China – Tibet Highway Overland Routes

What Are The Highway Overland Routes to Tibet?


Are you planning to visit Tibet? There are many ways to enter the Roof of the World. While many travelers fly to Tibet or hop on a scenic train ride, there are overland routes available as well.

The highway overland routes to Tibetan Plateau are incredible!
You should consider the fact that Tibet has been isolated for the most part of its history.
Reaching this sacred place called for weeks upon weeks of trekking through harsh conditions. In this light, the roads to Tibet represent a huge development in the history of this region.

In this article, you’ll learn about the various Tibet highway routes and the possibilities of doing a Tibet road trip.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us in case you have any further questions regarding overland travel.

#1: Sichuan-Lhasa Highway

Sichuan Tibet mountainous and gorgeous highway

The road from Chengdu to Lhasa covers a distance of over 2,100 kilometers. This route runs in western direction from the Sichuan Province, offering stunning scenery and plenty of photo opportunities.

One of the most beautiful parts of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway is situated in Nyingchi Prefecture. The lush valleys and majestic mountains inspired people to call this region a Tibetan Switzerland.


#2: Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway

Are you ready for an epic jaunt across the Himalayas? The spectacular route from Nepal to Tibet allows you to enjoy an unparalleled adventure that generally lasts around a week or so. The distance is around 1,300 kilometers.

Most people who pick the Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway as their route opt for a side excursion to the Mount Everest Base Camp (the EBC). The vistas of this legendary peak will leave you breathless!


#3: Qinghai-Lhasa Highway

Qinghai tibet highways landscape

This is the most famous road to Tibet. That’s because the Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the oldest highway connecting the Tibetan Plateau and China. When you start your journey from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, you can expect to cover a distance of close to 2,000 kilometers.

Like most roads in Tibet, this highway will fill your road trip with endless beautiful panoramas. A portion of the Qinghai-Lhasa Highway takes you over the Kunlun Mountains and crosses the Tanggulla Pass. The latter sits at an altitude of 5,231 meters above sea level.


#4: Xinjiang-Lhasa Drive

Lalu Weland Tibet Highway

Some people want to experience the rush of a world-class adventure. While all the roads leading to Tibet offer great experiences, the drive from Kashgar in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture to Lhasa is an undertaking of epic proportions.

The route racks up a total of 2,750 kilometers. The road conditions can be challenging, to say the least. But the demands of this road trip will definitely be worth it. You’ll see glaciers, mountains, and some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in all of China.


Are there any other routes?

Sure, we just listed the most noteworthy overland routes to Tibet. You could drive from Kunming (Yunnan Province) to Lhasa. This is a popular route for Chinese tourists.

What about Beijing to Tibet highway?

This trip is doable. You can start in Beijing and continue on one of the suitable highways that have Lhasa as the ultimate destination.


What else should I know about highways to Tibet?

As a foreign traveler, you need to understand the restrictions. The conditions and limitations regarding the various highway routes may change any time. That’s why you should check the latest information before committing to a particular travel plan.

Say, you’d like to take the road from Kashgar to Lhasa. In this case, at the time of writing, you would need the following documents:

  • Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
  • Restricted Areas Permit
  • Frontier Pass
  • Alien’s Travel Permit
However, China has kept many overland routes closed to foreign tourists. And you can travel around the Tibetan Plateau only with a local guide. There is no way around these requirements.


Anyway, is it even safe?

Tibetan highways in winter

Driving comes with a set of risks anywhere in the world. In Tibet, you’ll face the combined challenges of altitude and considerable differences in road conditions and quality. But the main overland routes aren’t notorious for being outlandishly dangerous.


The bottom line: the highway overland routes to Tibet

Tibet is an enticing destination. You are able to use many transport options to reach Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Nowadays, more and more travelers dream about a Tibet road trip. Keep in mind that traveling around the Tibetan Plateau is possible only with a local guide.

The main overland routes for entering Tibet are:

  • Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway
  • Sichuan-Lhasa Highway
  • Qinghai-Lhasa Highway

There are other options and combinations available too. Check the latest information regarding eligibility and necessary permits for foreign travelers.

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