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23 Days Cycling Tour from Chengdu to Lhasa via Sichuan Tibet Highway

Tour Route: Chengdu - Kangding - Litang - Mangkang - Bayi - Lhasa

Trip Overview:

Sichuan-Tibet Highway contains the essence of the world-class G318 National Highway, and a cycling trip via this route will be a legendary lifetime experience that let you venture into the Third Pole of the world and take in the varied breathtaking scenery along the way. Starting from low-lying Chengdu, the route will traverse western Sichuan plateau, Litang grassland, Hengduan Mountains, Nyingchi forest, snowy peaks and crystal glaciers and more geographical landscapes, before ending in holy Lhasa city. Covering about 2154 km, this cycling tour will be a grand feast of unique natural scenery and a test of strong will and heart. Tough and challenging, but the ride will turn out to be rewarding and worthwhile.

  • Tour Code:
    TTO-PT-CL23
  • Max Altitude:
    3650 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:
    springSpringSummerSummerautumnAutumnwinterWinter

Highlights:

  • Fabulous views along the world-class cycling route - G318 National Highway.
  • Cycle from the low-lying Sichuan Basin to the roof of the world - Tibet Plateau.
  • See pastoral scenery of Xinduqiao - paradise of the photographers.
  • Enjoy the alpine scenery of Lulang Forest, the Switzerland Scene of Tibet.
  • Tour spectacular Midui Glacier, widely believed to be the most beautiful glacier in China.
  • Visit turquoise Ranwu Lake, a perfect blending of the Swiss Alps snow peaks and glaciers and the streams.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Start from Chengdu to Ya’an (155km cement road)

Detailed route:
Chengdu City (alt.512m) - Shuangliu County - Xinjin County - Qionglai City - Mingshan County - Yaan City (alt.641m)

Starting this legendary cycling trip from Chengdu, the first stop will be the city Ya’an, 120 kilometers southwest of Chengdu. This route needs to pass through Qionglai City and Mingshan County. The road between Chengdu and Mingshan is relatively flat but rises to a slope.

Stay overnight in Ya’an.

Day 2: Ya’an - Xingou (87km cement road along with Qingyi River)

Detailed route:
Ya'an City (alt.641m) - Feixianguan Town - Tianquan County (alt.848m) - Zishi Village - Lianglu Village or called Xingou (alt.1330m)

Today's journey is cycling along the beautiful Qingyi River. First ride to Tianquan County, a picturesque location nestled at the east foot of Erlang Mountain. Erlang Mountain boasts of its charming natural scenery and many minority villages. Then continue to Xigou village.

Stay overnight in Xingou.

Day 3: Xingou - Luding (57km cement road)

Detailed route:
Xingou (alt.1330m) - Erlangshan Tunnel (alt.2170m) - Luding County (alt.1330m)

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, you will head to visit Luding Bridge and the museum.

Stay overnight in Luding.

Day 4: Luding - Kangding (51km part gravel road and part cement road)

Detailed route:
Luding County (alt.1330m) - Wasigou - Xiaotiandu Tunnel - Kangding County (alt.2395m)

Firstly, you will bike along the Dadu River for around 24 km and then turn west for 27 km to Kangding. Kangding is the starting point of Tea-Horse Ancient Road, and is also the provincial capital of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. It is the place with a combination of both Chinese and Tibetans.

Stay overnight in Kangding.

Day 5: Kangding - Xinduqiao (82km cement road)

Detailed route:
Kangding County (alt.2395m) - Zheduotang Village (alt.3222m) - Zheduo Pass (alt.4298m) - Xinduqiao Town (alt.3630m)

Today, we will challenge the 4300-meter-high Zheduo Mountain firstly. It is about 30 km to mountain pass, but all upward road, you may need to push your bike most of the time. Once you arrive at the mountain pass, your attention will immediately be drawn to the new view of wide Tibetan plateau.

Endless waving hilltops, yaks, river, welcome to Tibetan plateau! There are great views of Gongga Mountain and other mountains.

And then descend for about 42 km to the colorful small town of Xinduqiao, the paradise of photographers. You will enjoy the beautiful villages and lands all the way.

Stay overnight in Xinduqiao.

