Compared to the bustling and hustling of G318 National Highway, the northern route of Sichuan Tibet Highway, namely G317 National Highway is less travelled and more arduous. However, it presents another charming view primarily featuring devotional Tibetan culture. Kham area, on the other hand, is an isolated region on Tibetan Plateau, home to numerous gorgeous monasteries, snow-capped peaks, herds of animals and abundant rainfall and meadows.
This 16-day Kham Tibet overland tour will take you to explore the some of the highlights of G318 National Highway for the first part, including Wolong Nature Reserve, Jiaju Tibetan village, Gompa monastery etc., and then travel to Zhongdian via Litang and Dechen. Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La located in Yuannan province, is surprisingly wondrous place surrounded by mountains, lakes and grasslands. The tour will end in Zhongdian, where you can take a flight to your next destination.
- Challenge the wilder yet exotically charming overland route of G317 National Highway.
- Have a close contact with Giant Pandas at Wolong Nature Reserve.
- Visit Medor Monastery with unique combination of Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.
- Enjoy the famous Litang Horse Festival, one of the largest and most colorful horse festivals throughout the whole Tibet.
- Take in the impressive view of Gyalthang, the capital of the Deqin Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Shangrila).
Day 1: Arrival in Chengdu, Guests gathered in Chengdu before departure (500m)
Welcome to Chengdu! Upon arrival, be greeted by our local guide at the airport or train station.
After a group photo at airport, you will board on the coach and transfer to your hotel or have a stroll at the famous Chunxi Road Pedestrian Street, Wide and Narrow Alley, Jin Li Ancient Street, etc. Around 7 pm, the whole tour group, including Tibetan guide, will enjoy a welcome dinner (traditional Sichuan Cuisine).
Stay overnight in Chengdu.
Day 2: Chengdu - Jiaju (330km, 6-7h)
Drive along the Sichuan Tibet Highway (northern route) and make a small detour along this route to Danba via Dujiangyan, Wolong and scenic Four Ladies Mountain. At Wolong Nature Reserve, you can have a close contact with the Giant Pandas.
Danba is a fascinating small but compact town sitting in the canyon dotted with dozens of Qiang and Tibetan villages, along with numerous soaring stone watchtowers perched on the surrounding hills and cliffs. Drive to Jiaju Zangzhai Tibetan village, proclaimed as the best village in China, you can stroll around and meet with local Gyarong Tibetan families and possibly dine with them.
Stay overnight in Jiaju.
Day 3: Danda Tour
Visit and walk in Zhonglu village and Suopo village the next day, where you can have lunch in local Tibetan Inn, and visit the local families to see some of the remarkable Qiang watchtowers of the region, and visit Medor Monastery with unique combination of Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.
Day 4: Gantze to Daofu
Drive to Ganzi via Daofu and Luhuo. Along the way, pass through spectacular Yak Valley, regarded as the Natural Bonsai Garden, then cross Yala Snow Mountain, Longdeng Grassland, Yuke Grassland and rural farmland sceneries.
Daofu is well-known for its marvelous local houses with impressive interiors, which you will get a better understanding by visiting a local Tibetan family.
Gantze is a buzzing small town populated mostly by Tibetans. You can see low wooden houses sprawling the valley, with vast expanse of farm and grasslands, ringed by Chola mountains. You also can pay a visit to a 540-year-old Garze Gompa monastery near the town, and later stroll around the town.
Stay overnight in Daofu.
Day 5: Gantze to Dege (184 km, 3h)
Drive through vast farmlands, nomadic settlement and arrive in Manigango, a small rural town where you can stop for lunch and then head to Derge. Shortly after leaving Manigango, you will arrive in Yihun Lhatso, a stunning holy alpine lake fed by the glaciers of Chola Mountains.
After visiting the lake, you will traverse across the dramatic Chola (Trola), passing at nearly 5000m with towering snowy peaks. After the pass, descend first through scenery consisting of green vegetations of temperate forests and then through the Derge Canyon, a natural wonder. Free to rest and stroll around in the evening.
Stay overnight in Dege.
Day 6-7: Baiyu Tour
In the morning, visit the famed Derge Parkhang Scripture Printing Monastery, a storehouse of engraved blocks of Tibetan scriptures. The monastery is the storehouse of culture or Tibetan world in many respects.
