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Sichuan Tibet Overland Tour

Sichuan-Tibet Overland Trip Via G318

Enjoy the Most Jaw-dropping Scenic Road (Chengdu- Lhasa) at a Latitude of 30°North on Our Planet

To Chinese travelers, Sichuan-Tibet Highway (G318) is never new. It's a long-expected overland journey to many adventurers. Every year, tens of thousands of domestic tourists avail this highway to make it to Lhasa. However, to many international tourists, rarely did you see reports of this world-class scenic road on the foreign press as part of the road like in Chamdo was forbidden for oversees tourists before 2017. But now, this epic scenic road traversing formidable canyons in eastern Tibetan Plateau becomes readily available to international tourists. It is destined to one of the hottest travel routes in the world in the near future. Hopefully, you will travel with Tibet Vista to explore this unparalleled scenic road, loaded with natural wonders, mysteries and exotic Tibetan cultures!

The Ultimate Sichuan-Tibet(G318) Overland Guide

01

Where is Sichuan Tibet Highway

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

China National Highway318 (also known as G318) is a major national highway across China from east to west. The prominent road roughly overlaps the latitude of 30°N. Stretching from coastal megacity Shanghai to sparsely-populated Himalayan Range and lofty Mount Everest (8844.43m), this world-class scenic road traverses varied geographical regions, presenting a picturesque landscape scroll, peppered with phenomenal scenery.

Sichuan Tibet Highway is the west section and highlights of G318 National Highway, Chengdu to Lhasa section travels through Kham Tibetan areas and part of Hengduan Mountainous Regions.

02

Drive along the World’s Most Rugged Roads

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

G318 National Highway from Chengdu to Lhasa section is a man-made miracle in the history of road transport. Only when you travel in stupendous canyons of Hengduan Mountain or follow the steep zigzag roads at Yela Mountain Pass (4658m) between raging Lancang River and Nujiang River can you fully understand how marvelous the G318 truly is. From Chengdu to Lhasa, you are expected to follow G318 highway to go through dozens of awe-inspiring mountains and experience an adrenaline-packed ride. Most notably, the 18 formidable mountain passes along the complex terrains make G318 one of the top 10 notoriously hazardous perilous roads in the world.

The Most Shocking Road - Nu River 72 Curves

Sprawling on barren mountain slope right beside Nujiang River, the notorious 76 turns is believed to be one of the most dangerous roads with highest number of thrilling twists and turns globally. By following this endless zigzag road, you gradually ascend from the Valley of Nujiang River (2700m) to Yela Mountain Pass (4658m). Nearly 200-meter vertical ascent involves hundreds of 180° turns continuously. Barely can you capture all the winding roads with your camera even if you are with the best vantage point on the mountaintop.

03

Venture into the Highest Peaks and Deepest Canyon

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge

Tsangpo Gorge, along the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet, is the deepest canyon in the world, and at 504.6 km is slightly longer than the Grand Canyon in the United States, making it one of the world's largest. (The core area of the Grand Canyon is not open to visitors)

As far as we reach the eastern Tibetan Plateau, the previous meandering roads gradually give way to steep canyons flanked by soaring mountain ranges. The unique landscape is shaped largely due to the erosion of 6 major rivers, including Yangtze River, upper reaches of Ganges and other tributaries, which cut through Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as a sharp sword.

The sheer drop from bottom of the valley to its top ranges from 2000-3000 meters to even 4000-5000 meters. That’s why you literally venture into the highest peaks and deepest canyon in the world. Besides raging river, pristine forest, gushing waterfalls, lively pastures, alpine steppes, massive glaciers and snow-capped peaks can also be found. Local Tibetans describe the biodiversity and varied geographical wonders seen here with a frequently-heard saying, which goes “4 seasons can be felt in one mountain while every 500meters brings a different view.”

Nu River Gorge

The Nu River flows from the Tibetan highlands through western Yunnan, cutting between two mountain ranges before rushing through Burma into the Andaman Sea.

04

Travel through the World’s Ultimate Glacial Highway

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

Shortly after we pass Chengdu, snow-blanketed peaks and icy glaciers would become a frequent sight. According to rough estimation, up to over 50,000sq meters’ lands of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and its marginal areas are covered by glaciers with varied shapes and sizes. They constitute a distinct view along G318 highway. Amid the countless towering snowy mountains, Mt. Gongga (7556m) and Mt.NamchaBarwa (7782m) are two must- visits in eastern Tibet for their majestic view. As you enjoy the ride on the G318, you can closely stare up to the Midui Glacier, frozen waterfalls and incredible ice tongue stretching to the bottom of the mountain. The crystal-clear glaciers and nearby primeval forests jointly make a surreal icy forest for visitors to enjoy. When passing the moraine and grotesque glaciers against the backdrop of snow-crested mountains, you find yourself actually travel in the world’s most incredible glacial highway.

Mt. Minya Konka 7756m

Mt. Mine Konka is the highest mountain in Sichuan, with the highest peak of 7,556 meters (about 24,790 feet) above sea level, enjoying the fame as 'King of the Mountains in Sichuan Province.

