Here are translations of the remarks in French about each table of the Yunnan-Tibet route. You would be kind to excuse the approximate English used here ! Most of remarks are from 2001 (the asphalt has progressed in places I indicate in tables), except Gartok (Markham)-Bamda : 2007.


 * Deqen (Jol)-Gartok (Markham)

Gartok (Markham)-Wamda (Zuogong

Wamda (Zuogong) – Pema (Baxoi)

Pema (Baxoi)-Tramog (Bome)

Tramog (Bome)-Bayi

* Bayi-Lhasa

* Lhasa-Shigatse (Xigazê)

* Shigatse (Xigazê)-Pelbar (Baiba)

* Pelbar (Baiba)-Dram (Zhangmu)

* Dram (Zhangmu)-Kathmandu


Deqen (Jol)-Gartok (Markham)              272km-169mi unpaved                       TIBET

Checkposts : no more

State of road:regular gravel road, the uphill to Hong La being pretty good.

Profile: long downhill after the small pass at the exit of Deqen, then gentle climbing the valley (with some small hills before Hongshuan) up to the provincial boundary. After, long and soft uphill to the pass. After a rather short downhill, you climb very softly along a river up to Gartok (Markham). Total ascent : 3300 m.

Where to sleep: hidden camping not easy, except around the pass. 6 km before Yangjin, two small bridges under which it is possible to sleep.

Water: no problem, except maybe between bk1820 & 1793, then the last 35 km befor Gartok (Markham).

Features: one of the most beautiful sections of all Tibet : mainly exit of Deqen, and climbing to the pass, fantastic views on a 6000 m high mountain chain. After the pass, more common landscape, populated high valley.

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GARTOK (Markham)-WAMDA (Zuogong)   157km-95mi, 142km-88mi unpaved  TIBET


State of the road: good unpaved road (but still no asphalt)

Traffic : 100-120 vehicles/day

Profile: big mountain section ! Three big passes (500m, 1300m, 1600m), without only one km flat

Total ascent 3490 m (3580 m on the other side)

Where to sleep: you can find some places to camp. See observations on table

Features: very beautiful mountain sceneries, mainly on the ascent from the Mekong to the Joba La

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Wamda (Zuo Gong)-Pema (Baxoi) 201 km-125 mi, 116 km-72 mi unpaved             TIBET

Checkpost : none, except a lone police post at bridge (bk3753) – no control

State of road : good paved road up to the Bamda Junction. Uphill in good conditions, then bad road almost all downhill on Salween Valley ; some important works are being in a lot of the switchbacks of this descent. A little bit better unpaved road to reach Pema (Baxoi) uphill, the asphalt should progress about 10 km more. Not very friendly people in the hamlets after the Gama La descent.

Profile : large and almost flat valley up to Bamda Junction. Then pretty hard uphill on Gama La, then long, hard and impressive downhill (1850 m-6050 ft en 40 km-25 mi), difficulty if made on the other side. Progressive uphill on Pema (Baxoi). Total ascent : 1800 m-5900 ft.

Where to sleep : hidden camping not very possible, except maybe around bk3646½, 3688. On the paved sections, some very tiny dry bridges under which it is possible to sleep. Pastor shelters bk3678, 638 (5 km-3 mi after Gama La).

Water : no problem all along, except in the Salween downhill, after the roadworkers : if you cycle on the other side, take water before, as this hill can be very hot.

Features : the first part of the valley is not very fantastic (except if it has just snowed) ; the hill to Gama La is nice. Then, before Pema (Baxoi), beautiful torrential valley – with some landslides.

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Wamda (Zuo Gong)-Pema (Baxoi)  201km-125mi, 116km-72mi unpaved   TIBET

Checkposts : none

State of the road: good paved road up to Bamda. Good unpaved road to Gama La, then rocky up to the bridge on the Salween. Slightly better then, the asphalt should have progressed since 2001. In the descent, strange people, not really hospitable.

Traffic >100 (+ military convoys and motorbikes)

Profile: long valley, almost flat up to the Bamda junction. After, steep ascent to the Gama La, then long, difficult and impressive descent (1850 m in 40 km), hard on the other side. Progressive uphill to Pema (Baxoi). Total ascent : 1800 m.

Where to sleep: quite crowded valley (except at the end), but you can pretty easily find where to camp. Camping BK 3635, 44½, 46½, 52½ (ruines), 71½,75½, 79½, 83½, 87½, 90½. Shelters bk3678, 638 (5 km après le Gama La).

Water: no problem all along, except in the descent to the Salween, after roadworkers : if you come from the other side, take plenty of water before, as the ascent is quite hot.

Features: first part : beautiful high valley, with some not uninsteresting tibetan villages, and some monasteries which worth the detour ; second part : the views in the Gama La ascent are remarkable. Before Pema (Baxoi), beautiful torrential valley.

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Pema (Baxoi)-Tramog (Bome)     219km-136mi, 173km-107mi unpaved     TIBET

Checkpost :just a gate in a hamlet (km151), seems no more working.

