Among all the overland routes to Tibet, the Xinjiang-Tibet highway is the most challenging one. It is an extreme off-road route, with harsh environment and high elevation, connecting Tibet and Xinjiang. However, you can enjoy the rolling snowy mountains, dense forests, mysterious ancient Guge Kingdom, holy Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, variable Karakoram Mountains and turquoise Pangong Tso Lake etc. After two days of sightseeing in Lhasa, you will start this epic road trip. Besides, a three-day trekking around the holy Mount Kailash on the way will make this whole journey more complete and wonderful.
Itinerary Day by Day
Day 1 Arrive in Lhasa
When you arrive in Lhasa by train or flight, your tour guide will hold a board with your name on it at the exit to welcome you. Then you will be transported to your hotel. You may view the Yarlung Tsangpo River (the Longest and largest river in Tibet) and Lhasa River on the way to the hotel.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Tips: If this is your first visit to Tibet, you will need to acclimatize to the increased elevation, to prevent altitude sickness. This is best done by resting in the hotel and minimizing any physical exertion.
Day 2 Lhasa Tour: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street
Today, you’ll pay a visit to the famous Potala Palace, the world culture heritage. You can explore its audience halls, the jeweled and Golden burial chortens (stupa Tombs) of past Dalai Lamas, and tremendous number of Buddhist frescoes, Thangkas, combinations of mandala, etc.
Then tourists will head to the holiest temple in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple, built during Songtsen Gampo's reign by princess Wencheng of Tang dynasty, 647 A.D. Here you can observe sincere pilgrims making prostration in front of Jokhang Temple. While entering inside the temple, you can see the holiest statue of Buddha. Around the monastery is the famous Barkhor Street, where you can do the kora with pilgrims and locals. And then we’ll go to explore the old market and you may have chance to see the traditional jewelry trading between people from different part of Tibet.
Finally, you’ll taste Tibetan tea with locals in tea house and enjoy a welcome dinner at night.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
After finishing the sightseeing, if time allows, you may go with tour guide to visit Tibetan handicraft art or Tibetan Traditional Medicine center. Besides, you can also choose to upgrade your tour to enjoy Tibetan Culture Show in the evening (fr. 60USD).
Day 3 Lhasa Tour: Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
Today, you will visit two of the three prestigious Gelugpa monasteries in Lhasa, the Drepung and the Sera. Founded by Jamyang Choeje in 1416, Drepung Monastery is the largest monastery in Tibet. Situated at the foot of Gambo Utse Mountain, Drepung was once home to more than 10000 monks. Here you can see the biggest monastery kitchen inside and then pay a visit to the Buddhist Sculpture Carving near Drepung.
After having lunch, you’ll continue to visit the Sera Monastery, which was founded in 1419 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamchen Choeje. The highlight is the monk debate held in the courtyard at around 3-5 in the afternoon. Besides, you can also see the colorful Rock Painting of Buddha and the three sand Mandalas and then visit the Tibetan scripture printing house.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 4 Lhasa - Shigatse via Gyantse (360km)
In the morning, we will drive from Lhasa to Shigatse. On the way, we’ll drive over the Gangbala Pass (4790 m) to view the turquoise Yamdrok Lake and Mt. Naiqinkangsang. Besides, you can also appreciate Korola Glacier on the roadside. At Manak Dam Lake, tourists can hang pray flag at Simila Mountain Pass.
Then we’ll go to the heritage town Gyantse and explore its old street, Perklor Monastery and Kumbum Stupa. Here you can catch the far view of Gyangtse Fortress. Finally, we will arrive in Shigatse, the second biggest city in Tibet.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 5 Shigatse to Saga County (450km)
Keeping moving westwards, we will drive from Shigatse to Saga County. Though it is a long driving, the road is well-conditioned and newly paved. Thus, we can drive faster and safer.
Stay overnight in Saga.
Day 6 Saga County to Lake Manasarovar (500km)
Today, we will first drive about 167km to Drongpa County, which is located around at the source area of Yarlung Zangbo River. Then you will reach the main road with several guest houses, restaurant, and a small monastery. This is called the “old Drongpa”. There is a pile of yak heads carved with “sutras” and “mantras” like “OM MA NI PAD MEY HUM” in the monastery. And the new Drongpa is about 25 km away from the old Drongpa.
Then we continue moving to Baryang (4700m) and drive to Lake Manasarovar.
Camping at Lake Manasarovar.
