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tibet to kathmandu overland?

Travel Forums Asia tibet to kathmandu overland?

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1. Posted by kaibeast (Budding Member 5 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

hi there. am hoping to do tibet overland to nepal.. not goin til summer but trying to plan it briefly now.

i hear you can only make this overland journey if you go with a tour group..
1. any one have any good recommendations for tour operators? looking to travel fairly basicly. so lookin at lower end of scale

2. do i need to sort out a visa for nepal or is this usually covered by the group?

3. how long does the journey take? i know there is both bus and now a trainline as well.

4. once in ktm, how long to see the city? im not really looking to do any intense all out treks, but dont mind exploring the city a bit, and seeing the major attractions.

5. ok this is a bit of a daft question: is ktm in amongst the everest mountain ranges itself? ie does being in ktm give you a good idea of the mountain scapes etc, or does one need to rent a jeep or something and venture out and do some climbing to actually get to see the mountains themselves?

thanks all so much.


2. Posted by Lavafalls (Travel Guru 155 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

The regulations for PRC citizens and foreigners in Tibet are completely different. Under the Katmandu section there is a some travel agents for arranging the Tibet permit. Security restrictions will be very HIGH in Tibet this summer, even for PRC citizens. So i would have a back up plan in case of Tibet being closed for random reasons.

Getting train tickets in Lhasa during the summer can be extremely difficult and are usually booked up months in advance, unless you want a sitting ticket. It is easier to get a train ticket to Golmud or Xinning in Qinghai then all the way to Beijing or Shanghai.

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5. Posted by Eleniki (Full Member 125 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Yes, it's hard to know how things will be in Lhasa in the next few months. I landed there for an hour yesterday, just for immigration procedure to china, en route from Kathmandu to Chengdu. I had originally booked a jeep overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, but all tours were cancelled in the wake of events in Lhasa. I think you can go there safely now, but I imagine the atmosphere is not the most relaxing. I'm in chengdu now, and the chinese tv stations are on overdrive to convince anyone who's watching that the west has exaggerated their role in the Lhasa demonstrations greatly.

You can book an overland tour (jeep) to Kathmandu in Lhasa. There is no problem with the Nepali visa - either the tour company organises it for you, or you get the standard 60 day tourist visa at your entry point (which is the Friendship Bridge for overland tours). Your concern should be your Tibetan (or chinese) visa - that you have to apply for at least a week before you fly to china. I applied in Kathmandu, but the procedure was much delayed by the Lhasa crisis, with the chinese consulate being closed for days, with no explanation or information. Many people who had applied a bit too close to the time of their flights were caught out, as the consulate held on to our passports and visas until they felt like handing them out (a little bakshish (tip) to the nepali guard helped of course, as did being western - nepalis were not given equal treatment unless they were obviously wealthy and well-travelled, something which was unpleasant to witness).

The journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu is around 900km, maybe a bit less. It usually takes 4/5 days overland, and you stay in very basic dorm accommodation. There's no point in asking for 'deluxe' or offering to pay more for better hostals - they're all the same, and even if a company offers you 'deluxe', all that will mean is that you get a better hotel in Kathmandu, if that is included in your package. I don't know about a train, not from Lhasa to Kathmandu anyway.

Kathmandu would take 3 days to see comfortably. That means you can also get to Pattan (about 40 mins from the centre), which should not be missed - its Durbar Square is far more beautiful than Kathmandu's Durbar Square, and it is also the place to go if you're interested in Buddhist statues, as it is a centre for some stunning carving work, in many different materials and finishes. Bhaktipur, about an hour from the city centre, is also beautiful, although it has had its own difficulties lately too - we were caught in a curfew there, which was pretty scary. The centre was mobbed and there were riots over the murder, on Valentine's Day, of a local boy. There is a lot of unrest in Nepal at the moment, especially coming up to tomorrow's election, and there is no electricity for 7 hours of every day - 'load-shedding' as it's generally known. There are also fuel shortages of every kind, which made my three months in Nepal difficult for getting around. Traffic in Kathmandu is totally chaotic. Don't judge the time needed to get anywhere by distance - it means nothing.

Kathmandu is in a huge valley, surrounded by foothills. At this time, there is not a himalaya to be seen, because of the haze. I needed to fly over them, and to go to Pokhara to see the mountains, although there were one or two occasions when I was lucky enough to get a view from the Kavre district where I was living, well outside the valley.
If you're going in June/July, then it will be the rainy season, which will make visibility also difficult. The very best time to see the Himalaya is the autumn - October to December. It's hard to say though, whether the mountains will be visible from Kathmandu even then, as the air pollution is so utterly appalling. Ten years ago it was apparently possible to see the stunning panorama of the Himalaya from the city itself at most times of the year, but now it's pretty hopeless. Petrol is 25% kerosene in Kathmandu, and diesel 40%. Corruption/dilution right up the line from where the supply comes in down in Tarai, from India.

Finally, I would thoroughly recommend that you do a trek, even a 3-5 day one. The Annapurna region (Poon Hill area) has some wonderful hiking, easily arranged from Pokhara. Better still, do the ABC trek, get to the Sanctuary. Then you will definitely see the mountains! Sagarmatha, or Everest, you should see on your overland route from Tibet, if it's not the rainy season, or if you get a good clear morning before the afternoon rain.

Best of luck with it all - Nepal is utterly unique and I have gained a huge amount by my time living and teaching there.