Yunnan to Tibet Overland China Itinerary

13 Days 12 Nights

Itinerary Overview

On this 12 night Yunnan to Tibet overland incredible adventure, see wonderful natural scenery, visit villages and monasteries, meet artists, hike, stay in beautiful luxury hotels except one four star hotel and eat delicious food. End your journey in Llasa, seeing the spectacular Potala Palace.

Day 1 Shangri – La

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by your guide and will be transferred to the hotel for check-in.

Start this adventure acclimatising in majestic Shangri-La, a truly heavenly destination.

You have the day at leisure to adapt to Shangri-La’s dizzying height of 3,200 meters before dinner at the hotel.

Shangri-La sits on an elevated plateau on the border land between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces and the Tibet region. Shangri-La is a Tibetan word meaning ‘land of sacredness and peace’ and visitors will find a mountain paradise with deep forests, alpine lakes and deep gorges. Originally, it was a logging town but after the 1998 ban on deforestation, the provincial government renamed it Shangri-La after the Buddhist paradise of James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon. Major attractions include Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple complex in Yunnan province, Pudacuo National Park which contains abundant rare plants and wildlife, and the imposing Meili Snow Mountains.

Hotel: Songtsam Lodge
Day 2 Shangri- La – Meili

After breakfast, check-out and head to Napa Lake in Napa Lake Natural Reserve, a picturesque wetland area that spans 31 square kilometers and features a picturesque body of water, grasslands and a stunning mountain backdrop.

Set off on a scenic two hour drive to enjoy lunch at Songtsam Benzilan Lodge and visit the 17th century Dongzhulin Monastery.

Afterwards, continue to Meili along roads that boast spectacular views of towering snow-capped peaks along the incredible Baima Snow Mountain Pass.

Upon arrival at Songtsam Meili, check-in and have free time to walk around the lodge, which sits at 3,600 meters above sea level with a sublime view of the majestic mountain. Visit a nearby small village to get a glimpse into local life and learn how to print Tibetan prayer flags in a traditional Tibetan family’s home. Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Songtsam Meili Lodge
Day 3 Meili - Rumei

After breakfast, check-out and set off on an approximate eight hour drive to Songtsam Rumei. Your epic journey takes in exceptional breathtaking landscapes. You will pass through snow-capped mountains and the Mekong River Valley to officially enter Tibet. Here, visit vast salt fields that date back thousands of years and then savor a bowl of Jiajia noodles. This tasty local speciality is made from fried pork simmered in a salty sauce served with freshly cooked noodles and vegetables.

Keep your camera ready because you then pass through Hongla and Lawu mountains during your afternoon three-and-a-half hour drive to Songtsam Rumei where you can hang your prayer flags made on the previous day.

You have some time to relax and freshen up before dinner at the lodge.

Hotel: Songtsam Rumei Lodge
Day 4 Rumei

After breakfast, set off on a one hour drive to the rich Maiba pasture land where you have the day to explore the vast grassland dotted with grazing yaks and plateau pika, a small diurnal and non-hibernating animal that resides on the pastures.

Explore the rolling hills and valleys covered with a dusting of snow before visiting a local Tibetan family’s farmhouse. Join them for a tasty traditional lunch and experience ranch life in this rural region.

Afterwards, return to the hotel with time to refresh and relax in the room or explore the stunning surrounding area before dinner at the resort.

Hotel: Songsam Rumei Lodge
Day 5 Rumei - Laigu

After breakfast, check-out and hit the road for an approximate 10-hour drive that takes in breathtaking scenery as you continue to climb higher.

Travel along the Dongda Mountain Pass and take in an incredible vista at the journey’s highest point of 5,130 meters.

Stop to enjoy a picnic at Bangda Grassland. During winter months when it is too cold, you will eat at a local restaurant. Then continue on your travels along the long and winding ‘Nu Jiang 72 Turns’ for about two hours and then continue to head up the 4,400 meter high Anjiula Mountain Pass which boasts rolling landscapes that sprawl to the horizon.

Arrive at Songtsam Laigu Lodge in time to enjoy a serene sunset from the terrace. Enjoy dinner at the lodge.

Hotel: Songtsam Laigu Lodge
Day 6 Laigu

It is recommended to get up early to view the spectacular pre-dawn sunrise from the lodge’s terrace.

After breakfast, drive through more stunning scenery on your way to picturesque Duosong Tso. This holy lake sits well off the tourist track and it is flanked by pristine forests and snow-capped mountains.

Return to the lodge for lunch before heading off to explore the ancient blue ice of striking Laigu Glacier which dominates the landscape and is comprised of six glaciers. Laigu is Tibet’s largest and widest ‘frozen river’ and the third largest glacier in the world. This chain of glaciers stretches for about 12 km and descends from a main peak that teeters 6,626 meters above sea level.

After dinner at your accommodation, you can relax under a canopy of stars before retiring for the night.

