"Kathmandu to Lhasa, on " The Friendship Highway "" Tibet by into-thin-air

Tibet Travel Guide: 1,402 reviews and 4,147 photos

Planning ???

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 !!!!!

Day One !!!

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 !!!

Onto Lhasa !!

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 and Cons
  • 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 !!
  • Last visit to Tibet: Mar 2000
  • Intro Updated Dec 30, 2010
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Reviews (15)

Comments (45)

  • May 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Hi Rob. Thanks a lot for sharing this. I can't wait to go! My gf and I are thinking of doing almost the same trip you describe above. We might stay one or two more days to see some famous lakes in Tibet, if it's worth it. We are starting to organize the trip so it'd be very useful to have a rough estimate of the price. How much do you think your trip will cost in July 2012? Any help will be very appreciated!

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Nice tips Rob.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Good for you, Rob! You have merged two trips !

  • Nov 27, 2008 at 10:40 PM

    Thanks for the information in the page. I noticed the strong words that you used on China at the pros and cons section. Do you really feel you know enough facts about Tibet and China to feel so strongly one way or another?

  • May 28, 2008 at 2:57 PM

    my husband purchased a print on rice paper that looks like a prayer wheel or celestial map of some sort, does anyone know what it is?

  • travelinxs's Profile Photo
    Apr 29, 2008 at 12:32 PM

    Excellent! As always, interesting and fun to read. Cheers.

  • Saagar's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2008 at 4:38 AM

    The mystery object has to be a solar cooker! - or a stranded UFO...

  • Karolina01's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2007 at 4:52 PM

    What is the mystery object? Maybe a bench where you can rest?

  • LuisGuimaraes's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2006 at 5:57 PM

    rob I have read all through this page and it will be very useful for my trip. I'll drop u a line soon for a couple of hints. Cheers and thanks for this contribution to VT! Luis

  • chewy3326's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2006 at 10:46 AM

    Tibet looks very beautiful! Good page!

into-thin-air

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