Money Exchange and Credit Cards in Tibet

What Currency Used in Tibet

In Tibet, the used currency is Chinese Yuan, also known as Renminbi(RMB). Notes come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Yuan and 1, 2, and 5 Jiao. 1 Yuan (or Kuai) = 10 Jiao (or Mao).
Foreign currency cannot be used directly.
Please Note: Coins are not acceptable in Tibet.

Exchange Currency-Where and How

Where to Exchange Currency

  • Foreign currency and travelers’ cheques can be exchanged only at the Bank of China (BC), which has one main office in Lhasa and a few sub-branches in Lhasa, Shigatse, Shannan, and Nyingchi. It is necessary to show the passports when exchanging currency.
  • Several up-market hotels in Lhasa offer currency exchange services, but only available for their guests.

How to Exchange Currency

  • The only place in Tibet to officially change RMB back into foreign currency is the central Lhasa branch of the Bank of China. You will need your original exchange receipts. You cannot change RMB into dollars at Gonggar Airport.
  • Travelers can exchange Renminbi into Nepali rupees in Zhangmu (by the Nepal border) and vice versa.
    If you are traveling out of Lhasa, try to get your cash in small denominations (less than RMB 50).
    Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays in Tibet.

Please Note: If you are traveling out of Lhasa, get your cash in small denominations(less than RMB 50)

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not recommended as a way of payment in Tibet because they are only accepted by the Bank of China and few hotels in Lhasa. Only Tibet Branch of the Bank of China in Lhasa offers credit card advances. ATM is not widely available. Most of time, you couldn’t get cash by ATM from branches of the Bank of China. You need to go to the Tibet Branch of the Bank of China (the main office in Lhasa).

All in all, exchange enough money to Chinese RMB in cash is the best choice though it has risks.