How to get to Tibet from Chengdu? Sichuan-Tibet Highway (called Kangzang road before renamed) is the longest high altitude road in China at present. It was built from April, 1950 to December, 1954. Starting from Chengdu of Sichuan to Lhasa of Tibet. it is part of G318 (Shanghai to Zhangmu). Sichuan-Tibet Highway which was also originally called Kangding-Tibet Highway (a section of No. 318 National Trunk Highway) starts from Chengdu of Sichuan on the east and ends at Lhasa of Tibet on the west. It is 2,415 kilometers long including 1,304 kilometers in Tibet. On December 25, 1954, it was open to Lhasa (Sichuan-Tibet Highway north line).Chengdu-(152km)-Ya'an-(214km)-Kangding-(270km)-Litang-(205)-Batang-(105km)-Mangkang-(151kkm)-Zuogong-(204km)-Basu-(90km)-Ranwu-(119km)-Bomi-(216km)-Nyingchi-(219km)-Jiacha-(150km)-Zetang-(180km-)Lhasa.
Top Attractions along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway
From Chengdu to Danba (348km tar road): Now, let's start the journey from Chengdu, the hometown of giant pandas. The road condition is not bad, so you will get to Dujiangyan city in two hours, where you should visit Dujiang Dam, a world-famous water conservancy project built by Libing and his son in Qin Dynasty. It's a great project and still works until now. It was accepted as a world cultural heritage in 2000 because of its scientific design, long history and useful purpose.
By the way, you can pay a visit to Dujiang Dam together with Qingcheng Mountain, which is a famous Taoist mountain with beautiful scenery and was accepted as a world cultural heritage at the same time with Dujiang Dam.After Dujiangyan, the next scenic spot will be Wolong National Nature Reserve, a protected area located in Wenchuan County and established in 1963. It covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. The national nature reserve is well-known for the Panda Research Center, which houses more than 150 highly endangered giant pandas. What's more, the nature reserve is also a home to many other endangered species including red pandas, golden monkeys, white-lipped deer and many precious plants. So it's really worth your visit. By the way, you can visit Wenchuan Earthquake Museum when you are near Wenchuan. It's necessary to mourn for those who lost life in 5.12 Earthquake.
The scenic spot will be Mt. Siguniang when you get near to Xiaojin. Siguniang means "four pretty girls" in Chinese. Obviously, there are four mountains standing there, just like four pretty girls. Separately, they are at an elevation of 6,250 metres, 5,664 metres, 5,454 metres and 5,355 metres. The mountains will show you a variety of plants living in a nice climate.
From Danba to Bamei (82km, tar road): 57km away from Xiaojin is Danba County, which is under the administration of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is famous for the Danba Ancient Block Towers built by local Qiang ethnic minority. So Danba was called a kingdom of block towers.This kind of block towers always were built by groups and can be used for fighting and living. What's more, it is cast-iron and good-looking.
Except block towers, you still can visit Jiaju Tibetan Villages, where local Tibetan lives, and all of them are unique Tibetan style and full of fairy tales, so it enjoys the reputation of Tibetan Fairy world.
Danba county must leave a deep impression for you, but you should keep moving; and the next destination will be Bamei, 82km away from the Danba. Bamei is famous as the birthplace of the 11th Dalai Lama. The must-see spot there is Huiyuan Monastery, located at 8km northeast of the town and built by the seventh Dalai Lama. You must be tired because of the long journey, so I advise you to have a rest in the monastery.
From Bamei to Garze (243km, tar road): One more 77 kilometers starting from Bamei, it will be Daofu, home to the 450-year–old Gelugpa-school Nyitso Monastery, one of the largest monasteries in this region. Keep moving, you will get to the town of Garze when you pass by the Luhuo. Garze sits in a valley at 3,400m, surrounded by the sleeping giants of the Chola range. It's really a natural place to break your trip, where you can visit Tibetan villages and monasteries, for example, Garze Monastery which is just north of the town and is the region's largest monastery with over 500 monks. Another monastery is Den Monastery in the southern part of the town. It is smaller but older and much more atmospheric. What's more, Garze has the region's best antique shops and many general stores selling Tibetan goods.
From Garze to Dege (205km, tar road): On the way from Garze to Dege, you will pass by Yulong La-tso, a stunning, holy alpine lake. The lake is backed by the huge glaciers of 6,018m. And it's possible to walk an hour or two up the left side of the lakeshore for a glacier view. Besides, many places are suitable for camping around the lake, and there are some pretty Tibetan villages for you to visit.
