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Tibet Explorer

This is a journey across the roof of the world, the Tibetan Plateau and down its southern slopes and into Nepal and Kathmandu. It is a journey through some of the remotest and most spectacular scenery on earth and through an ancient culture that is still as powerful today as it was a thousand years ago. We start in the heart of China, Xi’an and the home of the Terracotta Army and spend the first week doing all things Chinese, before climbing slowly into the wilderness of the Tibetan Plateau. We pass over immense passes, past beautiful lakes and arrive at the holy city of Lhasa.

South of Lhasa we climb high up the Friendship Highway to the wonderful towns of Gyantse and Shigatse to soak up yet more Tibetan culture. Then it’s on to the highlight of the expedition, a visit and a hike to the Ronkbuk monasteries, which nestle under the towering face of Mt. Everest. We are now travelling through the most sensational landscapes, climbing over passes over 5000 metres high, before descending through gorges and passes to the foothills of the Himalayas and the lands of Nepal.

  • Duration: 31 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure:
  • For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Parks & Nature Reserves
  • Physical rating: Moderately Active
  • Supplier Tour ID: HTC1/158013
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Xi'an, China
  • Finishes: Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Xi'an
  • Pingliang
  • Lanzhou
  • Xiahe
  • Bingling Si
  • Liujiaxia
  • Qinghai Hu
  • Golmud
  • Amdo
  • Lhasa
  • Gyantse
  • Shigatse
  • New Tingri
  • Rongbuk
  • Friendship Highway
  • Nuwakot
  • Pokhara
  • Khatauti Khola
  • Kathmandu



Day 1: Xi'an

Border Information: if joining the trip in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Please note that our trips between Kathmandu and Xi'an travel through extreme environments and these itineraries WILL NOT NECESSARILY RUN AS PUBLISHED. We will adjust trip itineraries depending on weather, altitude effects, group make up and road conditions. This day by day itinerary is provided as a rough guide only.

There will be a group meeting at 10:00am in our hotel in Xi'an - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this important meeting.

In the afternoon there will be an included visit to the awe-inspiring world-famous Terracotta Warriors.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2-3: Pingliang

Today we will start our journey with a drive from Xi'an to Pingliang.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have an included day visit to the holy mountain of Kongtong, where we can freely trek and explore the incredible area and visit all the temples built on impossibly steep mountain sides.

In Pingliang we will stay in a local hotel.


Day 4: Lanzhou

Today we will arrive into the chaotic city of Lanzhou, with time to explore in the afternoon.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 5-7: Xiahe

From Lanzhou we will drive on to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe, where we will be staying for 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

The following 2 days will be free to explore the incredible Labrang Monastery or the surrounding grasslands.

Whilst in Xiahe we will stay in a basic guesthouse.


Day 8: Bingling Si

Leaving Xiahe, we drive on to the small town of Liujiaxia. En route we will have an included visit to the phenomenal Bingling Si Buddha Caves.

In Liujiaxia we will staying in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 9-10: Qinghai Hu

For the next 2 days we will be overlanding through Qinghai province through an area that is a giant basin surrounded by high mountains, and en route we will pass the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazakhs, Moguls and Hui.

We will be stopping off and wildcamping along the way.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.


Day 11: Golmud

We continue our overland journey today across the high plateau, arriving at the small town of Golmud.

In Golmud we will stay overnight in small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.


Day 12-14: Amdo

Leaving Golmud we head out across the plateau once again. We will spend the next 3 days slowly driving uphill to acclimatise to the altitude, finally crossing the famous Tanggula Pass (5231m) which marks the start of Tibet.

If time allows we will make a side trip to Namtso Lake en route. Spare days have been included in this part of the itinerary as contingency due to poor roads and extreme conditions - they will be used as required.

We will be wild camping en route.

Estimate Drive Times - 5-8 hours each day.


Day 15: Lhasa

Today we complete our journey to the famous and evocative city of Lhasa, the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet, where we will be staying for the next 3 days.

In Lhasa we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 16-18: Lhasa

We will have 2 full days to explore the Tibetan city of Lhasa. There will be organised visits to the Sera Monastery, and the Jokhang Temple, as well as the options to visit the Drepung and Ganden Monasteries and the Summer Palace. There will be lots of opportunity for free exploration of the city as well.


