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How to Plan a Lhasa to Kathmandu Cycle Tour

January,10 2018 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

Cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu , traveling across the vast expanse of the Tibetan plateau, is a journey of epic proportions, and one that is sought after by many cycling enthusiasts. AS one of the toughest cycling challenges in the world, this high-altitude route from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal is one that takes you across high mountain passes, through lush river valleys, and across vast expanses of prairies as you ride across the roof of the world.

Planning the Lhasa to Kathmandu Cycling Tour

Usually, we will help you with tips on where to go and what to see, and with our excellent knowledge of Tibet and its tourism industry, we will be able to guide you to choosing the best tour possible, and advise you on things you may need for the tour. Tourists to Tibet must be accompanied by a guide, private vehicle, and driver for their entire trip. Since you will be riding your bikes across the plateau, the vehicle will be used as your support car, and can carry some of your equipment as well as your guide. The guide will also be able to advise you on places to see, explain more about Tibetan culture, and help with any problems you may have.

 Cycling Tourists to Tibet must be accompanied by a guide, private vehicle, and driver for their entire trip

One of the main things to think about is your bike. You can transport your own bike to Tibet by either plane or train, or you can buy a new mountain bike in Lhasa, which you would be able to take home, or sell in the Thamel district of Kathmandu. There are several places in Thamel that buy used equipment, from bikes to trekking equipment, although you may not get a great price for it.

Required Permits and Visas

There are certain permits that you will need in order to enter Tibet and travel across the plateau. These are necessary, and will all be obtained through us for the travel in Tibet. For Nepal, you can make those arrangements yourself or we will help you get them.


Firstly, you will need to have the Tibet Travel Permit, which allows you to enter Tibet and travel in the opened areas around Lhasa. This is applied for by us once you have booked your tour, and requires a scanned (color) copy of your passport. We will forward the permit to your hotel in China before you leave for Tibet. This permit will allow you to board the plane or train to Tibet, and will be required at certain times when traveling in the region, such as at checkpoints and hotels.

Next is the Alien’s Travel Permit. This is needed to enter certain parts of Tibet that are considered as “unopened”, such as Shigatse, Sakya, Mt. Everest, and Rongbuk Monastery, among others. Many of these places are on the route you will pass through to get to the Nepal birder, so the pass must be kept on you at all times and presented when required. The permit is applied for once you have entered Tibet, as it requires your original passport for the application. your guide will arrange it in Lhasa before you hit the road.

The Military Permit is only needed for those people visiting the military sensitive areas of Ngari region, Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang, and Ali Prefecture. If your tour does not take you to these regions, then this will not be required.

The Tibet Border Pass is needed for people who travel in Tibet close to the Nepal border, and in the adjoining areas. The Tibet Border Pass, also known as the Frontier Pass, is issued by the Tibet Armed Police Border Corps in Lhasa to your tour guide.


Getting into Nepal from Tibet only requires a Nepal Entry Visa, which can be applied for through the immigration officials at the border checkpoint at Rasuwagadhi/Gyirong Port, and can be done as a visa-on-arrival application. Nepal currently allows tourists to apply for 30-day tourist visas on arrival at any of its land borders as well as at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Applications only require your passport and two passport-sized photos, and cost around US$ 30.

Equipment Needed

Apart from the obvious cycling clothes and warm gear to keep you from getting too cold when you stop, there are certain things to bring with you, or buy in Lhasa, to make sure your bike makes it on this thousand-kilometer journey. While you cannot cover every exigency or be prepared for everything that might go wrong, there are some things that are essential to bring with you, which are the most likely things to break down on such a long trip. Bringing the following, or buying them in Lhasa, and keeping them in your support vehicle is a good idea:

Spare tires and inner-tubes (unless using tubeless tires)
Spare chain and extra links
Spare spokes (unless using mag wheels)
Puncture repair kit
Bicycle repair tools (can be bought in kits with multi-spanners included)
Bike oil and grease to keep the bike moving
Spare cables for brakes and gear controls
WD40 – helps to lubricate, free seized parts, and defrost ice quickly on the bike

