They Didn’t Take Tibet Train, However, It Turns Out…

Last updated: September,04 2019

Except for taking train to Tibet, there are several ways in which you can get from China to Lhasa. While this may be the most popular route to get to Tibet, there are other ways you can make the journey to the land of snows, some of which are just as much an adventure as riding the train.

By Flight

Flying to Lhasa is one of the options, and is the fastest and easiest way to get there. You can get flights to Lhasa Gonggar Airport from almost any of the major airports in China, as well as flying direct from Kathmandu in Nepal. Nepal is the only international country that has a permitted flight direct to Lhasa. For anyone coming from any other country, you need to fly from Kathmandu or any of the airports in China that support Tibet flights. One of the main reasons for this is because you need to pick up your Tibet Travel Permit from your chosen stepping-off point in China, or you will not be allowed onto the plane to Tibet.

 Fly to Lhasa Fly to Lhasa

From Kathmandu, you can get a direct flight to Lhasa because you can get your Tibet Group Tourist Visa, a single entry visa, at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, and your tour company can obtain your Tibet Travel Permit. However, this is a two-step process that can take more than a week, so either have plenty of time spare when you get to Nepal, or order it all in advance of your arrival.

 Lhasa Gonggar Airport Lhasa Gonggar Airport

Flying to Lhasa may be a faster and easier option, but it does have its drawbacks. Tibet is on a high-altitude plateau, so wherever you fly from, you will need at least two days resting in Lhasa to acclimatize to the altitude, before you can travel anywhere. Not taking that time to acclimatize means that you run a much higher risk of altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS).

Overland from Chengdu, Yunnan and Xining

Another fun way to get to Tibet is to travel overland from either Chengdu, Yunnan, or Xining, along one of the route of the National Highways. There are five main routes to Lhasa going overland by car or bus, Yunnan-Tibet Highway, Sichuan-Tibet Highway, Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Xinjiang Tibet Highway, Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway. The route from Chengdu along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway is divided in to two, north and south, and each covers over 2,000 kilometers. Here you can choose our 11 Days Chengdu to Lhasa Overland Tour or 15 Days Chengdu Lhasa EBC Overland Tour to enjoy the splendid scenery along G318 National Highway.

 Yunnan-Tibet Highway Yunnan-Tibet Highway

From Kunming, in Yunnan, the route takes you along the old Tea Horse Road for part of the trip, before joining the southern route of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway at Markam. The road to Lhasa is 1.930 kilometers long, and there are numerous sights along the way that will make you want to stop and look around. Check details of 12 Days Yunnan to Tibet Overland Tour

 Tuotuo River Tuotuo River

When traveling from Xining, most people tend to take the train. However, if you are going by car or bus, you will be taking the Qinhai-Tibet Highway, a 1,937 kilometer road that crosses the Kunlun Mountains, the Tanggula Mountains, the Tongtian and Tuotuo Rivers, and passes by the Changtang Grasslands and Lake Namtso on its way to Lhasa. Check details of 11 Days Xining to Lhasa Overland Tour

 Friendship Highway Friendship Highway

The other way to travel overland to Lhasa is from Kathmandu, in Nepal. The route follows the Friendship Highway, also known as the Sino-Nepal Highway, and runs straight from the border at Gyirong Port to Lhasa. The road is well paved and smooth, and is an easy run over the 829 kilometers from the border point to Lhasa. Check details of 8 Days Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Tour with EBC

 Sino-Nepal Highway Epic views along the Friendship Highway

Of all the routes into Lhasa, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the safest and smoothest route. The roads along the southern routes are sometimes nothing more than dirt tracks, and climb up steep mountainsides with no guard rails or safety precautions. Road improvements are happening, slowly, although there is no defined schedule for improving the more dangerous sections of the routes. However, the drivers of the buses that travel these routes are excellent and know the routes well. And it is a breathtaking route with lots of dramatic, alpine scenery.

Biking to Lhasa

Riding a bicycle to Lhasa probably sounds like something only a madman would do. However, many people are doing it these days, and it can be an amazing adventure. Most cyclists take the Qinghai-Tibet Highway, which runs for a distance of 2,200 kilometers from Xining to Lhasa. The whole route is paved with asphalt, and after Golmud and the rise up to the plateau, the road does not have many ups and downs. It is considered the easiest route for cyclists.

 Biking to Lhasa Biking to Lhasa

Taking the famous G318 National Road (Sichuan-Tibet Highway) from Chengdu, you have a choice of north route or south route. Both are surprisingly beautiful, and the routes attract thousands of photographers every year. However, the route is over 2,400km, and has many rises and drops, with steep altitude changes. It is rated as one of the ten most dangerous roads in the world, mainly due to the steepness and lack of asphalt in many parts, but it does offer some of the region’s most magnificent landscapes.

 G318 National Road Sichuan-Tibet Highway

Yunnan-Tibet Highway is well paved from Kunming to Markam, where it joins the G318, and then you will face all the same hazards as those coming from Chengdu. But you will also have the same, beautiful scenery along the route.

 Cycling to EBC Passing by the Everest Base Camp while cycling to Lhasa

Finally, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway is another route that is hard and tough for cyclists. The route runs from Kashgar, in Xinjiang Province, to Lhasa, and follows two different routes once it enters Tibet. One route takes you straight to Nagqu, where you will take the Qinghai-Tibet Highway for the remaining distance to Lhasa. The other route is more interesting, and passes by Mt. Kailash and Mt. Everest, before turning east to Lhasa.

All of the roads to Lhasa are long and arduous, but you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Tibetan landscapes, and the chance to stop when and where you want, to get off and take a better look. So while the train is a great way to travel to Lhasa, there are other options that can be just as spectacular.

Have a Question? Ask below or call + 86-28-81754631

Question Summary*



Please fill in your contact information, we will send you the answer by email


0 Comment ON "They Didn’t Take Tibet Train, However, It Turns Out…"