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Riding from Lhasa to Kathmandu

  • by Eric
  • Last Updated: 2023-03-24

​Lhasa to Kathmandu is one of the most popular cycling routes. It takes 13 to 14 days to complete this route, which is more than 1,000 kilometers long. The whole journey will cross 6 major mountain passes and the Himalayas. On the way, you will admire the majestic north foot of Mount Everest and visit the two most desirable cities in Asia. Vice versa, you can bike from Kathmandu of Nepal to the holy city of Lhasa. Usually it takes longer than 2 weeks, as you need time to acclimatize to the plateau climate in Lhasa.

Route Overview

  • Lhasa-Gyantse: 280km(4 days)
  • Gyantse - Shigatse: 90km(1 day)
  • Shigatse-EBC: 347km(5 days)
  • EBC - Nepal border: 280km(3~4 days)

What to See?

About 20 kilometers southwest of Lhasa City and along the Lhasa River at the east, right next to the Friendship Highway, you can see Nietang Buddha first.

Nietang Buddha

​The Nietang Buddha is located at the northern foot of Nietang Mountain and it's the largest cliff statue in Tibet. The statue is a seated image of Shakyamuni Buddha who had achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, with 9.83 meters high and 7.9 meters wide. This statue is carved so magnificently that it is regarded as the best stone carving in Tibet. Legend has it that the statue was created more than 700 years ago. When Phags-pa, the Imperial Preceptor of the Yuan Dynasty, returned to Sakya Monastery with a Sakyamuni statue from Beijing, the statue suddenly asked to stay there. Then there was the legend of this giant statue of Buddha.

Nietang Buddha
You can see Nietang Buddha from the roadside.

Then, you will enter ​​​​Nagarzê County and cross the Kampala Pass to ​​Yamdrok Lake.

Yamdrok Lake

​​Yamdrok Lake means "Swan Pond" in Tibetan and is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet.​​ The lake is 4441 meters above sea level, 130 kilometers long from east to west and 70 kilometers wide from north to south. The total length of the lake shoreline is 250 kilometers, with a total area of 638 square kilometers and 20-40 meters deep. So that it is the largest inland lake at the northern foot of the Himalayas. ​There're has many branches​ in Yamdrok, like coral branches, so it is also called “the upper coral lake" in Tibetan.

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok lake looks like a sapphire on the Plateau.

​From ​Nagarzê County, there are about 10 kilometers of asphalt road, then continuous gravel road. The road is undulating​ greatly and the riding is intense, so please get well prepared. After that, you will reach Gyantse.

Gyantse

Gyantse means "the peak of victory” in Tibetan. Because the Nyang Chu River flows through here, people also called Gyantse “Nyang” in history.​ There's the ruin of ​​Gyantse Dzong ​standing ​on a cliff in the center of the ancient city.​ With an altitude of 4020 meters and a relative height of 125 meters, ​Gyantse Dzong is very majestic in the center of the Nianchu River Plain. Here you also can see Pelkor Chode Monastery, where three major sects of Tibetan Buddhism, Sakya, Kadam and Gelug coexist. Another symbol of this monastery is a great white Bodhi Pagoda.

Gyantse
Amazing scenery of Gyantse Dzong and Pelkor Chode Monastery.

The road from Gyantse to Shigatse is well paved with asphalt. Shalu Monastery is a temple worth visiting on this day's cycling journey. It is 5 kilometers south of the main road of Chhudu town.

Shalu Monastery

Shalu Monastery is the main temple of the Shalu Sect of Lamaism(Buton Sect). In 1087, it was founded by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay. The monastery was built in the style of the Yuan Dynasty because the emperor of Yuan gave a lot of financial support. There are four religious treasures in this monastery: a sutra board made of sandalwood; a brass urn of holy water; a stone washbasin once used by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay; a stone tablet carved with the mantra “om mani Padme Hum”.

Shalu Monastery
The main hall of Shalu Monastery.

Shigatse is the second-largest city in Tibet, with beautiful natural scenery and rich cultural history. There're primeval forest belts, sacred mountains and lakes, vast grasslands, legendary monasteries, unique Tsang culture, etc. In Shigatse city, you can visit Tashilhunpo Monastery.

