The Ultimate Trans-Himalayan Adventure: How to Do a Tibet Tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa and Back by Drive/Overland June 8, 2023

Tibet is a landlocked region in the high-altitude Himalayas, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The best way to experience Tibet is by taking a tour from Kathmandu, Nepal.

There are two ways to travel to Tibet from Kathmandu: by air or by overland. The overland route is more adventurous, but it is also more time-consuming.

The Overland Route

The overland route from Kathmandu to Lhasa is about 1,300 kilometers long. It takes about a week to drive the entire route. The road conditions are good, but the altitude can be a challenge. The highest point on the route is over 5,000 meters above sea level.

The Air Route

Kathmandu to Lhasa flight not resumed after COVID-19 pandemic.

The air route from Kathmandu to Lhasa is much shorter. It takes about an hour to fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa. The air route is more expensive than the overland route, but it is also more convenient.

In this blog post, we will guide you through a possible Tibet tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, incorporating the suggested routes, the mesmerizing Rongbuk Monastery, and a return trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu by road due to the current flight restrictions.

Kathmandu to Rasuwagadi/Gyirung:

Starting from Kathmandu, you will travel towards the chosen border crossing, either Rasuwagadi(Gyirung). The drive will take you through picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and winding mountain roads. Along the way, you can make stops to explore the Langtang National Park or enjoy panoramic views.

Crossing the Nepal-China Border:

Upon reaching the border crossing, you will go through the necessary immigration and customs procedures on both the Nepal and China(Tibet) sides. It is crucial to ensure you have the required travel documents, including the Chinese visa and the Tibet Travel Permit. Collaborating with a licensed travel agency can help facilitate the process.

Exploring Rongbuk Monastery and Mt. Everest View:

Once in Tibet, your journey continues towards the world-famous Rongbuk Monastery. Situated at the base of Mount Everest, it offers an awe-inspiring view of the world’s highest peak. Spend time exploring the monastery and taking in the breathtaking landscapes. Capture the essence of this extraordinary place and create memories to last a lifetime.

Rongbuk/Tingri to Shigatse:

The next leg of the journey takes you to Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city. En route, you will pass through the infamous Gyatso La Pass, standing at an elevation of 5,220 meters, where you can catch a glimpse of Mount Everest on a clear day. In Shigatse, you can explore the Tashilhunpo Monastery, home to the Panchen Lama and an architectural marvel.

Shigatse to Lhasa:

Leaving Shigatse, you will drive through the scenic Tibetan countryside, dotted with barley fields and traditional villages. Along the way, you will visit the Yamdrok Lake, one of Tibet’s sacred lakes, known for its turquoise waters. The road then climbs up to the Karo La Pass, offering panoramic views of the stunning glaciers. Finally, you will descend into the valley and reach Lhasa, the spiritual heart of Tibet.

Lhasa Exploration:

From Shigatse, you will make your way to Lhasa, the spiritual heart of Tibet. Spend a few days exploring this vibrant city, where ancient traditions seamlessly merge with modern influences. Visit the iconic Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, and the Sera and Drepung Monasteries. Immerse yourself in the rich Tibetan culture, witness monks engaging in philosophical debates, and experience the spiritual ambiance that permeates the city.

Return Trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu by Road or Flight to next destination from Lhasa:

Due to the current flight restrictions, a return trip by road is the best option. Plan for a 2-3 day journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu, savoring the landscapes, and making stops along the way. Enjoy the scenic drive through the Tibetan Plateau, passing through Tingri, Shigatse, and other picturesque towns. The return trip allows you to appreciate the stunning Himalayan vistas once again before bidding farewell to Tibet.

Tips for Traveling to Tibet

Here are a few tips for traveling to Tibet:


Embarking on a Tibet tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa by overland drive is an extraordinary adventure that allows you to explore diverse landscapes, witness majestic mountains, and immerse yourself in Tibetan culture. Whether you choose the traditional Friendship Highway or opt for the alternative routes via Rasuwagadi or Gyirung, you will be rewarded with unforgettable experiences. Incorporating the mesmerizing Rongbuk Monastery and planning for a return trip by road, this journey will truly be the ultimate Trans-Himalayan adventure.