Updated September 2017: The main overland border crossing between Tibet and Nepal has officially reopened after being closed for over 2 years. Read this post for more details.
Lhasa to Kathmandu Route Open
After being closed since the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake, the main overland border crossing between Tibet and Nepal finally reopened to foreign travelers on 28 August 2017. The announcement was made by the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, which regulates and sets the travel regulations in Tibet. Foreign travelers can now exit Tibet into Nepal as well as enter Tibet overland from Nepal. Prior to closing, the overland route from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest Base Camp, was one of the most popular journeys in Tibet as well as being considered one of the most spectacular overland routes on the planet. After a long wait of nearly 2 ½ years, the Tibet Nepal Border is open.
Kyirong Border Crossing
Before the Nepal Earthquake, the main border crossing between Tibet and Nepal was in the town of Zhangmu (Dram in Tibetan) in Nyalam County, Shigatse Prefecture. However, this town suffered major damage in the earthquake. The China government has moved the main international border crossing about 70 kilometers west to the county of Kyirong (sometimes spelled Gyirong or Kyidrong), which is still in Shigatse Prefecture. This border crossing is not actually new, but has existed since the 1960’s. Until recently, this border crossing was only open to Chinese or Nepal passport holders. Now the Kyirong border crossing will serve as the main port between Tibet and Nepal and is open to foreign travelers. The road leading from Lhasa to the Kyirong Border Crossing is paved and in good condition.
The first town on the Nepal side of the border is Rasuwagadhi. The distance from Rasuwagadhi to Kathmandu is about 130 kilometers. As this border crossing has just opened to foreign travelers, it is hard to say how good the roads are going from Rasuwagadhi to Kathmandu. Reports from Nepal say that around 80% of the road is paved and the time from the border to Kathmandu is about 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Private vehicles as well as public buses will be at Rasuwagadhi each day to take travelers to Kathmandu.
How to get to Tibet
All foreign travelers are required to be on an organized tour in order to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). There are no exceptions, unless you have a student, work or resident permit for Tibet. Contrary to popular belief, group tours are NOT required in Tibet, though many travel agencies in Nepal and Mainland China will tell you that they are. An organized tour and a group tour are not the same. An organized tour can only be arranged by a travel agency, preferably one based in Tibet, and must include travel permits, an official travel itinerary, a private vehicle, a driver and a tour guide.
Getting to Tibet is actually very easy as the travel agency you use will literally take care of ALL of these things for you. The rumors, outdated guidebooks and websites you have read that say that getting to Tibet is hard are simply not true. If you can send a few short emails, you will have no problems getting to Tibet. You will want to contact a travel agency in Tibet at least 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to arrive so that the agency you use will have adequate time to obtain your travel permits and organize your journey. The Lhasa to Kathmandu route, going to Everest Base Camp, is one of the most popular journeys in Tibet and takes between 10 and 13 days to complete.
While group travel in Tibet is an economical way to visit Tibet, group tours are NOT required. Foreign travelers are permitted to travel solo or with family and friends, but still must be on an organized tour as explained above. Many travel agencies in Tibet offer group tours which are a more affordable way to travel in Tibet. These group tours only go to the popular travel destinations such as Lhasa, Everest Base camp and Mt Kailash. If you wish to go to more remote or off-the-beaten-path areas of Tibet, you will need to take a private, customized journey, which is easy to arrange.
For more information on how to get to Tibet, read the following links:
NOTE: The travel regulations when going from Mainland China to Tibet are different than when going from Nepal to Tibet. The links above will explain everything in detail. Again, getting to Tibet is EASY, not difficult.
For more information on how to get to Tibet or for recommendations on recommended travel agencies to use, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: Tibet Nepal Border Is Open
The Tibet Tourism Bureau announced on 28 August 2017 that the Tibet Nepal Border is now open to foreign travelers. This includes the popular route from Lhasa to Kathmandu. The Kyirong Border Crossing will now serve as the main port between these two countries. All foreign travelers must be on an organized tour to visit Tibet. Group tours are not required, but are a more economical way to travel in Tibet. Getting to Tibet is not difficult as long as you use a reputable travel agency. The travel agency you use, preferably one based in Tibet, will take care of all travel arrangements for you inside Tibet.
If you have questions about traveling to Tibet or need a recommendation for a reliable travel agency in Tibet, send us an email at: email@example.com or fill out the information in our Trip Planner (click link for details).