As an extension of Tibetan culture and unique geographic feature on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Qinghai-Tibet region, western Sichuan-Tibet region and western Yunnan-Tibet region have retained the deeply-rooted Tibetan culture. Located on the alpine canyon region of Mt. Hengduanshan with limited traffic condition, these areas are almost isolated from the outside world. Some oldest traditions and primitive living habits have been kept and tourists can enjoy grander monasteries and richer cultural traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
There are 5 major overland routes to Tibet, i.e. Yunnan-Tibet Highway, Sichuan-Tibet Highway, Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Xinjiang Tibet Highway, Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway. One can access Tibet from different directions via these 5 routes, widely-known as world-class off-road routes. Qinghai-Tibet Highway extends all the way from the plain and valley to Qinghai-Tibet plateau with an altitude of 4000-5000 meters. Besides, it allows travelers to enter northern Tibet by passing prairie of Northern Tibet, boundless pastures and highland lakes; While Xinjiang Tibet Highway reaches uninhabited areas of western Tibet through northwest; Next comes Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway. One can make his way to Tibet from southwest, namely valley of Kathmandu and cross Mt. Himalaya range. The last one is Sichuan-Tibet Highway which leads to Tibet from northern Sichuan basin and this route crosses valleys of Mt. Hengduanshan. In all, all the scenery of these 5 routes is breathtaking and it is indeed a challenging travel for all the adventurers.
When to go
The best season to Tibet is spring and autumn. Summer is the rainy season, when the road is muddy and landslide may even occur because of the special geography of highways. It’s not suitable for you to appreciate the stunning scenery due to the low visibility during that time.
What to see
Each highway to Tibet has its own characteristic, and the most famous routes are Sichuan-Tibet Highway and Yunnan-Tibet Highway from eastern Tibet. You can appreciate spectacular landscapes of canyon, snow-capped mountains and forest. Located at the eastern Tibet, Kham is the best-preserved area of Tibetan folk custom and is hardly affected by modern civilization. There are large-scale monasteries, Buddhist schools and hundreds of thousands monks. You can see villages around monasteries and the harmonious life of Tibetan people with Buddhism.
If you go to Tibet from Nepal, you will traverse Himalayas to Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau from Kathmandu valley with an elevation of 1500 meters, and then enter into Tingri County with an elevation of 4300 meters. You can visit Everest Base Camp to get a closer view of the highest mountain in the world--Mount Everest along the way, and then get to Lhasa via Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet.
Xinjiang Tibet Highway is the most challenge one. No.G219 and its total length is 2530 kilometers. The average elevation of the highway is above 4500 meters, and you will traverse hundreds of kilometers of uninhabited area with limited supply. The most challenging thing for you is to pass several mountains over 6000 meters above sea level of Kunlun Mountains, which is on the junction of Xinjiang and Tibet. This route is also one of the highest, hardest and most dangerous highways in the world.