The Tibetan road conditions used to be rough and poor, because of the harsh natural environment, the high altitude and the complicated topography. So it was rather difficult to drive to Tibet, but things are different now. It has changed greatly with the development of transport services in recent years. Therefore, it's becoming more possible to get to Tibet overland. More and more vehicles gather in Tibet from different places. Self-driving tours begin to be popular now. Totally, there are five overland routes to Tibet, respectively Chengdu (Sichuan) to Lhasa overland, Shangri-la (Yunnan) to Lhasa overland, Xining (Qinghai) to Lhasa overland, Lhasa to Kashgar Overland and Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland. Although there are several road lines to Tibet, you'll still need to take a serious consideration and make thorough preparations about self-driving, because it's really quite different from driving other road lines. For example, you should get the Tibet travel permit first; and some other factors like the highland climate, bumpy road condition, etc. might be great challenges for you.
☆ The Sichuan-Tibet Highway: Chengdu (Sichuan) to Lhasa, 2413 kilometers (G318); it was built from April 1950 to December 1953 and divided into North and South routes at the Xindu Bridge.
Optimal season: May, June, September, October and November is the best driving time. In addition, it's also feasible in July and August but it rains a lot at that time.
Highlights of sceneries: Along north route: WoLong Panda Nature Reserve, Yihun La-tso, Jampling Monastery; along south route; Hailuogou Glacier, Tagong Grassland, Litang, Rawok lake, Midui Glacier.
Highlights of culture experience: Danba and its Ancient block Towers, Derge Scripture Printing Press, Tagong Monastery, BarTang Chode Gaden Pendeling Monastery.
Tour recommended: TTO001 11-Day Chengdu to Lhasa overland by Jeep (South Sichuan Route);
TTO002 12-day Chengdu to Lhasa overland by jeep (Northern Route Transfer to Southern Route).
☆ Yunnan-Tibet Highway: Yunnan (Kunming) to Lhasa (G214),2317 kilometers. It was finished in 1974, crosses the Hengduan mountains and Jinsha river, and it is connected with Sichuan-Tibet south route finally.
Optimal season: the best driving time is from August to October.
Highlights of sceneries: Dian lake, Shilin National Scenic Area, the Erhai Lake, the old town of Lijang, the First Bend of Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri-la country, Pudacuo National Park.
Highlights of Culture Experience: Dongba Culture Museum, Three Pagodas, The Stone Drum Old Town, Songzanlin Monastery, the Dukezong Ancient town.
Tour recommended: TOO005 14 days Yunnan Shangrila to Tibet Overland
☆ Qinghai-Tibet Highway: Qinghai (Xining) to Lhasa (G109),1947 kilometers, at an average elevation of 4,000 meters. It starts from Xining to Lhasa, running through the mountains of Kunlun and Tanggula.
Optimal season: it is available for the whole year.
Highlights of sceneries: Qinghai lake, Chumaer valley, the wind volcanic tunnel, Tanggula mountains, Cuona lake, Color Lin Crane Nature Reserve, Namtso lake, Yangpachen hot springs.
Highlights of Culture Experience: Taer Temple, Qingshuihe Bridge
Tour recommended: TTO006 11 Day Qinghai to Tibet Overland
☆ Xinjiang-Tibet Highway: Xinjiang (Yecheng) to Lhasa(G219): 2743 kilometers. It was built in June 1955, and across through Kunlun mountains; the section between Lhasa and Zhungmu is part of Sino-Nepal highway; and the section between Nagchu and Shiquanhe is called northern route; Xinjiang-Tibet highway is also a very important border road.
Optimal season: the best driving time is from the beginning of May to the end of the October.
Highlights of sceneries: on the Xingjiang-Tibet highway route: QiangTang Prairie, Mt. kailash, lake manasarovar, laangcuo lake, Naimona'nyi Peak, Peiku lake, EBC, Yamdrok lake, Karuola glacier; on the northern route: yangpachen hot spring, Namtso lake, Selin lake, Pangonglake.
Highlights of Culture Experience: on the Xingjiang-Tibet highway route: Guge Kingdom ruins, Rongbuk monastery, old Tingri, palkor monastery. On the northern route: 382 gang
Tour recommended: TTK002 15 Days Lhasa/EBC/Mt.Kailash/Lhasa or Nepal Border.
☆ Sino-Nepal highway: also known as the Friendship highway, from Kathmandu to Lhasa, 943 kilometers. It was finished in 1965, and crosses through the Himalaya mountains. Sino-Nepal highway is the only international highway in Tibet.
Optimal season: it's available all the year.
Highlights of sceneries: Xixiabangma peak, Rongbuk monastery, EBC, Yamdrok Lake, Karuola glacier.
Highlights of Culture Experience: Rongbuk Monastery, Shalu Monastery, Zhongshan Old Castle, the Phalha Manor, the Palkor Chode.
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What's more, although there are five highways to Tibet, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway are freely open for foreigners at present, because the other routes maybe are not available for some political or synoptic reasons at some time.
Remarkably, due to the special Tibetan road condition, we don't recommend you to drive to Tibet if you are not a professional driver with full preparation which is very important before you go, such as vehicle maintenance, altitude sickness, what to pack, how to drive safely and so on. Most importantly, you should make sure you get the necessary Tibet Permit for Overland tour in your domicile place. By the way, to obey the local religions and customs is important, too. Have a nice trip!