There is definitely a close affinity between Tibet and Thailand and this is due to the fact that 93.6% of the citizens of Thailand are Buddhists, while the majority of Tibetans are Buddhists likewise. Moreover, there are around 33,902 operating Buddhist temples in Thailand at present; while Tibet has some of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world. As a Thai Buddhist, you would surely want to make a once-in-a-lifetime sacred journey to the holiest Buddhist sites of Tibet. For this reason, every year, there are thousands of Thai tourists who flock to Tibet, many of whom engage in sacred pilgrimage to the holiest Buddhist sites of Tibet.
If you are a Thai pilgrim, however, who intend to make that once-in-a-lifetime visit to Tibet, you would be required to avail of a tour package, offered by a recognized touring agency in Tibet. With the help of this touring agency, you can easily secure the necessary travel permits and fulfill your dream of seeing the most popular and holiest sites of Tibet.
Necessary Documents for Thai Citizens
As a Thai citizen who wants to visit Tibet, you will be required to obtain some necessary permits prior to your departure to Tibet. Since Tibet is under the Chinese jurisdiction, you will need to primarily secure a Chinese Visa to travel to Tibet. You can secure this visa from the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok. This Chinese Embassy is open from 9:00 am to 11;30 am (Monday to Friday). The processing of the Chinese Visa usually takes around four days. Afterwards, you can pick up your passport and visa at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center located at Thanapoom Tower’s fifth floor. This tower is located at 1550 New Petchaburi Road, Makkasan, Bangkok.
After securing your visa, you can readily apply for a Tibet Travel Permit. Your chosen registered travel agency in Tibet or China can secure the permit for you. Without this Tibet Travel Permit, you can never travel to Tibet. Your tour agency will help you process this permit and will provide you with the necessary tour guide and transport. Upon your arrival in China, your travel agent will hand over to you this travel permit. You will need to present this Tibet Travel Permit before you board a train or plane to Lhasa.
Traveling Routes from Thailand to Tibet
From Thailand, you have two viable options to reach Tibet: one is a route via Nepal and the other one via mainland China. Interestingly, both routes offer awesome varying experiences that would surely be unforgettable.
- Tibet from Thailand via Kathmandu
If you choose the route via Nepal, you would get the chance to see the landmarks and sites of Kathmandu, Nepal. However, you’ll have to present other requirements if you enter Tibet via Nepal. Of course, you still need to secure the Tibet Travel Permit before you can travel to Tibet via Nepal for this permit is a prerequisite. But you also need to secure a Group Tourist Visa and avail of the service of a recognized touring agency. The processing of Tibet Travel Permit usually takes 5 to 7 working days; while it takes two working days for you to receive the visa.
From Kathmandu, your best option at hand to reach Tibet is by boarding a plane to Tibet since the Gyirong Port is currently closed for repair. There are various flights from Bangkok to Kathmandu in a day, and a return trip package would cost you around 9,300 Thai Baht (THB). Flight costs, however, vary depending on which season you would travel.
The airlines that offer flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa include those of Sichuan Airlines and Air China. and the cost of plane tickets usually ranges between 9,000 to 10,000 THB. Moreover, it takes around three and a half hours by plane to cover the distance of 600 km between Kathmandu and Lhasa.
One caveat, however, that you should bear in mind when traveling to Tibet is the high altitude of Lhasa. If you are coming from Bangkok, this sudden change of attitude may lead to altitude sickness. Hence, it will be a good idea to acclimate yourself first with the high altitude in Kathmandu, although Kathmandu is relatively lower in altitude than Lhasa. Afterward, when you reach Lhasa, it would be good to allow yourself some time to adapt yourself to the weather in Lhasa before getting out of Lhasa to visit other parts of Tibet.
From Thailand to Tibet via Chengdu
The other alternative route to Tibet from Thailand is via mainland China. From Thailand, the ideal stopover city is Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Flights to Chengdu from Bangkok usually cost 11,000 THB. The air travel likewise between Bangkok and Chengdu takes three hours. From Chengdu, you can either take a direct flight or direct train travel to Tibet.
- Flights from Chengdu to Lhasa
From Chengdu, you can reach Lhasa within 2 hours and 25 minutes by plane, and plane tickets usually cost around 9,000 THB (one-way Ticket). There are several flights going to Tibet from Chengdu, numbering around 34 flights per day. The only downside of traveling directly from Chengdu to Lhasa is the limited chance of acclimating yourself to high altitude weather of Lhasa.
- Train Travel from Chengdu to Lhasa
Trains leave daily from Chengdu Railway Station, and it usually takes 43 hours to reach Lhasa by train. Train tickets usually cost around ¥668 (hard sleeper) and ¥1,062 (soft sleeper). Train travel from Chengdu to Lhasa generally covers a distance of 3,000 km. The upside of train travel is that you will get to see some of the most spectacular views along the way. The downside, however, is that it takes longer to arrive at Tibet as compared to plane travel.