Flight with Finnair, start of a trip to Tibet from Spain


This is the beginning of a beautiful story, a desired story for years, a new travel diary of those unique trips that will never be missing in this blog. These first lines are the beginning of our particular search for that valley full of mystery in the remote and isolated Himalayan mountain ranges, defined as the Shangri-La in the novel of "Lost Horizons" by James Hilton, nestled at the western end of the Mountains Kunlun In short, it is the starting point of a trip to Tibet from Spain that begins with an early Finnair flight from Madrid on the morning of April 4, a few days after the Tibet Autonomous Region in China opened its doors again after being closed, as every year, the month of March to travelers.

There are not many options to get to Tibet but today we tell you all that we value by land or air and from China or Nepal, before embarking to Shanghai.

How to get to Tibet? What has been our entry choice?

Tibet is the highest region on earth with its 4,900 meters on average, an area of ​​the planet northeast of the Himalayas and south of the Kunlun Mountains on the great Tibetan plateau located in Asia. While It is important to distinguish that Autonomous Region of Tibet within China (also called Xīzàng), the main and most hermetic to visit, from the historic "Greater Tibet" that would also house areas of the Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan and Qinghai (where its capital Xining and entry point for many travelers) or neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal and regions of India such as Sikkim , Ladakh (they have always called her "little Tibet"), Lahaul or Spiti.

And how can reach someone in Tibet from Spain? From China and from Nepal but PREVIOUS PROCESSING OF AN ENTRY PERMIT. This is important since only with the Chinese visa you will NOT be able to enter Tibet (never for free) because you need to have hired a tour with a specialized agency that manages you said Entry Permit. If you already have it (they will ask you before taking your train or flight) these are your routes:

- The option for China allows access in internal flight (from Beijing, Shanghai, Xinning, Lanzhou, Chongging, Chengdu, Xi'an or Kumming), train (from all of the above except Kumming) and vehicle / bus (from Xinning, Lanzhou and Kashgar -It seems that it was not possible for tourists since 2008 from Sichuan and Yunnan but now permits are granted again-)
- The option for Nepal allows access Land route from Kathmandhu by Gyirong Pass but if you are thinking that it will be cheaper to forget it because it forces you to hire a route that includes the Everest Base Camp - Lhasa in round trip (943 km in 3-5 days), which makes the alternative more expensive. It can also be done in a flight Kathmandu-Lhasa.

What has been our option to reach Tibet and why? In all of the above it is necessary to add a fundamental component that is the subject of altitude and the dreaded altitude. Considering that we are lovers of rail routes around the world, we did not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the famous train of clouds (or also called the Transtibetan). However, and thanks to the recommendation and experience of Youlan Tours, it is not necessary to stick the beating from Beijing or Shanghai (up to 47 hours!) because the landscape that is really worth it is from the Tibetan plateau, that is, from the Xining stop (and any railway origin that you take in China passes over there). This also allowed us to add unique experiences from Shanghai to Xi'an and even discover the gateway to Tibet and important city on the Silk Road, Xining, in depth. DECIDED: Flight to Shanghai + altitude acclimatization to Xining (sleeping in a monastery, visiting Xi'an and Xining itself) + cloud train to Lhasa


Without a doubt and although we have taken advantage of a good survey of the Hebei area, we believe that the ideal starting point would be Xi'an For several reasons: it is a friendly and exciting city from all points of view (including the Terracotta), being 2 days allows us to adapt to the schedule while enjoying and has a fast train communicated with Xining (gateway to Tibet and Trans-Tibetan ) and is at low altitude to progressively acclimatize

We will talk about the entry permit paperwork in another dedicated article because it has its crumb (book your 3-4 weeks in advance if you do it from China)

Flight with Finnair with the new routes to China

Has this prolegomena served you to contextualize? There will be a travel guide and practical articles but this way, between some things and others, Sele and I are already in Terminal 4 of the Madrid airport. Little Olivia still has 4 little tables to face heights like these but that video call will not be missing every day (don't forget to take your own home VPN installed on tablet, mobile and / or computer. We use the most powerful one we had already used in Iran , he VyprVPN). Ready Sele?

