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How to Travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu?

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Wed Aug 25, 2021
lhasa to kathmandu

Lhasa to Kathmandu tours have been a popular choice among many nature lovers, pilgrims, and traveling enthusiasts for a long time. There are many ways to get from Lhasa to Kathmandu, either via flight or by land. In recent years other interesting options have also popped up, including cycling. All of these mediums and ways offer a unique outlook of the capital cities of Tibet and Nepal.

The neighboring countries Tibet and Nepal are known particularly for the majestic trans-Himalayan sceneries. The best way to explore the Buddhist religion and Tibetan plateau is by visiting its capital Lhasa also known as the 'land of gods.' On the other hand, Nepal's Hindu religion and ancient heritage can be explored by visiting its capital city, Kathmandu, known as the 'city of temples.' To merge two amazing experiences, take the trans-Himalayan journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu.


Lhasa To Kathmandu By Overland

Lhasa to Kathmandu by Overland

One of the most popular ways of traveling from Tibet to Nepal is by driving overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu cities. The most popular border port from Lhasa to Kathmandu is the Gyirong port. It is situated in the west of Tibet's westernmost Shigatse prefecture and to the north of Nepal. Although Tibet opened the port in 2014, it was proposed for rail crossing only. However, when the major earthquake of 2015 damaged the other borders, Gyirong became the major crossing between the two countries for commercial use and tourism. Hence, there are many Tibet and Nepal Tours with the preferred overland journey.

Why Travel Overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu?

The distance from Kathmandu to Gyirong is much shorter than any other border crossing option and has gained popularity in recent years. Moreover, there has been much development in regard to the road conditions. With blacktopped smooth roads, you can easily reach from Lhasa to Kathmandu in a short time.

Sightseeing is one of the main reasons why the overland tour is most preferred. Tibet and Nepal are filled with historical, geographical, and cultural wonders, so there is so much to witness. The best way to witness the diversity of these trans-Himalayan nations is by strolling on foot and driving on land, making multiple stops. On the way from Lhasa to the Gyirong border, you get to visit fortresses, ancient temples, experience crossing the high passes, exploring the glaciers, and enjoy the serene Tibetan plateaus.

The most popular sightseeing destinations near the border are the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve boasting Everest Base Camp, Langtang National Park, Buddhist monasteries, temples, and pristine lakes. From the Gyirong border to Kathmandu, you get to witness the lush Langtang National Park, swiftly flowing rivers, snow-capped Langtang range, Hindu and Buddhist temples. Furthermore, taking the Tibet and Nepal overland tour gives you the chance to observe and understand the livelihood of the people living in the areas and interact closely with them.

Lhasa to Kathmandu Distance

The linear distance from Lhasa to Kathmandu is 609km; however, due to the geography of the Tibetan plateau, the actual road distance comes to 1300km. Although the road is paved and well maintained, there are many high passes and zigzag roads that you have to cross on the way, making the tour longer. The distance from Lhasa to Gyirong covers many stopovers on the way. If you take a straight route, you have to head from Lhasa to Shigatse, about 7 hours. From there, head to Everest Base Camp (EBC), taking about 9 hours. From EBC, it will take 12 hours to reach Gyirong town and finally Gyirong border in another 9 hours.

It takes around 6 hours to get from Gyirong port to Kathmandu. Following this route, you can complete your journey in 4 days from Lhasa to Kathmandu. However, if you plan to make stops in other major destinations along the way, then it will take you longer, but the journey will be exciting and fulfilling.

Route for Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

Section

Major Attractions

Distance

Altitude changes

Road condition

Lhasa To Shigatse

Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung and Sera monasteries Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Karola Glacier, Palcho Monastery

222.74 mi (358.47 km)

3,800m/12,467ft to 3,656m/11,994ft

Paved roads for the entire distance.

Shigatse to EBC Tibet Side

Tashilhunpo Monastery, Gawu La Pass (5198m) and Everest Base Camp

226.8 mi (365 km)

5,000m/16,400ft

Paved roads for the entire distance.

