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Sichuan Tibet Overland Adventures

Trip Overview
Duration:14 Days
Accommodation:Hotels and guesthouses.
Activities:Sights seeing, 4WD Adventures, Monastery Visits, Short Hikes
Trip Grading: Moderate
Trip Type: Non-Touristic
Group Size:2-10 pax
Start From:Chengdu, Sichuan
Finish In:
Highest Altitude:5,150m (16, 892ft) at Largen La
Best Season: March to June, September and October.

This epic journey through Sichuan, across the Tibetan Plateau to Lhasa, has attracted explorers and adventurers, pilgrims, traders, and even missionaries for hundreds of years. The journey is a long one, and requires a certain dedication on the part of the traveler, as well as a certain resilience to bumps! We have considerable experience of this route and know exactly what is required in terms of transportation, accommodation, and red tape, not to mention the fascinating sights along the way.

The first step of this great overland adventure takes us to Pandas in Wolong. Then we drive to the 1000 year old block houses and beautiful Tibetan village in Danba. We head west to Garze which currently boasts the largest monastery in Kham and then continue to the sacred lake of Yilhun Lhatso (Xinlu Hai Lake) and finally the cultural centre of Dege where we can relax for a day. Cross Jinsha Jiang (Golden Sand River, upper reaches of Yangtze) we entry in Tibet. In Chamdo, the biggest city in East-Tibet we'll visit Kalden Jampaling Monastery which dates from the 15th century, and forms the focal point of this important market town at the confluence of two tributaries of the Lancang Jiang (Mekong). At this point we take the northern route to Lhasa, over the Tanlen Taweng Range to Riwoche and Dengchen, an important center for the old Boen religion. We drive across high passes and verdant pastures, where village monasteries cling to the rock face, and where nomads pasture their flocks. We will enjoy the splendid landscape while walking by the Nam Tso Lake on Qiangtang grassland. In Lhasa we visit the Potala Palace, which stands on the Red Hill in the city proper, the holiest place Jokhang as well as Drepung and Sera.

Detail Itinerary

Day 01 Arrive in Chengdu (D)
Arrive in Chengdu, capital of province Sichuan, the home town of Panda. Picked up by the local guide at airport and transferred to hotel. 1N in 4*Yinhe Dynasty Hotel

Day 02 Chengdu - Wolong – Danba (B/L/D)
In the morning leave for Danba. We'll cross the Wolong Giant Panda Natural Reserve, where about 50 giant pandas are bred in a semi-natural environment. After lunch at Wolong, cross the foggy Balang Mountain (4,523 meters) and pass by the Siguniang Shan Mountain (four-girls mountain, highest peak 6250 m), late in the afternoon we reach Danba (1900 meters). 1N in 2*Danba Hotel

Day 03 Danba – Bamei (B/L/D)

The local people are called Jiarong (Gyarong) Tibetans. It is said that they are the descendants of the people of the ancient Xixia Kingdom, who merged with the local people after they fled from Gansu and settled here. Danba has long been acclaimed as the Kingdom of Thousands of Ancient Blockhouses. Visit the ancient block towers in Suopo. They were made of clay and block and look fine from outside with solid thick walls. Time permitting; visit the Jiaju Tibetan Hamlet. Jiaju, 10 kilometers away from the county city, is one of the rare places in China that has preserved complete Tibetan style residences. More than one hundred buildings keep the same architectural style with a complete and unique character of Jiarong Tibetan residences. Under the blue sky, the Tibetan residences decorated in red, white and black are strewed at random but also in order from the bottom to the middle slope of the valley. In the afternoon drive to Bamei. Pass by Donggu Scenery Spot (the Natural Bonsai Valley), which is situated at the Donggu Village 21 kilometers to the southwest of Danba County. In the valley, the clear Yak River flows through and numerous varieties of plants are well preserved and the lush and damp forests make it hard to view the sky. Strangely shaped peaks and giant stones form a forest of rocks; ravines stretch out in length and width here and there; and waterfalls flying down from the steep rock with thunder-like sounds. Many lakes and hot-water pools at the bottom of the valley create a world of steam. Too many wizardly sceneries to see, just like the fairyland on the earth. We reach Bamei in the late afternoon. 1N in simple Zhuoma guesthouse

Day 04 Bamei - Kasa Lake – Garze (B/L/D)

