"I'm hopeful to visit Tibet, to see my old place with my own eyes, and try to cool down the situation," he said in an interview published on Friday in the Guardian newspaper.
"You ask under what circumstance? China should give me the green light without preconditions."
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
He was speaking in Dharamsala, northern India, on the eve of a three-week visit to the United States, beginning on Thursday, during which he is expected to meet President George Bush.
Autonomy, not separation
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has previously visited the US, where Beijing's suppression of Tibetan nationalism has made the fate of Tibet an emotive issue.
"This is the moment to build confidence and understanding"
The Dalai Lama,
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader
Last week China urged the US to "pledge not to support Tibet independence and not allow the Dalai to go to America to engage in activities to split China".
The Dalai Lama says he seeks autonomy for Tibet and not separation from China.
His remarks follow a thaw in relations between China and the Dalai Lama, whose envoys have visited Beijing twice in the past year in what is seen as an attempt by China to seek a political solution to the Tibet issue.
The Dalai Lama told the Guardian that negotiations with China had been "positive", but said: "We have not yet started serious discussions. For the moment, I believe it is very essential to build confidence. This is the moment to build confidence and understanding."