Day 6: Xinduqiao - Yajiang (71km part gravel road and part cement road)

Detailed route:
Xinduqiao Town (alt.3630m) - Gao´ersi Pass (alt.4412m) - Yajiang County (alt.2530m)

Today is a challenging day again, but with enjoyable views. Moving west for 5 km to reach a junction road that heads north to Danba and Daofu. On the way, you will climb a 4412-m pass and cross a bleak grassy plateau for about 5.5 km. After that, the trail goes down steeply to Yajing, to an elevation of 3000m. The road to Yajiang was all tarmac but sometimes quite bumpy, with light traffic.

Stay overnight in Yajiang.

Day 7: Yajiang - Xiangkezong (17km cement road)

Detailed route:
Yajiang County (alt.2530m) - Xiangkezong Village (alt.3500m)

From Yajing, you will ride up to 3500m to Xiangkezong Village, which is a traditional village suitable for overnight stay. Upon arrival, you can have a good rest there to prepare for the arduous cycling of the following day.

Stay overnight in the village.

Day 8: Xiangkezong - 158 Daoban (59km cement road under construction)

Detailed route:
Xiangkezong Village (alt.3500m) - Jianziwan Pass (alt.4659m) - Kazila Pass (alt.4718m) - Leida Military Depot (alt.4387m) - 158 Daoban (alt.4090m)

We will cycle for the whole daytime. The road of the first part keeps climbing to 4659km at Jianziwan Pass, then to 4718m at Kazila Pass which is today's highest pass. Then it moves down to 158 Daoban.

Stay overnight at 158 Daoban.

Day 9: 158 Daoban - Litang (46km cement road)

Detailed route:
158 Daoban (alt.4090m) - Unknown Pass (alt.4321m) - Honglong Village (alt.4321m) - Unknown Pass (alt.4377m) - 118 Daoban (alt.4008m) - Unknown Pass (alt.4312m) - Litang County (alt.4014m)

From 158 Daoban to Litang, the road climbs and falls repeatedly. We will overcome several passes over 4000m to get to today's destination - Litang. Litang is the world’s highest city, with an altitude of 4200 meters. It is also well-known for the international horse racing festival held every August.

Stay overnight in Litang.

Day 10: Litang - Batang (187km cement road)

Detailed route:
Litang County (alt.4014m) - Haizi Pass (alt.4685m) - Haizishan Police Station – Deda Tunnel (length 659m) - Lieyi Tunnel (length 2107m) - 323 Daoban (alt.3370) - Bogexi Tunnel (length 2743m) - Lanashan Tunnel (length 3451m) - Huangcaoping No.1 Tunnel (length 1221m) - Huangcaoping No.2 Tunnel (length 917m) - Batang County (alt.2580m)

Today, we will depart from Litang to Batang. First get into the Haizi Mountains (4500 meters through a good-conditioned road, and then descend to Batang which is located in the bank of Jinshajiang River. Batang is a famous supplier of good fruit in eastern 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.

Stay overnight in Batang.

Day 11: Batang - Mangkang (108km part gravel road and part cement road)

Detailed route:
Batang County (alt.2580m) - Jinsha River Bridge (alt.2451m) - Hotspring Cottage (alt.2635m) - Haitong Military Depot (alt.3536m) - Zongbala Pass (alt.4170m) - Mangkang County (alt.3875m)

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 Mangkang County, Tibet.

Mangkang is at the junction of roads to Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet provinces. It is the first county 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 G318 National Highway, and you can stay overnight in the local Weather Bureau rest house to take a bath and prepare for the Tibet part bicycle tour.

Stay overnight in Mangkang.

Day 12: Day 12: Mangkang - Dengba (91km gravel road)

Detailed route:
Mangkang County (alt.3875m) - Lawu Pass (alt.4338m) - Chuka Bridge (alt.2640m) - Jueba Pass (alt.3930m) - Dengba Village (alt.3440m)

Today you will cycle across two mountain passes and the desolate Lancang River. For the first part, you will get over the Lawu Mountain Pass and Jueba Mountain, and then follow the downhill path for 13 kilometers to Dengba.

As the trail along the Lancang River is extremely steep, you need to proceed with 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; the exotic site will offer a comfort to your weary body.

Stay overnight in Dengba (camping).