Day 7 Lake Manasarovar to Darchen (30km)
Today, we will enjoy a blissful visit to Lake Manasarovar before heading to Darchen, the village at the foot of Mt. Kailash. As the holiest lake in Tibet, Lake Manasarovar attracts plenty of Tibetan and Hindus pilgrims every year, for praying and religious circling. You can follow their devout steps to trek around this holy lake, and take in its breathtaking scenery. If you come in summer, you can see flocks of swans gathering to this lake, bringing grace and life to this area. Then, we will move to Darchen, where you will be prepared for the upcoming trekking.
Stay overnight in Darchen.
Day 8 Trek Day One: Darchen to Drirapuk (20km)
In the morning, tourists can take the environment-friendly bus from Darchen to Sarshung valley. And you’ll meet yak and porter at Sarshung village. (The cost of hiring yaks, horses, and porters are not included in the package.)
After that, you can start the trek (around 13km) from Sarshung to Drirapuk Monastery along the Lachu valley and rivers. Today, you can see both west and north face of Mt. Kailash. Finally, we’ll pay a visit to Drirapuk Monastery.
Camping around Drirapuk.
Day 9 Trek Day Two: Drirapuk to Dzultripuk (22km)
Today, we’ll trek over Dromala pass, the highest pass of the Kora. On the way, you can have a break in a tea house. Besides, you’ll meet the locals prostrating in the Kora path. When walking downhill, you can see beautiful Kadoe Lake. Then we’ll visit Zutulpuk Monastery.
Camping around Dzultripuk.
Day 10 Trek Day Three: Dzultripuk to Darchen (11km)
Today, tourists will first visit the caves, the temple and shrines that have been built around Milarepa's cave. Then you will trek 7km to Zongto where you can take bus to Darchen. Along the Kora, you can see piles of Mani Stones. Finally, we’ll end the trek around noon and rest in the lodging place.
Stay overnight in Darchen.
Day 11 Darchen to Zhada (243km)
Today, we will hit the road again and drive to our next destination, Zhada. Following the zigzag road with eroded gorges and gullies, we slowly enter the wider Sutlej Valley. After crossing a small bridge, we finally reach Zhada. You can visit the ruins of the mysterious ancient Guge Kingdom and Torling Monastery, which are centered in the present Zhada County.
Stay overnight in Zhada.
Day 12 Zhada to Pangong Tso Lake (395km)
Leaving Zhada behind, we keep forwards to the Pangong Tso Lake, also referred to as Pangong Lake. The eastern and western parts of the lake are located in China, while the western end stretches into Kashmir. It has the highest bird island in the world, as well as the turquoise water and stunning scenery, making a popular attraction for tourists.
Camping by the lake shore of Pangong Tso.
Day 13 Pangong Tso - Dorma - Dahongliutan (433km)
Today’s driving will be a tough one since the road condition is very bad on the way. We will first drive northwards to Dorma along a poor-conditioned road. After Dorma, the road will become even worse. We will overcome a mountain pass called Tialongtan-la Pass (5000m) and then drive another several hours until reaching Dahongliutan.
Stay overnight in Dahongliutan.
Day 14 Dahongliutan to Yecheng (499km)
Keeping forwards, we will head to Yecheng today. The trip duration depends on the climate and road condition. On the way, you will enjoy the magnificent Kunlun Mountain Ranges and Karakorum Mountain ranges on each side. After crossing two mountain passes, we will the Yecheng valley. Situated at the edge of Taklimakan Desert, the city of Yecheng is a big bazzar crowded with Uigur and Han Chinese.
Stay overnight in Yecheng.
Day 15 Yechen to Kashgar (250km)
The final destination of this road trip is Kashgar, the largest oasis city in China. Driving on smooth tar road running along the edge of Taklimakan Desert, tourists can enjoy the splendid natural views of grey-black rocks and sand dunes. The most interest part of Kashgar city is the Sunday Market, which is one of the largest weekly markets of Asia. If you happen to reach there on Sunday, you will be lucky to experience its lively atmosphere. Especially in the morning, the market is bustling with full-load donkey trucks, fruits vendors and shoppers.
End tour at Kashgar.
- Tibet Travel Permit and all other necessary permit to Tibet
- All lodging listed in the itinerary. If you travel individually, you will need to share one room with another tourist. If you prefer to stay in one room by yourself, you will have to pay the single room supplement
- Meals listed in itinerary
- Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
- Local Tibetan English-speaking guide
- Local tour transfer, comfortable tourist vehicle according to group size
- One shared big Oxygen tank in the car
- Tourist accident/casualty insurance
- First aid kit
- Chinese visa
- International flight to and out of China
- Domestic train/flight to and out of Tibet. (We offer domestic train/flight ticket booking service, please contact our travel experts for the details.)
- Meals not specified in the itinerary
- Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver
- Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.
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