"Kathmandu to Lhasa, on " The Friendship Highway "" Tibet by into-thin-air
Tibet Travel Guide: 1,399 reviews and 4,150 photos
It was on my third trip to Nepal that I finally managed to achieve the overland trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa
The first time I was in Nepal I wanted to do " The Friendship Highway " but the road was still blocked by late snow !! The second time there, there was a "Chinese Problem" i.e. the border was closed !!
The third time in Nepal I hadn't really considered Tibet as I didn't have as much time, however I got Very ill on my Trek and had to come off the hill sooner than I expected so asked my Friend " Nirmal " who owns " Himalayan Magic Adventures " in Thamel, Kathmandu if it was going to be possible to do the trip on the money I had left and in the time I had left. -- He said " Sure -- No Problem " and that was more or less the planning done !!! (Here is a write up by another traveller who went through HMA for his Tibet trip Here )
Two friends of mine who I had met on trek wanted to come along so we had a start of a Group, Nirmal put together the Trip, six of us in the end by ringing around the other travel agencies and getting one here and two there !!,
He also obtained the Tibetan Travel permits and my Chinese Visa and sorted everything else out whilst I went down to Chitwan to recover a bit from my illness !!
So a couple of weeks later we all met up in Kathmandu, finalised the details and that was that !!
We had to meet up Early the next morning at Nirmal's office for the transport to Kodari and the Friendship Bridge !!!!!
So on the 1st of April (April Fool's day !!!!) We left Kathmandu long before the sun came up and headed north on fairly good roads towards Kodari and the Friendship Bridge, We made good time stopping only once for a brunch !! At Kodari we had our exit stamps on our passports from Nepal, said good bye to the Nepalese Guides and walked over the Bridge, here we had our passports checked by the Chinese and were told to board a wagon for the 10k trip up the hill to . Zhangmu where we encountered our first problem, the wagon driver insisted on a $10 fee, I told him "No Chance" -- $10 for 10k !!! and got back off the wagon followed by the rest of our "Group" the wagon driver wouldn't budge on his price and as I wasn't willing to have $10 extracted from me we all set of to walk !! soon a pick up came by and offered us a lift for a Much more reasonable price so we hopped on board but the road was So Bad that we ended up walking most of the way !! On arrival at Zhangmu we were told that we couldn't cross the border as the "Transport and Guide" hadn't showed up from the Tibetan side !! so there we were stuck in between two countries with no Guides and nothing to do but wait !! so Wait we did and after about four hours a Guy turned up, said he was our guide, that the vehicles were stuck in a Traffic Jam !!?? and he had had to walk into town !! so we managed to cross the border, change some money, have dinner and walk back up to the vehicles which were well and Truly stuck !!!!! By now it was getting Dark and as we didn't really want to walk all the way back down the hill into we Zhangmu we decided to spend Our first night in the vehicles !!!
So after a poor nights sleep, we had breakfast in a small cafe which some enterprising local had set up on the roadside and waited for the traffic jam to clear !! it didn't take to long and soon we were off -- Up, Up and Up some more on an incredible road carved into the hillside where you would have thought that no road could possibly go !! The Scenery was Terrific, at one point the road was cut straight through a glassier !! we stopped for a quick lunch break at Nyalam and continued up and up to the Village of Tingri where we had our first proper overnight stop. The Everest Snow Lodge, Quite a nice lodge where the road forks off for Everest Base camp and the Rombuk Monastery !! So a far Better night's sleep there !! Then the next Morning Up and away towards Shigatse and visit the Panchen Lama's Tashilhunpo Monastery, an Incredible Building !!! An Overnight stay here and on to Gyantse made famous by the Younghusband expedition !! Another overnight stay here and on through some of the most spectacular Scenery that I have ever seen anywhere in the world to Lhasa.We had a three night stay in Lhasa visiting the Potala Palace, Home of the Delhi Lama (or it would be if the Tibetan people ever get their own Country back !!!!) and several of the Monasteries around Lhasa as well as the old Delhi Lama's summer palaces. Finally we were transported back to Lhasa airport for a flight back to Kathmandu flying right over Everest !!!! This Really is a Trip that I can well recommend !! --- DO IT !!!
- Pros:Beautiful Country, Great People and a never to be Forgotten Experience !!!
- Cons:Under Chinese Occupation for over 40 years, Tibetan People have few rights in there own Country and their leader is in exile in India !!
- In a nutshell:If you do Visit Tibet then at least by going this way your not totally accepting Chinese control and rubber stamping their regime by passing through China it's self !!
If you are travelling Anywhere and using a Rucksack / Backpack as your luggage then I would Strongly recommend that you... more travel advice
My Favourite little shop in Lhasa !!! these kids knew the prices of Everything in the shop and I never once so an adult... more travel advice
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