Highlights of Classic Chengdu to Lhasa Overland Tour (318 Southern Route)

November,21 2019 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

If healing your soul is much on your priority, this route spanning for 3,306km via train or 2,078km for a straight drive journey is absolutely a path to heal yourself as you relax your senses in right under a week (taking halts, if you do have time). Since the road trip is just for 43 hours, people preferably opt it up if they are in rush to embrace the beauty of the 318 southern route.

map of sichuan tibet highway(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Sichuan Tibet Highway Southern Route Map

The most Beautiful and invincible part of Sichuan Tibet highway southern route is the scenic beauty that surrounds you over the cities that you pass by, hence attracting tourists to various elixirs of soul such as: Danba, Tagong Temple, Xindu Qiao (photographers paradise), Ranwu Lake, Bomi,Nyingchi and of course the land of amazing beauty - Lhasa.

One might often spot prayer flags in all the way as you travel, the significance about these prayer flags however, is that, they don’t enchant the prayer to the almighty, which is a common misconception. It’s believed, the prayers and mantras carried by the wind, spread the goodwill and compassion into all the creatures in the space hence, bringing blessings to every being. With this piece of information, we now look upon the highlights of this journey:


An unattractive riverside town in the bottom of a deep valley, the road climbs steeply to Jiaju Village. The viewing platforms, all around the place unlocks your senses to the beauty of pleasant unseen natural landscapes. The first one, gives an awestruck glimpse of the spread of attractive Tibetan homes peeping through the walnut trees leaves, which opens out to a beautiful architecture, worthwhile to walk for a couple of hours amidst, the loosely scattered houses straight uphill. It’s believed, this village hosts descendants of Genghis Khan. Summer months are the best time to visit this place.

 Jiaju VillageJiaju Village

Danba county is about 340km from Chengdu. It is a 6 hours 45 minutes journey by car or 4 days trek. There are two provincial roads S211 and S303 passing Danba county. There are ample routes to get to Danba. You can opt for Chengdu Danba route via Jiaju Tibetan village. Another route is a bit lengthy if you want to trek or stay at Dangling or Mosika. A beautiful route is reserved for photographers is via Jinchuan and Zhonglu village.

There’s a Danba village, called Suopo Village. This place has a farm life and towers of stunning shapes. Suopo Township, around 5 km south east of Danba, comprises of some villages standing on the slopes of the mountain with a face towards west adjacent to Dadu River Valley. Natural Bonsai of Danba East valley is famous for the scenic irregularity of hues that merge and contrast the snow covered hills, visible from the valley amidst. The stream of waterfall that playfully breaks down into numerous brooks has a beauty unseen and a sooth to eyes of the beholder. The water here is so clean and pure that one can see their hands through them even if put in the lowest regions of the flow.

Mo’erduo Mountains of the Danba Valley is the place where peace engulfs you right as you notice the mountains surrounded with clouds, that seems to transcend themselves slowly as if blessing and wrapping around the population with some undefined infinity of solace. The monasteries here have numerous metal prayer wheels which have some Tibetan prayer lines written on them, which, is believed to be very auspicious to be rolled around, with a slower pace, feeling the irregularities of the carved notions that has some deep religious implications. (Most of them being golden in color). The place also has various “stupas” with golden top, that adds up to the beauty of the sculpture.

Tagong Temple

The Tagong Temple or Lhagang Gompa, is a typical Tibetan monastery, with painted walls, statues, incense sticks’ smells, thangkas and monks dressed in carmine robes. The statues and Buddhist wall paintings are marvellous. You can feel and see the spirituality of Tibetan people. This Monastery has an extremely rich history. The outermost part of the series of concentric rings of the temple faces the Chinese Tang Dynasty's Empire, from where Princess Wencheng (Songtsen Gampo's bride), is believed to have hailed. The distance between Danba to Tagong Temple is around 110km.It is a 2 hours journey via Bamei.

 Tagong TempleTagong Temple

These temples were part of a larger geomantic architectural scheme meant to physically pin down the place energy of the metaphorical body of the Tibetan plateau. This statue could be spotted when one enters the monastery and hundreds of people make pilgrimages to it during the winter months.

During the winters, the road from Xinduqiao to Tagong tourists can experiences people, full body prostrating the entire way up, which dramatically catches attention of a lot of people who are interested in history. When looked upon the monastery from any hilltop over the city, a lot of interesting stupas housing relics in the back courtyard could be spotted.This route remains beautiful throughout the year.

Xindu Qiao

Over 3000 meter altitude, the quiet stream runs gently over the grassland. Xindu Qiao is 33 km away from Tagong. The provincial highway S303 can be availed to reach there. The Pagodas and temples stand still and stunning in the backdrop of winding ranges of snow-capped mountains. The Tibetan style houses stand by the fields of corps and herd of Tibetan buffaloes enjoy the abundant grasses around the view is no less than a fairy tale.