EBC to Kyirong

Mount Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Pekutso Lake, Sakya Monastery, Mount Kailash

295.26 mi (475.18 km)

2,700m/8,858ft to 3,800m/12,467ft

Paved roads for the entire distance.

Gyirong to Kathmandu

Langtang National Park, Gyirong Valley, Langtang range 

150.99 mi (242.99 km)

1,400m/4,593ft to 2,700m/8858ft

Partly paved dirt roads to Kyirong Port, and then fully paved roads to Kyirong Town.

Day to Day Activity from Overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu

Lhasa City

Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Shigatse (3,800m/12,470ft) via Gyantse (4,000m/13,120ft) - 353 kilometers

Lhasa, the 'land of gods,' is named so for the immense influence of Tibetan Buddhism religion since ancient times. There is a lot to see in Lhasa, from the majestic temples to palaces and vibrant streets. Visit the old and tall Potala Palace, the winter palace of the former Dalai Lama. Visit the Jokhang temple in the vibrant streets of Barkor and interact with the locals. Alternatively, you can attend the interesting monk debate in Drepung or Sera Monasteries.

On the way from Lhasa to Gyantse, witness the serene Yamdruk Lake at the Gampa La Pass (4790m). It is also known for the amazing Karola Glacier. In Gyantse, get a chance to visit the highly revered Palcho Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum Stupa. From Gyantse country, drive off on the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway to Shigatse.

Day 2: Drive from Shigatse to Rongbuk Monastery (5,000m/16,400ft) - 365 kilometers

Shigatse has a lot to offer, but the most convenient and the best of them is the Tashihunpo Monastery. Taking the G318 National Highway, you will enter the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve. It is located in Tingri Country and hosts the Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. There is a sharp rise in the altitude as you come across one of the highest Gawu LA Pass at an altitude of 5298m. There you can witness the high peaks of Mt. Makal, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Cho Oyu, and Mt. Shishapangma, all over 8000m.

From the highpass, it is a short way to the Everest Base Camp area near Rongbuk Monastery.

It is one of the greatest experiences to have spent a night at the foot of the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest. You even get to witness the sunset and the changing colors of the top of Mt. Everest through dusk.

Day 3: Explore Everest Base Camp (5,200m/17,060ft) and drive to Kyirong (Gyirong) Border (2,700m/8,860ft) - 325 kilometers

Everest Base Camp offers a spectacular view of Mt. Everest during sunrise. After taking numerous photos of the summit, you can head to the nearby Rongbuk Monastery, the world's highest known Buddhist monastery. You can visit and meditate in one of the many caves around the Rongbuk valley in hopes of enlightenment. You can also make a short detour to the Shakya Monastery if time permits.

After enjoying your sightseeing visit, drive off to the old Tingri road and head to the turquoise Pekutso Lake at an altitude of 4800m. From a distance, you can witness the reflection of Mt. Shishapangma on its surface and hear quaint whispers of Yarlung Tsangpo. From there on, take a descend to the Gyirong Town. From the town, you can head further up to the Gyirong Border if time permits.

Day 4: Drive from Gyirong Border to Kathmandu - 160 kilometers

The Gyirong border differentiates Tibet and Nepal. After some documents and visa check in the Gyirong port of Tibet and Rasuwagadhi Port of Nepal, you will head to Kathmandu city, the capital of Nepal. The initial drive is bumpy as the road is not completely blacktopped; however, you will drive via an asphalt road in a while.

Once you enter the Nepal side, you will be passing by the Langtang National Park, filled with unique and lush wildlife. From your vehicle, you can catch a glimpse of the majestic Langtang range of mountains. From there, you will be passing by traditional houses made of stones and thatched roofs on the way, pass through green fields, and eventually enter the city life in Kathmandu. Kathmandu has temples and monuments dating back to bygone centuries ruled by kings, monasteries, and more. Enjoy the vibrant streets of Kathmandu - the city of temples.

