Overland Route…Drive a Four Wheel Vehicle to Tibet
For those with a spirit of adventure, driving a four wheel vehicle to Tibet may provide you with the experience of a lifetime! Such an expedition is demanding and requires participants to be in good physical health, time is required to make the journey and it's costly. Anyone considering this journey should be advised that a lot of courage and determination are required!
There are five major road routes to Lhasa. They are the Chuanzang Highway (Sichuan-Tibet highway), Qingzang Highway (Qinghai-Tibet highway), Xinzang Highway (Xinjiang-Tibet highway), Dianzang Highway (Yunnan-Tibet highway), Sino-Nepal Highway (Nepal-Tibet highway).
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway, originally called the Kangding-Tibet Highway (a section of the No. 318 National Trunk Highway) begins in Chengdu of Sichuan on the east and ends at Lhasa in Tibet on the west. The Highway has two routes: Sichuan-Tibet Highway north road (2,412 km long) and Sichuan-Tibet Highway south road (2,149 km long). The highway crosses high mountains, passes lakes and primeval forests, travels through valleys and there are several sections which should be considered dangerous. But it has fine views along the way and the traveler will encounter people with unique customs and practices.
Yunnan (Dali)-Tibet (Markam) Highway
Yunnan-Tibet highway (a section of No. 214 National Trunk Highway) starts at Xiaguan in Dali of Yunnan and ends at Markam of Tibet, at a total length of 800 kilometers. The highway crosses the primeval forest of the Hengduan Mountains and the Jinsha River, climbs the 4,300-meter high Baimang snow-capped mountain and Mount Hongla, and links up with the southern part of Sichuan-Tibet Highway (No. 318 National Trunk Highway) at Markam County. It's the main route between Tibet and Yunnan.
Qinghai-Tibet Highway, completed in the early 1980s, starts from Golmud of Qinghai and is the only road of the five routes providing a bus service and the main road to Tibet. At 1,160 kilometers long and averaging 4,000 meters high, it crosses the Kunlun Mountains and vast grasslands. And what amazes people living in the modern world is the fact that the bituminous road is actually the best route into Tibet.
Xinjiang (Yecheng)-Tibet (Burang) highway
Xinjiang-Tibet Highway begins at Yecheng in Xinjiang and ends at Burang in Tibet. It runs 2,743 kilometers and winds its way through five mountains soaring more than 5, 000 meters above sea level. Spectacular views of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova can be seen while traveling this stretch of road.
Sino-Nepal Highway, 750 kilometers in length, starts from Lhasa and continues through Quxu, Xigaze, Lhaze, Dingri, Nyalam and Zham, over the Friendship Bridge and ends at the defense highway of Kathmandu. Sightseeing along the Sino-Nepal Highway is superb and of course the world’s number one mountain, Mt. Qomolangma, or Everest, can be seen in all its’ dramatic splendor.
Among the above routes, driving from Qinghai or Kathmandu ("friendship highway") is easier. We suggest you do not drive to Tibet on the other routes unless you consider yourself to be a real adventurer with all the necessary equipment and backup.