 Xindu QiaoXindu Qiao

A good spot to get transport for all sort of different directions, the place is pretty famous for shopping food or clothes as well. Moving out of the town, there are several villages and landscapes in all the four directions. Undoubtedly the place got the name "photographers’ paradise". May to November is the best duration to visit this place. Far from a pile of cypress poplar, the eye-catching dazzling sunsets, which are very attractive. The woods near a stream, although the sky darkened, but the scenery is still considered impressive with cattle grazing around. After passing through the grove, there’s a river trail.

Travelling ahead after a while, the next encounter is a cesspool, where a small pool mangrove, unexpectedly beautiful, platforms the lenses of tons of photographers farther away to a mysterious truth revealing itself. Across the hills are of little yak herders where wild yak weirdly are far away from finding their own survival. It’s still undiscovered whether it is because there is no sunlight disinfection or something else, groves suddenly smell to the explosion.

Ranwu Lake

The road to Ranwu, be sure to go at night, good luck, the moon, and numerous lonely stars with a long way, with of the snow-capped mountains embarking as the alley as you walk beneath their majesty, the silence, can be a kind of buried in there impulse. Ranwu is a lake in the Sichuan-Tibet line the road, fame is not so great but as they say, the trip can be best enjoyed only at night, so during the day and stay in Ranwu Zhou Bian.

Ranwu LakeRanwu Lake

The distance between Xindu Qiao to Ranwu Lake is a lengthy 937 km. It involves a tiring journey of rough 20 hours. The lake and the mountains, the peaks that shine, small village on the lakeside of Tibetan who believe in hard work are epitome of indispensable beauty! Go left to live on for a while will not regret it. Autumn is the best time to come this way.


Ranwu is situated by the national highway 318 which can lead to the Bomi county, 127 km away.It is pleasant during summers there.As the travel gets inseparable from the rich historical pages that unfold the mystery of land of The China, Bomi is believed to be the “seat of quasi-independent kingdom” from early 20th century.


The Yarlung Valley, Beyul, Padma bkod all have experienced the struggle of the living that tribes played to extend the boundaries of the boma county, beyul (hidden lands) was acquired in the prophecy of a historian “Guru Rinpoche”. The “klo pa” tribes were successful in extending the powers to Doshong La pass snd Padma bkod (Lotus array, a regbordering the north Eastern Province of Upper Siang, Arunachal Pradesh, India) .


If your trip until yet, hasn’t been a summary of all sorts of undulating geographical diversities, Nyingchi in Tibet (China) has the most majestic snow covered sunrises that turns the peaks of NamchaBarwa Peak into a glistening unusual golden colour. The Sharp edgy rocks of YarlungTsangpo Grand Canyon is a doorway to the mystery of mother earth’s variations over the world, not only it attracts a significant crowd for tourism, but opens its realms to the researchers and studencts for geoscientific and biological study to the area.


Basumlake is the alpine that stands approx. 90 kilometers west to Gongbo’gyamda County. The distance between Bomi to Nyingchi is 157 km. The Sichuan-Tibet highway can be a connection between this two. The Nyang River is another unavoidable attraction that inhibits a diverse wildlife. One just can never get enough of the beauty Nyingchi has to offer no matter whatever may quench your thirst on travelling.

Tibet becomes way more beautiful during spring. Nyingchi is a province that gets submerged in peach flowers during this time of the year. Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival is thus celebrated to uphold this expanse of nature. During this festival the tourists enjoy the peach blossoms, horsemanship and taste local cuisines. March 15 to April 20 is the season you must pay a visit for the festival falls somewhere in the middle of March.


It covers a distance of 399 km from Nyingchi and takes around 7 hours to get to Lhasa. The Tibet train also connects this route. May -September is a duration when tourists crowd this place. Jokhang Temple is usually a significant place to visit in Lhasa, being next to Potala Palace. It is at the centre of an old town, and the pilgrims in good number are constantly moving around the temple. The city is under security surveillance specially this region. The oldest monastery being in Lhasa, it is on three levels. The ground floor contains the oldest buildings, and consists of the main assembly hall, a courtyard and the kitchen. The assembly hall as well as the main central part is fascinating, with rooms with its own unique aura and devotees.

Potala PalacePotala Palace

The Barkhor area is the last sanctuary of the Tibetans in Lhasa. The shops display some souvenirs that are traditional and others of the workers remain Tibetan. Steady clockwise flow of people twirling prayer wheels around monastery wearing what we thought was too much clothing - several layers whilst we were in short sleeved shirts.

Barkhor street here, is a pleasant to eye for visitors. It has free entry from all around Barkhor Street. There are lots of beautiful shops where beautiful jewelry especially stone jewelry catch the attention of the shoppers. The Street has a temple in the very centre, which attracts lots of visitors all the time. Beverage and food are available all around Barkhor Street.

>> Read more about Travel from Sichuan to Tibet: Southern Route vs. Northern Route

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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