Mt. Najiabawa 7782m

Nanjiabawa Mountain enjoys most beautiful mountain peak in China and also the 28th highest peak in the world and the tallest peak on the east of the Himalayas

Midui Glacier

Midui Glacier is a typical maritime glacier in Tibet as well as the lowest glacier in the world with its snow line no more than 15,400 feet (4,694 meters) high and readily accessible. The shiny and crystal glaciers, along with surrounding lakes, farmlands, forests and villages, makes visitors wonder they enter a fairyland.

05

Experience the Exotic Tibetan Villages and Distinct Culture

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

As Sichuan-Tibet Highway travels through mighty Tibetan Plateau where Tibetans and Qiang People live and prosper there for thousands of years, it would be a great chance for you to experience their harmonious life with distinctive natural environment. Taking a closer look at their exotic houses may give you some clues. By using rammed earth, gigantic rocks and organic materials made of leaves and branches found in the forest, local people manager to put their ideas towards life and religion into building plenty of extraordinary houses, many of which are with unique aesthetic and vibrant colors. In this respect, Sichuan-Tibet Highway offers a mixture blend of sightseeing and cultural exploration. Through more than 2000km’s challenging road on G318, you can trace the source of profoundly cultural link between Tibet and other parts of mainland China. The century-old tea horse route is just a fine example.

Muya House

The villages were built with rocks found in local regions. The walls of the houses were painted white while the front door has the bright red color. Meanwhile the red, black and white colors used on eaves symbolize growing family members and bumper harvest. The ground floor and third floor of the house were built for grounding livestock. While people live on top floor, etc.

Earth Wall & Roof House

In Batang and Litang region, the entire Tibetan villages were built with rammed earth. Just like houses in other parts of Tibet, the rooftop of the house here was flat, pretty convenient for drying farm produces like cereals, etc. As a result, it was very common to see the yellow rooftop of the Tibetan houses afar.

Wood House

The house made of both rammed earth and wood in Tibet is called “Bengkong”, a unique architecture only found in Tibet. The wood you see comes from forest in eastern Tibet and the entire house is built by piling timbers from bottom to the top. Outside of house is white rooftop painted red. Locals engrave flowers and paint patterns on eaves and windows to express the unique aesthetic of Tibetan people.

Moving House - Nomad Tent

Tibetan Nomads lead a nomadic life, farming and traveling from one place to another in different seasons. If you happen to visit prairie in Litang in summer, what awaits you would be lively massive grassland dotted with nomads’ tents, boundless wild flowers and grazing yaks and sheep, etc.

06

Witness the Legendary Pilgrimage Road to Holy Tibet

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

In fact, the eastern Tibet is a region densely populated by Tibetans. Owing to tough road conditions, much of the local traditions, customs and religion are exempt from the influence of outside world. A large number of monks and nuns study Buddhism and follow rigid religious practice in dozens of Tibetan monasteries and temples. Surprisingly, some can even accommodate up to a thousand Buddhist disciples. Among the numerous religious sites along Sichuan-Tibet Highway, some even enjoy the prestigious Buddhist monasteries and temples well-known to the world, such as Changqingchun Ke'erMonastery, Derge Parkhang (on the north route of Sichuan-Tibet Highway, customized tour only), and Larung Gar Buddhist Academy (once reported by National Geographic, currently unavailable to international tourists).

In the meantime, to pious Tibetans, esp. Tibetan pilgrims, the 2000km Sichuan-Tibet Highway serves more as a holy road of pilgrimage to Lhasa, the religious and cultural heart of Tibet. Each year, Tibetan families, young and old, follow this sacred road to Lhasa by prostrating themselves continuously. After over a hundred of days of prostration, they will finally reach holy Tibet. Some would even keep prostrating to Ngari to do the kora around Mt. Kailash, the holiest mountain in Tibet, around 1200km westward from Lhasa.

Ever-Green Ke'er Monastery

Evergreen Ke’er Monastery, also known as Litang Temple, was created by the Third Dalai Lama in 1580 and was the oldest and largest Tibetan Buddhist monasgery in Kham Tibet. Temple covers an area of more than 500 acres, now resident around 800monks, also the first large Gelu school (yellow teach) monastery, it is twice large in size compared to the monasteries that you can see in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tagong Monastery

It's situated at 3,700m, Tagong is a great place tfor its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and scenic grasslands, as well as opportunities for hiking, horse-riding and Tibetan homestays in the surrounding area.

Monks and Pilgrims

Tibetan pilgrims kowtow along a road during their journey to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. All year round, many Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims spend months praying and crawling all the way in their journey to their holy land, Lhasa, to seek happiness. They Kowtow over 1000kms to Lhasa, even over 2000 kms to Mt. Kailash, climbing many high mountains over 5000m, camp by the road with shabby tents.

