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Roads to Tibet
CBP 2005. Back to: Itineraries, Trek, Destionations, Tibet

All the ways leading to Tibet are fabulous, fascinating, and become lifetime memory for most travellers.

By air:

Either from Chengdu, Zhongdian or from Kathmandu, these flights offer the most spectacular landscapes of the world: countless glaciers, magnificent mountain ranges as well as pyramidal snow peaks.

By land:

The northern route:

The main access to Lhasa is the northern route from Golmud that is augmented by a new railway since July 2006. It passes through very high plateaus as well as the KekeXilli Reserve on the way up to Tangula Pass, in excess of 5,000m. There are lots of snow peaks and in fact, at high grounds, rivers are frozen stiff even in the midst of summer.

The comfortable train journey takes 12 hours from Golmud to Lhasa. Now there are direct trains from Beijing, Chengdu to Lhasa.

The bus journey from Lhasa to Golmud is supposed to be about 16 hours; however as is the norm in Tibet, it could take 20 hours. The main reason is mechanical problems with buses. It is reported that many drivers are very rude to passengers.

The western route:

The west overland road from Kashgar, Xinjiang, to Lhasa is the longest, wildest and the most adventurous route. The road passes though Mt Kailash, Lake Manasarovathe, and a vast desolate plateau. It offers a chance to visit the mysterious Guge Kingdom that disappeared several hundred years ago. (please see separate article on Road to Tibet: From the remote west - Ngari or Ali (阿里)).

The southern route:

The south road from Nepal is international travelers’ favourite route as it provides them with the possibility to visit some of the most famous and popular sights in Tibet such as the Everest North BC, Shigatse, Gyantse, Lake Yamdrok.

The eastern route:

Whether it is from Sichuan or Yunnan, the eastern roads cross regions of China with the richest geographical and cultural diversities. In addition to the flamboyant minority villages, there are deep river gorges formed by great rivers such as the Yarlong Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), the NuJiang (Salween), the LanChangJiang (Mekong) and the Yangzi. Precipitous mountain ranges, primitive forests with abundant plants and animals and vast grasslands dots the whole area. The region offers China’s best hikes and drives.

The overland approaches from the east are less hardy nowadays thanks to great improvements on road conditions against landslides. Now a sleeper bus with two or three drivers can run non-stop day and night from Chengdu to Lhasa for a distance of 2,400km within three to four days.

Tour operators in Chengdu, Kunming and Zhongdian offer 8 to 16 days overland trips to Lhasa.

An Undiscovered Back Road to Tibet - A CBP Journey: Click here.

Written by CBP on August 14, 2006.


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