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Overland Trip from Sichuan to Tibet

Last Update: March 23, 2020

Most of tourists prefer to go to Tibet by flight or train. However, for photographers and those people who would like to take an adventure, an overland trip from Sichuan to Tibet is worth trying. The Sichuan Province is adjacent to the eastern part of Tibet, and travelers can travel overland along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway to reach Tibet. Though it is a challenging and venturesome journey to drive from Chengdu to Lhasa, the landscapes along the way are splendid. Tourists will see wonderful virgin forests, vast grasslands, majestic glaciers and grand rivers.

Then, when is the best time to make the overland trip? And how to plan an overland trip from Sichuan to Tibet? Here we are going to give you an ultimate guide about the Sichuan Tibet overland tour.

Why choose Sichuan to Tibet overland trip?

It is advisable to not take a flight from a city in China to Tibet due to the issues that arise from high altitudes. You need some time to acclimatize to the high altitudes of Tibet to avoid altitude sickness during one of the most gorgeous tours you will experience in your lifetime. The Sichuan-Tibet highway is the longest high-altitude road known in China at present. This overland tour can be viewed as a challenging and one of the most adventurous routes.

However, it is one of the best opportunities for you to actually feel the nature. Snow mountain peaks, mountain passes, deep gorges and a beautiful Mother nature reveal themselves along the way. You can also meet many nomad and Tibetan locals and experience the culture and customs during the overland trip. This successful, fulfilling journey can take a good amount of time to complete. But it is just as much rewarding. You get the unique chance to appreciate the astounding landscapes in western Sichuan and eastern Tibet.

Overland to Tibet from SichuanOverland to Tibet from Sichuan

When is it ideal to make the overland trip?

Although the Tibetan Plateau is known for its high altitudes, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. With clear blue skies, between April and November, the average temperature ranges from 15-25 degrees Celsius. July and August are usually characterised by odd showers during the day and extreme cold, with temperature dropping below 0 degrees at night. Thus, if we are suggest the suitable time to visit Tibet, it is wise to say the best time for overland tours in Tibet is between April and November. In all honesty, for driving from Sichuan to Tibet, the best months are May, June, September, October and November because July and Augustus, despite being nice seasons, have rainfall. Winters are too cold and windy.

What is the classic itinerary for the overland trip?

A classic itinerary for a road trip from Sichuan to Tibet will look like one of the 11 day overland tours through the Sichuan Highway. During the trip you will ascend from the Sichuan basin of 800 meters above sea level to the Tibetan plateau of above 4000 meters through the highway, witnessing the stunning surrounding of marvelous canyons and isolated Tibetan locals. To get an idea of the daily plan of the itinerary, you might find the following information handy.

Day1 Chengdu/ Danba (350 km)

In the morning you take the 4WD from Chengdu-Ya'an Highway along the Baoxing, up the Mt. Jiajin to Danba. Then you move forward to the Danba Bridge, the only door for the Xiaojin and Danba County, Upon entering the Danba County you can view the splendid Tibetan blockhouse. The night is spent in Danba.

 Danba in the Tibet Danba in the Tibet

Day 2 Danba/Tagong/Xindu Bridge(261km)

After completing the breakfast, you drive to the Tagong county, the place known as the spot which even gods and fairies feel hesitant to leave. Tourists can worship in the “Tagong temple” and enjoy the picturesque Tagong prairie with Tibetan nomads’ characteristics. Then, you head towards Xindu Bridge, which is widely known for its ultimate pastoral scenery, a paradise for photographers. The night is spent at Xinduqiao.

 Tagong in the Tibet Tagong in the Tibet

Day 3 Xindu Bridge/Batang(398km)

You make your way from Xindu, along the Yajiang, up to Mt. Jiangziwan (4658m), and finally reach the first high town-Litang. At the environs, there is one dazzling and glorious temple named Changqingchunke Temple. In the afternoon, you can go to Mt. Haizi to visit Sister Lake which is sealed by the ice, Rekang Hot-spring and Nature reservation in Cuopu channel, from where you can return to Batang old town and stay overnight at the Batang County.(If you want to visit Rekang hor-spring and Cuolake Nature Reserve, itinerary needs to extend 2 more days.) You stay overnight at Batang.

 Changqingchunke in the Tibet Changqingchunke in the Tibet

Day 4 Batang/Zuogong(249km)

On this day, you walk the Jinsha River to the Tibetan area, following which, at the conjunction of Dianzang road and Chuanzang road Mangkang you can have dinner. Then you go up to Mt. Jueba, Lawu and Mt. Dongda, which is nearly 6000 metres, and get to Zuogong. Though the road is not very good, there are many cattle and sheep along the road. In the evening, you enter Zuogong county, where you stay overnight.

Jinsha River in the TibetJinsha River in the Tibet

Day 5 Zuogong/Basu/Ranwu(290km)

In the morning, you set off along Bangda (from here, you can also head for Chamdo and join the Chuanzang west line to Namtso Lake), up to Lashan. On this route, the road is bumpy, but the scenery here is very lovely. Along the elegant road with hollow and grass, you can catch sight of the snow mountain and glacier. At night, you have to return to Ranwu town to enjoy the alpine scenery. (If the guests want to visit Laigu Glacier, the guests have to buy the exchange fee of the car by themselves). You spend the night in Ranwu.

 Namtso Lake in the TibetNamtso Lake in the Tibet

Day 6 Ranwu/Bomi(218km)

Don't forget to get up early to enjoy the beauty of Ranwu Lake. After lunch, you can drive out of Ranwu Town. Along the road you cans see thick trees, streaming water, snow mountains, lakes and small villages which make the place more marvellous. In the evening, you drive back to Bomi to spend the night.

 Ranwu Lake  in the Tibet Ranwu Lake in the Tibet

Day 7 Bomi/Niyang beauty spot/Bayi(233km)

On this day you head for the conjunction of Niyang River and Yarlung Tsangpu River and get to Pai Town of the Yarlung Tsangpu River. Trekking to the best touring sites inMt. Nanjiabawa Daduka can be a great choice. If the weather is fine, you will have a chance to have a view of Mt. Nanjiabawa. From the Zhamu town of Bomi County, through the indigenous forest, you can head for the last natural barrier, Maitong. During the 15km ride from Maitong to Pailong 15km place, there is floodwater and bolar collapse which break off the use of the road, where you find the renowned 102 coast. After Pailong, the road condition gets better, and you pass through the thick Milang. You drive up to Mt. Selaji to get to Bayi town (2400m), which is far from 19km to visit the Cypress Forest in Bayi town. You stay overnight in Bayi.

 view of Mt. Nanjiabawa view of Mt. Nanjiabawa

Day 8 Bayi/Lhasa(460km)

All the way from the Bayi town, you can enjoy the stunning Niyang river. After passing through the Gongbujiangda, you can head towards to the holy lake of Darksumtso (3500m high,27 Afterwards you drive back to the main stem of Sichuan-Tibet road, and enter Lhasa. After arriving in Lhasa , you can have a distant view of Potala Palace, and the dreamlike city—Lhasa will be right in front of your eyes. This is where you spend the night.

 Niyang River in the TibetNiyang River in the Tibet

Day 9 Lhasa Sightseeing, Visiting Potala Palace, Jokhang and Barkhor street

Potala Palace is the milestone of Lhasa and is recently considered one of the seven wonders of the world. In November 2000, the UNESCO put the Potala Palace architecture group into the world heritage list. In the afternoon, you can visit Johkang temple, built during Songtsen Gonpo's rule by Princess Wencheng of Tang dynasty. The climax in Jokhang is the sacred goat head in the Jampa chapel which is believed to be 'self-arisen' and not man made. You can then explore the famous Barkhor street and enjoy this busiest street in whole Tibet. You get to spend a night in Lhasa.

 Potala Palace in the TibetPotala Palace in the Tibet

Day 10 Lhasa Sightseeing: Sera Monastery/Drepung

Drepung monastery is located at the foothill of a mountain and was founded by Jamyang Choeje in 1416. Next you can also visit the Nechung monastery located 1km southeast of Drepung. It is the abode of the guardian deity, Pehar and the seat of the state Oracle of Tibet. In the afternoon, you are advised to explore the Sera monastery which was founded in 1419 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamchen Choeje. The most dramatic scene here is the monks debiting held there in the courtyard at around 6-7:30 in the afternoon. You spend another night in Lhasa.

 Drepung monastery in the TibetDrepung monastery in the Tibet

Day 11 Leave Lhasa to your next destination

If you have booked through our travel agency, you will have a private car taking you to the next destination from Lhasa.

What you should pack with you?

If you know where you are travelling, you must have googled what you need to take with you already. Some essentials that experts suggest for tourists entering Tibet include: a pair of hiking boots/sturdy sneakers, sleeping bag and insulation pad, ground cloth or tarp (recommended but not required), rain gear (waterproof pants and jacket), towel, 3-5 t-shirts, lightweight fleece or wool sweater (Tibet is characterized by low temperatures), 2 pairs of nylon pants, 5-7 pairs of socks (polypropylene or wool are recommended), 3-5 pairs of underwear, sunglasses, personal toiletries (you may want to carry your own toilet paper and some zip-lock bags, as bathrooms may not be readily available.), personal medication, camera, batteries and film/digital Memory Cards, adapter and surge protector (you do not want to miss out posing amidst the unique landscape of this utopia), light- weight thermal shirts or long underwear ( recommended but not required).

 Packing things Packing things

Most of you must now be pondering over the type of sockets used in Tibet. Here you go- for Class 1 appliances, a Type 1 3-pin plug and socket is used.  In Tibet, plugs are rated as 220V 50Hz. Have some space left in your bags? You may choose to take some luxuries with you- personal music player, journal, binoculars, wide-brimmed hat, swim suit (for hot springs!), gloves, scarf, sunscreens, money belt or fanny pack and anything that may make you feel relaxed. You may carry some soft snacks and water with you as well.

How we can help you with the trip?

For all foreign travelers, if you plan to make an overland trip from Sichuan to Tibet, you also need to apply for Tibet Travel Permit and Alien's Travel Permit, except for the valid passport and Chinese Visa. While it sounds like a complex task to get all of these permits, the fact is that you don’t need to bother too much, because you do not have to do this by yourself. All of the required permits to drive to Tibet are ruled to apply via a travel agency like us. Once you book Chengdu to Lhasa overland tour through us, we offer a one-stop service for the application of all the permits within our capacity.

We can also provide a designed customized overland tour for your preference and time. And we will arrange for everything, including vehicle, accommodation, guide service, etc. All you need to do is give us the photo image of the passport information page and Chinese Visa page. Then you could just sit back and pack up your bags. We will take care of the rest.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit


It is truly rewarding to make an overland trip from Sichuan to Tibet for travelers, especially for photographing lovers and adventure exploring fans. The best time for overland journeys in Tibet is between April and November. From Chengdu Plain to Tibet Plateau, crossing the Hengduan Mountain Ranges, you will appreciate the unique landscapes in western Sichuan and eastern Tibet. If you have any questions about Sichuan Tibet overland tours, please feel free to contact us anytime.

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