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Tibet and Visa

Travel Forums Asia Tibet and Visa

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1. Posted by cdntrvl (Full Member 50 posts) 11y

Hoping someone out there can shed some light on this situation. I was told by a tour company in Kathmandu not to arrive with a Chinese visa since it will be cancelled in lieu of a group visa. They told me they will arrange for me to split from the group in Lhasa and then in Chengdu to get a tourist visa for China. Has anyone any experience with this? What happens when you land in Chengdu with no tourist visa or is this a non-issue since you are coming from "China"? According to the Rough Guide they recommend showing up in Nepal already with the Chinese visa. Can anyone help clear this up?

Many thanks
Alex

2. Posted by citybell (Full Member 419 posts) 11y

Tibet is a kind of a special autonomous region in China and tourist visa is not valid for non Chinese.

If you want to enter Tibet from Nepal, you need to have a group visa. Even though you have a tourist visa obtained before and still valid, the chinese embassy in Kathmandu will cancell the tourist visa and will issue a group visa.

After reaching Tibet, if you want to continue to other cities in China, you need a tourist visa which you can get in Lahsa and the travel agent can obtain this for you.

3. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

If you go into Tibet the other way (from Chengdu) then you just enter China with a normal tourist visa and in Chengdu you get the Tibet permit (when you book a tour that's not really a tour but gets you the permit, etc.). That's what I did, I went Chegdu-Lhasa-Kathmandu. I never saw anyone else in my so called group (and was on my own once I was in Tibet).

Before I went I was told it was easier to go on my own if I went in from Chengdu, as opposed to Kathmandu (and it worked great for me). I had a driver & guide (Tibetan fortunately, I would have hated a Chinese guide in Tibet) but still spent most of my time wandering around on my own.

TIP: when you apply for the Chinese visa do NOT put Tibet down under destinations in China...you don't have to, just list Biejing, xian, shanghai, (the visa you get it the same and once you're in China, you're in).

4. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

Quoting Travel100

If you go into Tibet the other way (from Chengdu) then you just enter China with a normal tourist visa and in Chengdu you get the Tibet permit (when you book a tour that's not really a tour but gets you the permit, etc.). That's what I did, I went Chegdu-Lhasa-Kathmandu. I never saw anyone else in my so called group (and was on my own once I was in Tibet). .

So J, did you have to pay tour group prices? Was checking out some on the net and they look pretty pricey. What way did it work?

Thanks,
E;)

5. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

I came overland from Nepal to Tibet as part of a group. The tour organizers only gave me a photocopy of the group tour visa. It was valid for three weeks. I flew domestically from Lhasa to Chengdu. No one checked my visa. I then flew down to Kunming.

Just before the tourist visa expired,I flew down from Kunming to Mandalay, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).At the Chinese consulate in Mandalay, the consulate general himself (or "Economic & Commercial Consul" as his name card states), sat down with me. We drank tea and chatted. He told me where he was from, and so on ... then approved my visa application. It was all very civilized.I purchased a double-entry tourist visa for China, which I later used when I re-entered China.

6. Posted by cdntrvl (Full Member 50 posts) 11y

Tea with the "Economic & Commercial Consul", now that does sound just far too civilised. Was it not possible to try and extend/change the group visa into a tourist visa or is it a must to leave the country to do it?

many thanks
alex

7. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 11y

Quoting samsara2

So J, did you have to pay tour group prices? Was checking out some on the net and they look pretty pricey. What way did it work?

Thanks,
E;)

Hi Eve,

Because of the government control (basically making immpossible to enter Tibet with out getting a permit & the need to go through an agency in order to get the Tibet permit) Tibet is not a cheap destination. Once you are there eating & lodging is pretty cheap.

I arranged the Tibet portion of trip ahead of time via the internet. The prices differed greatly but I found a good price dealing with a CITS office in San Fransisco. On the same trip I was visiting Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, SW China, Nepal & India and didn't have the time to spend in Chengdu making arrangments so I made them ahead of time. I also wanted to go during Losar (Tibetan New Year) and didn't want to miss Losar or mess up my time schedual for everything else I planned to do on this trip.

I don't remember what I paid but it probably was around $100/day. Sorry I can't be of more help to assist you in arranging a visit without spending too much.

You could look up the CITS office in San Fran. and send them an email. Also I do think the cheapest way (although probably not the simpilest, is to arrange a short Lhasa only trip (then once in Tibet do what you want and change the return flight back to Chengdu). Once you're in Tibet, you're set, you just need to figure out the cheapest way to get the permit and get there.

If you get any Info. feel free to PM me and I'd be glad to try and help you evaulate the feasablity of whatever you think you want to do.

8. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Quoting cdntrvl

Tea with the "Economic & Commercial Consul", now that does sound just far too civilised. Was it not possible to try and extend/change the group visa into a tourist visa or is it a must to leave the country to do it?
many thanks
alex

Hi Alex

I do believe that you may be trying to apply western logic to the China visa system. Some of the systems here are rather complex. I didn't actually have a Tibetan or Chinese entry stamp in my passport when I crossed from Nepal. Only a copy of a group visa ... that didn't even have my name included on it. Work that one out.

The first problem dealing with officialdom here is language. Very few people speak English. Second; there is a completely different mindset altogether. Avoidance is usually employed as a problem-solving technique. One old Chinese saying is "Don't make trouble when you are NOT in trouble". I've previously known a couple of western foreign teachers that decided to deal direct with the Public Security Branch of the China police WRT visa extensions and the like. After an hour or so of discussions with the regional police commissioner, each was thanked for giving the official an opportunity to practice his spoken English. Then, the foreigners were told that they must leave the country immediately.

The other thing to take in consideration is a thing called "guanshi". This system applied mostly in days gone by when people used to line up for food rations. Someone who knew an official got moved to the front of the queue. Sound familiar in western societies as well? The Chinese are very thorough with their paperwork & bureaucracy. It's all in black and white. They don't tend deviate too easily from the straight and narrow. Therefore, it helps if you can sit down and have tea with the highest ranking leader ..."big potato" as commonly referred to.

Cheers
Wocca

9. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

http://www.tibetmap.net/xianlu/self.htm

I just came across this link.....

10. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Very interesting & useful link, E ....