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Travel Overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu or Kathmandu to Lhasa, How Should I Choose?

April,01 2024 BY Jamyang Tsering 0 COMMENTS

If you are planning to embark on an overland tour across majestic Himalayas, yet torn between the decision of whether should I travel overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu or from Kathmandu to Lhasa, no worries! We've got you covered!

In this tutorial, we weigh the pros and cons of the overland travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu versus the reverse journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa. So, you can confidently choose the travel route that aligns best with your interests and preferences.

For Better Altitude Acclimation, Choose the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

If this is your first visit to places with high elevations or you are traveling with families with the elderly and young kids, to get better acclimatized to the high altitude, it’s advisable to choose the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour.

Altitude gain for Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour:

Day1-3: Lhasa for acclimatization (3,656m)
Day4: Lhasa to Shigatse (3,850m) via Gyantse (3,656m)
Day5: Shigatse to EBC (5,200m) via Gyatsola Pass (5,280m) and Gawula Pass (5,198m)
Day6: EBC to Gyirong Border (2,800m)
Day7: Gyirong Border to Kathmandu (1,400m)

Altitude gain for Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour:

Day 1: Kathmandu (1,400m) to Rasuwa Gadi (2,030m)
Day 2: Rasuwa Gadi (2,030m) to Gyirong Border (2,800m) for acclimatization
Day 3: Gyirong Boder to EBC (5,200m) and Tingri (4,300m) via Kong Tang Lamu Pass (5,236m) and Gawula Pass (5198m)
Day 4: Tingri to Shigatse (3,850m) via Lhatse (4,050m)
Day 5: Shigatse to Lhasa (3,656m) via Gyantse (3,656m)
Day 6-8: Lhasa Sightseeing (3,656m)

Lhasa to Kathmandu overlnad road mapLhasa to Kathmandu overland Road Map.

In a nutshell, embarking on the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour offers a gentler altitude ascent compared to the Kathmandu to Lhasa route. This gradual climb allows your body ample time to adapt to the thinning air, ensuring a smoother and more comfortable acclimatization process.

To Overnight at EBC, Choose the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

Normally, for the Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour, given the steep altitude ascent (on day 3) from the Gyirong border (2,800m) to EBC (5,200m), tour groups will not be arranged to stay overnight at EBC to minimize the risk of acute altitude sickness of travelers.

If you're eager to soak in the full splendor of Mount Everest's north face, from marveling at its grandeur during sunset to witnessing its awe-inspiring presence under the starry night sky, then the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour is your ultimate choice for an unforgettable experience at Everest Base Camp.

By doing so, not only can you spend the night at EBC, but also have your journey culminate at the world’s highest peak after fulfilling your cultural immersion experience in Lhsas.

Tibet Everest Base Camp nigh sceneStay overnight at Tibet Everest Base Camp with stunning night view.

For Biking or Self-drive Journey, Opt for the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

Traveling overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu involves more downhill terrain compared to the reverse route. This favorable condition offers you a more enjoyable and less strenuous journey, especially for biking and self-drive enthusiasts looking to minimize physical exertion.

In addition, over 75% of the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland route features well-built paved roads and more well-established infrastructure in Lhasa and Shigatse, two of the biggest cities in Lhasa, making navigation easier for bikers and self-drivers.

However, it's essential to note that certain sections in the Sino-Nepal border region may still present challenges, such as unpaved stretches, occasional potholes, rugged terrain, etc.

The overland trip between Tibet and NepalLhasa to Kathmandu overland tour.

Another hidden bonus is that starting the journey in Lhasa may offer logistical advantages in terms of transportation arrangements, bike/motorbike/car rentals, and support trucks and other services. This can streamline the planning process for bikers and self-drivers from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Read more about cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu.

For Solo Travelers, Choose the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour for Easier Permit Processing

Well, to give you a heads up that international tourists can only visit Tibet through a pre-arranged tour with a licensed local Tibetan travel agency like us.

As to travel formalities, if you choose to travel overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu, all you need is to apply for your Chinese Visa yourself > send the images of your passport information page and Chinese Visa page for us to apply for a Travel Travel Permit for Tibet entry from gateway cities like Chengdu and Chongqing, etc. in mainland China > use your Tibet Travel Permit to board the Tibet train or flight to Lhasa.

Tibet Travel Permit, an indispensable travel document for Tibet entryTibet Travel Permit is an indispensable travel document for Tibet entry.

On the contrary, if you are a solo traveler and decide to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa, you need to apply for the Chinese Group Visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu for Tibet entry from Nepal.

Here's the catch: The Chinese Embassy requires a minimum group size of four travelers to issue the Chinese Group Visa for Tibet entry from Nepal and you guys have to enter and exit Tibet together. Plus, a face-to-face visa interview is a must for all group members.

So, if you are traveling alone and want to avoid the hassles of getting a Chinese Group Visa for Tibet entry from Nepal, we suggest you enter Lhasa from Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an, or Xining and then travel overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu for a seamless travel experience.

Don’t Wanna Valid Chinese Visa Cancelled, Choose the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

If you happen to already have a 10-year Chinese Visa and are caught in a dilemma between choosing the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour or the Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour, we suggest that you choose the former one.

The reason behind this is that if you enter Tibet from Nepal, your current valid Chinese Visa will be automatically canceled upon obtaining the Chinese Group Visa for Tibet entry from Nepal.

Considering that a Chinese Group Visa is only valid for 30 days, it's not a wise exchange for your 10-year Chinese Visa.

For European Travelers, Choose the Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Tour to Save Long-haul Flight Costs

If you are a European, let’s say a German traveler who plans to travel overland to Tibet, geographically choosing the Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour to enter Tibet offers a more budget-friendly solution.

The proximity to Tibet makes Kathmandu stand as the closest gateway city to Tibet. The cost of flying from European countries to Kathmandu and then traveling overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa not only minimizes travel distance but also cuts costs on international flights and other transportation expenses.

European travelers to Tibet via Kathmandu to Lhasa overlandEuropean travelers to Tibet via Kathmandu to Lhasa overland.

Consider Extended Tour’s Destination to Decide on Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland or in Reverse

Last but not least, if you plan to combine your Tibet tour with an extended journey to Nepal and Bhutan, traveling overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu presents the smoothest exit route from Tibet to Nepal. This allows ample time for you to explore Kathmandu or Pokhara before catching a flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan.

Likewise, if this is your first trip to Tibet and you want to extend the Tibet tour to other mainland Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai, or Kunming, etc. then traveling overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa offers you a thrilling overland tour before boarding the Tibet train or domestic flight to immerse yourself in the captivating culture in other parts of China along the way.


Deciding on whether to travel overland to Lhasa to Kathmandu or Kathmandu to Lhasa promises an utterly different travel experience. Hopefully, with our suggestions and expert guide, you can make the right decision for this epic Tibet overland tour. If you have more questions for Tibet tour, please feel free to reach out to us for free and expert travel advice. Cheers to your upcoming journey!

Jamyang Tsering

About the Author - Jamyang Tsering

With a perpetual smile and a wealth of Tibetan knowledge, Jamyang Tsering is a seasoned Tibetan guide with over 15 years of expertise. Interestingly, many first come across him on YouTube as a humorous YouTube content creator, proudly introducing every facet of authentic Tibetan life to the world.

Now, not only can you watch Jamyang’s latest video update on our Tibet Vista channel, but also read his travel guide here or book our Tibet tours and travel with the YouTube influencer Jamyang to explore the majestic landscape and culture in Tibet.

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