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22 Days Cycling from Lijiang, Yunnan to Lhasa, Tibet

Tour Route: Lijiang-Shangari-la-Markham-Zuogong-Basu-Ranwu-Bomi-Tongmai-Lulang-Bayi-Lhasa

Trip Overview:

If you’re angling for astonishing scenic beauty, wild mountainous adventures, riveting displays of ethnic culture and the irresistible allure of the immense outdoors, this tour is right for you. Start in Lijiang, a fairyland blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snow mountains and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by a friendly group of people, this bike tour ends in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and a holy city you could never miss. This expedition is more demanding because of the mountainous terrains of northeastern Yunnan but the stunning scenery will make up for it. Everything you expect is included in this tour: unique culture and folklore, astonishing landscapes, off-the-beaten track getaways, and a rich and abundant ethnic backdrop.

  • Tour Code:
  • Max Altitude:
    5,013 m
  • Tour Type:
    Private tour with private guide and vehicle
  • Phisycal Demand:

    Phisycal Demand Level Guide:
    1. Easy (1 point) - suitable for all level of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
    2. Moderate (2-3 Points) - suitable for those having average level for fitness, family with kids bigger than 12 years.
    3. Moderate to Strenous (4 Points) - suitable for those physically fit and have experiences of high altitude trekking.
    4. Strenuous (5 Points) - suitable for adventures and individual with physically fit and healthy.

  • Season:


  • Ultimate mountain bike holiday from Yunnan to Tibet
  • Hugely rewarding Tibetan cycling journey
  • Fabulous views along the journey
  • A worthy challenge for one’s physical and mental strength

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Ride to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang

Set off from the ancient Town of Lijiang today, cycle to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, passing by the First Bend of the Yangtze River. In the remaining time, you could explore the 18-kilometer (11-mile) gorge on foot.

Day 2: Cycle to Shangari-La

Cycle out of the gorg, visit the White Water Terrace and then continue the journey to Shangri-La over several mountains. En route, pay a visit to the Bitahai Lake. Fed by small streams from the snow mountains encircled, the lake shapes just like a trumpet shell. In the color of azure with snowy mountains and trees reflecting in it, the gorgeous lake is a wonderland to appreciate the beauty of nature. Optional for you to visit the Guihua Temple.

Day 3: Shangari-la Sightseeing

Begin this morning with a visit to the biggest Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Yunnan, Songzanlin Temple. This temple collects the elite of Tibetan religious culture and presents splendid architecture. Because of its similar appearance and layout to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, it is also reputed as 'small Potala Palace'.

Then, you will travel to Shudu Lake, the lake of beauty and peacefulness. The plants around the lake are lush and the wild animals are various.

Day 4: Ride to Benzilan County

Take a 82-kilometer journey to a division spot called Benzilan. Travel along the river but not cross the bridge, otherwise you will ride to Derong of Sichuan Province.

Day 5: Continue to Feilai Temple

Start from Benzilan to Deqin and then stop at the Feilai Temple by taking the Yunnan-Tibet Road, which is also known as the No.214 National Highway. The snowy scenic on the way is amazing.

Day 6: Felai Temple-Yanjiang

Set off early today, get to Yanjing of Tibet, which is located on the bank of the Lancang River. In the remaining time in Yanjing, you could visit the only Catholic Church in Tibet.

Day 7: Yanjing-Markham

Head to Markham which is an important transportation hub to other parts of Tibet. The journey is about 110 kilometers (68 miles) but this road always suffers collapse in rainy season, so caution is advised.

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.

Day 8: 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 9: 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 10: Zuogong - Bangda

Proceed for 105 kilometers to Bangda.

As the initial 63 kilometers are bituminous macadam, arrival at 3654 on the National Highway 318. And 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 11: 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.

Day 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: 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 16: 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 17: 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 18: 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 19: 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. The 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 20: 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 21: 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 22: 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!

What’s included?

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.

Trip Notes:

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.

2. Accommodation

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.

4. Toilet

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.

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