Then drive for about 5hr along the Jinshajiang River to Baiyu or Paiyul. You can make a turn and take the side-valley road to visit the village of Hepo en-route, which is known for the metal crafts, especially in the art of making knifes, swords and silver bowls.
During the Karthok festival, you can spend a night in the village and reduce one night in Baiyu. During the festival at Baiyu, skipping the visit of Hepo on regular tour, you will have one day to take easy and stroll around in Baiyu, a pleasant town located along the banks of Dingchu River, overlooked by an important Pelyul monastery, straddling the hill dotted with lots of beautiful wooden Tibetan houses.
Stay overnight in Baiyu.
Day 8: Baiyu to Xinlong
Head through the wild of Nyarong, there is a rarely visited region off the main road of eastern Tibet. Nyarong was once known as the home to the feared Khampa brigands, but it is much tamer these days and our destination is the Nyarong town of Xinlong, a medium sized Tibetan town with two major monasteries. One is Yixi Monastery, the largest Bon Sect Monastery in Kham. In the town, you can visit a local Tibetan family and other sites in your available time.
Stay overnight in Xinlong.
Day 9: Xinlong to Litang (152 km, 3h)
Head to Litang. Thousands of yaks, hundreds of nomadic tents, men on horses with rifles strapped to their back can be seen along the road from Xinlong to Litang (4015m), which is one of the world's highest towns, with a “wild west” setting, as Khampas cross eastern Tibet to trade all kinds of goods from sheepskins to yaks to large pieces of turquoise or amber, or even the rare “dzi” beads.
Stay overnight in Litang.
Day 10: Litang Tour
Next day, you will head out to the beautiful Genyen holy mountain area, the home to farming and herding families, and visit the sprawling complex of Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery locate near the town and was founded in 1580.
In July, you can enjoy the famous Litang Horse Festival, one of the largest and most colorful horse festivals throughout the whole Tibet. Spectacular horse races, galloping riders in full costume, lively competitions between dance troupes are a delight at this festival. It is a great chance to see Khampa men and women dressed in traditional finery.
Stay overnight in Litang.
Day 11: Litang to Xiangcheng (207 km, 4h)
Head to Xiangcheng. After crossing the Bamu mountains, the sights of beautiful villages scatter amongst wheat-field-paddies in the valley ground will appear at once. As you approaching closer, they are quite large, cubicle houses that look like little castles, with white-chalked exterior walls.
Xiangcheng town occupies a high ridge above the river gorge and consists of an old village paired with a modern Chinese downtown. Above the town is large renovated Chaktreng Monastery of Gelukpa sect with great views of the town and the valley below.
Stay overnight in Xiangcheng
Day 12-14: Derong & Dechen
Drive to Derong and Dechen. After saying goodbye to XiangCheng, you will spend a night in small Tibetan town of Derong or Songmai (2800m), situated on the banks of the river. You can see Sun Valley en-route. From Derong town, drive into Yunnan and take a diversion north to Dechen or Deqin (3450m).
The drive is through ever-changing terrain as you dip into the Yangtze Valley and then climb over the Baima Snow Mountain passes and descend again through temperate forests. Explore picturesque villages with strong local traditions and visit an active monastery of Dhodrupling en route.
Day 13, you will take a scenic side trip in the Mekong River watershed to visit Nyithong villages, have lunch at a Tibetan home, and enjoy fabulous views of sacred Mount Khawakarpo (Meili) and Metsomo, the tranquil yet divine consort of Mount Khawakarpo. You’ll have the option to take a short one-hour hike along one of the brooks that feed into the Mekong. If you feel a bit more adventurous, we can arrange a 2-hour pony trek.
Return to Dechen for staying overnight.
Day 15: Zhongdian (Gyalthang)
Rejoin the southern road and drive to Gyalthang, the capital of the Deqin Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Shangrila). Stop at Napa Lake and upon arrival in Gyalthang, you will visit Sumtsenling Monastery, founded in the 17th century by the Fifth Dalai Lama.
In the evening, you are recommended to take a stroll from your hotel to nearby Tibetan square of shops, restaurants and market square, where you can see the local people gathering for evening circle dancing.
Stay overnight in Zhongdian.
Day 16: Finish this Unforgettable Tour
The driver will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight. Gyalthang is connected by flights to Lhasa and to Kunming, where there are several flights to other destinations.
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
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.
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.