It's around 8:30 when we arrive in a Cabify (EUR 14.42), we leave our bags checked and go to the VIP lounge that Finnair has at the airport, shared with British and Iberia.


If something is necessary to know before traveling to Tibet is that we are faced with the most dangerous solar radiation in the world and the use of UV protection sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen It's very important. A more than usual as clothes layered to go removing or putting according to the cold is not too much to bring insect repellent (only in summer), hat or hat and some food type bars or packaging (Tibet's infrastructure and food is still very basic although it has improved greatly in recent years). Of course the first aid kit is always essential (here with everything you need to avoid altitude sickness that we will talk about) as well as your travel insurance that has coverage up to 5,200 meters as is the case with IATI for height (We will explain it in detail but for these countries you have to hire the IATI MOCHILERO to have full coverage)

VIP room? I have never felt that having a blog had to bring about any kind of change in the way I travel but I have to admit that this little "monster" has grown so much that sometimes it brings you some joy. Today has come as a surprise with Finnair since he wanted to upgrade us to test his Business class on his routes to China (in return no, we return to Economy class). Who can oppose that? He flight that separates Madrid from Helsinki is only 4h 10 minutes that, when you find yourself after some time without seeing him with Sele, they pass (and never better) flying

The capital of Finland looks completely white still in the middle of April, even more than in our passage of a couple of December to know the main attractions what to see in Helsinki before our trip to Finnish Lapland. Without a doubt, we declare ourselves in love with this country, its people, its customs, its standard of living ...

He Helsinki International Airport is a great hub towards Asia and, although we don't have too much time to stop (just 1 hour and something), we take advantage of the access to the VIP lounge to visit it, charge batteries and eat something fast

Why Finnair? Did you know that geographically (if we do not have a direct flight from Madrid) the connection through Helsinki is the fastest between Asia and Europe (our second journey is from just 8h 10 min to Shanghai)? And why have they opted for routes to China in an important way? As it turns out, this year they have added the route to Nanjing with 3 weekly flights, one of the four ancient capitals of China located near the Yangtze River to the usualdaily flights to Beijing and Shanghai, 4 weekly flights to Chongqing and Guanzhou, 3 to Xi'an and 10 to Hong Kong. For us a trip to Tibet should start in Xi'an, without a doubt

It is the third time in my life that I travel in Business after that of Aeromexico from Madrid to Mexico City or the Bulgaria Air from Madrid to Sofia. Of course, this has nothing to do with that (and that Paula forgives me, who has always asked me to travel once like that, haha), fully reclining seats, welcome kits designed by Marimekko or dishes that many restaurants already want ... but we're flying? Can't we stay here every day? LOL

I have to admit that I don't need large spaces to sleep on an airplane since my first flights. Perhaps with Olivia it is different (or the same goes as sleepy as the father). The protocol even if you change classes does not vary much but if the benefits, they receive you with a glass of champange, when it is time for dinner you have a wide menu to choose from, the screen looks like that of a cinema, the space multiplies by 3 the Economy, you have plugs, USB, slippers, blankets, internet (all the flight but here you get 1 hour free) ... Come on, it's better than the living room of my house

Between discovering all the gadgets that surround me, dining a careful menu, reading a little of the destination and watching a movie (I didn't even finish it) has been done to us at night ...

... With a second reading, that moment when you hit the bed button that we have so much envied when we go through this class traveling in Economy. PUSH SLEEP! since at flight with Finnair that marks the start of a trip to Tibet from Spain and "alone" has 5,600 km left to reach Shanghai. But that is part of another story of the many that will come, right?

Isaac (with Sele), flying over somewhere in Asia