The Tibetan Plateau is a landscape like nothing else on Earth. Without doubt, cycling is one of the best ways to discover this place. This bike tour starts in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan and the hometown of panda, and it ends in Lhasa, capital of Tibet and a holy city you could never miss. Its total distance is 2166 km. During the 16 days, you will climb over 12 mountain passes over 4000 m above sea level. Among them, 2 are above 5000 m. This is a very challenging ride and should only be considered by those who have a strong desire to cycle to Lhasa the entire way. For a real cyclist, he/she always has a dream to bike along the route from Chengdu to Lhasa to see the views and to challenge his/her physical and mental strength. The pleasant flavor of the journey is really worth being recollected in all your life .
- Ultimate mountain bike holiday from Sichuan to Tibet
- Hugely rewarding Tibetan cycling journey
- Fabulous views along the journey
- .A worthy challenge for one’s physical and mental strength
Day 1: Chengdu -Yaan
Our first destination is Ya'an, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Chengdu. This route passes through Qionglai City and Mingshan County. The road between Chengdu and Mingshan is relatively flat but rises to a slope.
Chengdu City (512m) – Shuangliu County – Xinjin County – Qionglai City – Mingshan County – Yaan City (641m)
Day 2: Yaan - Xingou
Today's journey is cycling along the beautiful Qingyi River. First ride to Tianquan County, a picturesque location nestled at the east foot of Erlangshan Mountain. Erlangshan Mountain boasts charming natural scenery and many minority villages. Then continue to Xigou village.
Yaan City (641m) – Feixianguan Town – Tianquan County (848m) – Zishi Village – Lianglu Village or called Xingou (1330m)
Day 3: Xingou - Luding
Today we will reach the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau after passing through Erlangshan Tunnel, and stop at Riyu Gaoyuan Sightseeing Terrace and Dadu He Sightseeing Terrace respectively for a while. Upon arrival in Luding County, visit Luding Bridge and the museum.
Xingou (1330m) – Erlangshan Tunnel (2170m) – Luding County (1330m)
Day 4: Luding - Kangding
Ride along the road following the Dadu River for around 24 km north, then turn west and ride for 27 km to Kangding.
Cross the famous suspension bridge, the scene of a perhaps apocryphal story that the Revolutionaries swang across hand over hand after the Kuomintang had torn up the planks. You might be dread that the route led up a hellish switchback as you see zigzagging up and over the mountain opposite. The good news is the road dose indeed follow the Dadu river. Have a good rest at Kangding today to prepare for the following climb mountains.
Luding County (1330m) – Wasigou – Xiaotiandu Tunnel – Kangding County (2395m)
Day 5: Kangding - Xinduqiao
Today, we will challenge the 4300-meter-high Zheduo mountain firstly. It is about 36 km to mountain pass, but all upward road, maybe you need to push your bike most of the time.
Once you arrive at the mountain pass, your eye will be cleaned immediately by the new view of wide Tibetan plateau. Endless waving hilltops, yaks, river, welcome to Tibetan plateau! There are great views of Gongga Mount and other mountains. And just ride 42 km down to the colourful small town of Xinduqiao with several nicer looking places to stay. Just enjoy the beautiful villages and land en route.
Kangding County (2395m) – Zheduotang Village (3222m) – Zheduo Pass (4298m) – Xinduqiao Town (3630m)
Day 6: Xinduqiao - Yajiang
A challenging day again, but with enjoyable views. 5km west of Xinduqiao is a junction with a road heading north (surfaced) to Danba and Daofu. The road west climbs to 4412m and then crosses a bleak, windswept grassy plateau for about 5.5km with a maximum altitude of 4475m. It then descends steeply.
The road then descends into Yajiang, just below 3000m, and the road is all tarmac but sometimes quite bumpy, traffic was light. Yajiang has shops selling all essentials, a covered market and internet access.
Xinduqiao Town (3630m) – Gao´ersi Pass (4412m) – Yajiang County (2530m)
Day 7: Yajiang - Xiangkezong
From Yajiang the road climbs to 3500m to Xiangkezong Village that is a traditional village which is worth staying overnight at. We will have a good rest in the village and prepare for tomorrow's arduous cycling.