Read More: Top 10 Things To Do In Kathmandu Nepal

Where to travel next?

Get help from our travel specialists for holiday ideas that matches your interests.

Cost for Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour

The standard cost for the Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland tour is tentatively 1000 USD to 2500 USD (cost depends on group size, number of days, etc.). It covers several amenities like transportation, accommodation, guide and tour service fee, travel permits and documentation, and more. However, not many Personal expenses are added here as it is entirely dependent on how much you wish to spend.

For budget travel, it is advised to go on a group tour where you can share the cost of transportation and accommodation. The cost of flights, land transportation, and hotels is also lower when you travel in the off-season from November to February.

It is worth noting that not all areas in Tibet have full facilities. Hence, they might lack ATMs and banks, so it is wise to carry local cash rather than credit and debit cards. However, the currency exchange can be managed by the Tibetan tour guide when you enter Lhasa.

Hotels and Accommodations on Lhasa to Kathmandu

Hotel Room in Lhasa

Accommodation in Lhasa is fairly easy to find as it is a tourist destination that sees a flock of travelers year-round. You can select from several choices in the main city areas like Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyirong Border, and more. Generally, the Tibetan hotels are clean and cozy with hot water facilities and attached toilets in these areas. You can even opt for a luxury resort or 4-star hotel if your budget allows. These hotels serve a variety of food, from typical Tibetan meals to western and eastern dishes. You can enjoy the local dishes in the streets of Barkhor as well.

In the higher altitude regions in the Rongbuk and EBC area, the situation is starkly different. Due to the uninhabitable weather and topography, you cannot find many lodges there. The accommodation that you can find here has basic amenities like warm blankets and furniture. However, hot water and an attached toilet are tough to find. The public restrooms are often filthy, so it is best to carry your hygiene items. Food in these hotels is decent, including instant noodles, egg-fried rice, Tibetan dumplings, yak meat, and more. Try to eat local Tibetan meals that do not contain too much meat, as it is better in such a high altitude to cut down on high protein for digestion.

Lhasa To Kathmandu - By Flight

Lhasa to Kathmandu - by Flight

Apart from the overland tour, the alternate way of traveling from Lhasa to Kathmandu is via a flight. It is the most convenient and quick way. You will take a straight flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu, which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes of flight time.

The major advantage of taking a flight is saving time and enjoying the majestic views of the high Himalayas up close. The Nepal and Tibet Border has mountains over 8000m; this is the perfect way to experience a Himalayan flight. The bird's eye view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kailash, Mt. Shishapangma, Mt. Cho Oyu, and more are just fascinating. However, the downside of traveling via flight is that you don't get to experience the day-to-day life of the people living in the mountainous regions. Moreover, you don't get to experience the busy streets and visit significant lakes, monasteries and, most importantly, miss out on the Everest Base Camp night stay.

Lhasa to Kathmandu Flight Schedule

There are two ways of flying from Lhasa to Kathmandu, via Sichuan Airlines or Air China. The flight takes off from Gongga Airport in Lhasa and lands at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu. The non-stop flight is scheduled once each day. The flights from Sichuan Airline depart daily while Air China only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the peak seasons.

Sichuan Airlines from Lhasa to Kathmandu

Departure Dates

Every Day

Departure Time

10:55 (Chinese Time) 08:40 (Nepal Time)

Arrival Time

12:25 (Chinese Time) 10:10 (Nepal Time)

Airports

Gongga Airport (Lhasa) Tribhuvan Airport (Kathmandu)

Travel Time

1.5 hours

Air China from Lhasa to Kathmandu

Departure Dates

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Departure Time

11:25 (Chinese Time) 09:10 (Nepal Time)

Arrival Time

12:55 (Chinese Time) 10:40 (Nepal Time)

Airports

Gongga Airport (Lhasa)Tribhuvan Airport (Kathmandu)

Travel Time

1.5 hours

Note: The schedule mentioned above is for reference only based on the peak season. For more details, please get in touch with us.

