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Yunnan-Tibet Overland Journey
Route: Deqin - Markham - Dzogong - Bangda - Chamdo - Riwuqi - Tengchen - Bachen - Sok - Nakchu
Sutra-debating of lamas
The Dian-Zang highway (otherwise known as the Yunnan-Tibet Road) has the lowest altitude of the four highways entering Tibet. The total distance of this highway is 1930km, starting from Jinghong (also known as the mythical Shangri-la) and ending in Lanzhou, converging with the Sichuan-Tibet highway at Markham. The best months to travel this route are from August to October.
Food and accommodation are variable after you enter Markham, and it is suggested you bring your own sleeping bag and solid food in case of shortages.
Heavenly Lake Namtso
On the first day, view the sacred Meili mountain from the viewing platform. There are 13 peaks over 6000 meters high of which Kawagebo peak is the highest, with the altitude of 6740m and has a snow covered peak all year round. However, because of the heavy fog during the summer months, it is sometimes hard to see the face of the mountain. Morning and forenoon are the best times to take photos. Go along the Lancang River valley, enter Yanjing at the border of Yunnan and Tibet, and visit the unique ancient salt well and the only Catholic church in the area. This part of road is perched perilously on a high cliff, although the views are stunning. After that, cross Hongla jokul and arrive at Markhan and stay overnight at a guest house.
On the second day, cross Mt. Lawu (4358m), head down to Zhuka military base and cross the Lancang River, then pass through the highest mountain pass - Mt. Dongdala (5010m), to reach Dzogong. Stay here overnight to rest.
The next day, head upstream along the Yuqu River for 131km, arriving at Bangda. Take a look at the Bangda grasslands and the mysterious 'big footprint', before driving north about 3 hours to Chamdo. Stay in a hotel to recover after this extraordinary section of the trip.
Scenery along the way
On the fourth day morning, visit Jampaling monastery, which was built in the 15th century and is the biggest monastery of Gelugpa sect in East-Tibetan area, Kham. In its glory days, there were more than 1000 monks in the monastery. In the afternoon head for Riwuqi, a 5 to 6 hour journey, and stay at a guest house.
On the fifth day, drive from Riwuqi to Tengchen after visiting the Chajiema hall of the Riwuqi monastery. Belonging to the Kagyulpa order of Buddhists it famous for its unique structure and views. The local Khamba people regard it as important as the Jokhang temple in Lhasa and on the 6th month of Tibetan Calendar they host a grand festival. The driving time today is about 6 to 7 hours.
On the sixth day, drive from Tengchen via Bachen to Sok. Tengchen is the centre of the Bon-religion, which is a primitive religion based on ancient witchcraft and the worship of gods and ghosts. It spread throughout Tibet before the Buddhism was introduced. Here visit two monasteries: Tengchen and Ritro Lhakhang. After passing through the Tsuri La Pass (4200 m) and the Shel La Pass (4750 m), arrive at Sok.
Tibetan people are celebrating their festival
Then on the seventh day, drive alongside the Sok Tsanden Zhol village, and during the journey stop to visit two monasteries of Nyimpa sect: Sok Tsanden Gonpa and Kapgye Lhakhang. After that cross over two passes and reach the city of Shakchuka. Still another 100 km and two other passes have to be traversed before arriving at the today's destination: Nakchu (270 km). Rest overnight.
On the last day, drive from Nakchu to Lhasa. The two main temples in Nakchu are the Zhabten Gonpa of Nyingmapa-sect and Gelugpa sect. Drive over the Kyogche La Pass (4900 m) and go down to Damxung. Finally prepare yourself to conquer the 7177m high Nyenchentangla Range. After passing Yangbajing you finally reach Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. The city, with an altitude of 3700 m above sea level, is situated on the bank of the Kyichu River and has long been the "Holy Land" of Tibet. For the city tour in Lhasa, please refer to our Lhasa package for your reference.
Dreamland Tibet to Shangri-La: 11 Days, Lhasa - Tsetang - Lhasa - Shangri-La - Lijiang - Kunming
More Hiking Routes:
Shigatse In-depth: 3-Day Shigatse Exploration
Lhasa Discovery: 2-day Lhasa City Tour
Qinghai-Tibet Land Trip: Drive from Linxia, to Xining, then approach Tibet