Most domestic Chinese airlines fly from Chinese cities to Tibet. In addition there is a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to Tibet. There are no other international flights directly to Tibet so you will have to stop in one of China’s more than 12 “gateway” cities where you can get a flight connecting to Tibet. These gateway cities include Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xian, Lanzhou, Xining or Kunming although most travelers fly from Chengdu to Tibet as there are more flights from the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport than from other Chinese cities.
It is not possible to visit Tibet as a solo traveler so you need to take an organized tour. Your tour company will tell you about the various documents necessary for entering Tibet. However if you are planning to fly to Tibet it is important to know that you will not be permitted to board a flight without the original copy of your Tibet Travel Permit. You can take a train to Tibet with a copy of the TTP but you need the original in order to check-in to a flight to Tibet.
Airlines that fly to Tibet
• Air China
• China Eastern Airlines
• China Southern Airlines
• Sichuan Airlines
• Xiamen Airlines
• Tibet Airlines
• West Air China
• Chongqing Airlines
• Lucky Airlines
• Sichuan Airlines (international)
• Air China (international)
Flying to Tibet from Nepal
The flight from Nepal over Mount Everest is amazing and takes about 1:20 hours! At the moment only Sichuan Airlines and Air China Airlines make the trip from Katmandu to Lhasa. The flight goes from Chengdu to Katmandu with a stopover in Lhasa.
Flights from Beijing to Lhasa
Two direct flights daily with stopover in Chengdu. Journey time about 5 hours. Airlines operating this route Air China and China Southern Airlines.
Flights from Chengdu to Lhasa
More than 10 flights a day to Lhasa in peak season and 5 flights in low season. Journey time is approximately 2 hours. There are non-stop flights Chengdu-Shigatse operated by Tibet Airlines and China Airline. The Chengdu-Shigatse route takes about 2:30 hours. There are also flights from Chengdu to Nyingchi.
Flights from Shanghai to Lhasa
Flights leave daily from Shanghai to Lhasa with a stopover in Chengdu or Xian. Journey time about 6 hours. Airlines operating this route China Eastern Airlines, Tibet Airlines and Air China.
Flight from Shangri la to Lhasa
Flights operate on this route from late April to October. The flights originate in Kunming, make a stopover in Shangri la and continue on to Lhasa. Journey time is about 2 hours.
Flight from Guangzhou to Lhasa
These are long flights taking a day to reach Lhasa with a stopover in Chengdu. These flights are seasonal operating daily but only April to October. Some of the flights go via Chongqing and take about 6-7 hours.
Flights from Chongqing to Lhasa
There are two to three flights a day from Chongqing landing in Lhasa. Airlines operating this route Air China and Sichuan Airlines. Journey time is about 2:20 hours.
Flights from Xian to Lhasa
There are one or two flights daily from Xian to Lhasa. The journey time is about 2 hours. Some of the flights are non-stop others stopover in Xining or Xiahe.
Flights from Xining to Lhasa
Flights operate daily from Xining to Lhasa and journey time is approximately 2:30 hours.
Flights from Nanjing to Lhasa
There are two direct flights daily from Nanjing to Lhasa. The airlines operating this route are Tibet Airline and Air China. There are a few other flights which make connections and flights which stop over for an hour in Mianyang City.
Flights to Tibet TIPS:
• Flights to Tibet in the winter months are often delayed or canceled due to bad weather.
• Your Tibet Travel Permit will be checked at check-in to your flight in China and on arrival at Lhasa Gongkar Airport.
• Baggage allowance on flights to Tibet is 20kg in economy and 40kg in first class.
• Flights are more frequent and more expensive in the summer than in the winter.
• Ticket prices rise during the Chinese National Holiday (first week of October) and the Chinese Spring Festival/Chinese New Year (January to mid-February).
• Generally flights leave for Lhasa in the morning as the weather is better.
• There are five Tibetan airports but most travelers will arrive in Lhasa Gonggar Airport. The other airports are Chamdo Airport; Nyingchi Airport; Ngari Airport and Shigatse Airport.