How to Book a Flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu?

You can book flights from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Online sites like Expedia, Tripadvisor, Skyscanner, Cheapoair for a better cost comparison. You can also get the pertinent details of the flight tickets for the official websites of Sichuan Airlines and Air China.

As there are only a couple of flights from Lhasa to Kathmandu, booking your ticket in advance is advised. Booking a month or two before your travel will also help to get cheaper rates. While booking a flight and making plans for your tour, you need to consider that the rates are much more affordable in off-seasons like November to February. Well-organized tour operators like Third Rock Adventures assist in making all the necessary arrangements for your flight.

Other Ways To Travel From Lhasa To Kathmandu

Two of the most beautiful cities in southeast Asia, Lhasa and Kathmandu, have a lot to offer no matter how you decide to get from one city to another. While the Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour is the most preferred way, the flight is also an alternative if you have limited time. In both ways, you get to experience trans-Himalayan beauty. However, one of the most unique and flexible ways to travel to Lhasa is by Bike!

Lhasa to Kathmandu by Bicycle

Lhasa to Kathmandu travel by bicycle is one of the most liberating, adventurous, and physically demanding ways to travel. The entire tour takes around 16 to 19 days, including sightseeing in different places. Going from Lhasa to Shigatse and Jiding takes seven days. From Jiding to Everest Base Camp takes four days and to Gyirong town from there takes three days. From Gyirong to Kathmandu takes about two days. It will take a couple of days to develop the needed stamina for cycling in the tough terrains of the Tibetan plateau. The day-to-day itinerary is carefully designed with the assistance of your guide to fit your physical needs.

The beauty of getting from Lhasa to Kathmandu by bicycle is that you can breathe the fresh air, touch the land, pass through alpine lakes, high Himalayan passes, and get in touch with people. A bicycle tour is one of the best ways to understand Tibet and Nepal's culture, traditions, and nature.

However, this kind of travel requires a maximum number of days and resources, so it costs higher than overland or flight. A team will help in logistics supply, chef, medical aid, camping, and cooking amenities. Also, a great physical fitness could help to endure cycling in tough terrain, high altitude for a maximum number of days. Hence you need to be financially, physically, and mentally prepared for this trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Bike.

Where to travel next?

Get help from our travel specialists for holiday ideas that matches your interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Travel Permit and Visa required?

You need a Travel Permit and Visa for travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu. All international tourists require a Chinese Visa as Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is a part of China. After getting the visa, you need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) to enter Lhasa or any other parts of TAR. This permit needs to be shown at checkpoints while traveling on train and flight.

Tibet Travel Permit is available to up to 178 countries, and all tourists can get it except diplomats, journalists, and government officials on official visits. It will take about 8-9 days to obtain the permit.

To enter Nepal, you would require a Nepali Visa as well. You need to show it at the Rasuwagadhi border when you enter, in Tribhuvan International airport if you take a flight and other significant checkpoints.

To get the permit and visa, you need to discuss with your tour operator a couple of weeks prior, who will take you through the process.

Lhasa to Kathmandu by overland or flight? Which is better?

Both Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland and Flight tours give a unique perspective of Tibet and Lhasa. However, the Overland tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu is highly popular and regarded to be better.

The Overland tour is the best if you have a good enough budget to spend and time on your hand. It would take about seven days to cross the 1300km distance between the two cities while exploring different monuments and natural sites. Alternatively, if you have little time to spare and are tight on budget, you can opt for the flight tour, which will take only 1 hour and 30 minutes on-air, with a bird's eye view of the high Himalayas and Tibetan Plateaus.

Regardless of the popular opinion, it is up to you to decide whether you want convenience or an extended adventure.

When is the best season for the Lhasa and Kathmandu tour?

The best season for the Lhasa and Kathmandu tour is from April to June and September to December if you are taking the overland tour. However, if you plan for an extended bike tour, then Mid-April to Early June and September to October are best. In these months, you will get to witness vivid views of the Himalayas, lakes, sceneries without worries of rainy clouds or extreme cold. All other seasons except the rainy monsoon season are good if you are going on a flight.