State of road : rough unpaved road up to the pass, bit better then up to Rawok (Rahog). After, washboards (less first 20 km), sometimes sand, up to the pavement. Traffic : 30 to 40 vehicles/day.

Profile : long and soft uphill to the pass, the main difficulty being the face wind. Soft downhill on Rawok, then (Bome), with some un-and-downs along the very long downhill valley. Total ascent : Pema (Baxoi)-Rahog 1400 m, Rawok-Tramog (Bome) 350 m.

Where to sleep : before Rawok, uneasy to camp hidden : around : bk753½ (quarry), bk760 (hillock). After Rawok, possible to camp in a lot of places up to the entrance of Tramog (Bome).

Water : no problem.

Features : with the surroundings of Déqên, the most beautiful part of the Yunnan-Lhasa road (which is probably itself the most beautiful road of Tibet) : in April, the area from Rawo to Tramog (Bome) is very nearly to our Alps, or even Norway, with snow reaching the lake seaside. I strongly recommend to take the Dzayul road from Rawok, at least up to the lakes (or even up to the pass), this route is really superb. See brief description following (see table).

REMARKS DOMA LA ROAD : magnificent unsealed road, narrow but good  ->bk35, less good after. 800 m – 2600 ft of ascent, but with all the up-and-downs, total ascent of  1200 m – 3950 ft. You follow a fist lake from bk3 to bk10, then have a vantage point on a second lake (far), smaller, from bk16 to bk19. In April, fantastic viewpoints, you cycle in an ocean of snow, only the road appearing. Strategic road (disputed border with India), so this road seems to be open very early after winter or snowstorm.

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Tramog (Bome)-Bayi                      234km-145mi, 178km-110mi unpaved              TIBET

Checkposts :

Checkpost :aucun, mais il conviendrait d'être très prudent en traversant Bayi, importante ville chinoise où pas mal de voyageurs (dont des cyclos) se seraient fait "ramasser" par une police particulièrement efficace.

State of road:

Etat route :après une excellente route, retour à la piste, avec deux passages difficiles, voire dangereux si pluie : 8/10 km avant Tang-Me, et les 2 km suivant le pont après Tang-Me : soit piste en corniche sur une zone de glissement de terrain, soit piste tracée à la serpe dans la roche. Après le pont, la piste reste pénible et pentue sur 7 km en tout. La remontée commence bien, mais ensuite travaux sur 30 km (qui devraient améliorer l'état de la piste une fois terminés. En attendant, gare aux dynamitages !). Piste ensuite relativement correcte jusqu'à Nyiangtri, quoique bosselée de part et d'autre du col. Trafic: 60 à 100 véhicules par jour, nettement plus entre Nyangtri et Bayi.


Relief : longue descente assez peu sensible de Tramog (Bome) à Tang-me, mais non dépourvue de courtes montées-descentes, surtout en approchant Tang-Me. Remontée moins accidentée. Les 20 km avant le Sherkyem La, on grimpe près de 1100 m. Dénivelé cumulé : Tramog (Bome)-Tang-me 750 m (alors qu'on redescend de plus de 600 m !), Tang-me-Petit village 3350 m, Petit village-Bayi 1250 m, soit 5350 m en tout.

Where to sleep: pretty easy up to Tang-me, then from Peylon to Tondjuk. Less easy after. Beyond the pass, you can camp around bk4202 and bk4205. Take care if you camp around Attention si vous campez autour de Tang-me, in "low" elevation : ticks and some leeches in the grass, even in april.

Water: no problem all along.

Features: less interesting than the last section, but beautiful, as there is a lot of woods. The sights around the pass are superb, quick downhill up tor Nyantri and Bayi 1500 m just below

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Bayi-Lhasa                         396km-246mi, 11km-7mi unpaved                    TIBET

Checkposts : only usual police checkposts (trucks...), at the two entrances of Ngapo Zampa (Gongbo Gyamda)

State of road: très bonne route, ne manquent que 5.5 km de chaque côté du col. Arrivée Lhasa : voir plan Lhasa.

Profile: pretty regular. The uphill is very progressive, only the 10 last km are really hill. Total ascent : 2350 m.

Where to sleep: pretty easy to camp up to Songduo, not so easy after (no more tree). Some opportunities bk4530½ (21 km after Rutog), 4575/4576 (11 km after Meldro Gongkar), 4606.

Water: easy from Bayi to Rutog. Beyond this point, less trusty creeks (except bk4572 et 4582), ask in hamlets.

Features: another forested valley up to Songduo. After, it's the Tibet without vegetation as you can imagine. Beautiful panoramic view from the pass, the second +5000 from Yunnan. At 9.5 km from the main road, the Ganden monastery is a steep but rewarding challenge to reach (560 m). Among the great monasteries, this has surely the best site, in a small mountainous circus. Guesthouse at the monastery. You can see the Potala for the first time 20 km before Lhasa.