Drive to Garze, the real cultural and religious center for the Tibetans living in Sichuan. In Tibetan "Garze" means "white and beauty", named after the famous temple in the county. On the way have a rest by the Kasa Lake. Upon arrival, visit Garze monastery of yellow sect (Gelug). The temple was built in1552 by Juji Angwengpencuo the disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama. 1N in 2*Golden Yak Hotel

Day 05 Garze - Yilhun Lhatso – Dege (B/L/D)

In the morning pass by Manigango to visit Xinlu Hai Lake (Yilhun Lhatso). Located at the foot of Chola Mountain in Dege County, Xinlu Hai Lake Scenic Spot is 98 kilometers from Garze County and 100 kilometers from Dege County. It is 4040 meters above the sea level, with an average depth of 10 meters and a maximum depth of 15 meters. There are plateau spruces, firs, Chinese weeping cypresses, azalea trees and meadows around the lake. It is also a preserve for wild animals like white-lipped deer. We walk on the left side of the lake to its top, the gate of a short valley where the melted snow and ice pour into the beautiful lake Yilhun Lhatso. After that we drive up to the Chola Pass (5,000 meters), get across the steep Chola Mountain, the highest peak of which is 5,650 meters. In the afternoon we visit the Dege Printing House which has always been well reputed as the “Cultural Treasury at the Foot of the Snow Mountain.” As the national leading protected entity of cultural relics, it is the biggest printing house in Tibetan area. 1N in 2*Chola Hotel

Day 06 Dege – Chamdo (B/L/D)

Drive across the Jinsha River (upper reaches of Yangtze) Bridge connecting Sichuan and Tibet heading for Chamdo. We will cross over no less than four passes: Khargang La (4,352 m), Lashi La (4,450 m), Jape La (4,680 m), and Tama La (4,511 m), with clutters of prayer flags waving in the wind on the peaks and friendly nomads waving at us from the grasslands. Straddling the Mekong river, Chamdo (3200 m) was the former capital of Kham in East-Tibetan area and has a rich history as one of the earliest centers of the Tibetan plateau and home of Kalden Jampaling, the great monastery founded between 1436-44 and developed through the centuries by successive Living Buddhas. 1N in 3*Chamdo Hotel

Day 07 Chamdo – Riwoche Jeep 105 km (B/L/D)

In the morning visit Galden Jampaling monastery. In its earlier prime time there were more than 1000 monks in the monastery. In the afternoon drive over the Zholpel La pass (4688 m) to Riwoche (3810 m). Riwoche means in Tibetan „mountain”. 1N in simple Guesthouse

Day 08 Riwoche - Dengchen Jeep 185 km (B/L/D)

Drive on very bad road to Dengchen. Dengchen means in Tibetan „great terrace”. Dengchen is the center of the Boen-Religion, which is a primitive religion based on ancient witchcraft and the worship to god and ghost, and was spread through the whole Tibet before the Buddhism was introduced into Tibetan area. Here visit two monasteries: Tengchen and Ritro Lhakhang. 1N in simple Guesthouse

Day 09 Dengchen - Bachen – Sok Dzong Jeep 255 km (B/L/D)

After master Tsuri La Pass (4200 m) and Shel La Pass (4750 m) we arrive at Bachen, the “big Yak hair tents”. Continue to drive 30 km we reach Sok Dzong, Sok means in Tibetan “Mongolia”. At the junction of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), 39 Hoer tribes of Mongolians migrated to the present day areas of Dengchen, Bachen and Sok Dzong; hence the name of "the Land of the 39 Tribes". Besides, the three counties are rich in Chinese caterpillar fungus. 1N in simple Guesthouse

Day10 Sok Dzong - Naqu Jeep 230 km (B/L/D)

Drive to the Sok Tsanden Zhol village, and visit the monastery of Nyimpa sect - Sok Tsanden Gompa. After that cross over two passes and reach the city of Shakchuka. Still just 100 km and two other passes have to be mastered before arrive at the today's destination Naqu. The northern route of Sichuan – Tibet Highway (Chengdu - Lhasa) and the Qinghai-Tibet Highway (Golmud – Lhasa) meet in Naqu. 1N in 2*Qiangtang Telecom Hotel

Day11 Naqu – Nam Tso Lake – Lhasa Jeep 480 km (B/L/D)

