Get in Lhasa
There are some transports to get in Lhasa, airplanes, trains, and buses are all available, but the most most convenient way for tourists to get to Tibet is by airplanes.
Lhasa Gonggar International Airport is 98 km south of Lhasa city. It is opened in 1965 and now is the original airport and also the one that has the most flights in Tibet. There are flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming, Diqing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Xian, Xining, Chamdo and Katmandu. Flights to/from Chengdu are the most regular and reliable. Tickets in and out of Lhasa are hard to obtain a week before and after the Shoton Festival.
Most foreign travelers arrive in Tibet by plane. From China, Chengdu is the easiest and most popular starting point. Daily flights carry tourists to Lhasa in about 2 hours. Chongqing, a neighboring city, also has flights to Tibet. However, there are only two flights every week. It is also possible to go from Beijing and Xi'an. Travelers in Nepal may also fly from Kathmandu.
As to the transportation between the airport and the city district, there are shuttle buses every day, which takes about 2 hours and cost about 20 yuan per person. Buses from Tsedang and Shigatse also stop at the airport, which cost 20-30 yuan per person. Taxis are another way of traveling and cost 150-250 yuan. The road is bituminous and winds along the Yarlung Tsangpo River and Lhasa River, and is in good condition with interesting surroundings.
The new Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the longest and highest railway station in the world, as high as 3,641m above the sea level in Lhasa, but its highest point is 5072m (16,640 feet) above sea level, at Tanggula Pass. Trains on the railway are well equipped. Signs inside the carriage are written in both Tibetan and Chinese Han language. Oxygen respirators are available to passengers.
At present, there are seven railway lines to Lhasa from Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Lanzhou, Xining, Chongqing and Chengdu. Trains pass through many big cities and special sightseeing lines are opened via Qinghai Lake, Kunlun Mountains, Kekexili, the Three Rivers Resource Area, Northern Tibetan Grassland, Potala Palace and other famous sights in the plateau.
It is extremely hard to buy a train ticket into Tibet during peak Tibet travel time from May to October. The service charge for obtaining a ticket is ridiculously high. Even you are willing to pay that money, you can’t be guaranteed a ticket.
There are mainly five highways to get in Tibet, including Sichuan-Tibet (Chengdu-Lhasa) Highway, China National Highway 109 (Xining-Gomud-Lhasa), China National Highway 219 (Yecheng-Pulan), Yunnan-Tibet Highway (Xiaguan-Mangkang) as well as the China Nepal Friendship Highway (Lhasa-Katmandu).
Compared with other highways, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway and Yunnan-Tibet Highway are full of frustrations, and some of their sections even break out the debris flow, more dangerous. However, the sceneries along the way and the ethnic group amorous feelings are quite attractive.
The Lhasa Coach Station is located at the intersection of Mingzu Road and Middle Jinzhu Road which offers the services to Bayi, Changdu, Chengdu, Shigatse, Gyantse, Gomud and other Tibetan regions. The model at this station includes conventional type and luxury and price of the ticket is depends on the specific model consequently.
Tips: Foreigner tourists are not allowed to use the intercity bus service, however.
Get around Lhasa
The best way to travel from one place of interest to another is by minibus (fare: RMB2).
Taxis in Lhasa are not equipped with a meter, and tourists are generally charged RMB10 when they want to go within the city. For a destination out of the city, they should first negotiate with the driver. Pedicabs can serve two travelers at a time for between 4 to 7 yuan.
Most hotels rent bikes to travelers (2 yuan per hour or 20 yuna per day for ordinary bikes; 3 yuan per hour, 30 yuan per day for mountain bikes)
Many foreigners have realized the convenience and comfort of travelling in Tibet by rented vehicle. The most popular route is from Lhasa to the Nepalese border, Zhongmu, past Yamdrok-tso, Gyantse, Shigatse, Sakya, Everest Base Camp and Tingri. Other good ideal destinations include Mt Kailash and Namtso.
Pedicab is a unique vehicle to get around downtown of Lhasa. A pedicab can carry two people and generally costs 4 to 7 yuan. It is a more time-consuming journey than traveling by minibus but is an interesting and popular way to see downtown scenery.