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15-Day Tibet Overland Tour via Daocheng and Yading

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Overview

Tour Type: Private Tour: Flexible Travel Date & Travel Routes
Guide & Driver: Chinese-English-speaking guide & air-conditioned
  • Experience the road trip of a lifetime along China’s longest national highway, from Western Sichuan to Eastern Tibet;
  • Cross the mighty Salween, Mekong and Yangtze rivers as they carve out spectacular gorges through pristine forests;
  • Take in incredible views of Rawu and Draksum Lakes, some of the most beautiful lakes in China;
  • Explore the Yading Nature Reserve on a two-day side tour through one of the most beautiful places on the Tibetan Plateau.

Itinerary Day by Day

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Day1  Arrival in Chengdu
Welcome to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan! Upon your arrival at the Chengdu airport or train station, your local tour guide will meet you to take you to your private car to transfer to your hotel and help you check in. You will have the rest of the day free to rest and relax in your hotel, or you can begin to explore the local area on your own. You might consider a stroll along the Chunxiu Pedestrian Street, the Broad and Narrow Alleyway, Jinli Ancient Street or if you arrive early enough, you can visit the Wenshu Temple.

Accommodation:Overnight in Chengdu

Day2  Depart Chengdu – Kangding
Today’s travel distance: 330 kilometers / 205 miles

Expected travel time: 6.5 hours

We begin our road trip journey by traveling from Chengdu to Kanding, also known as Lucheng, the prefectural capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan province. This city lies on the historical border between China and Tibet, wedged into a valley surrounded by mountain peaks at an elevation of 2560 meters above sea level (8,399 feet). This interesting city offers a blend of Han Chinese and Tibetan cultures, so we will visit a local market to learn about how the locals live together and then enjoy a music and dance performance in the public square in the evening before retiring to our local accommodations for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Kangding

Day3  Depart Kangding – Tagong – Xinduqiao
Today’s travel distance: 130 kilometers / 81 miles

Expected travel time: 3 – 4 hours

This morning we will depart from Kangding and head through beautiful grassland scenery to reach Tagong, which is situated in the foothills of the Tibetan Plateau. We will visit the historic Tagong Monastery, which according to legend was founded in the 7th century A.D. by Princess Wencheng, a Chinese princess that married the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. Supposedly a statue of the Jowo Sakyamuni Buddha that was being carried by her guards fell, and the monastery was founded in that exact spot. The monastery still has a replica of that statue, with the original held at the Jokhang Temple where we can see it later when we visit Lhasa.

Moving on from the Tagong Monastery we wil visit the Ani Gompa Nunnery, the largest nunnery in the area. We can visit a local nomad family and enjoy the fantastic view of the Yala Holy Mountain off in the distance. A horseback ride can also be arranged for today if you would like.

After we have spent most of the day in the Tagong area, we will travel on to Xinduqiao and check into our local accommodations for the night. If we arrive here early enough, we can get some fantastic photographs of the breathtaking views around the area.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xinduqiao

Day4  Xinduqiao – Litang - Daocheng
Today’s travel distance: 350 kilometers / 217 miles

Expected travel time: 6 – 7 hours

Xinduqiao is often referred to as a “photographer’s paradise” due to its stunning scenery, so we will take some time in the morning to take all of that in. After departing Xinduqiao, we will travel over the Gao’ersi Pass (elevation 4412 meters / 14,475 feet) to reach Yajiang County in the traditional Kham Region of eastern Tibet (now western Sichuan province). From here we will travel on through two other high mountain passes, Jianziwan and Kazila, each at an elevation of about 4700 meters (15,420 feet). The surrounding scenery is incredible, from the snow-capped mountains surrounding us to the deep valleys and fertile green pastures hosting sheep and yaks. We will stop for lunch in Litang, reportedly one of the highest towns in the world at an elevation of 4014 meters (13,169 feet) above sea level. Along with beautiful scenery and traditional Tibetan customs, Litang has a world-famous Horse Racing Festival every August so you may want to time your tour to be able to attend this spectacular event.

After lunch in Litang, we will travel on for another 146 kilometers (91 miles) to Daocheng to rest up before our visit to the Yading Nature Reserve. If time allows, there may be an opportunity to bathe in the local hot springs or experience a local Tibetan dance show.

