This 12-day overland tour starts from Lijiang and ends in Lhasa, following the world-class off-road route of Yunnan-Tibet Highway. Along the way, you will go through the wild and mountainous areas, appreciate the splendid scenery of great canyons, snowy mountains, primeval forest, glacier, lakes, and Tibetan villages. During this road trip, you will visit some of the most beautiful places in China, like Shangri-La, the Old Town of Lijiang, Meili Snow Mountain, Ranwu Lake, Mount Namcha Barwa etc. Then, before your departure, another two days of sightseeing in Lhasa will let you experience the unique culture of Tibet as well.
Itinerary Day by Day
Day 1 Start the Trip from Lijiang to Shangri-La (180km)
Our road trip starts from Lijiang, the fascinating and atmospheric city in the northwest of Yunnan province. In the morning, we will drive about 60 km to the First Bend on the Yangtze River and the Iron Chain Bridge in Stone Drum town. Stone Drum town got its name from a large and cylindrical marble tablet shaped like a drum. On the way, we will pass through the scenic Lijiang valley, with wheat fields and dry haystacks.
Then, after driving another 40km, we will arrive at the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world, with raging torrent of Yangtze River. After lunch, we will head to Shangri-La, the former Zhongdian. From Shangri-La, you begin to enter the Tibetan cultural area. Barley fields scattered with yaks can be seen on the way.
Stay overnight in Shangri-La.
Day 2 Shangri-La Tour: Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Bita Lake, Shudu Lake, Guishan Park
In the morning, we will visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan province. Then, you will head to the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake. Afterwards, you will visit the old town of Shangri-La, and stroll in the Guishan Park.
In the evening, you will enjoy the dinner in a Tibetan family, tasting the butter tea and other Tibetan food.
Stay overnight in Shangri-La.
Day 3 Shangri-La to Deqin (175km)
Today, we will first drive to Deqin Country (3400m), which is 187 away from Shangri-La. En route, we will pass through Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve. Then, we will make a short stop at Benzilan town for lunch time. You can take some gorgeous photos of the first bend of Yangtze River, Dongzhulin Monastery and Baima Snow Mountain. The scenery along the way is amazing, with different kinds of trees, streams, prayer flags, stupas, and Tibetan villages.
Stay overnight in Deqin.
Day 4 Deqin to Yanjing (220km)
Early in the morning, we will drive 10km to the Feilai Temple to view the stunning sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain. Afterwards, we will drive another 1.5 hours to Mingyong Village, where you will walk about 4km to the foot of Mingyong Glaciers. Also, you walk another one hour, or choose to hire a horse, to get to the Taizi Monastery, another good spot to view the grand Mingyong Glaciers. After the wonderful detour to Mingyong Glacier, we will return to Deqin.
If the weather is fine, you will see the golden snow-capped Kawagebo peak (6740m), the Peak of Meili Snow Mountain. Then you will travel along the northern part of Mekong River valley to Tibet. After entering Tibet, we will have our first stop at the town of Yanjing, the original salt source for half of the Kham Tibetan area. While visiting the salt fields, you could also take a relaxing hot bath in the hot springs there.
Stay overnight in Yanjing.
Day 5 Yanjing to Zogang (158km)
Today, we will cross two high mountain passes, respectively at 3900m and 5008m. There are local Tibetan houses scattering at the foot of the mountains. If you visit one of these Tibetan folk houses, you will receive warm welcome from the hospitable locals.
Stay overnight in Zogang.
Day 6 Zogang to Ranwu (297km)
Driving along the deep valley of Nu River, we will take a long and arduous journey until finally reaching the Ranwu Lake, another fascinating place like Shangri-La. Tourists may stay in the camping tent beside the lake tonight.
Camping beside Ranwu Lake.
Day 7 Ranwu to Bomi (218km)
In the early morning, you will have some free time to enjoy the beauty of Ranwu Lake. Then in the afternoon, we will drive out of Ranwu Town. On the way, different landscapes of thick trees, streams, snowy mountains, lakes and small villages alternately flash past the window, making the road trip refreshing and less tiresome. At night, we will drive back to Bomi.
Stay overnight in Bomi.
Day 8 Bomi – Niyang – Bayi (233km)
Today, we will first head for the confluent area of the Niyang River and Yarlung Tsangpu River, and then get to Pai Town, the scenic region at the entrance of Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. You can trek for a while to the best viewing spot of Mount Namcha Barwa. If the weather is fine, you will be lucky to see the spectacular summit view of Mount Namcha Barwa.
From the Zhamo town of Bomi County, we continue forwards to pass through a field of pristine forest. Then the road to Pailong is an adventurous one, for you may come across flood water or soil collapse on the way. After Pailong, we will drive another well-conditioned road to the Milang, another good place to overlook Mount Namcha Barwa. At last, we will reach Bayi Town (2400m) and pay a visit to the famous Cypress Forest there.
Stay overnight in Bayi.
Day 9 Bayi to Lhasa (460km)
Leaving Bayi Town behind, we move on forwards to the final destination, Lhasa. Along the way, you can enjoy the beautiful Niyang River. After passing the Gongbo'gyamda County, we will make a detour to the holy Draksum Tso Lake (3500m). Then, we will drive back to the main line of Sichuan-Tibet Highway, and finally get to Lhasa. The magnificent Potala Palace standing on the Red Hill will appear in your sight. Upon arrival, we will check in hotel for a good rest.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 10 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 11 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 12 Departure from Lhasa
The guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you with boarding.
- 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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