Lying on the world’s highest plateau, Tibet is a unique land of high mountains, vast prairies, and holy lakes, which makes for the perfect place to visit for a tour. A hugely spiritual land, there is more to Tibet than meets the eye. Traveling this vast plateau landscape on a regular tour is an adventure in itself, but if you really want to see the plateau at its best, without any hindrance of cars and vans, then a cycling tour of the region is the way to go.
The unique Tibetan landscape makes a cycling Tibet tour an awesome adventure of epic proportions, traveling across the vast plateau by bike, taking in the stunning scenery and crystal-clear lakes, and passing over high mountain passes, sometimes dusted with snow, to the pinnacle of any cycling tour around the world, taking a bike to Mount Everest.
#1 Cycling from Chengdu to Lhasa via G318 National Highway
One of the most amazing routes in the world for cycling tours, the road from Chengdu to Lhasa is one of thrills and excitement, with some of the most amazing scenery of the Himalayas along the way. As the shortest and most direct route to Lhasa from China, the Sichuan Tibet Highway is the most popular of all the routes to Lhasa for cyclists, as well as being one of the most scenic, traveling through western Sichuan up to the plateau, and then on trough Nyingchi to the Tibetan capital, passing through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The best time to make this trip from Chengdu to Lhasa is in the spring or autumn when the weather is at its best for cycling. Spring runs from April to the end of May, while autumn is normally from October to the end of November. As these are shoulder months in Tibetan tourism, the region is not as busy in the summer, and the weather is ideal for cycling, with a warm and pleasant climate and clear skies for almost all of the spring and autumn seasons.
Planning this kind of immense trip to Lhasa requires not just some careful planning, but a registered Tibetan tour operator, as you cannot travel into Tibet without a tour guide and driver (for the support vehicle that is a requirement of cycling tours in Tibet), and your trip has to be a pre-booked cycling tour with us. We can help with all your planning, help you decide the best itinerary, and even help you decide whether to bring your own bike or hire one here in Chengdu.
#2 Cycling from Lhasa to Namtso
Lying more than 150 kilometers to the north of Lhasa, Lake Namtso is one of the best short-ride cycling trips on the Tibetan plateau, taking you from the stunning capital of Tibet, Lhasa, to the Heavenly Lake, Lake Namtso, one of the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet. Located in Damxung County of Lhasa, Lake Namtso is a stunning lake that lies in the range of the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, part of the Transhimalaya that run across the center of the Tibetan plateau, from the Gangdise in the west to the Hengduan mountains in Sichuan Province.
As one of the most popular short cycling routes, the trip to Namtso takes around four days to complete and is normally done as part of a 6-7-day tour in Tibet that includes the highlights of Lhasa while you acclimatize to the increased altitude.
While the trip to Lake Namtso is one of the most pleasant cycles in Tibet, it does have its hard sections, and the hardest is the ride up to the Nagenla Pass, which lies at around 5,190 meters above sea level. The climb is more than 1,000 meters to get to the crest of the pass, but the view from the top, looking down over the vast open prairies to the north makes it worth the effort.
Spring is normally the best time to make this trip to the Heavenly Lake, as Lake Namtso is widely known in Tibet. The weather in the spring, from April to May, is warming up, but not too hot, and the icy fingers of winter have already melted away, leaving the landscape green once more for the ride to this stunning lake.
The ride can be done in the summer monsoon months, as the rains are few and often only in the late evenings and overnight, though the temperatures can get a little hotter at this time of year. October is also a great time to take the trip to the lake, as the weather is cool and pleasant, with falling leaves making the landscape even more beautiful than it already is.
#3 Cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu via EBC
The most epic journey you can take in Tibet by bicycle, the route from Lhasa to Kathmandu follows the G318 Friendship Highway, the vast long highway that connects southwest China and Tibet with Nepal, in the far west of the region. This is one of the most popular high-altitude cycling routes in the world, and rightly so, as it takes in some of the most compelling sights of the Tibetan plateau along the way.
The best time to travel along the road from Lhasa to Kathmandu is from April to October, and this is one trip that can still be done in the summer months, as there is very little in the way of monsoon rains out in the west of Tibet. Winter is not a good time to take the trip, as the weather in the Himalayas in winter can get too cold and icy for cycling tours.
A trip that normally takes around 22 days to complete, the route heads west out of Lhasa, once you have spent a few days acclimatizing, and makes its way along the road heading southwest to Lake Yamdrok, which is first seen as you crest the top of the Kamba La Pass. One of the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet, Lake Yamdrok is an amazing sight, stretching out for miles in all directions. You will ride along the shores for a while as you head to Gyantse, and then on to Shigatse, both cities being great places to explore, with their monasteries and stupas, as well as plenty of beautiful countryside surrounding the route.
The most important part is tourists need to get Tibet travel permit for a wonderful Tibet cycling tour. Cycling through Tibet, whether from outside in an epic adventure that crosses half of the plateau, to a short ride around the area of Lhasa, is a dream come true for cycling fans, and there is not a better place to experience high-altitude cycling that the world’s highest plateau, Tibet. Flying across the roof of the world on a bike is an exhilarating feeling, which cannot be fully described. This is one experience that you will have to try to understand properly.
Have any questions about cycling tours in Tibet or Tibet travel in general? Feel free to drop a comment below. Safe travels! xo