The visa procedure to travel Tibet is a bit more work than any other places to travel. It’s not enough with your Chinese visa only, you need a special approval document (Tibet Travel Permit) from Tibet Tourism Bureau, and if you need a certain number of paper works if you are travelling another certain places; such as military restricted areas, border parts in Tibet etc.
But the Indian travellers have been categorized into 2 different types, the ordinary Indian nationals travelling from mainland China with the other foreign travellers and the other type (i.e. most of the travellers there are) that enters from Nepal as pilgrims to visit Mt. Kailash.
The ordinary Indian passport holding travellers coming to Tibet to visit places other than Ali prefecture get to proceed their tours like the usual travellers foreign travellers, but if you are traveling across Ali prefecture, you will be treated as a pilgrim even if it is a not for religious purpose. And if you are Indian origin with US passport, you will be considered non-pilgrim traveller whatever the purpose of your visit is.
So, Indian passport holders visiting Tibet on pilgrimage tour to Mt. Kailash or others tours with Ali prefecture (any place of Ali prefecture) in their itineraries have to process differently to get Tibet Visa. Only two organizations can authorize Indian pilgrimage tour in Tibet. Foreign Affairs Office of TAR (governmental) and Pilgrim Centre (non-governmental); short for Tibet-India pilgrim Reception Centre. Other organizations and travel agencies (including Explore Tibet) are not allowed to receive pilgrims. The fastest way to book your Kailash Pilgrimage tour is by contacting the pilgrimage tour agencies in Nepal and booking a tour in group.
The Indian travelers with an Indian passport are generally categorized into 2 types when traveling to Tibet: the ordinary Indian citizens who travel to Tibet for visiting the places other than Ali prefecture (Mt. Kailash) get the Tibet Visa and proceed their tours like the usual foreign travelers from all over the world; and the other is the great number of Indian pilgrims who come to Tibet mainly for pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. In reality, however, as long as Indian travelers who want to travel to Mt. Kailash for pilgrimage or go via Ali prefecture, even if not for religious purposes, they will be treated as pilgrims. If you are an American Indian with a U.S. passport, you won’t be regarded as a pilgrim, even if you go to Mt. Kailash for pilgrimage.
Tibet Visa Application and Tour Organization for the Ordinary Indian Tourists
If you are an ordinary Indian tourists and planning to visit Tibet without heading to Ali prefecture, just email us the photo copy of your passport and Chinese Visa (how to get a Chinese Visa) at least 20 days before your Tibet tour starts. We’ll take care of the rest and organize a lifetime Tibet trip for you with the guaranteed and free Tibet permit application.
About entering Tibet, like most tourists do, you need to reach China firstly and then take the world’s highest Tibet train or fly to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xining and other cities of China. Check details about how to get to Tibet.
As for the ones who is about to enter Tibet from Nepal, a Group Tourist Visa is required which is issued at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. You just need to email us the scanned copy of your passport in advance and we will do the rest. We have a local office in Kathmandu specially dealing with the Group Tourist Visa for our clients.
Tibet Visa Application and Tour Organization for Indian Pilgrims
Tibet Visa for pilgrims needs to be verified and issued jointly by the Foreign Affairs Office of TAR, Tibet Military Region, Armed Police Tibet Frontier Corps and the Department of Public Security of TAR. Only two organizations can authorize Indian pilgrimage tour in Tibet. One is Foreign Affairs Office of TAR (governmental); the other is Pilgrim Center (non-governmental), short for Tibet-India pilgrim Reception Center, located in Tuanjie New Village of Lhasa. Other organizations and travel agencies are not allowed to receive pilgrims.
As the official agent of Pilgrim Center, Travel Tibet China is authorized to provide free Tibet tour consultancy service for Pilgrims. Nevertheless, only the 2 organizations mentioned above can arrange practical Indian pilgrimage tour service (accommodation, transportation, itinerary, guide, yaks, etc.) for Indians travelling to Tibet.
Owing to the monopoly situation of Pilgrim Center, the cost of a pilgrimage tour is much higher than that of other ordinary Tibet tour. However, Indian tourists do not need to pay such high cost, because they have a wide range of choices of travel agencies. Please contact Travel Tibet China for free consultancy and our professional Tibet travel consultants will work with you to customize your Tibet tour.
Before the catastrophic Nepal Earthquake in May, 2015, most pilgrims enter Tibet overland from Zhangmu Border (also called “Kodari border” in Nepal). However, the earthquake made the access from Zhangmu Border to Tibet virtually inaccessible. You can take flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa and starting your pilgrimage tour from Lhasa, or fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu or other cities of China, then take a Tibet train or flight getting into Lhasa.
Besides, you can also enter Tibet from Purang, a border nearer to Mt. Kailash, for which you have to either trek for three days or take a helicopter service. Check the classic Kailash helicopter tour itinerary here.
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