Can I travel independently from Lhasa to Kathmandu?

As of now, international tourists can not travel independently from Lhasa to Kathmandu as per the Tibet Travel Policy. International tourists need to pre-book their tours with a licensed Tibet Travel agency to manage the entire tour. Only an authorized travel agent in Tibet can apply for the Tibet Travel Permit. You can take on private tours from travel agencies that can customize them as per your need.

Is a Train or Bus Available from Lhasa to Kathmandu?

There are no direct train facilities available from Lhasa to Kathmandu. However, there is a train route available from Lhasa to Shigatse, after which you can hire a bus or private vehicle to reach the Gyirong border and drive to Kathmandu.

A long-distance bus ride directly from Lhasa to Kathmandu is available but only for Chinese and Nepali citizens on the Sino Nepal border. However, there are no stops at significant attractions, and it is also not for all international tourists, so it is not popular and not recommended. Hence, it is best to take a private vehicle for the same.

Do I Need to Join a Group to Enter Kathmandu from Lhasa?

While it is not mandatory to join a group to enter Kathmandu from Lhasa, it is certainly an option that would save much cost of travel and accommodation. You can ask your tour operator to set up a customized private tour with just you and your family, or you can ask them to join other small group tours. With a group, you interact with new people, share accommodation and transport costs, and are relatively simpler.

It is entirely up to your interest and budget to decide whether you would like to travel privately or with a group.

Conclusion

Traveling from Lhasa to Kathmandu is a great way to know the ins and outs of the two majestic trans-Himalayan countries, Tibet and Nepal. You can get from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal via the popular overland tour, quick flight, or the unique and lengthy bike ride. In all these ways of travel, you get to see a different side of Tibet from its lakes to mountains, monasteries, temples, and the welcoming locals.

If you are searching for a trusted tour operator to manage your Lhasa to Kathmandu tour and provide you with all the relevant information, Third Rock Adventures is here for the best services. With our extensive experience of successful tours, resources, and networks, we have been a part of uncountable memories and smiles amidst our valued customers. Feel free to get in touch with us for any relevant queries.



  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Wednesday Aug 25, 2021

Recent Comments

lhasa to kathmandu
Mason Hamilton | Tue Sep 7, 2021
Such a detailed article. I stumbled upon this blog and got all my answers.
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lhasa to kathmandu
Charlie Byrne | Sun Aug 29, 2021
Very handy guide on how to travel Tibet from Nepal. Loved reading it and knowing the available options. Thanks to the author.
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Naba Raj

About Author - Naba Raj Amgai

Naba Raj Amgai, stepped into the world of travel and tourism in 1996. He is Founder and Managing Director of Third Rock Adventures.

Beginning his journey in the tourism industry as a humble Porter Guide to founding hospitality establishments and an adventure travel company, he has come a long way.

In a career spanning more than two decades, he has achieved more than anybody dreams of achieving. Along with his professional achievements, his selfless contribution towards his community and society has won him a lot of accolades and praises.

Having dedicated more than two decades in the tourism and hospitality sector, he has amassed a wealth of experience.

After passing high school, he began helping out some trekking guides and was soon recruited as a porter guide at a reputed trekking agency. Within a short time, he was individually guiding clients across the well-known trails of the Himalayas.

He went on to lead tour groups on multi-country tours to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Being a part of mountain climbing expeditions familiarised him with expedition logistics and operations. Later on, he went to become the Executive Director and took over the reins of Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. Spending several years in the tourism field has made Naba Raj Amgai a destination expert.

Travelling is his passion and he has been to many countries across the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Holland, Germany, Austria and many parts of Asia.

His journeys to different parts of the world have enriched his travel experience and knowledge. This experience has been instrumental in planning and organizing successful trips for several clients.

As of today many reputed travel companies, hotels and restaurants are under his leadership. A dynamic and proactive leader, he continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

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