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Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland: How to Enjoy a Kathmandu to Lhasa Road Trip

Last Update: August 13, 2020

As one of the most popular world-class travel routes, Kathmandu to Lhasa overland trip is a haunting journey that alluring quite a lot of tourists to try. Many will wonder the travel permits for entering Tibet from Nepal, or the road condition along the way etc. This article is right here to give you answers. Check to know how to travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa by road, and gain insider tips and advices for your upcoming overland adventure.

Best Time for Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland

The road from Kathmandu to Lhasa mainly follows the Sino-Nepalese Friendship Highway, which is available all the year round. But for cautious travelers, the best time for Kathmandu to Lhasa overland trip would be spring and autumn, corresponding to March to May and October to November.

Summer as the monsoon season will bring heavy rains to the Himalayan mountain areas, causing landslides and muddy roads to some vulnerable sections of the highway. Besides, if you want to travel on a budget, wintertime as the low season could also be a nice choice.

Tibet Travel Permit for Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland

To enter Tibet from Nepal, you need to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit and Chinese Group Visa first. The Chines Group Visa, is a special single-entry visa that allows foreign travelers to enter Tibet by overland or flight. It can only be applied in Kathmandu, Nepal, through the Chinese Embassy there. Usually it takes 3 to 5 days to obtain the group visa, thus it is recommended to arrive in Kathmandu in advance to submit your application documents.

The Tibet Travel Permit, also called Tibet Visa, is a must for any foreign traveler to visit Tibet. It can only be obtained through an authorized travel agency, and no individual application is allowed. It normally takes 8-9 work days to get the permit issued. As a wise option, you are recommended to book your Nepal Tibet tour with us, and then we can help to get your Chinese Group Visa and Tibet Travel Permit together, before your tour departure date.

Road Condition from Kathmandu to Lhasa

The road from Kathmandu to Lhasa can be divided into two sections: Kathmandu-Gyirong Border and Gyirong Border-Lhasa. The section within Nepal is not optimistic, being mostly bumpy mountain roads. Along the road, landslides, mudslides, and other natural disasters take place from time to time, thus repairs are often conducted. Only covering a short distance of 160 kilometers, the road will take about 6 to 10 hours for driving through.

Kathmandtu to Lhasa roadThe road from Gyirong to Lhasa is broad and flat, easy for driving.

However, once you cross the Gyirong Border and enter Tibet, you will enjoy a smooth ride. The section from Gyirong Border to Lhasa follows the well-paved national road of G318 in China. Being mostly asphalt road, there are few dirt sections. It is no longer the image of blowing dust across the road. You can have a comfortable ride all the way to Lhasa.

Altitude Change from Kathmandu to Lhasa

From Kathmandu (1400m) to Lhasa (3650m), the overland journey will pass some mountain passes about 5000m above the sea level and spend some night on 4000m plus. If you have already done some trekking in the mountain area in Nepal, it is helpful to adjust to the altitude raise on the first day.

Meanwhile, our tour vehicle is equipped with first-aid oxygen pad and finger pulse oxygen reader, to help clients who may suffer from some symptoms on the way. So just relax and do not worry so much about the high altitude sickness.

Classic Itinerary for Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland

The overland journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu usually takes about 4 to 5 days by car, and about 6 days with a trip to Everest Base Camp. The most popular Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour with Everest Base Camp takes 8 days, which include 3 days' Lhasa city sightseeing after you arrive in Lhasa.

Day 1 Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (137km, 7 hours)

You will start your overland trip from Kathmandu to Gyirong Border, which takes about 7-8 hours on the way. And on the first day, you will stay in Syabrubesi which is adjacent to Gyirong for a night before crossing the border in the second day morning.

Day 2 Syabrubesi to Gyirong (40km, 4-5 hours)

Today, you will move to cross the Nepal-China border. Your Tibetan guide will meet you at Gyirong Border in Tibetan side. Then get transferred to Gyirong county, a small town built on the side of Himalayas. In the afternoons, you can walk to visit the Paba Temple (2850m), a Gelugpa temple built by Tibetan King Songtsan Gambo.

Day 3 Gyirong to EBC to Tingri (480km, 11 hours)

Today, you will drive to Old Tingri along the Sino-Nepal Highway, passing over two spectacular passes Thong La Pass and Lalung La Pass, both are over 5000m. Then continue your overland trip to EBC and visit the world’s highest monastery – Rongbuk Monastery.

Road to EBCRolling mountain road leading to EBC

Day 4 Tingri to Shigatse (280km, 7 hours)

Drive from Tingri to Shigatse. After arrival, you will visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, the holy seat of the Panchen Lama, which is essentially a walled town with cobbled and twisting lanes that revolve around a magnificent monastery.

Day 5 Shigatse to Lhasa via Gyantse (375km)

Drive to Gyantse first, and pay a visit to Pelkor Monastery and the splendid Kumbum Stupa here. After that continue to Lhasa via Yamdrok Lake, where you can stop a while for sightseeing. The Yamdrok Lake is one of the holiest lakes in Tibet.

Day 6 Lhasa Day Tour – Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street

Today, you will visit the most highlighted parts of Lhasa city, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and the Barkhor Street of Old Lhasa. The Potala Palace is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, and was put into use since the 7th century. The Jokhang Temple has included the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni at the age of twelve inside, being the holiest temple in Tibetans’ hearts. Barkhor Street is the place you can shop local products, and see locals and pilgrims doing kora.

Jokhang TempleVisit Jokhang Temple, one of the must-sees in Lhasa.

Day 7 Lhasa Day Tour – Drepung and Sera Monastery

Continue your Lhasa sightseeing to visit the important Drepung and Sera Monastery, both are two of the “great three” Gelug monasteries of Tibet. You can visit the biggest monastery kitten in Drepung and watch the monk debating in the courtyard of Sera Monastery.

Day 8 Depart from Lhasa

Your guide will transfer you to the airport or train station for your journey to your next destination or home.


Travelling overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa is not that complicated as many have supposed. Only prepare the required Tibet Travel Permit and Chinese Group Visa in advance, and book your tour with us to follow the classic route, then you can expect one of most thrilling journeys in your lifetime. Spending about one week touring the best of Tibet has to offer along a wonderful road trip, you will find it worthwhile. If you have any other question about Kathmandu to Lhasa overland trip, don’t hesitate to contact us for further inquiry.

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