Day 13: Dengba - Zuogong (76km cement road under construction)

Detailed route:
Dengba Village (alt.3440m) - Rongxu Military Depot (alt.4046m) - Dongda Pass (alt.5008m) - Zuogong County (alt.3877m)

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.

Stay overnight in Zuogong.

Day 14: Zuogong - Bangda (105km cement road)

Detailed route:
Zuogong County (alt.3877m) - Tiantuo Town - Tiantuo Village - Asi Village - Bangda Town (alt.4120m)

Proceed for 105 kilometers to Bangda. As the initial 63 kilometers are bituminous macadam, arrival at 3654 on the National Highway 318; for the following 42 kilometers is mainly the dusty road in poor condition with lots of uphill path. The excited thing is that there is fiber in Bangda and you can make a call there. And cycling along with Yuqu River is enjoyable, too.

Stay overnight in Bangda military depot.

Day 15: Bangda - Basu (95km cement road and gravel road)

Detailed route:
Bangda Town (alt.4120m) - Yela Pass (alt.4658m) - Nujiang River Bridge (alt.2740m) - Basu County (alt.3280m)

You will 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.

Stay overnight in Basu.

Day 16: Basu - Ranwu (90km cement road)

Detailed route:
Basu County (alt.3280m) - Anjiula Pass (alt.4475m) - Ranwu Town (alt.3960m) Stay overnight in 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 that leads 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.

Day 17: Ranwu - Bomi (132km cement road))

Detailed route:
Ranwu Town (alt.3960m) - Midui Glacier - Zhongba Village (alt.3330m) - Bomi County (alt.2725m)

Today, bid fare well to Ranwu and continue to ride for Zhongba, which is 53 kilometers away. Proceed along the tempered devious 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 bigger 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.

Stay overnight in Bomi.

Day 18: Bomi - Tongmai (92km cement road)

Detailed route:
Bomi County (alt.2725m) - Guxiang - 102 landslide area - Tongmai Town (alt.2070m)

Today is an arduous cycling day leading you to Tongmai, covering about 90 kilometers. 40 kilometers devious 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 atrocious when you close to Tongmai.

Stay overnight in Tongmai.

Day 19: Tongmai - Lulang (33km gravel road and 41km cement road)

Detailed route:
Tongmai Town (alt.2070m) - Laohu Zui - Pailong country - Layue Village (alt.2372m) - Dongjiu country (alt.2560m) - Lulang Town (alt.3370m)

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 newly- 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.

Stay overnight in Lulang.

Day 20: Lulang - Bayi (72.5km cement road)

Detailed route:
Lulang Town (alt.3370m) - Sejila Pass (alt.4559m) - Nyingchi Town (alt.3010m) - Bayi Town (alt.2930m)

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 your 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 it is the even bituminous macadam. The Niyangqu and poplars dotted in emerald green constitutes 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.

Stay overnight in Bayi.

Day 21: Bayi - Gongbo'gyamda (130km cement road)

Detailed route:
Bayi Town (alt.2930m) - Gengzhang Town - Baiba Town - Gongbo'gyamda County (alt.3440m)

You will enjoy the ease ride on the bituminous macadam. The blue mountains and green waters will feast your eyes all along the way and you will cover 127 kilometers arrival in Gongbo'gyamda without awareness.

Stay overnight in Gongbo'gyamda.

Day 22: Gongbo'gyamda - Songduo (96km cement road)

Detailed route:
Gongbo'gyamda County (alt.3440m) - Jinda Town - Jiaxing country - Songduo country (alt.4288m)

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.

Stay overnight in Songduo.

Day 23: Songduo - Lhasa (110 km cement road)

Detailed route:
Songduo country (alt.4288m) - Mila Pass (alt.5013m) - Riduo country (alt.4370m) - Mozhugongka County (alt.3830m) - Datse County (alt.3440m) - Lhasa City (alt.3650m)

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 destination - Lhasa. The last period is approximately 68 kilometers bituminous macadam. You will see the lofty Potala Palace, as you enter in the Lhasa Forestry checkpoint in the distance. The challenging tour ends here and you might feel as comfortable as home at that moment.

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 meals listed in the itinerary;

7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance

What’s excluded?

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 Inquiry 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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