Yajiang County (2530m) – Xiangkezong Village (3500m)
Day 8: Xiangkezong - 158 Daoban
We will cycle in the sky in the whole day. From the Xiangkezong Village, the road keeps climbing to 4659km at Jianziwan Pass, then to 4718m at Kazila Pass which is today's highest pass. Then ride down to 158 Daoban.
Xiangkezong Village (3500m) – Jianziwan Pass (4659m) – Kazila Pass (4718m) – Leida Military Depot (4387m) – 158 Daoban (4090m)
Day 9: 158 Daoban - Litang
From 158 Daoban to Litang, the road climbs and falls repeatedly. We will overcome several passes over 4000m to get to today's final destination - Litang.
Litang gained reputation of the highest city in all over the world for its sea level of 4200meter and is famous for its international horse racing festival of every August 1st. The area is flat with a wide valley surrounding it.
158 Daoban (4090m) – Unknown Pass (4321m) – Honglong Village (4321m) – Unknown Pass (4377m) – 118 Daoban (4008m) – Unknown Pass (4312m) – Litang County (4014m)
Day 10: Litang - Batang
Depart from Litang we will get into the Haizi Mountains. It was called as Haizi Mountain but the road condition from east to the west is good. And you will get up to the summit without awareness.
And then we will go down to the Batang which is located in the bank of Jinshajiang River. Here produce many good fruits and they enjoined very high honor in east Tibet. It was said that the apple had been planted by a foreign preacher firstly. And the Christian churches here are still well protected now. Today we will go through many tunnels, all of which are without lights. Batang is our last stop before Tibet.
Litang County (4014m) – Haizi Pass (4685m) – Haizishan Police Station – Deda Tunnel (length 659m) – Lieyi Tunnel (length 2107m) – 323 Daoban (3370m) – Bogexi Tunnel (length 2743m) – Lanashan Tunnel (length 3451m) – Huangcaoping No.1 Tunnel (length 1221m) – Huangcaoping No.2 Tunnel (length 917m) – Batang County (2580m)
Day 11: Batang - Markham
Leaving Batang, a flat road will lead you to Zhubalong Village easily located at the east bank of the Jinshajiang River. Across the Bridge of Jinshajiang and over the Zhongbala Mountain, you will reach the Mangkam County, Tibet.
Markham is at the junction of roads to Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet provinces. It is the first county where you can have a lodge in the hostel and appreciate a warm meal after you enter in Tibet. It is located 1 kilometer away from the National Highway 318, you can overnight in the local Weather Bureau rest house to take a bath and prepare for the Tibet part bicycle tour.
Batang County (2580m) – Jinsha River Bridge (2451m) – Hotspring Cottage (2635m) – Haitong Military Depot (3536m) – Zongbala Pass (4170m) – Markham County (3875m)
Day 12: Markham - Dengba
Today's journey is cycling along the Langcang River. For the first 12 kilometers, you will get over the Lawu Mountain Pass, and the following 33 kilometers are the downhill path, the elevation will decline by 1700 meters. Then get over Jueba mountain for about 24.5 kilometers and follow the downhill path for 13 kilometers to Dengba.
As the trail along the Lancang River is extremely steep, you need to proceed with particular caution and prudence and control your brake tightly. It is really a test for your strength and will, but the visit of the pass-by Lancang Valley will be worthwhile. The Lancang Valley is the typical mountain-valley physiognomy and the exotic site will offer a comfort to your weary body.
Markham County (3875m) – Lawu Pass (4338m) – Chuka Bridge (2640m) – Jueba Pass (3930m) – Dengba Village (3440m)
Day 13: Dengba – Zuogong
Today, continue the uphill path road for 13 kilometers to Rongxu. The elevation will raise by 1900 meters totally. Keep cycling to get over mountains and proceed for 56.5 kilometers to reach Zuogong. Most of this path is still dirty and dusty road. Upgrade for 24.5 kilometers to cross Dongda Mountain, and downgrade for 32 kilometers to Zuogong.
