12 Days Yunnan – Tibet Overland Tour from Lijiang to Lhasa

Yunnan-Tibet Highway has a total length of 1930 km. The tour starts from Lijiang and ends in Lhasa and you can travel to Tibet by this highway after visiting Yunnan. You will go through the wild, mountainous and remote areas, enjoy the stunning scenery of great canyons, lakes, snow-capped mountains, monasteries, hot spring, immense forest and witness the Kham Tibetans who are absolutely isolated in the mountain area and keep its original culture and customs.

Google Map

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Start the trip from Lijiang

Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Shangri La

Sightseeing: the First Bend of the Yangtze River, Shigu Town, Tiger Leaping Gorge

Set off from Lijiang, and drive about 60KM to the First Bend on the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, and the Iron Chain Bridge in the Stone Drum town. The town of Stone Drum got its name from a large, cylindrical, marble tablet shaped like a drum. The scenery is magnificent as the road runs through the Lijiang valley, which is filled with wheat fields and dry haystacks.

Continue driving 40KM more to visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. With 34 rapids of the Yangtze River, it is called the Jinsha in this area because you can find gold in the river.

In the afternoon, head for Shangri La, the former Zhongdian. Upon arrival in Shangri La, you will enter the Tibetan cultural area and a landscape of barley fields and yaks scatter in the valleys.

Day 2: Shangri La

Sightseeing: the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake and the Guishan Park.

Special Experience: Taste Tibetan food like home-made butter tea.

In the morning, visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. And afterwards you’ll go and visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake. Having finished touring the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake, you would visit the Old Town of Shangri La and the Guishan Park.

At night, you can have dinner in Tibetan family and enjoy butter tea and other tasty Tibetan food.

Day 3: Shangri La-Deqin

Sightseeing: Bengzilan Town and the first bend of Jinsha(Yangtze) River, Dongzhulin monastery and Baima (white horse) Snow Mountain.

In the morning, drive 6 to 7 hours to Deqin County (3400m altitude), which is 187km away from Zhongdian through Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve. You will be able to view Baimang Snow Mountain if the weather is clear, and pass the highest place (at an altitude of 4292m) of today’s itinerary.

After traversing mountain ranges, you will make a short stop to have lunch at Benzilan town, and take some shots on the first bend of Jinsha(Yangtze) River, Dongzhulin monastery and Baima (white horse) Snow Mountain. The view along the way is fantastic with different kinds of trees, streams down the valley, prayer flags and Stupas, and Tibetan villages.

Stay overnight in Feilaisi

Day 4: Deqin-Yanjing in Tibet

Sightseeing: Mingyong Glacier, Sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain, Mingyong Village.

Try to get up early in the morning and drive 10km to Feilai Monastery to view the magic sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain. Then drive another 1.5-hour to Mingyong village, where you will walk on the trails for about 4km to the bottom of Mingyong Glaciers. After walking one hour or so, you will get to Tibetan Taizi Monastery, another good spot to view the magnificent Mingyong Glaciers. (You can choose to hire a horse to go to the glacier in order to save your energy.

After the tour, get back to Deqin County.

You will be lucky enough to see the golden snow-capped Kawagebo peak (6,740m, the Peak of Mt. Meili) if the weather is clear. Then you will travel along the north of Mekong River valley into Tibet. Once into Tibet, your first stop will be in the town of Yanjing, which was once the main source of salt for half of the Kham Tibetan area, which is ranged from northwestern Sichuan down into Yunnan. Visit the salt fields, followed by a stop at the hot springs, where each of us could pick your own natural hot bath for overlooking the Mekong. Certainly the best way to relax your body is the adventure ahead!

Day 5: Yanjing – Zuogong

Sightseeing: mountains and farmland

Cross two high passes, and one at around 3,900 m (12,795 ft), the other at 5,008 m (16,430 ft). Drive past local Tibetan houses scatter round the feet of snow-capped peaks. The hospitable Tibetan girls would make you realize that you are one of the first foreign visitors to this isolated region.

Day 6: Zuogong – Ranwu

Sightseeing: the Nujiang-Salween River, the Ranwu Lake

Drive along the deep valleys of the Nu River (the Salween River), which is a long and tough journey, but your destination, the Ranwu Lake, is another Shangri-la, and tourists may stay in the tent beside the Lake.