A pilgrimage to Lhasa is a dream for all Tibetans because Lhasa, meaning “the place of God”, is Tibetan’s spiritual center,and it is also a destination for millions of pilgrims. They believe that the journey of them is the spirit summoned by the Tibetan Buddhism. The pilgrimage is a mission to define their existence. Pilgrims alway prepare a mask and “wooden gloves,” for this “kowtow”. They use palm-sized wooden blocks with rubber bounds to wrap around the hands,and a pair of rubber-soled shoes.Every step, he clasped his hands to forehead,to prostrated himself full-length on the ground.They believe this process can express their most honest hearts to the Buddha.They are brilliant,and they are no fears to death.They believe that they are blessed and protected by Buddha.

Sichuan-Tibet Highway is not just a tourist route, but a deep understanding of the Tibetan's spiritual and cultural beliefs!

07

Feast Your Eyes on a Floral Wonderland (Sept. to Oct, Red Leaves and Blooming Azaleas)

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

The topography of Hengduan Mountains in eastern Tibet Plateau features sheer canyons and towering mountainous ranges. Due to the drastic altitude change vertically, a myriad of vegetation take root from the bottom of the valley to soaring mountaintop. You can see tropical shrubs, subtropical flowers to trees and tundra that can only be seen in alpine zone. The varied kinds of seeds are said to be up to10,000, making it a botanic treasure house on our blue planet. If enjoying exuberant wild flowers is your main goal, the best time to pack your bags for Sichuan-Tibet Highway should be from May to June (Azaleas) and from Sept. to Oct (Red Leaves).

Blooming Azaleas (May to June)

May to June is the blooming season of Azaleas along G318 National Highway. If you come at this particular time, you will be travelling in the seas of massive Azaleas while passing mountains and hills. In Hengduan Mountain region alone, there are 259 categories of Azaleas, accounting for half of the Azaleas genres around the world. From Chengdu to Lhasa, special Azaleas like Gongga Azaleas, Kangding Azaleas and Bomi Azaleas are draped over both sides of G318 Highway. As altitude rises, the precious Azaleas on tall trees change into small flowers hanging on low shrubs. Therefore, G318 National Highway is also known as a Azaleas avenue, thanks to the quantity and diversity of Azaleas throughout the journey.

Red Leaves(Sept to Late Nov)

Starting from early Sept. to late Nov, the autumn takes charge of the valleys of Hengduan Mountain region. On the sheer cliff of canyon, colorful vegetation like alpine trees, to green pines, larix gmelinii, shurbs can be seen and they take on different colors from green to yellow and red with the snow-capped mountains as its background. It seems as if a painter accidentally drops his palette on the hill. The enchanting beauty of the surroundings of G318 Highway draws ceaseless flow of world-wide tourists to capture this amazing colorful forest and red leaves in autumn.

08

Take a Dip into Steamy Hot Springs along the Way

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

Apart from densely-packed incredible attractions, the G318 National Highway is also blessed with rich geothermal resources, i.e. mineral-rich hot springs. It's estimated that there are as many as 600 hot springs along Sichuan-Tibet Highway. Of course, most of the hot springs are located in the open air yet still plenty of public hot springs can also be found near the roadside. When the long ride wears you out, why not dip into steamy hot springs and remove your tiredness in the refreshing springs.

Maoya Hot Spring

Maoya Hot Spring is located in Litang, Litang enjoys the richest geothermal resources along Sichuan-Tibet Highway. 5 km west of Litang County lies the renowned Maoya Hot Spring, the closest spring to Litang.

Rido Hot Spring

Shortly after passing Mila Mountain Pass (close to Lhasa) is the famous Riduo Hot Spring (4380m). It is quite visible just opposite the river beside the road. There are dozens of springs gushing from the ground and each has a unique healing effect.

09

Sichuan-Tibet Overland Tour in 2019

China G318 - The great Road across the China from East to West

Latitude 30 degrees north, known as the world’s most dangerous road and the most difficult road in the history of China 's road construction. — Chengdu to Lhasa Highway (via G318 National Highway) enjoys much praise and abuse for its winding roads along grotesque gores and rugged peaks. The epic road trip covers 2100km in around 8 days. You will embark your journey from Chengdu, the gateway city to Tibet on the easternmost edge of Tibetan Plateau, and pass soaring mountain passes along eastern ridge of Tibetan Plateau. The epic overland journey across world’s spine takes you to venture into the deepest ravines in the world and further to Kham — the heart of Tibetan culture and history. the tour is in total 11 days including 2 days sightseeing in Lhasa, if you have enough time, you could continue to travel along Great G318 to Mt. Everest even end the tour in Nepal.

Tour Departures in 2019

The first tour starts in mid April, which is the beginning of Spring of Tibet Plateau, and the last group ends in late Oct, when you can enjoy the amazing colorful landscape in late autumn.

DeparturesPrice for Per PersonBooking Status
Apr. 11 – Apr. 21 1790 US$ Open
May. 01 – May 11 1790 US$ Open
May 14 – May 23 1790 US$ Open
Jun 06 – Jun 16 1790 US$ Open
Ju1 01 – Jul 11 1990 US$ Open
Aug 08 – Aug 18 1990 US$ Open
Sep 02 – Sep 12 1990 US$ Open
Sep 23 – Oct 03 2190 US$ Open
Oct 10 – Oct 20 1990 US$ Open

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