Tibet Songtsan Travel International in Lhasa Says 2013 Travel Restriction to Tibet Has Lifted

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Tibet Songtsan Travel International in Lhasa says 2013 travel restriction to Tibet has lifted. Tibet travel will re-open to foreign tourist start from April 1st and travelers will have no minimum required to be in a group as it was the case in 2012. http://www.songtsantravel.com

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Foreign tourists to Tibet can now get entry permits, according to Songtsan Travel, a Lhasa-based agency. “The ban has been lifted so we can now obtain all the regular permits for our customers.” The agency also provided guidelines for obtaining visas and permits, and finding the required tour group.

For foreign travelers (non-Chinese) independent travel in Tibet is impossible. It’s important for travelers to know what restrictions apply, to obtain the correct permits, and to keep informed of the changing political situation.

The first step for Tibet travel is obtaining a Chinese visa. This must be applied for through a Chinese consulate in the traveler’s home country. All individuals entering China must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months for a single or double entry visa and at least nine months for a multiple entry visa.

There are two ways to apply for a Chinese visa:

  • Go directly to the consulate (check with the consulate directly for their hours of operation).
  • Use a visa service agency.

It’s important to remember not to list Tibet as the travel destination on the visa application. The in-bound city in China should be listed as the travel destination, usually Beijing or Chengdu.

Travelers planning to enter Tibet from Kathmandu should not get their Chinese visa in advance. The Chinese visa is issued as a group visa in Kathmandu and is arranged by a Tibetan travel agency along with Tibet entry permits.

The second step for Tibet travel is to obtain Tibet Travel Permits (TTP), which are required for every foreigner wishing to visit open tourist areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Travelers must show the original document to pass through airports, train or bus stations. All foreigners must travel with a tour group and tour guide.

Once the Chinese visa is obtained, travelers must send a copy of their passport and visa to an authorized travel agency, which will apply for the Tibet Travel Permits through the Tibet Tourism Bureau.

Travel outside the Tibet Autonomous Region does not require a special permit, only a Chinese visa. Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan are good alternatives for Tibetan travel in the event permits for the TAR are denied.

The information on the TTPs should exactly match passport information. Journalists and people that may be involved in political matters could have their permits revoked.

The TTPs enable tourists to enter Lhasa and visit the main tourists sites of the city, but travel outside Lhasa requires an Alien's Travel Permit (known as PSB Permit), which must be issued by the Public Security Bureau (PSB). These are also arranged through a tour agency, which should be aware of which areas require these permits.

Songtsan Travel is a Lhasa-based tour operator with more than 20 years of experience leading Tibet tours. The agency uses part of its proceeds to provide education to disadvantaged children. Songstan Travel seeks to promote Tibetan culture and help Tibetans improve their livelihood.

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