The Ultimate Guide to Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour
The overland tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu via the Friendship highway, a celebrated scenic route the Tibetan Plateau, is one of the most popular overland tours in the world.
This highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu with scenic wonders includes two parts, the westernmost part of National Highway NO.318 from Lhasa west to Lhatse then south to Nepal, and the southernmost part of National Highway NO.219 from Lhatse to Gar in far western Tibet.
For the classic tour to Kathmandu from Lhasa, the route will follow the route through Lhatse, and on through Gyirong Port to Nepal and the capital, Kathmandu.
Why to Take an Overland Journey instead of a 2-hour Flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu
A Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour is one of the best ways to cross the plateau in Tibet. The trip takes you through some of the most spectacular countryside on the plateau, as well as allowing you time to visit some of the most popular and important tourist attractions in the region. You will stop overnight at Everest Base Camp (EBC), and get to visit some of the smaller Tibetan communities along the road, to experience more of the Tibetan culture at first hand.
What You will Experience on Each Day of Your Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour
Generally, it takes 7 days to complete the classic Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour, including 3 days in Lhasa city to visit the essentials and get used to the high altitude, and 4 days to drive towards Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The following is the sample itinerary for your reference.
Day 1 to Day 3: Get Used to the High Altitude in Lhasa city
No matter you get to Lhasa by air or by land, once you arrive in Lhasa to prepare for your overland tour to Kathmandu, the first few days are for you to take a good rest and get used to the high altitude in Tibet with a classic city tour of Lhasa. The ordinary Lhasa city tour includes the sights of the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and the monasteries of Sera and Drepung.
Day 4 Lhasa to Shigatse (271km, 6h)
Altitude Changes: 3650m (Lhasa) - 4790m (Gampa La Pass) - 4000m (Gyantse) - 3800m (Shigatse)
Generally, the overland tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu starts on the fourth day. The start of the route across the plateau runs from Lhasa to Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, around 351 kilometers of driving.
The road veers off the main artery of the G318 at Dagaxiang, and follows the G307 to the northern shores of Lake Yamdrok, and on through Gyantse to end at Shigatse.
The route to Lake Yamdrok, which lies at an altitude of 4,441 meters, passes over the stunning Gampa La Pass (4,790 meters), and continues on past the lake to pass by the Karola Glacier, and on through Gyantse (4,000m) and on to Shigatse (3,800m).
The road from Lhasa to Shigatse is a good condition road, with an asphalt surface all the way from the capital to Shigatse.
Yamdrok Lake, the first of the attractions you will pass, is one of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet, and is believed to be the most important lake in Tibet, as it is said that if the lake dries up Tibet will no longer be habitable.
You will also get to visit the Pelkor Chode Monastery in Gyantse, and its stunning 32-meter stupa, known as the Gyantse Kumbum, the only one of its kind in Tibet.
In Shigatse, you will visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the largest Gelug monastery in Tibet, and the seat of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second incarnation.
For most people on this trip, accommodation is normally in Shigatse, and you have a choice of two to four star hotels and guesthouses to stay in, depending on your budget. The average is a three-star hotel, of which there are several to choose from in Tibet’s second city.
Day 5 Shigatse to Everest Base Camp (353km, 7h to 8h)
Altitude Changes: 3800m (Shigatse) - 4600m (Tsola Pass) - 5248m (Gyatso La Pass) - 4980m (Rongbuk Monastery) - 5200m (EBC)
From Shigatse, you will continue your journey west, heading along the Friendship Highway as far as Old Tingri, before turning off to head south to Mount Everest Base Camp.
On departing from Shigatse, you will first pass over the Tsola Pass (4,600m) and then the Gyatso La Pass (5,248m). Then you will enter the Mount Qomolangma National Park, where you cross the Gawula Pass, at 5,198 meters.
While most of the route from Shigatse is a good paved road, the last few kilometers are still a gravel road that is somewhat rough. Known as the Zhufeng Road, this route takes you south to the Rongbuk Monastery (4,980m) and Everest Base Camp (5,200m).
Most tourists traveling to Mount Everest stop to stay at the tent hotels in the base camp or the Rongbuk Monastery guesthouse, which is a basic guesthouse, during most time of the year. However, if you take an Everest Base Camp tour in winter, you can only stay in the Rongbuk Monastery, as the tent hotels are closed in the cold season.
It is important to remember that the altitude of Rongbuk and EBC is much higher than that of Lhasa, so you need to be aware of the hazards of altitude sickness.
Strenuous exercise should be avoided, and it is important to rest in the evening and overnight, to allow your body to get used to the higher altitude.
Day 6 Everest Base Camp to Gyirong (433km, 9.5h to 10h)
Altitude Changes: 5200m (EBC) - 4591m (Pekutso Lake) - 5236m (Ghungtang Lhamo) - 2700m (Gyirong)
From Everest Base Camp, you will continue your Tibet Nepal overland journey by traveling along the G318 and S219 to Gyirong Town, where you will stop for the night.
The route, which is a good paved road, gives you a great view of Mount Shishapangma, the only 8,000+meter mountain solely in Tibet, as well as passing Pekutso Lake (4,591m) and the Ghungtang Lhamo (5,236m). You will stay at a guesthouse in Gyirong for the night.
Day 7 Gyirong to Kathmandu (160km, 6h)
Altitude Changes: 2700m (Gyirong) - 1400m (Kathmandu)
In the morning, you will transfer to Gyirong Port, the international border checkpoint with Nepal, where you will exit China through their immigration desk, before crossing the Resuo Bridge into Nepal. There you can arrange your Visa on Arrival, and continue on to Kathmandu.
