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Tibet Cycling Tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Trip Length
1,000km
Route
Kathmandu - Zhangmu - Nyalam - Old Tingri - Everest Base Camp - Rongbuk - Tashi Dzong Village - Shegar - Lhatse - Shigatse - Gyantse - Nagartse - Chusul - Lhasa, or the reverese
Attractions
Experience Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway by bike linking Tibet highland plateau and Nepal valley across the Himalayas. Cycle to challenge the longest and greatest vertical descent and ascent in the world between Kathmandu and Lhasa.
Start - Finish
Kathmandu - Lhasa or Lhasa - Kathmandu
Passes
Thang la mountain pass 5,050m, Pang la pass 5,200m, Lhaka Gyatso la pass 5,260m, Yulong la pass 4,560m, Sima la pass 4,730m, Karola pass 5,015m, Khampa la pass 4,794m
Grade
Strenuous, Grade 4 to 5
Season
April to October, May and October are recommended
Duration
13 to 21 Days
Tour Map
Click here to view tour map
(On the map page, click on 'X' to return to this page)

Overview

Travelling by bicycle offers a challenging way to see Tibet, and a cycling excursion here requires more planning than most other destinations in Asia. But don't worry. We will be responsible for handling all the permits and logistics. You will accompanied by a 4WD vehicle along the tour that carries your personal gear, camping equipment, cooking equipment and food; you can also catch a ride if you're exhausted or tired.

The journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu or Kathmandu to Lhasa tour is the most popular bicycling route in Tibet, and with good reason. In just under 600miles (1000km) and 13 to 16 days, this journey crosses six major passes, traverses the backbone of the Himalaya, offers a look at the North face of Mount Everest, and visits two of Asia's most interesting cities. The reverse of this ride, from Kathmandu to Lhasa, can also be done. A challenging 4 to 6 day side trip is the ride to Mount Everest Base Camp.

Cycle Map Lhasa to Kathmandu Altitude Changes and Mountain Passes

Itinerary day by day

Day 01 Kathmandu/Nyalam alt 3750m

Day 02 Nyalam/Mainphu Valley alt 4350m, 70km

Day 03 Mainphu Valley/Old Tingri alt 4300m, 73km

Day 04 Old Tingri/Tashi Zom alt 4300m, 70km

Day 05 Tashi Zom/Everest Base Camp alt 5200m, 8 km

Day 06 Everest Base Camp/Rongbuk alt 4902m, 8km

Day 07 Rongbuk Monastery/Tashizom alt 4140m

Day 08 Tashi Zom Valley/Gyatso valley alt 4200m, 65km

Day 09 Gyatso Valley/Lhatse alt 4050m, 70km

Day 10 Lhatse/Tashigang alt 4250m, 67km

Day 11 Tashigang Valley/Shab valley alt4000m,60 km

Day 12 Shab Valley/Shigates alt 3900m,62 km

Day 13 Shigatse/Gyantse alt 3580m, 90 km

Day 14 Gyantse/ Karo La Pass alt 4700m, 65km

Day 15 Karo La Pass/Yamdruktso alt 3700m, 68km

Day 16 Yamdruktso Lake/Chu Xui alt 4300m, 65km

Day 17 Chu Xui/Lhasa alt 3680m, 60km

Day 18 Lhasa sightseeing

Day 19 Lhasa sightseeing

Day 20 Bid farewell to Lhasa

Extended Trip to Cycle Tibet Yarlung Valley 

The historical sites of Samye Monastery and the Yarlung Valley, near Tsetang, are just a few days to the south. This route follows the river valley at elevations below 12,000 feet, so a relatively easy round trip could be completed in 7 days or so. Another possibility from Lhasa is a visit to Ganden Monastery, which is a pleasant 25-mile (41km) ride to the east up the Kyi Chu, followed by a steep 1500feet (460m) climb above the valley. The round trip could be done in 2 days of riding, and allow an extra day for visiting the monastery.

