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Transportation in Tibet

In your lifetime, if possible, you must go to Tibet once, for the melodious Sanskrit, devout believers, fragrant buttered tea, clear blue sky, the world’s highest mountain, the most sacred lakes, and for the last pure land on earth. 

You may ask: “Which route should I take to Tibet?” 

There are 5 main routes, but foreign travelers are only allowed to go from Nepal side by land or from mainland China by train or flight. Overland tours from Sichuan/Yunnan/Xinjiang/Qinghai are all banned at this moment. 


1. The Friendship Highway from Nepal (west)

You can hire a vehicle from Kathmandu, Nepal to the Sino-Nepal border, our guide/driver will be sent from Lhasa to the border in advance, waiting for you crossing to Tibet side, and travel back to Lhasa. But in consideration of your health, greatly affected by the high altitude you will reach right after crossing the border, saving of your budget, and rationality of our personnel transfer, we highly recommend you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, stay in Lhasa (3600m) 2-3 days to adapt to the altitude first, and travel oppositely from Lhasa to the border, take the friendship highway to Nepal. Overland tour from Lhasa to Nepal will be adventurous.

2. Xinjiang-Tibet highway (North West)

The line From Yecheng, Xinjiang to Ngari, Tibet, a total of 1,179km was completed and opened to traffic in 1957. So far, foreigners are NOT allowed to take this overland route to Lhasa, even almost impossible for domestic travelers. Because this route has an average elevation of 4,500m, the annual average temperature of -9°C, crossing 5 huge mountains of over 5,000m high along the way, 16 mountain passes, 44 glaciers, endless no-man’s land. It is the most dangerous road with the highest altitude in the world. There’s no direct train from Xinjiang to Tibet, you can choose train from Urumqi to Xining, then Xining to Lhasa. 


3. Qinghai-Tibet Highway (North)

From Xining, the capital city of Qinghai, to Lhasa, Tibet, of total 1,937km. The construction of this highway was started in 1950 and finished in 1954.

It is the world’s highest asphalt road, the average elevation of the whole route is 4,000m. Among the 5 legs to Tibet, Qinghai – Tibet highway is the shortest, with the best condition and safest one. At this moment, foreign travelers are only able to take the Qinghai – Tibet railway rather than the highway by land. Get more information about the train from Xining to Lhasa. Click here for detail train information from Mainland China to Lhasa.


4. Sichuan-Tibet Highway (East) 

It’s the most precipitous highway in China. South route from Chengdu, Sichuan – Ya’an – Luding – Kangding – Tongolo – Litang – Batang – Markam Tibet – Zuogong – Bangda – Basu – Pomi – Nyingchi - Gongbo'gyamda - Maizhokunggar County – Dartze – to Lhasa, total 2,146km. 1955 – 1969.

    North route has the same stops with the above one from Chengdu to Tongolo, then to the north to Bamei – Daofu – Luhuo – Ganze – Dege – Jiangda, Tibet - Qamdo – Naqu– Lhasa, total 2,412km. 1950 – 1954.

Before the Sichuan – Tibet highway was built, a return-trip from Lhasa to Chengdu could take a half or even one year with people and animals caring goods going on the snowy roads, now it only takes 3 days one-way. 

   So far the overland trip is also not available for foreign travelers. But you can take the Chengdu – Tibet direct train every other day, passing by Xining, possibly change to the plateau train from there to arrive in Lhasa.  China Tibet Train Tours will be the best choice for the Tibet Tours as it will be cheaper as compare to taking flight from Mainland China to Lhasa (Tibet).

 
5. Yunnan-Tibet highway (Southeast). 

Connecting Kunming in Yunnan and Lhasa in Tibet, the old line passing by Dêqên County is 1398km, the new one passing by Zayü County is 259km shorter. In winter, the parts of Hongla and Baima snow-mountain will be blocked by heavy snow, and during the rainy season, some parts of Yunnan-Tibet highway and also Sichuan-Tibet highway will be damaged by landslide and flood. Instead of going by land, you can fly from Kunming to Lhasa directly or to Xining/Chengdu for taking the train. 


Transportation in Tibet

 

When you are already in Tibet, what kind of vehicle we prepare for your groups?

According to our customers’ diverse interests, we operate tours not only to the most popular destinations in Tibet, but also to the remote regions with worse road conditions, so the selection of vehicles is quite essential to make sure you travel comfortable. So, all the Tibetan travel companies use vehicle resources from only a few local tourist transportation companies instead of agency-owned vehicles.

 

We assign our vehicles based on the group size

  1-3 clients 

  1-4 clients 

  5-10 clients 

  11-15 clients

  Max 20 clients 

  

  4WD Land Cruiser

  Hyundai or Buick Van

  10-14 seater Minibus

  19-20 seater Bus

  29 seater Bus

  

  Note: 4WD land cruiser is more expensive than a van, need to inform your travel advisor in advance and get the correct price.

  

 

1.  
2. Land cruiser 4WD; this is most popular vehicle in Tibet tourist industry that is suitable for rocky and bumpy road in off-the-bitten-path. Mostly 4WD Land cruiser is used for groups travelling to EBC, Kailash and other off road tours. Capacity of the vehicle is 4 passengers and bags can kept in the trunk.
  • Inside seats of Land cruiser 4W

  • Back trunk of Land cruiser 4WD

  • Seat inside the Land cruiser 4W

  • Back trunk of Land cruiser 4WD

3.  Van and mini-bus: these are mostly used for groups ranging from 5 to 15 people, most of the vans and mini-buses in Tibet are pretty new and in a very good condition, these types of vehicles are recommendable for tours around Lhasa and now also can be used for Kailash tours where the new and paved roads are available.
  • Mini-bus Ford

  • Ford Minibus

  • Van Outside

  • Inside Van

4.  Buses are mostly used for bigger groups ranging from 20 - 40 people, all the buses are in a good condition and brandnew cars, this types of vehicles are recommended for tours in Lhasa, Shigatse and Kailash. 
  • Bus 1

  • Bus 2

5.  Trucks are mostly used as a supporting vehicle for trekking and camping tours, generally we arrange these vehicles to transport cooking gears, camping gears and clients luggages during long trekking tours like  Kailash tours, rafting tours and so on
  • Truck For Luggage

  • Luggage Transporting Truck

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