How to Travel from Nepal to China

Nepal and China are two neighboring countries with convenient transports of flight and overland by car to reach each side. Meanwhile, a railway construction that connects Lhasa and Kathmandu is also planned to be completed in 2022. In this article, you’ll find detailed information on how to travel from Nepal to China by different ways.

Travel from Nepal to China by Air

Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport is the only airport in Nepal which has flight routes to China. Presently, there are flights from Kathmandu to 6 cities of China, including Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Hong Kong. The same as Nepal, situated at Himalayan Ranges, Tibet is the nearest destination with about 1.5 hours of flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Here below you can find the flight details from Nepal to China:

Nepal to China Flight Schedule
Departure Arrival Flight No. Air Company Airport & Time Duration & Stopover

Kathmandu

Lhasa 3U8720 Sichuan Airlines KTM(11:30)-LXA(15:05) 1h20m / Nonstop
CA408 Air China KTM(12:10)-LXA(16:00) 1h35m / Nonstop
Chengdu CA438 Air China KTM(10:40)-CTU(15:10) 3h15m / Nonstop
3U8720 Sichuan Airlines KTM(11:30)-CTU(19:00) 5h15m / Lhasa
Kunming MU2594 China Eastern Airlines KTM(16:25)-KMG(22:05) 3h25m / Nonstop
MU758 China Eastern Airlines KTM(17:25)-KMG(23:05) 3h25m / Nonstop
Guangzhou CZ6068 China Southern Airlines KTM(12:15)-CAN(18:55) 4h25m / Nonstop
CZ3068 China Southern Airlines KTM(22:40)-CAN(05:10)
+ 1 day
4h15m / Nonstop
Xi’an TV6020 Tibet Airlines KTM(16:45)-XIY(23:20) 4h20m / Nonstop
Hong Kong RA409 Nepal Airlines KTM(11:00)-HKG(17:45) 4h30m / Nonstop
KA103 Cathay Dragon Airlines KTM(22:45)-HKG(05:40)
+ 1 day
4h40m / Nonstop

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 Nepal to China by Land

If you have a more flexible schedule, then taking an overland tour from Nepal to China via the Friendship Highway throughout Tibet will be a wonderful experience. You’ll start from Kathmandu, and cross the Nepal-China border, then drive eastward with the spectacular Himalayan landscapes till reaching Lhasa. The total length of this famous highway is about 1,120 kilometers, and the suggested travel time is from 3 to 7 days depending on what you’ll sightsee along the way.

There are 3 borders for going from Nepal to China, which are Zhangmu border, Gyirong border and Purang border in Tibet Autonomous Region. The Zhangmu border was destroyed during the earthquake in 2015, and now is only accessible for goods transports, still not open for tourists yet. Gyirong border is the most commonly used border for tourists nowadays, while Purang border is nearer to travel to the holy Mount Kailash.

Sightseeing during the Overland Trip

Mount Kailash: As located in one of the coldest regions in Tibet, Mount Kailash is not an ideal travel destination during the period from December to March since there might be a heavy snow and the road might be blocked. May, June, September and October are the peak months for trekking Mount Kailash, when the days are clear with least rain nor wind. It takes more time for foreign tourists to get all the travel permits for a Mount Kailash tour. Hence it is advised to book an organized Mount Kailash tour at least one month ahead to guarantee everything be ready in time.

Tibet side Everest Base Camp: If you hope to have a clear panoramic view of the summit, try to avoid the rainy season when the rain, fog, mist may probably shield the image in July and August, and possibly affecting September as well. The other negative factor is the wind lasting from November to the following May, and during when February and March have the strongest ones. Thus, late April, May, October and November are the four most suitable months to do sightseeing at Mount Everest.

Tibet side Everest Base Camp
Tibet side Everest Base Camp

Shigatse-the Home of Panchen Lama: As the second largest city in Tibet, Shigatse is another culture abundant town with long history just like Lhasa. The Tashilhunpo Monastery has been the residence of Panchen Lama for many generations and also the tomb of the past Panchen Lamas.

Yamdrok Lake: Different with Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake never gets completely frozen even in harsh winter. It just gets partially icy in December, January and February. Located on the way from Gyantse to Lhasa, it is always included in an overland tour from Nepal to Tibet. Normally, we will drive along the lake for a while and you can enjoy the lake view from different section. The color of the lake varies with the change of the sunlight, from the deep azure blue to a fantastic turquoise. 

Lhasa-the Holy City: Lhasa is good to visit in any season of a year. Located in the flat valley of Lhasa River, with the altitude of 3,650m, Lhasa is relatively friendly for new comers to acclimatize to the high altitude. Undoubtedly, it is the spiritual center of Tibet and all Tibetans dispersed in other regions of China and overseas. Even in the cold winter, the daytime sunlight generously warm up the visitors and the residents on the land. To have a sunbath in a square of Lhasa has been a lovely tradition for many tourists. It can be a relaxing break after the hours of culture trip in the Potala Palace or Johkang Temple. To observe the pilgrims doing their prostration, invocation, and praying, can be the inspiration of your meditation and retrospection.

Potala Palace in Lhasa
Potala Palace in Lhasa

Continue the Trip to the Rest of China

There are dozens of flights and trains departing from Lhasa to the rest of China, so you can easily continue the travel around the whole country. The transport network ranges from the major gateway cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu to many other smaller cities like Shangri-La, Lijiang, Xining, etc. Furthermore, you could also extend your overland trip to Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan.

Travel from Nepal to China by Train in the Future

Travel from Nepal to China has been very easy nowadays with daily flights or by taking an overland road trip journey. However, the train option from Nepal to China is still not accessible. The railway to link China and Nepal is now in the process of construction, with the joint effort of both countries.

China to Nepal Railway starts from Shigatse in Tibet through Gyirong border and extend to Nepal. Once it is put in use, travel between China and Nepal by train will be possible. The length of the railway from Shigatse to Gyirong is 540 kilometers long and hopefully will be completed in 2022. As indicated by China media, the blueprint of China Nepal Railway is to further connect Kathmandu and the Nepali tourist city Pokhara and Chitwan National Park.

It’s said that the max speed of the train to run through China Nepal Railway will be 120km/h, which is limited and set according to the special geographical landscape. When the construction of China Nepal Railway is completed, it will be the highest railway in the world, replacing the current No. 1, the Qinghai Tibet Highway.

China-Nepal Railway Map
China-Nepal Railway Map

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

If you plan to travel from Nepal to China through Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), then you need to get a Chinese Group Visa which is much different from a regular visa. This special visa is required to board the flight to TAR or pass the Nepal-China border. All foreign travelers (Nepalese included) have to apply for the Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu, Nepal, and usually all the procedures are processed through an agency. So, please make sure to keep in touch with them before you arrive in Kathmandu, and make sure they can get your original passport in time.

Tourists from Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Serbia etc need no Chinese Visa to enter China if they stay less than 15 days but when they fly or travel overland to China via Tibet, they also need to apply for a Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu. But Tourists from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan etc. cannot get the group visa in Kathmandu. They are suggested to get their Chinese Visa in their home country and enter Tibet from another city.

Another situation is if you already have the valid Chinese visa, then we would suggest that you first visit some cities of inland China and put your Tibet tour behind them. The reason is because your original Chinese Visa will only be applicable if you go from inland China, but will NOT be admitted and allowed to go to Tibet from Nepal at the customs office.

Read more information on the visa issue at: Travel to Tibet from Nepal

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