Hotel: Songtsam Laigu Lodge
Day 7 Laigu - Bome

After breakfast, check-out and drive to Ranwu Lake, Tibet’s largest body of water. It is the main source of the Yarlung Zangbo River, which is also known as the Brahmaputra. Here, you can admire the sparkling blue waters that stretch for 26 km. To the south lies snow capped mountains that are 6,000 meters above sea level.

Continue on your journey and drive along a scenic road that flanks the Parlungzangbu River.

In Bome, check into Songtsam for lunch with some time to refresh before the afternoon’s adventure. Then take a leisurely stroll around picturesque Guxiang Lake, a mirror-like green body of water that covers about 2 sq-km. This is home to a variety of flowers, grass, birds and fish.

Return to Songtsam in time for dinner.

Hotel: Songtsam Linka Bome Lodge
Day 8 Bome

After breakfast, experience life in remote Bome County on this truly authentic tour. You will explore magnificent glaciers, visit ancient temples and stroll through thick spruce forests.

Travel on the road to take a breath-taking exploration of incredible Zhuxi Glacier which dominates the landscape. At the foot of the glacier, there are over 180 lakes. On the north side of the mountain stands ancient Pulong Temple. Standing as the largest temple in the county, this 400-year-old religious shrine is nestled in an idyllic location among dense forests and elegant gardens.

After exploring the temple, return to the lodge for lunch and refuel for the afternoon’s adventure.

Take a leisurely hike through a thick spruce forest and enjoy the refreshing pinch of air beneath the canopy of green. Dinner is at the lodge.

Hotel: Songtsam Linka Bome Lodge
Day 9 Bome - Nyingchi

After breakfast, check-out and enjoy a scenic five hour drive. Be enchanted by more of Tibet’s bounty of natural beauty as you head to Niyingchi. Your first stop is Lulang for lunch, via Tongmai natural barrier. Lulang is famed for its breathtaking alpine forests and vast lush meadows.

After lunch, take a leisurely approximate two hour stroll through Zhaxigang village to get a glimpse into local life before continuing on your drive over Sejila Mountain Pass arriving in Nyingchi in the evening. Also known as Linzhi, Nyingchi is known as the ‘Swiss Alps of Tibet’ and it is the lowest area of the plateau with altitudes dropping from 4,000 to about 1,400 meters.

Check into the hotel with time to refresh before enjoying a feast of local food.

Hotel: Tingyard Hotel
Day 10 Nyingchi - Lhasa

After breakfast, check-out and hit the road for picturesque Basongtso Lake. The still waters teeter 3,700 meters above sea level and are flanked by striking snow mountains and green patches of forest.

Spend some time exploring the 15th century Tsozong Gongba Monastery. This is perched on an islet nestled in the clear waters.

Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant and hit the road for a scenic four hour drive that takes you to the sacred city of Lhasa. Lhasa has stood at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism for over 1,000 years.

Check into the hotel with time to refresh.

Hotel: Songtsam Linka Lhasa Hotel
Day 11 Lhasa

After breakfast, embark on today’s adventure starting at Potala Palace. At 3,700 meters above sea level, Potala is the world’s highest palace and boasts incredible vistas. The dzong fortress served as the Dalai Lama’s winter palace from 1649 to 1959 and it was then transferred into a museum.

Return to the hotel for a well-deserved lunch and time to refresh. In the afternoon, delve into Tibet’s rich culture and take part in a thangka painting workshop. This intricate traditional Tibetan art involves painting Buddhist scenes on silk.

You will meet some of the talented artists and watch them at work, before trying your hand at this fine art form.

Afterwards, return to the hotel.

Hotel: Songtsam Linka Lhasa Hotel
Day 12 Lhasa

Breakfast is at the hotel.

Explore the ‘Place of the Gods’ as you visit Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and one of the highest cities in the world.

Start with your cultural quest to Norbulingka, which translates as ‘treasure park.’ Located on the banks of the Kyichu River, this idyllic green space contains the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas and it features the best-kept gardens on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the magnificent Sera Monastery where you can see the debate of sutras, a serene sanctuary situated at the foot of Tatipu Hill. This is one of three famous monasteries in the capital. It is dedicated to the Yellow Hat Sect branch of Tibetan Buddhism and the building dates back to 1419.

The monastery is named Sera, wild rose, in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with a swath of colorful wild roses when it was constructed.

Hotel: Songtsam Linka Lhasa Hotel
Day 13 Lhasa - Departure

Breakfast is at the hotel.

All good things must come to an end and today you bid a fond farewell to Tibet as you head to the airport for your onward flight.

You may have some time to squeeze in some last-minute sightseeing in Lhasa.

Join the crowds of pilgrims flocking to the revered 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple. Standing as the spiritual heart of Tibet, this is home to a sacred central golden Buddha image. Take a stroll through the city center, head to Barkhor Square and browse the stalls selling everything from fresh produce to incense. Or take a step back in time at the Tibet Museum which is home to exhibits detailing the history of Tibet with displays of weapons, traditional instruments and sacred art.

When it is time, check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport, bringing to an end this incredible adventure.