Travel Permits

 

I may be travelling from Hong Kong (and be a permanent HK Identity Card holder) but when it comes to traveling in Tibet or even China that doesn’t count for much at all.  I am still counted as a British Citizen and British Passport holder.  As such, I need both a Chinese Visa and Tibet Travel Permit to travel in through both countries as I plan to do, so I am in the same boat as those travelling from Europe or the US so this information in not only useful to HK travellers.  As for a Nepali VISA, you (and I) will need one too.

Nepal Visa
Easy to get hold of.  Charges vary depending on where you come from.  In my case, a Nepali VISA is going to set me back HK$300 (around USD30/GBP15) and I found all the information here, but thats only useful for HK visitors.  For everybody else, ‘Google’ the Nepali Consulate in your own country and you will generally find the information without too much hassle.

Tibet Travel Permit
There are several ways to get hold of a Tibet Travel permit.  You will need it before you enter Tibet so don’t rely on picking one up on arrival.  You can get it through an agency, or from your city of departure etc.  If you are taking an organised tour (i.e. Kathmandu to Lhasa overland) it is likely your organisers will be able to hook you up.  Just make sure you have it, it’s cheap (USD7) and not worth the fine and being kicked out to avoid.  Some more useful information is here.  However, if you are coming from Kathmandu into China there is an additional charge of USD20, more information on why this is below.  Also, if you are coming from Kathmandu you TTP will only be issued if you are travelling in a group.  Don’t worry, two people constitutes a group so don’t think you will need a bus full of people to get through.

China Visa
If you are performing this trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu there are no problems.  Organise a Chinese VISA through your consulate or agency as usual and, providing you have your Tibetan and Nepali travel permits, you should have little problem making your way from China to Tibet to Nepal.  HOWEVER, (and this is a big however) if you are entering Tibet from Kathmandu the situation is VERY different.  There is a weird rule between China and Nepal that states that any Chinese VISA will be voided on entry to Nepal.  In other words, you can only get your Chinese VISA whilst in Kathmandu.  So make sure you get on this as soon as you arrive (I will be!) and you should have no problems.  In addition, this will also increase the cost of your Tibet Travel Permit by USD20.  Awkward eh?

It sounds complex, but so long as you pay particularly attention to making sure you have your papers in order, by all accounts, you should be fine.  As for myself, I guess time will tell but I will certainly be making sure no stone is left unturned.  I really don’t want this trip ruined by technicalities.

I gathered this information from a variety of sources but by far the most useful was this entry from the excellent Life on the Tibetan Plateau blog.

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