Tibet is the highest region on the Earth, with an average altitude of 4,380 meters (14,000 feet). Tibet is a popular tourist destination to Indians for its natural and cultural beauty. Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are dream destinations for many Indian pilgrims. Such tourists who want to visit Tibet should know how to get a Tibet visa for Indian citizens.
Getting a Tibetan visa is important as Indians do not get visa on arrival in China. You'll need to take care of your visa before you board your plane to China. The process is simple and you can get it from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in India.
Basically, there are three types of Tibetan visas for Indians:
Getting this visa allows you to travel to Tibet but not the Ngari region. This is not for religious purposes and will not allow you to trek around Mount Kailash or visit Lake Manasarovar.
This is the most issued visa among Indian citizens due to the enormous number of Indians that visit Tibet solely to visit Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash. If you have this visa, you are allowed to travel to the Ngari region as well as other parts of Tibet. Even if your destination is neither Mount Kailash nor Lake Manasarovar, if you have this visa you are categorized as a pilgrim. Even if the reason for your visit is not religious, you are considered a pilgrim if you have obtained this visa.
Image: Mount Kailash in Ngari Prefecture
For Indians with a US passport, you will be treated as a US citizen and will be granted the required visa but you won't be considered a pilgrim.
First, you need to apply for a Chinese visa as Tibet is an autonomous region of China. You can easily get this from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your own country. China does not allow any online visa application or Visa on Arrival service, so you need to take care of this before traveling. You will get the category "L" visa initially through which you can apply for a Tibet travel permit. Passport holders in some countries do not need to pay for this visa though.
January 2024 Update: As of January 2024, Indian citizens are not getting their visa request accepted to visit Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in China.
After you have a Chinese visa, you can now apply for a Tibet travel permit and choose among the 3 visas mentioned above.
If your destination is Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, you will require more permits as the region is restricted.
You will have to apply for an Alien's travel permit issued by the Tibetan Local Public Security Bureau. It is also referred to as the PSB permit locally. Unlike the other two visas or permits mentioned above, you can apply for this after landing in Tibet.
The final permit you will require to reach Mount Kailash is the Restricted Area Permit or Military Permit.
One of the better ways to apply for Chinese or Tibetan visa for Indian citizens is through Nepal. Indians can travel to Nepal without any visa and reach Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, there are many travel agencies that handle trips to China, mainly the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra for Indians. They can handle your visa process, which can take 3 business days.
Cost of Tibet Visa for India Citizens
The cost of a Chinese visa varies according to your nationality and the number of people in your group. For a single entry, the cost is as follows:
While the cost for a Tibet travel permit is 250 to 450 CNY (USD 35 to 70) based on the nationality.
The PSB permit costs 50 CNY which is USD 5-8.
As for the Restricted Area Permit, its cost ranges from 100 to 300 CNY which is USD15-45.
Don't make these mistakes when applying for a Tibet permit:
Yes, a Tibet travel permit is mandatory for Indians. Tibet Entry Permit is a mandatory travel permit for any international tourists to enter Tibet in addition to a Chinese visa.
You will require to send a copy of your passport and Chinese visa to apply for a Tibet Travel permit.
It usually takes 5-7 business days to process a Tibet visa.
No, you cannot visit Tibet alone. You need to travel through a trusted travel operator to gain access to Tibet.