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery belongs to the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism, one of the six major temples of the Yellow Sect. As the symbol of Shigatse, Tashilhunpo Monastery is spectacular and majestic. As the traditional monastic seat of the Panchen Lama, it can be compared with the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The whole monastery is built on a mountain with golden roofs and red walls layer upon layer, like a sacred Tibetan Buddhist world.

Tashilhunpo Monastery
Grand Tashilhunpo Monastery looks like a sacred Tibetan Buddhist world

Today's ride is 153 kilometers from Shigatse City to Lazi County. Except for a small section under construction, the rest of the road is in good condition. You will see the National Road 318 5000 km monument.

5000 km monument of G318
5000 km monument of G318 National Highway from Shanghai to Lazi

Next, it is 73 kilometers from Lazi to New Tingri(Shegar). The road conditions are not very good, and it is very hard to translate the Gyatso-la Mountain Pass at an altitude of 5220 in the middle.

Gyatso-la Mountain Pass

Gyatsola Mountain Pass, the boundary of Tingri, is also the mountain pass of Mount Everest National Nature Reserve. The huge sign is erected on the road, and countless prayer flags flutter in the wind. The Gyatso-la Mountain Pass is 5,248 meters high, and the cement elevation signs are covered with colorful prayer flags. The vegetation above 4000 meters above sea level is sparse here, the sky is blue and clear, and the mountains are rough and barren. Tibetans hang up prayer flags in places where people often visit, and the prayer flags are mostly red, blue, yellow and green, which strikes a balance with the monotony of the barren place with their strong boldness.

Gyatso La Mountain Pass
Gyatso La Mountain Pass

From New Tingri(Shegar) to Everest Base Camp, the distance is about 120km and it takes one day. After passing the ticket gate, the altitude rises greatly, the road becomes twisty, and the weather changes frequently. On the way, you will get through Kya Wu Lha pass.

Kya Wu Lha Pass

The Kya Wu Lha Pass is the only way to get to Everest Base Camp, with an altitude of 5,210 meters. Here you can overlook the passes of five 8,000-meter-level snow peaks (in order from left to right: Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma). The Kya Wu Lha Mountain Pass Observation Deck is the best viewing point for overlooking Mount Everest and one of the most famous snow-capped mountain viewing decks in the world. Here you can not only see the scenery of the highest mountain in the world, but also the scenery of the spectacular 108 turns.

Gaula Pass
Overlook four 8,000-meter-level snow peaks and 108 turns.

Then, go down the Kya Wu Lha Mountain, and drive 15 kilometers in the col, and you will reach the Everest Base Camp.

Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest Base Camp is a protected area set up to protect the core area of ​​Mount Everest. It is one of the best locations for viewing and photographing Mount Everest. It mainly provides accommodation for tourists, with toilets and a tent post office, which is the highest post office in the world. In addition, there's a Tibetan monastery called Rongbuk, also known as the highest temple in the world. There is a monument engraved with the words "Everest Base Camp, 5200m above sea level".

Everest Base Camp
Rongbuk Monastery at Everest Base Camp

In the earlier morning, after watching the gold summit of Mt. Everest, you can depart to the next destination, Lake Peikutso, which is 30 kilometers ride from the Everest Base Camp.

Peikutso Lake

Peikutso Lake is the largest lake in Shigatse. This lake is very special for one side saltwater and the other side freshwater. And the color of the lake is pure blue, very quiet, like a mirror reflecting Shishapangma Peak. The holy snow-capped mountains and the azure lake complement each other under the blue sky and white clouds, which makes people linger over.

Peikutso Lake
Peikutso Lake and Shishapangma Peak complement each other.

After riding another 57 kilometers to Gyirong County, you can stay overnight here. This county is only 70 kilometers away from the border town of Gyirong. From Gyirong County to Gyirong Town, the first 40-kilometer is desolate, but the scenery of the last 30-kilometer is breathtaking. The mountains here are full of rhododendrons in the forest and covered with snow on the top, and the road runs through the forest. You can enjoy the scenery along the way and cross the Tibet-Nepal border to Nepal.

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