Day 19: Gyantse

Today we will continue over the Kampa La Pass (4794m) to the town of Gyantse. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Palcho Monastery and time for an optional visit to the Gyantse Fort.

In Gyantse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.


Day 20: Shigatse

Depending on what time we arrived in Gyantse yesterday, we may decide to have some more time here this morning before driving on to Shigatse, Tibet's second biggest city.

On arrival in Shigatse we will have an included visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

In Shigatse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.


Day 21: New Tingri

Today we continue our journey with a drive over some more high mountain passes to reach New Tingri (also known as Shegar), where we will meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This is usually a fairly long day's drive, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys!

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.


Day 22: Rongbuk

From New Tingri we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery.

The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5200m pass, but the views are sensational and (weather permitting) we should have excellent views of Mount Everest.

Once we have reached the Rongbuk, we will have free time to explore the area and visit the Monastery and take in the stunning views of Everest!

Tonight we will stay in the Monastery Guesthouse

Please note: It is no longer possible to visit the actual Tibetan Everest Base Camp as it is closed to tourists as of February 2019.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 23: New Tingri

This morning we have some more time at Rongbuk - hopefully when you open up in the morning, there will be a spectacular view of Mount Everest! We will drive back down to New Tingri this afternoon.

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.


Day 24: Friendship Highway

We will spend the next 2 days climbing high into the mountains over the Lalungla Pass (5050m) up into the Himalayas and then down to the Nepalese border. This is part of the famous "Friendship Highway", cutting through gorges, across plateaus and over high passes. On all the passes that we cross you will see the ever present pilgrim prayer flags, cairns and scattered "wind horse" papers.

We will be wild camping en route tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.


Day 25-26: Nuwakot

Border information: Exit China at Kyirong, Enter Nepal at Rasuwa Gadhi.

Crossing the border from the Tibetan Autonomous Region into Nepal, we will travel along small winding roads to the historic village of Nuwakot. Nuwakot is one of Nepal s hidden gems nestled in the central hills of the country. Full of ancient temples and palaces, it has a beautifully serene atmosphere and rustic ambience - perfect for getting a taste of the calm pace of rural Nepalese life.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 - 9 hours.

In Nuwakot we will stay in a hotel based inside an old manor house where we will have 2 nights to relax and unwind.


Day 27-28: Pokhara

Today we will spend a little more time enjoying the serenity of Nuwakot, before taking a short drive to Nepal's second city - the adventure town of Pokhara! We will spend 2 nights here.

In Pokhara we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

On the 2nd day we will have a free day in the fantastic city of Pokhara. The area is famous for its myriad of spectacular waterfalls surrounded by fertile forests and towering mountains, for its fantastic choice of yoga and meditation retreats, and for its overwhelming choice of adventure activities from trekking to rafting to zip-lining to mountain biking!


Day 29: Khatauti Khola

This morning we will journey to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains.

There are several optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain bikings or simply relax in the quiet surroundings.

In Khatauti Khola we will camp at the Royal Beach Camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 3 -4 hours.


Day 30: Kathmandu

This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal.

In Kathmandu we stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimate drive time - 3.- 4 hours


Day 31: Kathmandu

Border information: if leaving in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

    • Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife
    • Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples
    • See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge
    • Journey west through the lower realms of the Tibetan Plateau to the remote Qinghai Lake
    • Take a guided tour of the incredble Potala Palace, the former winter residence of the Dalai Lama and the most famous symbol of Tibet
    • Explore the Jokhang Temple, the centrepiece of Lhasa and the most sacred and important temple in Tibet
    • Visit the stunning Sera Monastery, and witness one of the fascinating debating sessions between the monks
    • Visit to the stunning town of Gyantse and Baiju Monastery
    • Stopover in Shigatse and visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery
    • Visit the Rongbuk Monastery, one of the most remote monasteries in the world
    • 2 nights at a stunning mountain resort, nestling in the foothills of the Himalaya
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
    • 15% Camping - 85% Hotels
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