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Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

London, United...
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Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

I wanted to share this information as it has just cost me a lot of money.

The Chinese government announced on 20th July 2015 that it will not issue any tourist visas for 31st August until an unspecified date in September (not yet clear).

My travel agent was not aware and China Southern Airlines refuse to issue a refund for my flight costs so this change has cost me £900.

I hope this will stop others making the same mistake!

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1. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

Are you sure you have your terminology right? I think you may be confused...or confusing and maybe scaring other readers.

I haven't heard anything about the Chinese government not issuing Chinese VISAS which allow one to enter the country as a whole (of which Tibet is a part of). I have heard that they are not going to issue any Tibet Travel Permits during the end-of-August to sometime-in-September period. The TTP is NOT a visa but a special piece of paper needed only for those foreigners wanting to access the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Your title "...Visa for Tibet" is misleading and perhaps you should ask the mods to delete the original post, then start fresh with a more accurately-worded post.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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2. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

You can still use the flight and visit other places in China for a similar experience.

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Dublin, California
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3. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

What mistakes have you made? As I see it you have not made any mistakes. No one can predict when or if the Chinese government closes Tibet for visits. It's like you may book a visit to somewhere and some natural disaster occurs (Typhoon, earthquake, snow storm, etc.). One thing you could've done is to buy travel insurance (I am not even sure travel insurance will cover this.). But other than that, you take your chances.

What would you recommend others to do?

Sherbrooke, Canada
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4. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

Some airlines, like Air Canada, will refund your ticket when you do not get your visa. May not be the case with this airlines but in any case, it is not a visa issue.

Espoo
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5. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

Go to Amdo and Kham instead. Just as much Tibet as TAR is. I fail to see any major loss here. Unless you were planning a trip to Lhasa just to say you have been there. If it is Tibet you are interested in, more than half of it still open for tourists just as ever.

Photos from the Eastern Tibet, where no permits needed and which is open (albums 3 to 6): https://www.flickr.com/photos/112698197@N08/sets

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Holland
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6. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

#5 is correct. Amdo and Kham are very much Tibetan. Only the touristic infrastructure is very poor there compared to TAR. And almost nobody there speaks English. So travelling in Amdo and Kham is not that easy.

Edited: 24 July 2015, 14:22
Espoo
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7. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

If a person was planning a visit to TAR it means she/he was prepared to pay for a guide, driver and car. Having the same services for Amdo and Kham costs the same, and traveling there is actually easier and more free, because there is no need for a fixed plan which needs to be approved by the government officials. It is true there are less hotels and western style restaurants, but that actually makes the experience even more "Tibetan" than going to TAR. At least I felt that way.

London, United...
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8. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

Thank you for the responses.

#1 Let me clarify, as per the title, I am referring only to the Tibet region not the whole of China. The word Visa may be confusing so I'll use permit instead, but basically I mean the permission for a tourist to enter the TAR.

#3 My mistake was booking a flight to Lhasa which is now unusable as I wouldn't now be able to board that flight.

I am not claiming to be an expert by any means, sadly this is my first experience trying to visit Tibet, but my advice would be double and triple check with your tour operator that a permit is possible and that no politically sensitive event may be arising at the time of your visit. Saying that, my tour operator couldn't have known this announcement would be made.

#5 I'm not sure what you mean about 'saying I've been' to Lhasa, that was where my tour started so naturally I had to visit there!

My next move is to go to the ombudsman as my travel agent is still selling flights to Lhasa to people who cannot enter Tibet, surely this is illegal.

Edited: 24 July 2015, 16:23
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Lhasa
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London, United...
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9. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

In addition, I did buy cancellation protection for my flight but have been told the terms and conditions don't cover this situation. I have learnt a valuable lesson about 'small print'!

Hong Kong, China
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10. Re: Don't lose money!!! Update Visa for Tibet

Usually China Southern is not accepting bookings of foreigners to Lhasa, but of course from travel agencies as they also take care for the permit and tour. Online bookings will be cancelled automatically. After you talk about an agency now, I understand China Southern accepted the booking and there is not reason for them to offer a refund. The agency should be liable for it if you ask them to arrange the trip including the permit. If the travel agent is not aware of the process how to apply for a permit and the restrictions that come up every year again, that agency for sure is not qualified to sell trips to Tibet.

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Lhasa
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