Qinghai-Tibet Highway

Basic Information about Qinghai–Tibet Highway

Qinghai-Tibet highway is taken as the most important gateway from northwestern China to Tibet. Being the highest and longest asphalt road in the world, Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Xining of Qinghai Province and ends at Lhasa. With the length of 1917 km, it is the main road to Tibet due to the great scenery and good road condition, which is open to traffic all year round. It reaches its top point at the 5,231-meter-high Tanggula Pass. About 980 km of the road is more than 4,500 meters above sea level, and 630 km of it is bedded on permafrost. Along the road, there are prairies, salt lakes, mountains, deserts and other natural landscape. It is paralleled by the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. 

“Tasked with carrying upwards of 85 per cent of goods in and out of Tibet, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway has been dubbed the “Lifeline of Tibet.” … Since it was opened to traffic in 1954, the central government has spent nearly 3 billion yuan (US$362 million) on three major overhauls. It was asphalted in 1985.

Route and Distance of the Qinghai–Tibet Highway

City Distance (km) Elevation(m)|
Xining, Qinghai 0 2200
Huangyuan, Qinghai 49 2600
Dulan, Qinghai 423 3100
Golmud, Qinghai 755 2600
Amdo, Tibet 1451 4600
Nagqu, Tibet 1591 4400
Damxung, Tibet 1755 4200
Doilungdêqên District, Lhasa, Tibet 1905 3600
Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet 1917 3600

Scenery along the Qinghai–Tibet Highway

Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is about 130 kilometers or 80 miles from Xining and is about 3205 meters or 10515 feet above sea level. It is one of the most beautiful and largest lake in China.


Gobi sight, oasis in the desert, and so called Treasure bowl, is also one of the four basins in China Qaidam basin on the way.

TuoTuo River

Tuotuo river is the source of China ’s longest river, the Yangtze River. The turbulent Yangtze originates from this broad, gentle highland river and surges all the way to the East Sea. 


Kekexili Nature Reserve, the least populated and isolated region in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. It is home to many wildlife such as Tibetan antelope, wild yak, wild Tibetan donkey, etc. 

Tangula Pass

For centuries Tanggula Mountain has been regarded as a dangerous place for mountaineers and a place closest to the heavens.

Namtso Lake

It is the Heavenly Lake which is one of the three holy lakes of Tibet and also the highest salt lake.