The Sichuan Province is adjacent to the Eastern part of Tibet which makes it easy to reach Tibet, traversing through the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. This Sichuan-Tibet Highway is a part of the G318 Trunk Highway which spans from Shanghai to Zhangmu. This Highway has been divided into two distinct parts, one of which is known as the Sichuan Southern Overland Route to Tibet and the other road is known as the Sichuan Northern Overland Road to Tibet. The southern route has a span of 2149 kilometers, whereas the Northern route which is relatively a little longer than the Southern Route is of 2293 kilometers in length.

The Highway of Sichuan-Tibet and the Economic Development of Tibet

The Capital of Sichuan is known is Chengdu, which is connected to the capital of Tibet, which is Lhasa, through the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. Also it's the reason why Chengdu is regarded as the gateway of Lhasa and many people would like to start their Tibet Tour from Chengdu. This highway was inaugurated and was made functional on 25th December 1954. This highway is vital to the progress of Eastern Tibet, by promoting the economic development of Eastern Tibet. This road is known to be the best option to reach Tibet if you are coming from Sichuan or any other Southern Chinese Province by overland route.

Which route should you take among the Northern and Southern route?

When you decide to come from Sichuan, you would be faced with the dilemma of which route to take, the northern or the southern? I shall give you an overview of what you would be confronted with when you take either routes, then it is up to you to decide which works best for you.

I The Picturesque Northern Route

If you take the Northern Route, it cuts across cities like Danba, Garze, Dege, Qamdo, Bamei, Yingxiu, Yangbajing and Nagqu. This route has to offer a beautiful scenery of snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes and rivers that give a majestic and a mystical appeal. You would also come across ancient temples and Monasteries. The whole Northern Route is divided into 6 parts which have significant sites along this route which one can visit. These six parts of the Northern Route are as follows:

  1. The part of Chengdu to Danba which has Duijang Dam, Qingcheng Mountains, Wolong National Nature Reserve and Mount Siguniang on its way.
  2. The portion from Danba to Bamei which boasts of Danba Ancient Block Towers, Tibetan Villages of Jiaju and Ancient Huiyan Monastery.
  3. The part from Bamei to Garze which includes Gelugpa school Nyitso Monastery and the ancient Garze and Den monasteries on its way.
  4. The Garze to Dege Part has to offer Yulong La-tso, the Scripture Printing Press of Bakong and the Monastery.
  5. The Part of Dege to Chamdo has Wala Monastery and Jampaling Monastery on its way.
  6. The portion of Chamdo to Lhasa Portion which offers the majestic Natso Lake and the mystical Yangbajing Hot springs.

Are you a Fan of BlockBuster Movies?

Travelling through the Northern route is no less than watching a Blockbuster movie with its picturesque and majestic locations. For instance, the portion of Chengdu to Danba has a beautiful dam known as the Duijang Dam on its way and also the majestic Qingcheng Mountains. Both of them are Cultural Heritage Sites. You would also encounter the Wolong National Nature Reserve on the way which has the famous Panda Research Centre.

Continuing down the road, you will witness the Danba Ancient Block Towers and a few other ancient monasteries. Furthermore, you will also witness the famous Yulong La-Tso, plus the Natso Lake and also the Yangbajing Hot Springs

II The Scenic Views and Sites that the Southern Route has to offer

The Southern Route of the Sichuan-Tibet highway spans for 2,149 kilometers and cuts across vast and beautiful landscapes. This route is dotted with majestic mountains, rivers and ravines cascading with Tibetan Plateau in the background. Fifteen days is a time which you can take to leisurely cover this whole route. This Sichuan-Tibet Southern route traverses through a score of cities like Litang, Kangding, Markam, Ranwu, Zogang and Nyingchi. Just like the Northern route, the Southern route can also be divided into six parts, which are as follows:

  1. The portion of Chengdu to Kangding which has Riding Mountain, Magecuo Lake and also Hailuoguo.
  2. The Xingduqiao Bridge to Litang Part which travels through the Lilang Town, Pucuogou Natural Ecological Reserve and Maoya Grasslands.
  3. The part of Markam to Zogang which has the beautiful Zogang County.
  4. The portion of Zogang to Ranwu which includes Bangda Prairie and Ranwu Lank on its way.
  5. The part of Ranwu to Nyingchi which have the picturesque Midui Glaciers, the Duodong Temple and also the Lulang Forest in its way.
  6. The part of Nyingchi to Lhasa which has the Nyang River, Mila Basum Lake and the Mountain Pass of Lhasa.

The part of Chengdu to Kangding which forms the initial portion of the Northern route has a famous stopover at Ya’an which is nestled on the upper portion of the Yangtze River. The majestic snow-capped Riding mountains and the Mugecuo Lake can be easily witnessed from here. These are surrounded by snow valleys, hot springs and forests. A little further down from Kangding is Hailuogou. This place is famous for the Khampa Culture, snow-capped mountains and valleys and also the primeval forests. Furthermore, while traversing through the Xinduqiao Bridge to Litang portion, you come across the famous Juli Monastery. I would also like to add that Litang is famous for its horse-racing festival which is held annually from the 1st August to 7th August. So, August would be a great time to plan this road trip to Litang.

On the west flank of Litang is situated the Maoya Grasslands. These grasslands are lined by the Tibetan Buddhist Mountains and the Genie Mountains, which are two must-visit places of all times. There is also a national reserve known as the Pucuogou Natural Ecological Reserve which is dotted with hot springs and nooks. You can visit this Natural Ecological Reserve and later on when you travel on the Markam to Zogang part of the route, you will witness the Zogang County in the Prefecture of Chamdo. This part of the road is dotted with beautiful sceneries of bubbling rivers and mountains with lush green forests.

The popular Bangda Prarie is along the Zogang to Ranwu part of the Route. The Chamdo Bangda Airport is situated here, which is famous for being the world's highest-situated airports, which is at an altitude of 4,334 meters above the sea level. This is followed by the Ranwu Lake in the Ranwu town that is next on the route.

The next part of the route is the Ranwu to Nyingchi portion which is famous for its fascinating Midui Glaciers, among other places that can be visited like the Duodong Temple in the Bomi County, the mystical Gangxiang Nature Reserve and the lush Lulang Forest.

The last portion that marks the end of the majestic route is the Nyingchi to Lhasa portion. This part of the route has an industrial town on its way, known as the Bayi. The Nyang River flows by as you drive further. This is followed by Basum Lake which is near Gongbujiangda. Further on this route is the Mila Mountain Pass which is at an altitude of 5,000 meters above the sea level. Right now, we have Sichuan Tibet Hwy 4WD Tour of this route.

If you plan to visit Lhasa from Chengdu, it would come as an advantage if you avail the services of a Travel Agency to Tibet. The agency will make your travel smoother and hassle-free. If you are looking for a Travel Tour Agency, you can reach us via phone call or email and we will make your travel from Chengdu to Lhasa the best travel experience of your life.

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