Accommodation:Overnight in Doacheng

Day5  Depart from Daocheng – Yading Nature Reserve – Chonggu Temple, Pearl Lake - Yading Village
Today’s travel distance: 110 kilometers / 68 miles

Expected travel time: 2.5 hours

After a nice breakfast at our hotel, we will start our two-day exploration of the wonderful Yading Nature Reserve with a drive to Riwa, a charming little town that serves as the entry point to the nature reserve. Here we will catch the (government required) sightseeing bus to Yading Village from which we can either walk or pay a bit extra to ride a horse to visit the Chonggu Temple, an interesting old temple with the holy Mt. Xiannairi as a backdrop. From Chonggu Temple we travel on by walking or by horse to reach Drolma-la Tso, also known as Pearl Lake. Pearl Lake is an incredibly beautiful and scenic lake at the foot of Mt. Xiannairi so it’s a great place for photography. After plenty of time exploring this otherworldly lake, we will head back to Yading Village to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Yading

Day6  Yading Nature Reserve – Luorong Grassland, Five Color Lake, Milk Lake – Return to Daocheng
Today’s travel distance: 110 kilometers / 68 miles

Expected travel time: 2.5 hours

If you don’t mind getting up very early this morning, we can enjoy the sunrise over the Chonggu Temple and then visit the Luorong Grassland, an alpine meadow at an altitude of 4150 meters (13,615 feet) that is surrounded by three sacred mountain peaks (Xiannairi, Yangmaiyong and Xialuoduojie) with a scenic river running through it. Luorong is one of the most beautiful spots in the Yadong Nature Reserve. We can spend some time here, or we can continue on up to Milk Lake and Five Color Lake, although the round-trip trek takes about 4 to 5 hours on foot or 3 to 4 hourse on horseback. Late in the afternoon we will need to take the government-required sightseeing bus back to Riwa to meet our driver and then drive back to Daocheng to check back into our local accommodations for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Daocheng

Day7  Depart Daocheng – Litang – Batang
Today’s travel distance: 320 kilometers / 68 miles

Expected travel time: 2.5 hours

This morning after breakfast we will travel back to Litang to visit the Litang Monastery, the most important Gelugpa (yellow hat) monastery in the Kham region. Construction began on the monastery in 1580 A.D. at the request of Dalai Lama III.

After visiting the Litang Monastery and having a nice local lunch, we will travel on to the Batang Grasslands, some of the most beautiful grasslands that we will see on the entire trip. We can also visit the Haizi Mountain Scenic Area before checking into our local accommodations in Batang to spend our last night in Sichuan Province as tomorrow we will enter the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Accommodation:Overnight in Batang

Day8  Depart Batang – Markham – Dzogong
Today’s travel distance: 260 kilometers / 162 miles

Expected travel time: 7 – 8 hours

This morning we will cross over the Jinsha River into Tibet, and then travel on another 2 hours to reach the first Tibetan town on our journey at Markham, which for centuries has served as a strategic crossroads along the ancient salt and tea routes between China and Tibet. After lunch, we will continue on over the high mountain passes of Mt. Wula (5210 meters / 17,092 feet) and Dongda (5008 meters / 16,430 feet) through fantastic scenery to reach Dzogong where we will check into our local accommodations to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Dzogong

Day9  Depart Dzogong – Pomda – Seventy-Two Bends – Pasho – Ranwu
Today’s travel distance: 290 kilometers / 180 miles

Expected travel time: 5.5 hours

This morning we will drive around 2 hours to Pomda, where the landscape begins changing to never-ending grasslands that are sparsely inhabited due to the extremely harsh climate. From there we will head on to Yela Mountain Pass (4839 meters / 15,876 feet), a precipitous pass through the Hengduan Mountain Range. Yela Mountain itself stands at an imposing 5820 meters (19,094 feet) and it is a popular destination for Tibetan mountain trekkers. From there we will descend from the mountain along the Seventy-Two Bends, a famous stretch of zigzagging road named for the seventy-two bends in the highway as it winds its way down the mountain.

Continuing on to the west, we will pass through Pasho and many snow-capped mountains, pristine forests and idyllic villages, sometimes experiencing all 4 seasons in a single day due to the changes in altitude. This evening we will reach Ranwu where we will spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Ranwu

Day10  Ranwu - Rawok Tso – Midui Glacier – Bomi
Today’s travel distance: 250 kilometers / 155 miles

Expected travel time: 4 hours

Rakwa Tso, also known as Rawu Tso or Ranwu Lake, is a beautiful glacial lake in Baxoi County, Tibet. Formed by a landslide dam, this lake is incredibly beautiful as it is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks and pristine forests. After some time here for enjoying its unique beauty, we will travel on to the Midui Glacier, the lowest altitude glacier in the world and ranked as one of the most beautiful glaciers in all of China.