Drive on the vast Qiangtang Grassland for Nam Tso. Cross the 5,150 m Lhachen La Pass and reach the Namtso or Tengri Nor (“Heaven Lake” in Mongolian) along the newly paved way and set up camp at Tashi Dorie peninsula. Nam Tso, the biggest salty lake of Tibet, is 70 kilometers long from east to west and 30 kilometers wide from north to south, covering an area of 1,920 square kilometers with an altitude of 4,700 meters above sea level. It is said the holy lake and the holy mountain Nyenchentangla are a couple of lovers, who altogether guard the vast pasture and cattle. Take a walk on the peninsula and visit a small nun temple of Nyingma Sect. In the afternoon drive to Lhasa (3650 m), capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. The city is situated on the bank of the Kyichu River and has long been the "Holy Land" of Tibet. 3N in 3*Dhood Gu Hotel

Day12 Lhasa (B/L/D)

In the morning visit Potala, which was originally constructed in 637 by Songtsen Gampo, the first king of the united Tibet, and later expanded and served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas as well as the religious-political nexus of traditional Tibet. The crowds of pilgrims, innumerable magnificent murals, Buddhist statues, scriptures and rare treasures altogether creative a dense religious and art atmosphere that impresses every visitor. In the afternoon visit Jokhang monastery, the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers where thousands of pilgrims come for worship everyday. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Walk on the Barkhor street surrounding Jokhang, a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialties.

Day13 Lhasa (B/L/D)

In the morning visit Drepung monastery the sacred land of Gelug Sect., which was established in 1416 and the second, third and fourth Dalai Lama once resided in. In the afternoon visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there.

Day14 Air Lhasa – Chengdu (B)

In the morning transfer to Gongga airport (100 km), fly to Chengdu (CA4402 1020/1210)- continue to kathmandu Airport


Trips Highlights

• Lhagang Monastery of Sayka sect and Nyitso Monastery-the largest monastery of Daofu.
• Garze and Dargye Monasteries.
• Traditional printing press of Derge.
• Galden Jampaling monastery-the largest one in East Tibet.
• Tengchen and Ritro Lhakhang of Bon followers.
• Views of the Nychen Tangla Mountain range, grasslands and Nomadic camps.
• The sacred Nam-Tso Lake also the second largest salt water lake in entire China.
• Khampa People.
• Potala Palace, Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Jorkhang Temple etc in Lhasa.

Dates and Prices
Start and End dates - Flexible
Tour Cost: For best and reasonable cost, contact us

Trip Cost Includes
• Mid range hotels in the cities and best available in other stops.
• Daily Breakfast.
• All transportation by a 4WD Toyota Landcruiser Jeep.
• English speaking Local Guides
• Tibet permits
• Sightseeing Admission Fees.

Trip Cost Does Not Include
• International airfare to Chengdu and airfare Lhasa onwards
• Lunch and dinner
• Drinks and tips and other expenses of personal nature such laundry, phone etc.
• Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
• Travel Insurance.

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Travel Notes

By Air
The Capital city Lhasa, is connected with Kathmandu by China Southwest Airlines. There are flights on Tuesdays from April 1st week to November last week, the flight of Saturdays are in operation from April First week to the last one of October and the flight of Thursdays is in operation from the first week of August to the last one of October. (However this flight operation schedule might be changed, please contact us for further information) Besides these, there are daily flight to Chengdu from Lhasa and twice a week flights to Beijing and through Chengdu Lhasa is connected with other major cities in China and Hong Kong.

By Road
The Friendship high way connects Lhasa with Kathmandu, the only overland route now in operation as the route from Golmud or Chengdu is very often prohibited for travelers.

All foreigners are required to have a valid China Visa with the permit for Tibet to enter Tibet. However, it is not as easy as it seems to travel and get the visa to Tibet. Entry point must have been mentioned at the visa and clients are not allowed to enter Tibet from other than the point mentioned in visa. So we recommend you to leave all these visa tension to your travel agent as there are lots of process to do to get the visa.

If you are traveling through Nepal Visa must be obtained in Kathmandu or if any travel operator is organizing the tour the local operator (We) can send the visa authorization to Chinese Embassy/ Consulate in their respective country through our counterpart in Lhasa. The authorization is the paper issued by the TIBET TOURISM BUREAU addressing the concerned Embassy to issue visa for the clients mentioned in the list. But min. no of PAX must be 5 on the list. PLEASE NOTE it is not possible to get the visa without joining the trip and the trip must have been organized by the travel agency.