Dongda Mountain is the highest pass in the whole route, where the altitude has reached 5100 meters, and the uphill path will be quite strenuous. The downhill road is gentle and you can have complete relax. Additional 10 kilometers bituminous macadam will lead you to Zuogong.
Dengba Village (3440m) – Rongxu Military Depot (4046m) – Dongda Pass (5008m) – Zuogong County (3877m)
Day 14: Zuogong - Bangda
Proceed for 105 kilometers to Bangda. As the initial 63 kilometers are bituminous macadam, arrival at 3654 on the National Highway 318. The following 42 kilometers are dusty road in poor condition with lots of uphill path. The exciting thing is that there is fiber in Bangda and you can make a call there. And cycling along with Yuqu River is enjoyable, too.
Zuogong County (3877m) – Tiantuo Town – Tiantuo Village – Asi Village – Bangda Town (4120m)
Day 15: Bangda - Basu
First cycle 75 kilometers from Bangda to Wadayue. Most of this part is still the dirty road. The former 13.5 kilometers is the up slope to get over Yela Mountain, also named as Nujiang Mountain, such a trail is relatively in good condition.
However the following 43 kilometers down slope path to Nujiang Bridge is indeed tough, with more than 50 sharp turnings of 180 degrees. This trail is often called "Nujiang 72 turnings" for its dangerous and zigzag path. Cover another 20 kilometers to Basu. This part of road seems good in the sunny day, but it will turn extremely terrible after rain.
Bangda Town (4120m) – Yela Pass (4658m) – Nujiang River Bridge (2740m) – Basu County (3280m)
Day 16: Basu - Ranwu
Bike 60 kilometers to Zhongsha at first. It is still the dusty and dirty road and mainly composed of uphill path. Then cycle 30 kilometers dusty road extending to Ranwu town, a paradise place with mirror-like lake, jade-green pines and snow-capped mountains in the distance.
The first 7.5 kilometers gentle upgrading roads lead you to the Mt. Anjiula Pass, and the following 27 kilometers downgrading will lead you to fantastic Ranwu soon. You just need to ride for another 1 kilometer to reach Ranwu lake from the Ran-Cha highway to appreciate the dream-like scenery there.
Basu County (3280m) – Anjiula Pass (4475m) – Ranwu Town (3960m)
Day 17: Ranwu - Bomi
Today, bid fare well to Ranwu and continue to ride for Zhongba, which is 53 kilometers away. Proceed along the tempered declivous path, and have a brief visit of Anmucuo and Palong Tsangpu River.
As most of this path, you will go through the forestry area and linger in the mist and clouds between mountains. Continue to the relevantly big town Bomi for 76 kilometers. The dirt road stretches for 36 kilometers until Songzong; and the following 40 kilometers is the bituminous macadam as gentle down slope. Plenty of Glaciers will catch your eyes on the way.
Ranwu Town (3960m) – Midui Glacier – Zhongba Village (3330m) – Bomi County (2725m)
Day 18: Bomi - Tongmai
Today is an arduous cycling day leading you to Tongmai, covering about 90 kilometers. 40 kilometers declivous path guides you to Guxiang bituminous macadam and the following 50 kilometers path will not cost you lots of strength and energy. However, it comes to be atrocious when you close to Tongmai.
Bomi County (2725m) – Guxiang – 102 landslide area – Tongmai Town (2070m)
Day 19: Tongmai - Lulang
Go cross Dongjiu for the first 37 kilometers and continue to Lulang Town for 37 kilometers more.
When you reach Pailong, 17 kilometers from Tongmai, you will see the wreckage of Yigonghe River flood collapse, and the present path is new- repaired. The slope is still barrier and bold and you can see the trace after flood. The trail from Tongmai to Pailong is in well condition. Then continue for 37 kilometers after the forest ecological system orientation and the pass-by sight just looks like tropical rain forest. Try the delicious food of Lulang Chicken Soup cooked by stone pot.