Best Time for the Cycling Tour

Normally, the best time to take a cycling tour of Tibet is in the spring, from April to mid-June, or the autumn from September to October. It is best to avoid the rainy monsoon season, despite there not being that much rain, as it can get slippery on the roads and there is a greater chance of landslides in the mountains. Winter should also be avoided due to the severe weather conditions and the likelihood of snow along major parts of the route. During winter, many parts of western Tibet are inaccessible. Weather in the spring and autumn is clear and bright, and is warm enough to be pleasant without getting too hot or cold.

Basic Itinerary

This is a simple example of a basic cycling itinerary for a tour to Nepal from Lhasa. This can be longer as needed, and can also include other places along the route. Talk to our travel expert about the best options for you.

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu, Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square
Day 2: Kathmandu Day Tour - Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa
Day 3: Flight to Tibet & Acclimation
Day 4: Lhasa sightseeing - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street
Day 5: Lhasa Sightseeing - Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
Day 6:Short ride out of Lhasa (85 km)
Day 7:Ride to Yamdrok Tso via Kamba La Pass (55 km)
Day 8:Yamdrok Tso to Karo La Pass Base (54 km)
Day 9:Karo La Pass to Gyantse (86 km)
Day 10:Gyantse to Shigatse (94 km)
Day 11:Gyachung Monastery (75 km)
Day 12: Gyachung Monastery to Lhatse (95 km)
Day 13:Lhatse - Shegar (75 km)
Day 14:Pang Pass (67 km)
Day 15-16:Rongbuk Monastery (35 km)
Day 17:Rongbuk - Tingri (86 km)
Day 18:Lalung Pass (77 km)
Day 19:Cross Thang Pass to Gyirong (117 km)
Day 20:Gyirong - Dhulikhel (97km)
Day 21:Dhulikhel - Bhaktapur - Kathmandu (35 km)
Day 22:Depart from Kathmandu

Highlights of the Tour

Yamdrok Lake

One of the first sights you will see after you leave Lhasa is this beautiful lake, set amidst rolling hills. With its turquoise waters glistening in the sunshine, Lake Yamdrok is one of the Three Great Sacred Lakes of Tibetan Buddhism, and is a popular pilgrimage site.

 Yamdrok Lake Yamdrok Lake

Gyantse Kumbum

The Kumbum in Gyantse City is a huge stupa that stands 34 meters tall, and has more than 100 other smaller stupas inside. One of the largest stupas in the world, it is an amazing sight with its huge, gilded dome roof.

The Three Passes

As you travel along the road to Mt. Everest, there are three consecutive passes that you will need to get over. Tsola Pass is the first, at an altitude of 4,600 meters, and then is followed by the Gyatsola Pass, which sits at 5,200 meters above sea level. the third and final pass is the Gawula Pass, at a huge 5,250 meters, and is the highest pass you will cross on the route to Kathmandu. These high passes give you an excellent view of the mighty ranges of the Himalayas, and from Gawula Pass you can see several of the 8,000 meter mountains that make up the highest mountains in the world.

Everest Base Camp

No trip to Tibet could be complete without a side trip to Mt Everest, even a cycling tour. With the road running right up to the base camp, it is now easier to get there, and you can get the best views of the mountain, and take those precious and all-important photos to show you were there.

 Everest Base Camp Our clients are taking photo with Mount Everest after biking

Rongbuk Monastery

The highest monastery in the world, Rongbuk Monastery is renowned for having both monks and nuns living there. Simple in design and structure, this remote and delightful monastery also doubles as a place to stay for tourists and climbers heading for Mt. Everest. And one of the best views of the famous mountain can be seen from the top of the hill behind the monastery, from where you get a great view of the sunrise on the mountainside.

Sonam Tenphel

About the Author - Sonam Tenphel

Energetic, responsible and reliable, Sonam is a guide with more than seven years experience informing visitors about heritage sites and attractions places in Tibet.

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