Chengdu is the best gateway city to Tibet. The G318 National Highway, known as the most beautiful and riskiest road in China, is a haunting route that every adventurous self-driving fan wants to try. This epic overland tour will take you to explore the majestic canyons, rugged peaks, greener pastures, winding rivers, lush forests and spectacular glaciers. The tour is in total 11 days including 2 days sightseeing in Lhasa City. The 2-day sightseeing tour in the holy city, undoubtedly, will be the perfect end of your trip.
Small group tour (less than 12 people) with fixed departure
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.
Fabulous views along the world-class overland route - G318 National Highway.
Drive from the low Sichuan Basin to the roof of the world -Tibet Plateau.
Enjoy the alpine scenery of Lulang Forest, the Switzerland Scene of Tibet.
Wind your way up through the Potala Palace, the holy land and landmark of Tibet.
Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera and Drepung Monastery, two of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
Photos & Videos
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 - Ya’an - Luding - Kangding - Xinduqiao Bridge (410km, around 10h)
After breakfast, you take the car from Chengdu to Xinduqiao. Travelling along the Dadu River, upper reaches of Yangtze River, we will pass Zheduo Mountain (4298m). From there, the scenery turns different. Here, you will see Tibetan villages, lush pastures, and grazing yaks, bobbling brooks and fluffy clouds over deep blue sky. Then, you head towards Xinduo Bridge, which is widely known for its ultimate pastoral scenery, a paradise for photographers.
You make your way from Xindu, along the Yajiang, up to Mt. Jiangziwan (4658m). Then, we will reach Litang. Situated on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the city of Litang is natural grassland, dotted with grazing yaks, sheep, and nomad’s tents. If you visit there in summer, you’ll see blossoming flowers all over the fields. There have another dazzling and glorious temple named Ke’er Monastery. After visiting Litang, you will pass Mt. Haizi. It was called as Haizi Mountain but the road condition from east to the west is good.
And then we will go down to the Batang which is located in the bank of Jinshajiang River. Here produce many good fruits and they enjoined very high honor in east 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 4: Batang - Jinsha River - Markam - Lawu Mountain - Dongda Mountain - Zogong (260km)
Today, you begin to enter the region of Tibet. We will pass through three renowned rivers, namely Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nu River, all originating from the rivers of Tanggula Mountains. Keeping moving westwards, you will pass Lawu Mountain (4358m) and Dongda Mountain (5008m). Standing on the lofty mountain passes, you can take in the spectacular views of wandering Sichuan-Tibet Highway. At night, we will arrive in Zogong.
In the morning, setting off to the next destination of Rakwa Tso. You will be first greeted by Bangda Grassland, which is one of the most important pastures in Tibet with boundless grass, flocks of yaks and horses. Then, you will continue your journey to Yela Mountain (4839m), the most dangerous natural barrier on Hengduan Mountain Range. Following the famous Seventy-two Bends, we will descend to the shore of Nu River. 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 finally get to Rakwa Tso.
Get up early to enjoy the beauty of Rakwa Lake. As the source of Yarlung Tsangpo Lake, Rakwa is a typical seasonal glacial lake in Chamdo. Stretching westwards for about 10 km, this narrow river slowly plunges into a huge canyon. The flickering light of Rakwa Tso shows incredible beauty, with the snow-capped peaks and primeval forests afar as the background.
Driving out of the beautiful lake, you will head to Bomi. Along the road you cans see thick trees, streaming water, snow mountains, lakes and small villages which make the place more marvellous. On the way, you can visit the Midui Glacier, famed as the most beautiful glacier in China. In the evening, you arrive at Bomi.
Following a wide valley, you will move into Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon. The canyon and its surroundings form an earthly paradise, where you can see raging torrent, gushing waterfalls one after another. After that, heading to the lush Lulang Forest. Noted for Switzerland Scene of Tibet, Nyingchi Lulang Forest has typical alpine scenery depicting authentic rural scenery of snow-caped forest nature. Here, you can can visit the Zhaxigang Village, the iconic Tibetan village in Lulang, enjoy the local famous Lulang Stone Chicken and other local snacks.
Standing at the viewing platform of Lulang, You will enjoy the stunning panorama views of Mt. Namjagbarwa (7782m). We will have a short stay at the Sejila Mountain Pass (4728m), where you can view the colorful leaves on the mountain in autumn. After that, we will move westwards to Nyinchi, the biggest city in eastern Tibet.
Stay overnight in Nyingchi.
Day 8: Nyingchi - Lhasa (420km)
Today, following Nyang River,you will keep moving west to your final destination, Lhasa. On the way, we will see the different scenery, featuring idyllic pastoral scene along the valley. After passing Mila Pass (5013m), you'll finally arrive in Lhasa valley. The magnificent Potala Palace on the Red Hill will come into your eyes.
After arriving at Lhasa, your tour guide will help you check in the hotel.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 9: Lhasa Day Highlights - Potala Palace & Jokhang Temple
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 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.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 10: Lhasa Day Tour to Drepung and Sera Monastery
In the morning, tourists go to Drepung Monstery, which used to be the 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. Drepung monstery, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.
In the afternoon, visit Sera Monastery, which 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.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 11: Departure from Lhasa
The guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and see you off.
1. Free shuttle between airport/train station and Lhasa City (3 times a day)
2. Excellent local Tibetan English-speaking tour guide
3. AC tourist vehicle all through the trip in Tibet
4. All permits application service, and delivery the permit to your hotel in China before getting into Tibet
5. Drinking water provided daily
6. Welcome dinner at local Tibetan restaurant
7. Admission fee of all tourist attractions listed in Itinerary, including Potala Palace ticket booking service
8. Tibet tourist map & eco-friendly drinking bottle
9. Special dedicated authentic local custom experience: visit local teahouse, stone caving market. etc
10. Charge of handing all services in your tour, government tax
1. International flight to and out of China
2. Domestic flight / train to and out of Lhasa (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inquiry form.)
3. Meals (Tour guide will organize the dinning for you but please pay on site for around 3-5 USD per meal.)
4. Accommodation in Lhasa (You are high recommended to book your favorite hotel in Lhasa online, or choose our hotel package from only 8 USD a night)
5. Tips and gratitude to the guide and driver. If you are satisfied with their service, you may consider tipping them at an amount you find it suitable
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.
4.Shuttle Bus Service between Your Hotel and Airport/Train Station
The distance between Lhasa Gonggar airport and downtown Lhasa is 70km.
We can only offer free shuttle service to pick up/drop off tourists between hotels and Gongga airport twice a day at a designated time.
Some of the tourists may have to wait for others for a longtime beyond our designated time, and we advise our clients could book the flights to match our shuttle service time.
The free airport pick-up time is as follows on the day the itinerary begins (From airport to hotel, Fixed departure):
Pick up tourists at 09:30 am; 13:30 pm; 16:30 pm
The free airport drop time is as follows on the day the itinerary closes (From hotel to airport, Fixed departure):
Pick up tourists at 06:30 am; 08:30 am; 12:30 pm
All the shuttle service from/to the train station on the date of tourists' arrival and departure would be free.
If tourists' picking-up/dropping-off time is beyond our fixed schedule, they are required to pay private transfer from 60USD/car.
If passengers are less than 3 per transfer, we may use publish transportation like public airport bus or Taxi instead of using our shuttle service.
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
If you couldn't find a suitable tour deparing on your preferred date, you can send us an inquiry and tell us your travel plan. We can add your travel plan to the calendar so that other like-minded travelers can join in your group.