Tongmai Town (2070m) – Laohu Zui – Pailong country – Layue Village (2372m) – Dongjiu country (2560m) – Lulang Town (3370m)
Day 20: Lulang - Bayi
It will be a fatigued but rewarding day for 72.5 kilometers and arrive in Bayi.
You will get over Sejila Mountain for 23.5 kilometers. Sightseeing Terrace for the sea of Lulang forests is 19km away from Lulang Town. The National Highway 110 gently upgrades and you need to push you bicycle to surmount Sejila Mountain. The latter 30 kilometers path to Nyingtri is steep and in poor condition. There are approximately 19 kilometers from Nyingtri to Bayi, and as it is the even bituminous macadam. The Niyangqu and poplars dotted in emerald green constitute picturesque scenery. The Huge Cypress Park is situated near Bayi roadside. You can find a hostel to have a rest and take a shower easily in Bayi Town.
Lulang Town (3370m) – Sejila Pass (4559m) – Nyingchi Town (3010m) – Bayi Town (2930m)
Day 21: Bayi - Gongbo'gyamda
You will enjoy the ease to ride on the bituminous macadam. The verdant mountains and green waters will feast you eyes all along the way and you will cover 127 kilometers arrival in Gongbo'gyamda without awareness.
Bayi Town (2930m) – Gengzhang Town – Baiba Town – Gongbo'gyamda County (3440m)
Day 22: Gongbo'gyamda - Songduo
Continue to ride on the bituminous macadam for 96 kilometers to Songduo and mainly composed of uphill path. Songduo is the only small town with room and board between Gongbu pass and Mila Pass.
Gongbo'gyamda County (3440m) – Jinda Town – Jiaxing country – Songduo country (4288m))
Day 23: Songduo - Lhasa
Ride from Songduo to Mozhugongka for 110 kilometers. The first 20 kilometers is the tempered uphill bituminous macadam, but you need to push your bicycle to the second highest pass, Mila Pass (5030m), along Sichuan – Tibet Highway. Then continue for 27 kilometers to Riduo on the bituminous macadam and head for Mozhugongka for another 56 kilometers. Then head to your final destination - Lhasa.
The last period is approximately 68 kilometers bituminous macadam. You will see the lofty Potala Palace in distance, as you enter in the Lhasa Forestry checkpoint. The challenging tour ends here and you might feel as comfortable as home at that moment.
Songduo country (4288m) – Mila Pass (5013m) – Riduo country (4370m) –Mozhugongka County (3830m) – Datse County (3440m) – Lhasa City (3650m)
Day 24: Lhasa sightseeing
After breakfast, we go to the Potala Palace, a golden feather upon the roof of the world, which Tibetans proudly claim to be the prime miracle since the creation of this world. With the golden roof shinning in the sun, it is visible from any distance. You can spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building and exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and many Buddhist icons within.
In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang. Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor area of Old Lhasa. The streets smelled of yak butter and incense while hordes of pilgrims shuffled along the main Kora (circumambulations) around Jokhang Temple. If someone just walked at a normal pace, one kora would take about 15-20 minutes.
Day 25: Drepung and Sera Monastery
In the morning have a tour for Drepung, the ever largest monastery with more than 10 thousand monks. Buddhist debates often occur there. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given its name which, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.
You can spend the afternoon touring Sera Monastery and have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there. Sera monastery was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning back to Lhasa.
Day 26: finish this unforgettable tour
Free time at your disposal this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, departure transfer to see off, tour services end and Tibet welcome you back forever. Alternatively, should you wish to stay on rather than return home right away, you could contact us and choose our other City Packages as an extension to your memorable adventure!
1.Tibet Entry Permit
2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;
3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
4. Professional English speaking tour guide;
5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
6.All measl listed in the itinerary;
7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance
What’s not included?
1. International flight to and out of China;
2. Chinese Visa
3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)
4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;
5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish
6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.
1. Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.
In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.
Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.
We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.
3.Guiding and Tipping
Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.
Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.
Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.
However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.
5. Tibet Weather
One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.
Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.
6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude
For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.
7. Other Dos and Don'ts
Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.
As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.