There are mainly two ways for tourists to travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa. One is taking a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa. The other is Kathmandu overland Lhasa. In the overland tour, you will be driven on the famous Friendship Highway for 806km. The Friendship Highway connects China and Nepal. So, the Friendship Highway is also called China-Nepal Highway.
The Friendship Highway is known as the highest highway in the world. It will cross over 5000 meters three times. It is the most traveled road in Tibet. However, after the biggest earthquake in 2015, the Friendship Highway is no longer ends in Kathmandu, it just ends in the Friendship Bridge. And, the old crossing point had been closed. In 2017, they opened a new for tourists at the north of Gyirong port. Driving along the Araniko highway for another 115KM, you can also arrive in Kathmandu.
The main Friendship Highway is along the G318 National highway from Lhasa to Lhatse. G318 National highway is a highway connecting the east and west of China. It runs from Shanghai to Zhangmu and covers 5476KM. The Friendship Highway will separate into two ways in Lhatse. One separate way is ahead to the Nepal border. The other separate way will end in the Ngari Prefecture. The friendship highway ahead to Ngari Prefecture is less traveled unless who will go to Mount Kalish and Manasarovar Lake. It is also an import to pilgrims who want to get to Lhasa from any other place in Tibet.
Driving along the Friendship Highway, You will appreciate Lake Yamdrok one of three holy lakes in Tibet, Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, sacred Monastery and Glacier. The Friendship Highway ends in Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge. The Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge separates China and Nepal. On the one side is Chinese Zhangmu, on the other side is the Nepalese Kodari. The climate and scenery are also quite different between Zhangmu and Kodari. It is because the road descends a stunning 15000 ft in just a few mile distances. The arid land suddenly transforms into lush-green sub-tropical lowlands. The bad news is you will say goodbye to the flat Friendship. You will face the most dangerous road in Nepal. What is called Arniko Highway, it can be transferred by caravans of yaks for centuries
The tips for Kathmandu Lhasa overland tour via Friendship Highway
Tour duration: Driving from Kathmandu to Lhasa usually takes 4 days.
Driving route: Kathmandu to Gyirong, 210km, Gyirong to Tingri Tibet, 300km, Tingri to Shigatse, Shigatse – Gyantse – Lhasa
The Friendship Highway is flat and the road condition is good. But, the road from Quxu to Shigatse is rough.
Landslides may happen in Zhangmu especially in the rainy season. So, if you choose to travel to Tibet from Nepal in the rainy season, please take care. The rainy season is from July to August.
You could better take some medicine to avoid altitude sickness. Along the Friendship Highway, the attitude will change a lot.