The Nepali capital is around 160 kilometers from Gyirong Port, and you can get a local bus, a shuttle van, or hire a private car to take you there.
The trip takes around 6 hours, and passes through the Langtang National Park, one of the most beautiful foothill forest areas in northern Nepal.
Everest Base Camp
The opening hours of Gyirong Port is from 10:00 to 17:30 (GTM +8). You need to take a 40-minute drive from Gyirong Town to the border point.
What are the Required Travel Documents for a Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour
The Chinese Entry Visa is required for all tourists traveling to China, and is required for us to process your application for the Tibet Travel Permit to get into the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The cost of Chinese visa depends on your country of origin, and processing globally normally takes just three working days.
It is best to make your application at least one month before planning to travel, so that other permits can be processed in time.
You will require your original passport, two photos, a completed application form, proof of booking of your return flight from China, and proof of booking of a hotel in China for your stay.
Tibet Travel Permit
The most important permit in Tibet, you will need Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet and travel in the region of Lhasa. It takes around 15-20 days to process, and we will make the application with the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa on your behalf, using scanned color copies of your passport and Chinese visa. The permit is free for anyone booking their Tibet tour through us.
A sample of Tibet Entry Permit
Aliens’ Travel Permit
The Alien’s Travel Permit is required for travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet, including the Everest Base Camp and Shigatse, where you will drive through during the overland tour to Kathmandu.
It is applied for on your behalf by the tour guide once you reach Lhasa and takes around an hour to process. The permit application requires your original passport and the Tibet Travel Permit to process.
How Much does it Cost to Take a Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour
The cost of the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour is based on the hotels, your travel date, your group size, etc., and can be booked easily as a Small Group Tour if you are working on a budget.
Having fun with a group of like-minded travelers at a cheaper price by joining in our small group tour
We offer the Lhasa to Kathmandu Small Group Tour from $917, with less than 15 group members in 2021. You can join in the Small Group Tours easily, by simply choosing your preferred date of departure from the list of available dates.
When is the Best Time to Take a Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour
The best time to take an overland trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu is from April to May and from September to mid-November. Since you will spend most of the journey in Tibet, you should pay more attention to Tibet weather.
Tibet is a land that really can be visited almost the whole year round. The main season for tourism, though, is normally from May to October, with fewer tourists traveling in April and November and very few in the winter months from December to March.
Summer is the optimum time to travel, and as the weather is warmer, with temperatures often reaching into the low 20s, while the winter months are the cooler time, when the nightly temperatures can drop to well below freezing. Warm sweaters and jackets are needed in the winter, while you can just get away with a light sweater for the evenings in the summer months.
Packing List for a week’s overland journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu
What to pack really depends on when you are traveling to Tibet. In the winter months, you will need warmer clothes, as the temperatures are much colder, while in the summer months, less warm clothes are needed, though you will need a sweater at night. Aside from clothing, there are also other items that you will need to remember to bring, such as:
● Warm Jackets and pants, especially if you are traveling to Kailash or Everest Base camp
● Sweaters for the cooler evenings
● Windproof Jacket
● Rain coat
● Sun hat or peaked cap
● Warm hat and gloves for colder areas
● Sunglass for preventing snow blindness at higher altitudes
● Comfortable trekking shoes or boots
● Breathable woolen socks
● Long underwear for colder weather
● Sleeping bag and liner, if you are going to trekking in the EBC and Kailash regions
You will also need a good range of toiletries and other sanitary items, which can help to prevent sun and wind damage, and treat minor ailments. Packing should include the following:
● Hand sanitizer
● Lip balm to prevent chaffing of the lips
● Moisturizers to prevent dry skin in the strong winds
● Sun block for the intense sunlight
● First Aid kit and medicine for common illnesses and altitude sickness
● Other toiletries you might need on a regular basis
You will also need to carry your Travel Documents and emergency contact details in case of emergencies at all times.
What if I Want More than a Classic Overland Tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu?
If you are thinking of making a few changes to the standard itinerary, then you will first need to know that you can customize a private tour of Tibet, as our Small Group Tour itineraries are not suitable, as they are based on a set itinerary that cannot be changed.
There are plenty of other places you can travel to, including the stunning 1-day and 2-day trips to Lake Namtso, to the north of Lhasa in Damxung County of Lhasa. The lake, which is another of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet, is one of the most stunning on the plateau, and is rightly known as the “Heavenly Lake”.
You can also add a trek from Tingri to EBC to your itinerary, to make the trip a little more exciting than it already is. A four-day trek that takes you from the Friendship Highway across Country to the beautiful base camp and Rongbuk Monastery, the route takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the area, with amazing views of the world’s highest mountains.
Enjoying the biking tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu
And if you are really looking for that ultimate adventure, you can always try the crossing of the Tibetan Plateau by either bicycle or motorbike. We offer the biking tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu through the Tibetan plateau, and you will be able to travel across the region with more freedom to stop whenever you want to take those amazing photo. Two of the most adventurous tours that you can take in Tibet, there is nothing lie the feeling of having the wind blowing through your hair as you whiz along the roads on your bike or motorbike.
There are few adventures in the world that can compare with the tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu, which takes in the two most stunning capitals of the Himalayas.
This unique tour gives you all the opportunities you need to get the best out of traveling to the high-altitude Tibetan plateau, combined with the ability to explore the exotic city of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
The classic overland tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu takes 7 days, while you can also add some more adventures in this journey by customizing your own Tibet Nepal tour.
Following the same route, through the Sino-Nepal Friendship highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu, you can also travel by bike or motorbike.
Just check the detailed itinerary and the detailed travel information above, such as the required travel documents for a Tibet Nepal overland tour and the best time to go, you can learn more about how to plan your lifetime overland journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu.