Cycling tours have gained huge popularity in recent years. While they are pretty well established in many European destinations, places such as China, Tibet and Myanmar have gained a lot of attention lately. Professional cycling tours operator Shangrila Adventure specialises in fully supported bike tours to China, specifically the regions including Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces. If you’re looking for an epic countryside journey with high altitudes and snow-capped mountains, then a 14 or 18-day bike tour on the friendship highway from Tibet to Nepal is a “must-do”!
From ancient Buddhist monasteries to breathtaking lakes and awesome views of the world’s highest mountain, Everest, this 1,000-kilometre journey has it all. The adventure starts from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. You will traverse several mountain-passes, spending a night at Everest base camp, before crossing the border between Tibet and Nepal to end in the lush greenery of the Kathmandu valley.
Lhasa to Gyantse: In Lhasa, the most prominent structure is the 12-storey Potala Palace. Built in the seventh century as the chief residence of the Dalai Lama, it has more than 1,000 rooms, and houses many statues and shrines. Other key sights in Lhasa include Barkhor Square, where Tibetan pilgrims prostrate themselves at the sacred Jokhang monastery, and Norbu Lingka, the former summer palace of the Dalai Lama.
The bike tour takes a southern route that passes Yamdrok-tso Lake with views of Karola glacier. At the top of Khampa La mountain-pass, you’re rewarded with stunning views of Yamdrok-tso and Bhutan’s Kula Kangri mountain in the distance.
Gyantse to Shigatse: Gyantse has a large Tibetan population and is at the important crossroads linking Tibet Ngari prefecture in the west and Yadong and the India border in the south. Visit the sprawling Palchoi Monastery, with its mix of Tibetan and Chinese design, and 10,000 Buddha statues and thangkas.
Shigatse to Rongbuk: The 600-year-old city of Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. The most important monastery is Tashilungpo, which stands in the heart of the city with its shiny golden roof and bright red walls. Within the monastery is a 22-metre-tall standing Buddha.
From Shigatse, the vast Tibetan plateau spreads out along the route, which climbs to its highest point, Gyatso La (5,260m), decorated with many colourful prayer flags. You’ll stay in Shegar for a night, the last town before entering the Everest conservation area.
From the windy Pang La mountain pass, you can catch your first glimpse of Everest, or Chomolungma, and the Himalayas range. You can also visit the world’s highest monastery, Rongbuk, before riding on to Everest base camp. This is a highlight of the trip – on a clear day you can see the entire mountain, from base to summit. An awesome sight!
Rongbuk to Kathmandu: From Everest base camp, we head towards the old town of Tingri, and then bike up the last mountain pass of the journey, Thong La.
After spending a lung-busting nine days above 3,600 metres, the road starts to drop along one of the most exhilarating downhill rides into Nepal.
The journey continues through the lush Sun Kosi valley towards Dhulikhel and the UNESCO heritage site of Bhaktapur. Then it’s time to start celebrating the completion of the 1,000 kilometres!