Along the way to our destination of Bomi, we will be traveling alongside the Parlung Tsangpo River, so there will be continuously beautiful scenery all along the way. Once we reach Bomi, we will check into our local accommodations for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Bomi

Day11  Depart Bomi – Lulang Forest - Bayi

Today’s travel distance: 240 kilometers / 149 miles

Expected travel time: 6 - 7 hours

This morning we will depart from Bomi and travel through the wide valleys and canyons of the Parlung Tsangpo River. Raging river flows and numerous waterfalls can be seen along the way as we pass through Tongmai to reach the stunning alpine scenery of the Lulang Forest. Here we will visit a local Tibetan village to meet some of the local people and enjoy some local snack foods. From the plateau of the Lulang Forest we can have a fantastic view of one of the tallest mountains in the world - Mt. Namcha Barwa (7782 meters / 25,531 feet). We will move on from there to Bayi to check into our local accommodations to spend the night. Bayi is a small town situated on the banks of the Nyang River at an altitude of 2994 meters (9,826 feet).

Accommodation:Overnight in Bayi

Day12  Depart Bayi – Draksum Tso – Lhasa
Today’s travel distance: 490 kilometers / 304 miles

Expected travel time: 8 - 9 hours

This morning we will visit the Bayi Cypress Park, a stand of cypress trees about 2 kilometers from Bayi that reportedly includes one cypress tree that is 2,500 years old – as old as the Buddha himself. From there we will follow the beautiful Nyang River as we travel on towards Lhasa, with a detour along the way to the spectacular Draksum Tso (Lake). As one of the most beautiful lakes in eastern Tibet, it is also considered one of its holiest lakes with connections to three powerful figures in Tibetan Buddhism. We can visit the Tsodzong Gongba Monastery, situated on a small island in the lake and founded in 1400 A.D.

After visiting the lake and the monastery, we will return to following the Nying River, crossing over another high mountain pass at Mila Mountain Pass (5013 meters / 16,447 feet) before descending into Lhasa and checking into our local hotel for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day13  Lhasa – Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
We will begin your exploration of Lhasa today with a visit to a world-famous landmark - the Potala Palace, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world. Climb up to the palace along zig-zagging stone paths alongside the white and red walls to the top of the palace where you can gain a greater appreciation of the exotic Tibetan-style buildings as well as for a great view of Lhasa's entire urban area. After admiring the sweeping outside views, explore the inner spaces of the Potala Palace to find the stately chapels and learn more about the fascinating history of this special place.

From one historic landmark to another, your next stop will be at the Jokhang Temple, considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Every day thousands of pilgrims come from all over Tibet and other places to the temple to worship the Buddha. The Jokhang Temple is also known as the "House of Buddha" because it houses the precious Jowo Rinpoche, a life-sized (1.5 meter/5 feet) image of the Sakyamuni at the age of 12.

The last stop for today's Lhasa exploration is Barkhor Street, the wide, circular street that surrounds the Jokhang Temple. Local residents enjoy walking on the street, completing several circuits around the temple as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many small shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handicrafts.

After your visit to the Jokhang Temple, we will take you back to your hotel for the evening.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day14  Lhasa - Norbulingka, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
This morning we will visit the beautiful Norbulingka Palace and Park, the location of the former summer palace of the Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until 1959. It features the famous Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai Lamas built in the grandiose style of traditional Tibetan architecture.

After visiting the palaces and park at Norbulingka, we will travel around 5 kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit the Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in Tibet. The word "drepung" in Tibetan language means "prosperity". Since its establishment in 1416, Drepung Monastery has served as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. During its prime, more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders studied at this monastery, including the Dalai Lamas. Accordingly, Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.

In the afternoon, we will escort you on to another famous monastery in Lhasa - the Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery is famous for its spectacular “Buddhist Debates”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the various Buddhist doctrines with exaggerated gestures, which is thought to be helpful in facilitating a better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the "Buddhist Debates", we will take you back to your hotel with the rest of the day and evening to relax or explore on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day15  Departure from Lhasa
Today you will have free time until we meet you in the lobby of your hotel to transfer you to the Lhasa airport or train station for your departing flight or train.

Today's Tips:

1) Please take care to pack all of your belongings, particularly the small things that are easy to forget about, such as phone and camera chargers, power adapters, mobile phones, wallets, etc.

2) If your flight or train is in the afternoon, please be sure to check out of your hotel room by 12 p.m.

