Code: TB10

Sichuan-Tibet Overland Adventure

South Route: Chengdu - Ya'an - Kangding - Xindu Bridge - Yajiang - Kyitang - Batang - Mekong - Dzogang - Bangda - Pasho - Pomi - Bayi - Basum Tso - Lhasa
Norbulingka Park, Lhasa

Overland travel from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, to Tibet can be strenuous and pose some risk. Travelers must pass through high mountains, be wary of river riptides and sometimes encounter a sporadic landslide or two. The natural landscape is spectacular, however. You will see virgin forests, grasslands, glaciers and several grand rivers. This is truly a paradise for photographers and those who love adventure.
There are two routes entering Tibet from Chengdu, one south and one north. The southern route of the Sichuan-Tibet road is 2,149 km long. The best time to go is in May and then from mid-August to October. Traveling during those periods will increase chances of avoiding the rainy and snow seasons that wreak havoc on the road and cause landslides.
The best choices for transportation are to charter a jeep or other all-terrain vehicle or to go by regular passenger buses. If you can form a group, chartering a vehicle is preferred because it provides added flexibility for passengers to stop and go as they please. Contact information for our recommended vehicle rental company in Chengdu is 028-6600 1966 or 028-6600 0601. The rental price will generally be lower the further ahead of time the reservation is made.
Heavenly Lake Namtso
Our trip along the southern route begins in Chengdu. We start by driving 147 km. to the world famous 'rainy city' of Ya'an. Our drive continues along the Qingyi River, over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Erlang Mountain and through the longest mountain tunnel (4.17 km.) in China. Emerging from the tunnel, you will see the magnificent Gonggar Mountain. Then, go down the mountain to the bottom of Dudu River Canyon and visit the famous Luding Bridge, a Qin dynasty landmark and a critical river crossing during the Long March.. Our journey proceeds through the Zheduo Mountain Pass to the Xindu Bridge. Xindu is heaven for photographers, both amateur and professional. The meandering rivers and boundless grasslands dotted with native houses give the village of Xindu a dreamy Xanadu-like quality. The total driving distance today is 439 km. and the road condition is good.
The journey today will be challenging as travelers will experience an altitude increase of 2500 meters. We will first enter at Mangkang County (3780m) located on the eastern bank of the Jinsha River. The county is famous for its rich and colorful folk songs, dances and local drama. Our journey will now take us past the Daza-chu (Mekong) river, Mt. Dongda (5008 m.), Mts. Dzogang and Bangda (4400m.) and finally our biggest natural obstacle, Mt. Ngul-chu. After another 94 km. on a road filled with switchbacks, we will arrive in Pasho and spend the night there. Today we will have driven 466 km.
Bayi Town in Nyingchi
Leave Mangkang, pass by Dza-chu, Mt. Dongda (over 5008m), Dzogang and Bangda(4400), we will meet the biggest natural barrier- Mt. Ngul-chu. At last, we will arrive at Pasho after the famous ninety-nine curves. The journey today is a big challenge for travelers and the altitude you come across has a difference of 2500m. Stay overnight in Pasho. Totally there is 466km driving distance today.
On the fourth day, we will leave for Ranwu Lake and along the way be treated to scenic delights such as hollows, meadows, snow-capped mountains and glaciers. You may stop over at one of the three most famous glaciers in the world - Laigu, for an up-close view. Ranwu is the largest lake in southeast Tibet 3800 meters above sea level and has an area of 22 sq. km. Enjoy the rest of the day at the lake. The total driving distance today from Pasho to Ranwu is 219 km.
Rise early on the fifth day and continue sightseeing at Ranwu Lake. After lunch, go ahead to Pomi and enjoy arguable the most beautiful part of this tour. The road from Ranwu to Pomi is paved with a combination of coal, sand and stones. If you want to get close to Mudui, an oceanic-type glacier, you have to hike for about four hours. The road between Mudui and Pomi is fine.
Rural scenery
The next day we go west through the virgin forest and head for the last major barrier on the Sichuan-Tibet road, Tangmi. Use caution when passing through since floods and mud-rock flows frequently occur near this area. Then head for Seche La Mountain, part of the Nyainqentanglha Mountain Range and site of the watershed for the Nyang and Polung Zangbo Rivers. Standing at the mountain pass at 4,728 meters above sea level one can admire the sunrise, sea of clouds, endless forests and the grand Namjagbarwa Peak. Finally, we drive to Bayi Town to stay overnight.
On the seventh day, we leave Bayi Town and along the way enjoy the beautiful Nyang River. After passing through Gongbujiangda County, head toward the 27 sq. km. holy lake of Darksumtso at an altitude of 3500 m. Later we will visit Basong Lake, an alpine lake near the middle and upper reaches of the Ba River, Nyang River's largest tributary. The highlight of this visit is the charming Tsodzong Monastery, a small Nyingmapa chapel sitting on a photogenic island just off the river's southern shore. The island is a fusion of flora and holy sights. We return to the main road and drive to Lhasa. It is here that you may continue your tour of Tibet.
 More Hiking Routes: 
Yunnan-Tibet Overland Journey: 8 Day from Deqin to Markham, Chamdo, Riwuqi, Tengchen, Bachen, Sok, Nakchu
Shigatse In-depth: 3-Day Shigatse Exploration
Lhasa Discovery: 2-day Lhasa Tour