How to Travel from China to Nepal

Nowadays, many tourists combine their China and Nepal tour when traveling to Asia. These two countries have great differences on culture, tradition, natural scenery, etc. China has abundant tourists’ resources just like its large population and vast extend of the land. Your tour program should include Beijing, Xi’an if you are interested in Chinese history. To see modern China, you have to visit Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, etc. For natural beauty and wild lives, the western China such as Tibet and Xinjiang are recommended. There are too much to list here. While Nepal is an underdeveloped country, but it is a popular place for tourists because of the Buddhism culture, pristine natural beauty and colorful festivals. It is also called the paradise of trekkers. Since China and Nepal is adjacent to each other, it is very convenient to travel from China to Nepal.

Travel from China to Nepal by Air

There are daily flights from many cities in China to Nepal. They are Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Hong Kong. It takes from 1.5 hours to 5 hours to fly from China to Nepal. Please check below for the detailed flight schedule from different Chinese cities to Nepal.

China to Nepal Flight Schedule
Departure Arrival Flight No. Air Company Airport & Time Duration & Stopover
Lhasa Kathmandu 3U8719 Sichuan Airlines LXA(10:55)-KTM(10:30) 1h50m
CA407 Air China LXA(11:50)-KTM(11:10) 1h35m
Chengdu Kathmandu CA437 Air China CTU(08:45)-KTM(09:40) 3h10m
3U8719 Sichuan Airlines CTU(07:30)-KTM(10:30) 5h15m
Kunming Kathmandu MU2593 China Eastern Airlines KMG(14:10)-KTM(15:25) 3h30m
MU757 China Eastern Airlines KMG(15:10)-KTM(16:25) 3h30m
Guangzhou Kathmandu CZ6067 China Southern Airlines CAN(08:25)-KTM(11:00) 4h50m
CZ3067 China Southern Airlines CAN(19:00)-KTM(21:25) 4h40m
Xi’an Kathmandu TV6019 Tibet Airlines XIY(14:00)-KTM(15:45) 4h
Hong Kong Kathmandu RA410 Nepal Airlines HKG(17:50)-KTM(20:50) 5h15m
KA104 Cathay Dragon Airlines HKG(18:50)-KTM(21:35) 5h

Please note:
1.The departure time and arrival time are on local time and Nepal is 2 hours and 15 minutes behind China.
2.Due to the seasonal difference, the flight schedules above are for reference only, please contact us for the latest details.

Travel from China to Nepal by Train

Although it is very convenient to fly from China to Nepal, many tourists still choose to go by train. It might because they do not like fly journey but the main reason is that they can enjoy the great natural beauty and amazing culture of China. Since China borders Nepal in Tibet, the train tour from China to Nepal will go through Tibet which is also one of the highlights of the whole journey.

For train fans, they can take train from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou and Xining to Lhasa and then travel by car to Nepal. No might from which city you take the train, it will pass Xining which is the start point of Qinghai Tibet Railway, the highest railway on the earth. Once the train passes Xining, it enters an area with mesmerizing landscape which contains the turquoise Qinghai Lake, towering snowy Kunlun Mountains and Tanggula Montain Ranges, the isolated Hoh Xil Nature Reserve dotted with rare animals such as Tibetan Antelope, wild yak, etc., and then arrives in the Holy city Lhasa. From Lhasa, you will drive long the picturesque Yamdrok Lake, numerous praying flags and Mani stone, lofty Himalaya mountain ranges to Nepal border.

Good news is that the China Nepal Railway has been under construction already. It will be in use from 2022. Then tourists can take train from China to Nepal directly.

China-Nepal Railway Map

Travel from China to Nepal by Drive

Except of the flight and train option, driving from China to Nepal is less popular but has much more fun. It is suitable for those who have lots of time and want to travel in depth. The overland tours starting from Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Xinjiang are most popular and also favorite for self-drive tourist. 

For tourists who visited Panda Base in Chengdu or Giant Buddha in Leshan, they can drive through Sichuan Tibet Highway and then forward to Nepal. Sichuan Tibet Highway is once renowned as the most treacherous road. That is indeed the truth but the road is now all paved with pitch and expanded a lot as well. Not to worry about the road condition, driving through this route will be an extraordinary experience. You will pass through Hailuogou glacier, a glacier with an altitude lower than 3000meters, where you can have a great view of the Mount Gonggar which is the highest mountain in Sichuan. Then you will marvel at the great natural beauty of Xinduqiao and Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve. Do not feel surprised should you see a polychrome rainbow over the valley. Except of the snowy mountains afar, azure sky above, you will also be accompanied by vast grassland, dense forest, blooming flowers, turquoise blue lakes, and peaceful Tibetan villages with flying prayer flags.

Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve along Sichuan-Tibet Highway
Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve along Sichuan-Tibet Highway

Yunnan is also a popular tourist destination in China because of the minority culture and natural landscape. Self-drive tourists usually drive from Burma, Vietnam, Laos to Yunnan and then drive all the way from Dali, Kunming, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Tibet to Nepal. Once the road from Yunnan to Tibet was called the Tea Horse Road, also known as “Asian Corridor in Heaven”. Back then people from inland China traveled by this road to enter Tibet to exchange horses with tea and other items. Now driving from Yunnan to Nepal, you can visit the ancient towns of Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La, the highest mountain in Yunnan-Meili Snow Mountain, the deep Tiger Leaping Gorge, etc. After entering Tibet area, you will see the expansive Bangda Grassland, Ranwu Lake famous for it’s tranquil and colorful water, the holy Potala Palace, the mysterious Everest and other Himalaya Mountains.

Another famous route is from Xinjiang to Tibet and then cross to Nepal. The tour normally starts from Kashgar which was once a vital trading center on ancient silk road. It is famous for the Uighur culture and natural scenery. Starting from Kashgar, driving along the desert highway takes us to Tibet. All the way, we need to drive across 5 mountains with an altitude more than 5000 meters, pass no-man area and experience sudden snow or rain, but it is a great bonus to see wild animals, rare species of birds, numerous glittering lakes. Among all these spots, what you must see are Abakh Khoja Tomb, Sunday Bazzar, Pangong Lake, Mt. Kailash, Guge Kingdom and Lake Manasarovar.

Map of China to Nepal by Drive
Map of China to Nepal by Drive

Borders from China to Nepal

There are three borders between China and Nepal: Zhangmu/Kodari, Gyirong/Rasuwa and Purang(Taklakot)/Hilsa.

The Zhangmu/Kodari Border had always been the port for tourists traveling from China to Nepal. It has been closed after the severe earthquake in Nepal in 2015 and reopened in May 2019. However, this port is now for business and trade only. Tourists have to go by Gyirong/Rasuwa port which was open to tourists after the earthquake. The road condition from China to the border is very good while it has a great difference once you cross the border to Nepal side. All the way from the border to Kathmandu is unpaved muddy road with occasional landslide. A 4WD vehicle and an experienced driver are must for your safety. It is only 160km but takes about 9 hours. But the view of snow mountains, dense forest, deep valleys along the way is awesome.

The other port Purang(Taklakot)/Hilsa is less popular since Hilsa is very far away from Kathmandu. Nevertheless, for tourists who travel from Xinjiang to Mt. Kailash but not interested in visiting other parts of Tibet or China, they can exit from this port.

Visa & Permit Issue for Traveling from China to Nepal through Tibet Autonomous Region

Traveling to China, a normal “L” visa (tourist visa) is needed except some of the countries which are free of visa for entering China. It is for sure that you can also travel to China by holding “M” “F” “Q” “S” “X” visas etc. Since traveling to Nepal by land needs to pass Tibet, except of the Chinese Visa, a Tibet Permit is also needed. The permit application needs to be handled by a travel agency and tourists only need to provide to the agency their valid passport and Chinese Visa copies. In order to make the visa application goes smoothly, it is advised not to mention Tibet when applying for the Chinese Visa. Once the visa is issued, a travel agency can get the Tibet Permit very easily.

The Nepal Visa can be applied ahead of arrival or it can be processed once you cross the border to Nepal immigration office. If you apply for it ad hoc, two photos of passport size are needed. You can take the photo in the office and get it immediately. The visa fee is different based on your nationality and duration you will stay in Nepal. The visa fee can be paid in Chinese Yuan or US dollars.

Below are some popular tour programs from China to Nepal:
8 Days Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour
9 Days Shanghai & Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour  
10 Days Beijing & Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour
10 Days Guilin & Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour
10 Days Xining & Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour 
12 Days Yunnan & Tibet to Nepal Overland Tour 


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