Day 7: Ranwu/Bomi(218km)

Get up early and enjoy the beauty of Ranwu Lake by yourselves. After lunch, we will drive out of Ranwu Town. There are thick trees, stream water, swirled gledes, snow mountain, lakes and small villages along the road, which make the scene splendid. In the evening, drive back to Bomi.

Stay overnight in Bomi

Day 8: Bomi/Niyang beauty spot/Bayi(233km)

Head for the conjunction of Niyang River and Yarlung Tsangpu River and get to Pai Town of the Yarlung Tsangpu River. We have arranged specially the trekking to the best touring sites in Mt. Nanjiabawa Daduka. If the weather is clear, you will have a chance to view the Mt. Nanjiabawa.

From the Zhamu town of Bomi County, we will head for the last natural barrier Maitong through the aboriginal forest. On the way to Pailong, there is floodwater and soil collapse which break off the road, and the famous 102 coast is there. After Pailong, the road state turns good, and we will pass through the thick Milang, which is another good place for overlooking the Nanjiabawa. Up to Mt. Selaji, we get to Bayi town (2400m) which is far from 19km to visit the Cypress Forest in Bayi town.

Stay overnight in Bayi

Day 9: Bayi/Lhasa(460km)

From the Bayi town, tourists can enjoy the beautiful Niyang river along the way. After passing through the Gongbujiangda, we head forward to the holy lake of Darksumtso(3500m high,27 sq.km.). Then drive back to the main stem of Sichuan-Tibet road, and get to Lhatse. After getting west towards Lhastse, you can have a distant view of Potala Palace.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Day 10: Lhasa Sightseeing: Potala Palace, Jokhang and Barkhor street

Potala Palace is the land mark of Lhasa and is recently considered one of the seven wonders of the world. In November 2000, the UNESCO put the Potala Palace architecture group into the world heritage list.

In the afternoon, visit Johkang temple, built during songtsen Gonpo’s reign by princess wencheng of tang dynasty. The most interesting thing in Jokhang is the sacred goat head in the Jampa chapel which is believed to be ‘self-arisen’ i.e. not manmade. Then explore the famous Barkhor street, and enjoy the busiest street in whole Tibet.

Spend a night in Lhasa

Day 11: Lhasa Sightseeing: Sera Monastery/Drepung Monastery

Drepung monastery is situated at the foothill of a mountain and was founded by Jamyang Choeje in 1416. It was once the home to 10000 monks and Ganden podrang in Drepung is famous as it was the government centre and later moved to the famous Potala palace during fifth dalai lama. You can also visit the Nechung monastery, located 1km southeast of Drepung. It is the abode of the protector deity Pehar and the seat of the state Oracle of Tibet.

In the afternoon, explore the Sera monastery which was founded in 1419 by Tsongkapa’s disciple Jamchen Choeje. The most dramatic scene is Monks debating held in the courtyard at around 6-7:30 in the afternoon.

Day 12: Leave Lhasa to your next destination

A private car will take you to the airport for your flight to next destination.

If you prefer to stay longer in Tibet, you can extend your trip to other parts of Tibet like Shigtse, Tsedang, and Everest Base Camp etc. – If you need, please contact us.

Service Guide

Service Included:

  • Tibet travel permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance ticket fees for all tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
  • Personal knowledgeable English-speaking Tibetan local tour guide;
  • Personal comfortable, clean and safe vehicle with reliable Tibetan local driver; vehicle ranging from 4WD land cruiser to minibus depending on your group size;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel or budget hostel, guesthouse or tent. Please tell us your accommodation preference when submitting the enquiry; we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
  • Domestic flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary;
  • All meals listed in the above itinerary;
  • Tourist accident/casualty insurance;
  • First aid kit;

Service Excluded:

  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese visa (Note: we could help you with the Chinese visa application, like providing the invitation letter, presenting the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies, etc that you may need. )
  • Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We can provide you the domestic flight/train ticket booking service at the BEST discount price; please contact us our travel experts for the details.)
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary; usually it costs about USD3-15 per person for one meal in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region).
  • Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver;
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid the alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.