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18 Days Cycling Tour from Golmud to Lhasa

Tour Route: Golmud-Kunlun Mountain-Wudaoliang-Tuotuo River-Amdo-Nagqu-Namtso-Yangpachen-Lhasa

Trip Overview:

Among the existing Tibet cycling routes, this 18-day cycling tour from Golmud to Lhasa is more challenging than others, so it is recommended for riders who have good physical fitness and rich experience. Stating from Golmud, you will pass through some challenging regions, such as Kunlun Mountains Pass(4746m), Wudaoliang that locate in Hoh Xil uninhabited area, Tanggula Mountains Pass(5231m), etc. along the way. But the difficulties were all worth it. Because you can enjoy many beautiful landscapes on the way. You can see the torrential Tuotuo River, look at brilliant stars by the holy Namtso Lake, and enjoy a hot spring in Yangpachen, etc. Besides, after arrive at Lhasa, you will visit some landmarks of Lhasa to fully experience cultures and customs of Tibet. 

  • Tour Code:
  • Max Altitude:
    5,231 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:


  • Get a taste of the northern Changtang at the turquoise waters, snowy peaks and nomads’ tents of stunning high-altitude Lake Namtso.
  • Enjoy a hot spring in Yangpachen.
  • Cycling over some spectacular landscapes, including Tuoduo River, Tanggula Mountains Pass.
  • Go down into the bowels of the Potala Palace, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas.
  • Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
  • Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor Street, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
  • Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera Monastery, one of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1-3: Golmud - Kunlun Mountains Pass (160km)

Cycle from Golmud to Kunlun Mountains Pass(4767m). This section will take you about 3-4 days. And there are many slopes on the road.

Camping or guesthouse.

Day 4-5: Kunlun Mountains Pass to WudaoLiang(109km)

These two days you will cycle about 109 km from Kunlun Mountains to Wudaoliang. Road condition is much better. Don’t miss the hot spring that beside the road when passing through the Nachitai Area.

Camping or guesthouse.

Day 6: Wudaoliang-Tuotuo River(150km)

The most arduous task today is to cycle about 70km over the Fenghuoshan Mountain pass with an altitude of 5010 meters. Then go downhill all the way to Erdaogou town. Recruit your energy there and have a short rest then go ahead about 63 km to the source of Yangtze River - New Tuotuohe Bridge before it gets dark.

Camping or guesthouse.

Day 7: Tuotuo River-Yanshiping(91km)

Today is a little relaxed with less uphill or downhill. Cycle 90km to Yanshiping and check in at a local hotel. Have a good rest after several days' hard cycling. Build your strength for the next day's journey to cycle over Tanggula Mountain - the dividing line between Qinghai and Tibet.

Stay overnight in Yanshiping.

Day 8: Yanshiping- Toudaoban(100km)

You will come across numerous up slopes after leaving Yanshiping, then go through the old hot spring and arrive in the new hot spring. There is still 47 kilometers from the Pass, also as the starting point of the uphill path. As you reach the Tanggula Mountains Pass(5231m), you have come to the nearest place to feel heaven on this route. When you surmount the Tanggula Mountains, you come to the prairie of Wutang Grassland in Tibet.

After a 10 kilometers' downgrading path from Tanggulas Mountains, you will get to today's camp place – Toudaoban. It is renowned as the first Highway Keeper's House, because it stands on the altitude of 5100 meters, which is the highest in the world.

Camping in Toudaoban.

Day 9: Toudaoban-Amdo(70km)

Starting from Toudaoban, a 20 kilometers uphill path will follow a short downhill trail and you will reach Tuojiugaila Pass, also named as small Tanggula Pass. A spiral downgrading path twists in the huge valley and the slopes are all precipitous, which are rare in the Qinghai - Tibet route, thus you need to be particularly prudent and cautious with your cycling speed. When you come to the bottom of the valley, you will proceed towards the road along the river.

More and more Tibet villages are dotted on the way, an even and complanate road leads you to Amdo County. You can have a complete relax in the local hostel to refresh yourself after several arduous cycling days.

Stay overnight in Amdo.

Day 10-11: Amdo – Nagqu(138km)

Launching from the Amdo County, go across a part of fluviomarine area and some grassland, you will get to the foot of Shengeligong Mountain(4880m). Although the uphill path is only 7 kilometers due to the tough gradient, you need to push your bicycle step by step rather than cycle on this mountain. Reaching the summit of this mountain does not mean the initial point of the downgrading path, plenty of up and down hills still block on the way to test your will and energy for about 50 kilometers. Another 70 kilometers will lead you to Nakchu, which the altitude has reached 4500 meters.

Stay overnight in Nagqu.

Day 12-13: Nagqu- Namtso Lake(146km)

Continue your journey to Namtso Lake. Namtso Lake is located between Dangxiong County and Bange County, renowned as one of the three Holy Lakes in Tibetan Buddhism. You will spend a night at lakeshore to enjoy brilliant stars.

Camping or guesthouse.

Day 14: Namtso Lake – Yangpachen(90km)

After enjoy a peaceful morning by the lake, and snap the amazing view of sunrise. You can have a little hike along the lake shore to Tashi Dor Island to explore the meditation caves. Then leave for Yangpachen by 123 kilometers' cycling. Yangpachen is famous for its geothermic hot spring, so you can have a bath there.

Stay overnight in Yangpachen.

Day 15: Yangpachen to Lhasa (75km)

Today, you will arrive at Lhasa, the destination of this cycling trip. This route is mainly composed of down slope.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 16: Lhasa Sightseeing - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street

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. It is visible from any distance, with the golden roof shinning in the sun, spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and the many Buddhist icons within.

In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang Temple. The Jokhang, like most of the larger temple structures have numerous individual temples within it dedicated to specific enlightened beings, protectors, high lamas, or saints. Images, both sculpted and painted, are everywhere. Every inch of wall and ceiling is brightly painted with images of clouds, beings, mandalas, or decorative patterns. Colorful silk banners, three stories high, hang in various places. Color, pattern, and images crowd in around you. The central image inside the building is a 30-foot high gilded image of Maitreya Buddha.

Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor Street 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.

Stay Overnight in Lhasa.

Day 17: Lhasa Sightseeing - Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery

In the morning, you will have a tour for Drepung Monastery, 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.

In the afternoon, you are going to visit Sera Monastery, 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. You may have the chance to watch the famous Monks Debate (usually from 15:00 to 17:00) before returning to Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 18: Depart from Lhasa

Our guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.

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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