Flying to Tibet for your Tibet tour is one of the most popular ways to travel to the region, and in comparison to the trains, it is the fastest method of travel to Tibet. While they may have a more scenic route across the plateau to Tibet, the extensive time it takes to use the train is not everyone’s first choice.
With dozens of flights to the Tibetan capital every day, it is easy to get to Tibet quickly, and the flights leave from 18 different airports across China. The main cities for flights to Tibet include Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an, and Kunming, among others, and with a flight time of around 3 to 6 hours, it means you can be in Tibet faster, allowing you more time to relax and acclimatize ready for your once-in-a-lifetime Tibet trip.
You can also take flights to Lhasa from the only international departure location in the world, Nepal. The flights from Kathmandu run daily and are a popular way to get to Tibet, with carriers including Air China and Air Tibet.
Lhasa Gonggar international Airport is the only international airport in Tibet, and is the main arrivals hub for majority of the flights to the region. The airport connects Lhasa to multiple cities across China, as well as the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. However, even though there are a large number of airports available from which to take your flight to Tibet, you are advised to book your flight as early as possible to avoid missing out on your preferred flight to the region. Even the flights can be booked out fairly quickly, especially in the summer months when demand is at its peak.
Flights to Lhasa from Mainland China
Flights to Lhasa depart from a large number of cities across China, and the most popular of these cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Xi’an. Chengdu is the most popular of all the routes to China, and is a flight of only around two and a half hours. Flights leave Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport 12 times a day, and cost from around US$ 290 for an economy flight to Lhasa. Cheaper flights can be found from Chengdu, thanks to the additional discounts that can be had when booking through the airport itself, and there are indirect flights through Kunming and Xining that can make the cost of the flight cheaper.
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport is another popular airport for flights to Tibet, with more than ten flights per day to the Tibetan capital airport. Chongqing often has more discounts for flights to Lhasa than Chengdu, and for those flying through the airport it can be the cheaper option if budget is an issue. On average, the cost of a regular economy flight to Lhasa is around US$ 280 per person, and with the available discounts, it can be a very affordable option. Flights take around 7-9 hours to get to Lhasa, depending on whether direct or indirect flights, and the major carriers from Chongqing are Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines.
In the east of China, Beijing and Shanghai also offer direct flights to Tibet, and both offer connecting flights that run via Chengdu or Xi’an. Flights from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport or Hongqiao International Airport can take from 5-9 hours, depending on direct or indirect, while flights from Beijing Capital international Airport take around four hours direct or 6-7 hours via Chengdu. From Shanghai, flights start at around US$ 530, while it is a little cheaper from Beijing at around US$ 515. Both Shanghai and Beijing are considered to be good gateway cities for flights to Tibet.
Xi’an also has both direct and indirect flights to Lhasa, and is one of the major air traffic hubs in China for international and domestic flights. The Xian Xianyang International Airport offers seven direct flights per day, which take around three hours, as well as several indirect flights via Xiahe and Xining that can take up to 8-9 hours. A popular gateway to Lhasa because of the stunning tourist attractions of the area, including the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors, flights from Xi’an cost from around US$ 360 per person for an economy ticket.
Flights also run from several other cities in China, although there are less daily flights to Lhasa from other places, and the costs are sometimes higher due to the lower numbers of tourists traveling to Lhasa from other areas of China. From Xining, there are five flights, which can take from 3-7 hours, depending on connections, and cost from around US$ 290, while from Kunming, the four direct flights cost from US$ 360 and take from 3-5 hours. Kunming Airport is actually a major international hub these days, with flights arriving from Europe, America, Canada, and several other international locations.
Flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu, Nepal
Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal is the only international airport outside China that offers direct flights to Tibet, and there are at least four flights per day. The airport, which is located around six kilometers from the city center of Kathmandu, operates the direct flights with Tibet Airlines, Air China, Sichuan Airlines, and China Eastern, and the average direct flight takes around 90 minutes to cover the 600-kilometer distance to Lhasa.
Nepal is a popular departure location for travel to Tibet, both overland and by flight, although the cost of the flight is a lot more expensive than from any city in China, at around 700 US dollars for an economy flight. However, despite it being more expensive, the ease of getting the visa from Kathmandu for entry to Tibet has made it a viable route.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is also considered to be one of the most stunning routes in terms of view, as the flights pass directly over Mount Everest on the way to the Tibetan capital, and passengers get a good view of Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, and several other high peaks from the windows of the plane. And since the average flight altitude of 30,000 feet is just a little higher than the world’s highest mountain, the views are stupendous and clear.