Air (Lhasa Gonggar Airport)
To get to Lhasa, most foreign visitors arrive by plane. Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Chongqing and Xining are all the starting points. Visitors usually start from Chengdu in Sichuan, because Chengdu has about 20 flights per week to the Gonggar Airport of Lhasa which takes about 2 hours. Now, there is also a daily flight from Beijing to Lhasa.The flights from Chongqing have been readjusted to more than 20 flights every week. It is also possible to go from Xining and Xian. With about 18 flights every week in Xian, taking the plane is more convenient for visitors. Also, several flights from Guangzhouin Guangdong Province and the direct flight from Lanzhou in Gansu Province are available now. Visitors in Nepal may fly here from Katmandu.
There are four airports in Tibet, Gonggar Airport of Lhasa, Bangda Airport of Chamdo, Mainling Airport of Nyingchi and Gunsa Airport of Ngari. Gonggar Airport is located in Gonggar County, about 65 kilometers (40.3 miles) south of Lhasa city. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes and costs approximately CNY 25 by shuttle bus to downtown area. If you have about 3-4 persons a taxi may be considered, about CNY 150 is a reasonable price.
Five highways stretching into the mysterious high land include Sichuan-Tibet Highway, Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Xinjiang-Tibet Highway, Yunnan-Tibet Highway and China-Nepal Highway. Only Qinghai-Tibet and China-Nepal Highway are open to foreigners at present. Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Golmud of Qinghai; it is 1,160 kilometers (720 miles) long and averages at 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) high. It runs along the Kunlun Mountains and vast grasslands which amaze people by their natural beauty. The China-Nepal Highway is another main road often used. It stretches for 900 kilometers (558 miles) from Kathmandu to Lhasa. The condition of most roads is so bad that visitors are advised to take Land Cruisers.
Going to Lhasa by train is another choice. The first section of the Tibet Railway between Xining Railway Station and Golmud Railway Station was put into use in 1984. The second section between Golmud Railway Station and Lhasa Railway Station began to operate on the 1st of July, 2006. With a total length of 1,956 km (around 1,215 miles), Tibet Railway is the longest plateau railway and also the highest in the world. Trains on the railway are well equipped. Signs inside the carriage are written in both Tibetan and Chinese Han language. Oxygen respirators are available too.
At present, there are seven trains between Lhasa and Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Lanzhou, Xining, Chongqing and Chengdu. They 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.
A minibus is the main form of transport in Lhasa. It is a quick and convenient way to get across town. Visitors can easily find minibuses around Beijing Road and they operate a fixed charge of CNY 2 per person. Generally the bus starts operation late in the morning and stops early at night due to the temperatures.
Bus No. 1 and 2 goes through the Norbulingka to the coach station.
Bus No. 3 and 5 run to the Drepung Monastery.
Bus No. 4 runs to the Sera Monastery.
Bus No. 91 runs between the city center and the Railway Station. Eight more public buses including No. 82 and 83 were open in 2007.
It is easy to hail a taxi on the street in the city. Usually, it only costs CNY10-15 to travel in town by taxi.
Flag-down Rate for First 3km (2mi) CNY10
Fare between 3-8km (2-5mi) CNY2/km
Fare between 8-11km (5-7mi) CNY1/km
Fare beyond 11km (7mi) CNY1 per 500m (550yd)
Reference Taxi Fare:
To Drepung Monastery: around CNY20
To Jokhang Temple: around CNY30
To Sera Monastery: around CNY30
Pedicabs are unique vehicles to get around downtown. A pedicab can carry two people and generally costs RMB 4 to 7. It is a more time-consuming journey than traveling by minibus but is an interesting and popular way to see downtown area.
If your schedule and health permit, riding a bike is another pleasurable way to look around the city. Bikes can be rented from many hostels along Barkhor Street.