Tibet Permits Required

Be forewarned that the rules of Tibet Permits can change from one year to the next, you might be fined and sent back by a police checkpoint. Generally speaking, no special permits required other than Aliens Travel Permits, but for the latest accurate information, please contact us directly to get the updated.

Fitness Required

Another concern regarding bicycling in Tibet is your fitness for a journey of this nature. This is the highest mountain biking in the world. The demands of big climbs, rough roads (especially between Zhangmu and Tingri), remote surroundings, harsh weather(especially the strong wind in winter) and extremely high elevations must all be taken into consideration.

Bicycle Required

Your bike should be of good quality, dependable, and in first-class mechanical shape. Riders must be capable of handling a multitude of repairs on your own, carrying the necessary tools and spares parts in case of breakdowns. Each cyclist should carry one tube and one spare tire for every two bikes at least, extra cables, an extra rear derailleur, chain, and free-wheel, extra spokes, a sewing kit, and a small, basic repair kit.

Supply

You will need a sturdy waterproof tent, a sleeping bag, a first-aid kit, and sufficient quantities of food and water. Resupplying on the road can be quite difficult at times; the smaller villages may have only tsampa, yak butter, meat and Tibetan brick tea. Some truck stops sell only instant noodles or simple rice dishes. Many villages do not even have a store.

Weather and Clothing

Summers mean cool nights and warm days. It can rain for days at a time in July and August, and frost in September is common. Strong winds and sandstorms are not unusual, nor is snow on the passes. At higher elevations, freezing temperatures are common throughout the year. During Setemper at 17,000 feet (5180m), the nights are usually in the low teens to single figures. In January night time temperatures can drop to -27 °C, and daytime temperatures often hover just below freezing.

Bring enough clothing to meet the coldest expected temperatures. For spring, summer or autumn cycling, light cycling pants and a short-sleeved shirt usually will be sufficient. If you add a pair of warm-up pants, a long-sleeved jersey, a wind shell, and gloves, you can handle most conditions in good weather. For poor weather you should also have a fleece or down jacket, an extra layer of synthetic long underwear, a rain jacket, wind or rain pants, warm shoes, and a hat. If you are camping, remember that you will require extra clothing to stay comfortable while sitting still in the cold night air.

Physical Preparation

It is wise to arrive in Tibet in good physical condition. Cyclists should train to build up their cardiovascular systems, for nowhere will they be put to the test as in Tibet. Hill training that gets the heart rate up and keeps it up for an hour at a time is highly recommended. The higher the elevation you train at while at home the better, even though Tibet will be higher yet. A well-designed strength training program two or three times a week to build overall power and condition the upper body is an excellent supplement. While physical fitness done not prevent altitude sickness, it does help the body deal with all the other physical demands of rough, remote travel.

Standard Cycle Touring Advice Applies

Arrive at a good weight, in healthy condition, and well rested. Eat well (always a challenge in Tibet), and consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement. Drink plenty of water to remain properly hydrated. Be sure to acclimatize properly before your cycling tour begins. You need up to a week or more to get used to the change in elevation. Once you are in Tibet, relax. Don't push it. Go on some walks around town, then after several days of taking it easy try a few short rides around Lhasa. In the vicinity of Lhasa, work out in the hills; the rides to the nearby monasteries of Sera and Drepung are great for cycle training.

Your Control on This Tour

Are you interested in this tour? Want to customize your unique trip? Send us an online enquiry and you will receive your personal travel advisor's reply within 12 hours.

Enquire Online

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What Our Customers Say

"Should include more guidance on what coat to bring, lack of oxygen, dizziness on plateau. 3 stars hotels could not be compared with those of China. Dorjee was knowledgeable, gentle and patient. Always on time. Tashi had very safe driving style. He was never tired or having bad temper. Very professional. When my wife's glove got lost, Dorjee went back and recorded it for us. After several travels, it's very hard to find a tour guide with such commitment. Tibet is FANTASTIC! It is deserved to reTurn to Tibet!"

Oscar Barquero

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