Visa fee is changed every now and then by the authorities. Sometimes the fee is charged according to the Nationality of the clients and sometimes a flat rate is charged. However, expect to pay US$ 40-45 per person for the visa. Please contact us for further information, latest visa fee and regulation.

Entrance fees are charged in Each Monasteries in Tibet. Usually the fees is charged to your organizer and your organizer included this fee in their package cost. Normally travel agencies buy the entrance coupons from the monastery and distribute it to the clients return it back to the Monasteries while on sightseeing. The fee vary according to the monastery and the importance of the place (from US$ 4. (30 Yuan ) to US$ 8 (60 Yuan). Our prices include such fees.

There are entrance fees to Everest Areas and Kailash areas as well. Boating fee is charged while on a trip to Samye or road permit fee is charged for traveling outside Lhasa. You need to have Alien Travel Permit (ATP), Tibet permit and special permits to travel to Tibet except your visa. Tibet permit is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau and Alien Travel Permit (ATP) or road permit is issued by Public Security Bureau (PSB). We arrange all these permits by ourselves leaving you free to travel. Except these army and culture permit is required to travel to Mt. Kailash area.

Chinese Yuan is used in Tibet. Big hotels accept major credit cards or you can exchange your money in any branch of Bank of China, located in Zhangmo, Shigatse, Lhasa and in Tsedang only. Currently the exchange rate is 01 US$ = 8 Yuan but the rate gates changed very often.

Chinese Standard Time (Beijing) is used in Tibet which is is 8 hours ahead (+) of GMT and 2 hours 15 minutes ahead of Nepal.

Warm clothing are always a must for the trip. For regular tours, light warm traveling clothing are required from June to October. Warm clothing are required for other months (including dusk mask) April, May and November. If you are going for trekking all trekking gears such as, down jacket, sleeping bags,  shirts, comfortable walking shoes, long johns, trousers and skirts, sweaters, jackets, dust masks, shocks, sun hats, sun glasses, suntan lotion, utility knife, water bottles/ thermos, flashlights, water purifying tablets, first aid kit, toilet & tissue papers etc. are important through out the trip. 

Traveling in Tibet involves high altitude & can be strenuous. Person having blood, lungs & heart problems should consult their doctor before taking any decision regarding trip though very few cases of altitude sickness have been reported. Simple headache, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorder can happen before acclimatization. For your safety there will be oxygen bottles in or each vehicle. 

The best time to visit Tibet is from June to October. Even though monsoon touches some part of Tibet in July and August it is next to nothing if compared to Nepal. If you wish to skip this period then September, October, and the first half of the November is perfect time to visit. This does not mean that in other season you can or visit Tibet. In fact You can visit Tibet from March Last week to November last week. The flight connection to & from Lhasa is started from April the first week to the last one of November and it is closed from December to March due to extreme low temperature which goes below -13 degree centigrade. So plan your journey from April to November last to have the perfect view and sightseeing.   

In Lhasa various choices if hotels are available from 4 star Lhasa Hotel (Former Holiday Inn) to the local budget hotels But in other towns like Tsedang, Gyantse, Shigatse, Shegar, Zhangmo etc. there are 2-3 star hotel one at each towns charging US$ 45 to 65 per night for double room per night on room only basis. If you wish to skip these hotels there are no other choices but to stay in local BUDGET guest house, local lodges etc which you may not find as to your expectation. While traveling in Tibet please keep in mind that you are traveling in a very remote part of the world where you will have to cross more than 500mtr of passes on a dusty roads. So if possible it is suggested not to compromise on accommodation etc.

Different type of transportation in Tibet are provided for separate purpose. For instance for Government employee, local perople, domestic traveler (Chinese) and International travelers.
In normal condition foreign traveler must travel on the vehicles specified for them. Mustly for this purpose 90`s model of Landcruisers of Japan made and Jeeps of China Made are used and there are quite good Hino buses for group travel and Nissan/Toyata Coasters for smaller groups Places where the buses and coasters can not reach 4WD jeeps/Landcruisers are used.

While planning your trip you have to keep in mind that the infrastructure in Tibet is limited to some extent and during the month of July, August, September & October Tibet sees quite a big no of tourist and it seems difficult to handle all the people with the limited infrastructure. So if planning the trip for this period you may have to book the trip much more in advance to get the best you want. If the booking came late you may have to compromise with something you may not like to.

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