu to Lhasa through south route and probably go back to Chengdu follow north. We need a driver who know very well on all the scenic spots along the south and north route & surrounding of Lhasa… Is this possible to go by car instead of air or train as we know that scenery are wonderful on the way to Lhasa too? We try to chose after mid Oct ’17, is this a right time to go for 3weeks. Kindly advice. Thank you.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      All overland routes from Sichuan and Yunnan are closed to foreign travelers. You cannot take a car to travel these routes. The only way to get to Tibet from Sichuan is to fly or take the train. I have emailed you further information on which travel agencies to contact in Lhasa.


  6. jerry

    hi lobsang, i plan to travel to tibet this september. do u mind email me the information or travel agencies to contact in Lhasa or shall i contact the local travel agency?
    thank you so much

  7. Audrey

    Hi Lobsang,

    Thank you for this detailed write-up, it’s very useful for us Malaysians. I’m planning to visit Tibet next year, after Spring season. I would appreciate it if you could suggest any agencies that could provide the relevant services, especially those with ‘open’ tour groups.

    Best regards, Audrey

  8. Shereen

    Hi.. My sister and I plan to visit Tibet. But we have very little knowledge on how to travel, tour, etc.
    Appreciate your advise.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      I emailed you some detailed info to help you get to Tibet. Getting to Tibet is VERY easy if you use a local, Tibet-based travel agency. If you use a travel agency based outside of Tibet, it can be more difficult to get to Tibet.


  9. Joe Lee

    Hi, I am Joe here.
    I plan to go during August or September alone.

    Can I have any details on how to go there as I have no knowledge on it.
    It would be great that any advice could be provided.

    Thanks alot.

  10. Hayley

    Hi Lobsang,

    would you be able to give me a few travel agency contact. i flying into tibet on 1st week of sep 2016 but i havent book anything yet.


    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello….I have sent you several emails over the past year with detailed travel information on Tibet, including which travel agencies to contact. Please read through those emails, which will answer all of your questions. Enjoy your upcoming journey.


  11. Gary Wilson

    Lobsang, we were just in Sichuan province and went to Shangri-La near DaoCheng. I am an avid bicyclist and would like to ride the 318 to Lhasa from Chengdu. I understand at present this route is closed to foreigners. Is this route ever open to foreigners so I could plan for the future? Thanks.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      The overland route from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces to Lhasa has been CLOSED for the past 8 years. This route will likely remain closed for at least another 3 to 5 years. When this route is open, a full organized tour with a support vehicle is required. A cycling tour along this route all the way to Lhasa normally costs $4000 to $5000 USD for a small group journey. Again, this route is CLOSED and likely will be for many years to come.


  12. Erene

    Hello Lobsang,

    Do I need to apply multiple entries China visa, if my itinerary is Malaysia > Xian > Xining > Lhasa > Chengdu > Malaysia?


  13. Michelle Yew

    Hello Lobsang,

    I’m Malaysian and planning to Tibet, Lhasa & seda Larong Buddhist College for 13 days, But I have very little knowledge on how to travel, tour, etc.

    Appreciate your advise.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hi Michelle….Larung Gar is currently closed to all foreign travelers and most likely will remain closed for at least the next year. I have sent you an email with some reputable travel agencies in Tibet to contact. Enjoy your journey!


  14. Giselle Cheam

    Hello Lobsang,

    I’m from Malaysia. My mom and I plan to travel to Tibet next year but we have a little knowledge about Tibet. Appreciate if you could email me some info about travelling to Tibet. Thanks!

  15. Jojo

    Hello Lobsang,
    I planning a trip to Tibet for early next January. I want to fly from Sydney, Australia to Lhasa. Is it possible for me to obtain the Tibet travel permit prior to departing Australia. Such as will local travel agent post the original permit to Australia?


    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello….all travel to Tibet MUST be arranged in advance through a travel agency in Lhasa. This is extremely easy to do. The agency you use in Lhasa will not mail your permit to Australia, but they will mail it to a hotel in Mainland China. This means you will have to stay 1 night in China before going to Tibet. I have emailed you some excellent travel agencies in Lhasa to contact.


  16. Chai Pey Sun

    I’m planning DYR trip to Tibet next year Aug/Sept. Flying from M’sia to Chengdu first then from there to take a train to Tibet….

    Understand that all travel to Tibet MUST be arranged in advance through a travel agency, In this case, can you email me some good local travel agency contacts in Lhasa? Or should I arrange with our local agency here better? Kindly advise

    Is Aug/Sept a good season to travel to Tibet?

  17. Wee Hoo.

    Hi Lobsang,

    How nice to have this website for information to Lasha from you. You are kind, generous and very helpful.

    I am a Malaysian already retired of age 64 now. I am keen to visit Lasha to bring along my wife of age 61 now. Perhaps there are few more friends will join me with the reasonable budget to be known later.

    Could you kindly introduce a few local travel agency to get quotation etc. Hope to get reliable and competitive rate in due course to plan ahead.

    Thanking you for your assistance.


  18. Louis

    Hi Lobsang, I also have question on traveling to Tibet as well, i had drop you an email. Hope an get your reply soon. Thanks, have a nice day

  19. Wong

    Hi! I’m from Malaysia. My friends and I (4 person ) will going to travel Tibet in next year June 2017. We had bought flight ticket already from Kuala Lumpur to Xi’an. We take train from Xi’an to Tibet. What I worried now is it complicated get train ticket from Xi’an to Tibet?

    Can you please give some advise ? Thank you.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      For Tibet, you will need a Chinese Tourist Visa. A “Tibet Visa” no longer exists. Solo travelers can easily go to Tibet, but still must be part of an organized tour through a local travel agency in Lhasa. I have emailed you further info to help you plan your journey.


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