Passports and Visas

A visa valid for the People's Republic of China is required. You will also need a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) travel permit, which is arranged by the travel agent who books your tour or transportation to Lhasa. Travel by train or plane without a permit is next to impossible—on Internet forums you may hear of the odd person who claims to have managed it, but it's more than likely that you will be refused boarding with no refund. It used to be possible to travel by train with a photocopy of your TTB, but now many officials are demanding to see the original. By plane, the original is required.

In 2013, the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) relaxed its regulations on travel through the region. It no longer requires that you be a part of a group of five or more, so independent travel is once again possible. It also allows people of different nationalities to travel together. Although, in 2014 Norwegian and French citizens had some difficulties receiving permits. All travel still must be booked through local agencies.

Some regions remain out of reach. The Chamdo region has been closed since 2008, which makes overland travel from the provinces of Sichuan and Kunming impossible. At this writing Mt. Kailash was also closed, but contact your travel agent for the latest information regarding access.

The TTB requires that you pay a deposit to your travel agency's account. The amount varies from Y500 to Y1,000, depending on the length of the tour.

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