POSTED BY LOSANG བློ་བཟང་ |UPDATED July 15, 2012 This year has been a difficult year so far for those wanting to travel to Tibet, including the regions of Amdo and Kham. All areas were closed during March and some areas in Kham didn’t reopen until late April/early May. Here is the latest update on travel regulations and closures across the Tibetan Plateau (NB: This information is current at the time of writing. It is important to remember that travel regulations can and do change all the time without any warning). Lhasa and the Tibet Autonomous Region (read carefully!) Lhasa and the TAR was completely closed to foreign travelers during the month of March and then closed again in late May due to 2 self-immolations in Lhasa. After the immolations, the region closed again for several weeks. In mid-June the region opened again, but things have been more complicated than ever! To complicate things, there was another immolation on July 10 in Damshung, about 160 kilometers north of Lhasa. Bottom line is there is no guarantee that anyone can get travel permits to enter the TAR. There are a few high end travel agencies that have some good connections with the Tibet Tourism Bureau who have been able to obtain travel permits for their customers, but most other budget and mid-range agencies have been having a lot of problems. Even these high end agencies are not able to get permits for all of their groups. I recently talked to several good friends who own and manage travel agencies in Lhasa and they have all said they are only able to get permits for less than 10% of the groups that apply for them. Some agencies have not been able to obtain any permits for their groups since May. While I am not saying to completely cancel your upcoming trip to Lhasa and the TAR for the remaining of 2012, I am saying to keep a Plan B close by. In my opinion, most people, except for very high end tours which have been planned in advance for many months, will have a very hard time getting travel permits and an organized tour for the TAR for the rest of 2012. For those of you that still wish to try and get permits and an organized tour, you have to be in a group of at least 5 travelers who are all from the same nationality. There are NO exceptions to this. You must pay a deposit of at least 50% of the total tour price to the agency before they can even think about applying for your permit. Several countries are currently temporarily banned from even attempting to apply for Tibet Travel Permits including people from Norway, Austria, Korea, Philippines and the UK (rumors say the ban on the UK has been lifted, but no one knows for sure). Again, you can try contacting a travel agency in Lhasa to arrange a tour and permits for you, but be advised that most people are not getting in. The Tibet Tourism Bureau has not said that the area is closed, but they are being extremely selective in issuing permits for organized tours. Do remember that it is NOT the travel agencies who make up these regulations, but it is the Tibet Tourism Bureau. It is no use wasting time getting upset with a travel agency when these are rules that they have to follow. Chamdo prefecture in the far eastern portion of the TAR remains permanently closed to foreign travelers. It has been closed since March 2010. The overland routes from Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, which must pass through Chamdo prefecture along the way to Lhasa, also remain closed to foreign travelers.