Accommodation:None

What's Included

All necessary Tibet Travel Permit. (Including Tibet Entry Permit, Alien Travel Permit, Boarder Pass
Private professional English-Speaking local tour guide
Licensed Vehicle with experienced driver
Airport (or train)pick up and drop off
Accommodation listed in the itinerary
Breakfast provided by the hotel
Tourists Accident/Casualty Insurance
A container of Oxygen for emergency use
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Lodging and meal allowance to the guide & driver
Reservation fee for visiting Potala Palace
2 bottles of drinking water per person per day
Meals not specified in the itinerary (All lunches & dinners)
All Entrance tickets to the sightseeing places
Flight/Trian tickets in and out of Tibet
Personal expenses such as laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional tour activities, etc.
Any losses incurred from the force majeure factor like government control, natural disaster etc.
Tips to the guide & driver ( Tips is not required but expected)
Single room supplement

Additional Info

Alterations of Itineraries

The travel date, service items, itinerary and number of visitors, visitors’ ID information, etc. can be modified free of charge 30 days or more before the trip. If the visitor needs to make a second modification, an additional service fee of 5% of the deposit will be charged. Every time the content of the travel contract is modified, the company reserves the right to re-quote.

Cancellation Policy

Once the deposit is paid, your trip is confirmed. If you need to change or cancel your itinerary, please contact your travel consultant by email, phone, instant messenger, etc. There will be a charge for Cancellation or modification. The policy is as follows:

1. Notice of trip cancellation due to personal reasons before the trip starts
Cancellation 30 days or more before the trip starts, 10% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 29-15 days before the trip starts, 20% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 14-7 days before the trip starts, 30% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 6-2 days before the trip starts, 50% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation within 48 hours prior to the trip starts, no refund of your deposit.

2. Trip cancellation due to irresistible factors before the trip starts

If you have to cancel the itinerary due to irresistible reasons such as traffic, weather, politics, etc., the deposit will be fully refunded by the company (for loss related to air ticket/train ticket, please take reference of the first item).

Reviews

 Vladislav
Travel Date:Oct. 5th 2018

I highly recommend a tour with Asia Odyssey Travel If you want to see the best part of Tibet, you should definitely book a tour with Asia Odyssey Travel. They are very helpful with the permit application and gave me the best impression of the wonderful roof of the world. I am looking forward to seeing our lovely guide and driver again in Tibet. Wish everything goes well with Nancy and her colleagues at Odyssey.

 A TripAdvisor China Member
Travel Date:January 3, 2019

Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying. Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying.

 Mary C
Travel Date:July 6, 2019

We worked with Shirley to build an itinerary of cycling through Tibet to EBC. She was incredibly helpful and responsive. She designed a trip that met our requests and exceeded our expectations. She worked with our tour members who would be traveling from North America and China to make sure we were all set with plenty of time to get visas and permits.

Our trip was 10 days in Tibet, with a rest and sightseeing day in Lhasa (Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple). Our amazing guide Phuntsok handled travel, permit, and hotel logistics with expertise and flexibility. He was a 5-star guide in every way- making sure we had everything we wanted and needed, giving cultural + historical context to the sights we saw, and having lots of fun with us.

We had 2 drivers (the van and a truck for our bikes) who were both very helpful, friendly, and good company.

We were worried it would get into rain season while we were there - instead we had beautiful, sunny days 9.5 out of our 10 days.

Thank you to all at Tibet Odyssey Tours for a trip we will remember for a lifetime.

 Elaine
Travel Date:Dec. 12th 2018

I cannot praise the Asia Odyssey Travel operation highly enough, from the applying of permit to the expertise of our guide. Everything was well arranged. Our guide, Puktso, was both personable and knowledgable, and yet was able to keep things moving. I will definitely go back to Tibet again!

 changshu1999
Travel Date:August 11, 2019

The tour guide and diver are pretty kind and zealous! And all the stories the guide told are very attractive as well. Hope next time visiting there, they can entertain us again.

 GeminiTraveller24
Travel Date:August 5, 2019

My best friend and I were looking forward to taking the train ride from Xining to Lhasa. Unfortunately, until the day we landed in Chengdu, our tour operator (different from Asia Odyssey) was unable to purchase the tickets for us. I contacted Danny after Googling and he was extremely helpful. Within 3 hours of contact, he had our train tickets. They were delivered to our hotel the next day before we left for Xining, and until we boarded the train, he was in contact with us to ensure that everything went smoothly. Thanks to Danny, we got to experience this once in a lifetime journey! Highly recommended for excellent and fast response! Thanks, Danny!