After Yihun La-tso, it won't take you too long to get to Dege, which forms the cultural heartland of Kham while the Chinese influence is evident and growing rapidly here. The old town and surrounding villages are all in Tibetan style. There are many historically important monasteries in the valleys south of Dege.
During the 18th–century, the Bakong Scripture Printing Press and Monastery was located at the heart of Dege. The press houses more than 217,000 engraved blocks of Tibetan scriptures from all the Tibetan Buddhist orders, including Bon. The collection makes up an astonishing 70% of Tibet's literary heritage. Those texts include ancient works about astronomy, geography, music, medicine, and Buddhist classics. Within the monastery, dozens of workers hand-produce over 2500 prints to order each day, as ink, paper and blocks fly through the workers' hands at lightning speed. So it's really well worth a look.
From Dege to Chamdo (253km, tar road): Ok, you are getting into Tibetan prefecture when you pass by Dege. It's 109km from Dege to Jomda. After crossing the Jinsha river, you can have a good rest in Jomda, where the Wala Monastery is located.Then, your next stop will be Chamdo county, the seat of government of Chamdo Prefecture. Chamdo county covers an area of 10,700 sqaure kilometers and has a population of 78,000, of which 90% are Tibetan. And the average temperature there is 7.6 degrees centigrade. The most famous and popular spot is Jampaling Monastery, also known as the Changbalin or Qiangbalin Si Monastery. At its height, it contained five main temples and housed some 2,500 monks. It was destroyed in 1912 but the main hall (which was used as a prison) and two other buildings survived; and it was rebuilt in 1917 after the Tibetan army retook Chamdo. It now houses about 800 monks.
From Chamdo to Lhasa (989km, tar road): Now, congratulations, you are already in Tibet, and you can feel the real Tibet. It will be a long road from Chamdo to Lhasa, some part of the road condition is not good enough. However, I advise you move slowly and pay more attention to the scenery. In sequence, you will pass Riwoqe county, Degnqen County, and Baqing before you get to Nagchu prefecture, which is the largest prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region. This Prefecture is divided into 11 different counties and Nagchu county contains the capital of Nagqu.There is a must-see scenic spot, Namtso Lake, which is a mountain lake on the border between Damxung County of Lhasa Prefecture and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture. This salt lake at an elevation of 4.718m is the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region. What's more, Namtso is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in the Nyainqentanglha mountain range.
Ok, the last destination is not far from you now. You dream is coming true. I guess you must be a little tired, but don't worry, because you can have a wonderful hot spring in Yangpachen, about 245km away from Nagchu. Yangbajing is a town approximately 87 kilometers(54 miles), north-west of Lhasa. It is famous for the Yangbajing hot springs and power station. The Yangbajing hot springs field is at an altitude of 4,290-4,500m, which makes it the highest altitude set of hot springs in China, and possibly in the world. The power station has been harnessed to produce much of the electricity for the capital Lhasa, so it is important for local people.After the wonderful hot springs, one more 75kilometer, you will get to Lhasa, which is the political, economic and cultural center, also the Administrative capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. It contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang and Norbulingka palaces, and some other scenic spots. It's no doubt that the Potala Palace is a must-see site, which firstly was built by Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, as a present for his bride princess Wen Cheng of Tang Dynasty.Except the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple located on Barkhor square, is also a mark of Tibet. It is the most scared and important temple for local Tibetan people. What's more, the temple's architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, chinese Tang Dynasty design, and Nepalese design. It was founded during the reign of king Songsten Gampo. It is said that it was built for the two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the chinese Tang Dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both wives are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal to Tibet.
Another must-see place is Norbulingka, which is a palace and surrounding park in Lhasa. It served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama who was exile in 1959. Norbulingka palace is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By the way, you can contact with us if you want to make your Chengdu road trip to Tibet more perfect.
The Best Travel Time: the best driving time is May, June, September, October and November; in addition, July and August are available but more rainfall.
The Feature of Scenery: Sichuan-Tibet highway is the most dangerous but most beautiful road route, where you can feel the real nature. Snow mountain peaks, mountain passes and deep gorges can be seen along the road route.
The Feature of Culture Experience: you can make friends with Khampa, nomad and Tibetan people and so on, and feel their culture and customs. Besides, you still can visit local monasteries, temples and some villages.
Travel Tips: you maybe encounter landslip in the rainy season, so just be more careful and well-prepared before you go. What's more, it's not available to drive to Tibet in winter (from December to April) because of the heavy snow.
Although the travel along the Sichuan-Tibet routes maybe a little rough and time-consuming, you deserve to feel a little smug in the knowledge that you have completed one of the world's great road trips.