China is one of 19 countries that people can drive to from India. The best route is that you can pass through Kathmandu, Nepal to Lhasa, then leave Lhasa for Xining by Qinghai Railway and finally you can go to anywhere in China from Xining. You need a Chinese visa and a Tibetan travel permit which is also known as a Tibetan letter.
Zhangmu Port was a port at which people going to Tibet Autonomous Region of China from Nepal need to arrive. But it was destroyed when the M8 earthquake happened in April 2015 which shocked the whole world. Not only were there many casualties, but 90% of the houses collapsed in the disaster. After the earthquake, the government moved all the residents of the town permanently, and the port was closed and never opened again. At present, the opening port of the Sino-Nepalese border is the Key Rung Port.
Note: You can also enter China via Myanmar Highway, but it may take longer time and the procedures are more complicated.
According to Chinese immigration regulations, all international tourists entering Tibet from Nepal should apply for a Chinese group visa and a Tibetan travel permit in Kathmandu.
The group visa is a one-time entry tourist visa issued by the Embassy of the People`s Republic of in China in Kathmandu, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. This is a special group visa, which only permits passengers to enter Tibet through Nepal. If you have obtained a Chinese visa in your own country or region, the old visa will be invalid at the time of issuing a Chinese group visa. Therefore, if you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you need to apply for a visa in Kathmandu.
In addition, Chinese group visas from Nepal to Tibet are usually valid for no more than 30 days. You can also enter mainland China after traveling in Tibet. This is a sheet of paper listing the names of all people in your group, including their nationalities, date of birth and passport number.
Warm Reminder: If you use the same Chinese group visa as other travelers, you must enter Tibet on the same day and leave Tibet or mainland China.
To apply for a group visa in Nepal, you need to arrive in Kathmandu a few days (at least three days) before the start of the trip, because you need to provide the original passport. Here are the detailed procedures for obtaining a Chinese visa in Nepal for your Tibetan trip to Kathmandu.
Step 1: After confirming your travel details, you need to send us a scan of your passport by e-mail.
Step 2: Then our travel consultant will help you receive the invitation letter and send it to you by e-mail. You need to print it out and use it to get a group visa.
Step 3: You need to arrive at Kathmandu at least three days in advance, and submit a copy of your invitation letter and the original passport, your photo (a recent photo with a white background) and the visa fee to the visa application agency in Kathmandu. Then the staff of the Visa Intermediary Office will help you apply for a Chinese group visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.
If your travel dates and the traditional Chinese holidays overlaps, please apply for a group visa in advance to avoid suspension of service by the embassy during the holidays.
It is recommended to arrive in Kathmandu at least three days in advance. Working days refer to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It usually takes three working days to obtain an emergency group visa and four working days to obtain an ordinary group visa. Although visas can be obtained within three working days, this is not recommended when your travel departure dates overlap with Chinese holidays. The following example shows when you can get a group visa:
For example, you can give your travel documents to our staff before 13:00 on Monday, and you can get them after 10:00 on Wednesday.
Whether you enter Tibet from Nepal or mainland China, the Tibet permit, also known as the Tibet visa, is one of the necessary documents for tourism in Tibet besides the Chinese visa.
If you enter Tibet from Nepal, the process of applying for a Tibet permit is exactly the same as that of entering Tibet from the mainland of China.
Step 1: Confirm your travel plan of Tibet and book the whole trip service with the local travel agency.
Neither the Tibetan Tourism Bureau nor the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu will accept individual applications. Tourists must apply through travel agencies. Once you have booked a trip to Tibet, we will apply for your Tibet travel permit on your behalf before you leave.
Step 2: Send travel documents to travel consultants by e-mail.
What you need to do is to send your passport information page, Chinese visa page and the scanned photos to your travel consultant by e-mail.
It usually takes 8-9 working days for Tibet Tourism Bureau to process Tibet Permit. If you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, our Tibet tour guide will send the letter of entry to the airport. If you like the land tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, our Tibet tour guide will take your letter of entry to Key Rung Port and wait for you.
Throughout your journey to Tibet, our Tibetan tour guide will keep your Tibet license to ensure safety and conduct inspections at multiple checkpoints.
For self-driving in China, you must also have a guided car that can be arranged by the government through approved institutions.
You also need a temporary driver’s license and a license plate. The Chinese government does not recognize Indian or international driver’s licenses. The following information should be presented for foreigners to obtain driver’s licenses.
When applying for a motor vehicle driving license, the holder of an overseas motor vehicle driving license shall fill in the application form and submit the following certificates and vouchers:
(1) The identity certificate of the applicant;
Where the Indian passport holders want to visit in Holy Mountain, Gangrenboqi and Sacred Lake,Mapangyongcuo, their travel permits must be issued by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Tibetan Military Region, the Armed Police Frontier Defence Corps and the Tibetan Ministry of Public Security.
Indian passport holders, who want to visit Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake area, must join the official “pilgrim group” which requires special permission. Therefore, self-driving Indian tourists in China cannot visit Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake area.
Special Note: Indian passport holders, even if they are not pilgrims who want to visit Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake area or pass through Ali, need to join the “pilgrim group” organized by the Indian government. The travel agency does not provide any visiting services to visit the Ali for Indian passport holders.
In addition, Norwegian and Nigerian passport holders have difficulty obtaining permits to Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake area.
As long as Indian passport holders do not enter the Ali region of Tibet, they can travel by themselves in Tibet (except Ali), and mainland China, just like travelers from other countries.
This article does not impact non-Indian passport holders. Non-Indian passport holders can take self-driving tours in mainland China, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region (including Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake area).
More information about drive to China
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