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Lhasa-Shigatse par le nord      338km-210mi, 246km-153mi unpaved          TIBET

State of the road: good asphalt from 2003. From Yangpachen, pretty good unpaved road, up to the ferry. Frequent ferry, waiting some people to work, but enough trafic (vehicules or people, around every 3/4 h). After Trakdruka, good paved road. Arriving in Shigatse (Xigazê) : Lonely Planet guides don't indicate correctly the Lhasa direction : in fact, you arrive by the street below the one marked. Better to avoid to pass just in front of the PSB !

Profile: long uphill almost flat up to Yangpachen, then to the valley up to the Yangpachen monastery ; in fact, it becomes steep only the last 9 km before the Zhugu La (Shogar La). Same thing on the other side, towards Markyang. The Do-ngu uphill is quite easy. From Oyuk to the ferry, up and downs. Some hills between Trakdruka and  Shigatse (Xigazê).

Total ascent : Lhasa-Yangpachen 650 m, Yangpachen-Senshang 1200 m, Senshang-Ferry 700 m, Ferry-Shigatse (Xigazê) 200 m.

Where to sleep: open space, not easy to camp hidden, but almost deserted area. The best places : bk34½, 111, 124½, et after Tradruka bk4861½, 4870, 4871½, 4889 & 4891½. After Senshang (bk90½), "dry" bridge. 4889 & 4891½ (canyons).

Water: not very evident up to Yangpachen Gonpa, fill your bottles in hamlets. After, no problem up to Tradruka ferry. After, often dirty with villages up the streams, but wide glacial river at bk485, et good water bk4872½ & 4875.

Features:  this itinerary is less beautiful than the one by Gyantse, but more than the direct one by Nyemo. The surroundings of the passes are quite scenic, and those are probably easier than the south road.

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Zhigatse (Xigazê)-Pelbar (Baiba) 232km-144mi, 198km-123mi unpaved TIBET

Checkposts : no more

State of the road: pretty good gravel road. The second section of 20 km asphalt is rather deteriorated. From Chushul (Lhazê) to the pass, rather good dirt road. From the pass to bk5100, often rocky, not pleasant to cycle. Then, good road

Profile: soft uphill to Yulung La, only steep the last 3 km. Rather steep uphill to Gyatso La, the +5000 m we have found the easiest (tailwind). Headwind in the descent towards Pelbar (Xêgar).

Total ascent : Pelbar -Shelkar 1000 m, Shelkar-Pelbar 1100 m.  

Where to sleep:

Hébergement : quite difficult. Some opportunities inside the canyons along the road, around bk4978-4981 ; some small "dry" bridges bk4987-4990. Less than 1 km before Chushul checkpost you can hide behind a small knoll on the left.

Water: rare and dirt up to Geding. After the Shab junction, you follow a valley, quite populated in its second half (better to treat water). After the last hamlet, you can trust the water from the torrents.

Features: not really interesting. Even the Gyastso La ascent has nothing fantastic. The Sakya monastery is only 45 km return.

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Pelbar (Baiba)-Dram (Zhangmu)312 km-194mi,  293km-182mi unpaved TIBET

Checkposts: in 2007, it should be like other parts of Tibet, no more checkpoints for travellers. There were 2 at the west exist of Pelbar : at the second one, you have to pay a national park entrance tax (60 yuans 2001). You can easily pass them early in the morning (at the end of the night). The checkpost before Dingri (from base camp) only check people entering national park by the other side. At the two entrances of Dingri, there were, a long time ago, gates, normally disused. Checkpost at the entrance of Dram/Zhangmu (before descending to the town) : seems to check people ENTERING Tibet, when leaving, it seems to be less problem. At the customs, just after Zhangmu, they only check passports.

State of the road: rather good from Pelbar (Baiba), usually called Shégar (Xêgar), up to the Everest camp base junction.

After She, sometimes rocky (mainly at the beginning, and often after the pass). From Pedruk up to the Dingri junction, often bad, in works. On this section, the wind is strong, always changing side.

From the deep ford up to Dingri, not too bad, but often sandy (except when crossing a scree after the pass), with fords. Be careful, the access of this road is not evident, there are 36 tracks in this area (some coming from Rongbuk). Find a track going to a ford, and not to a narrow bridge (which reaches a trailhead, not really adapted to cycles).

From Dingri to Nyalam, regular but OK, but frequent southeast wind, mainly afternoon (better to cycle a lot in the morning).

From Nyalam to Dram (chinese name to Zhangmu, nepalese name : Khasa), the road, first improved, is generally bad when approaching the monsoon (june-sept). Don't hope to cycle up to 10 km/h.

Profile: steep uphill to Pang La. Second half of the hill is the steepest. Beginning of the Nam La hill (up to Zemouk) is sometimes hard, easier after. Almost flat from Dingri to the foot of the passes. Rather steep but steady. The headwind is strong in this area, harder than the ascent itself. Deep downhill on 20 km, then soft, with some short uphills before Nyalam. After, steeper and steeper downhill towards Dram (Zhangmu).

Total ascent : Pelbar-Dingri, 1750 m, Dingri-Zhangmu 1000 m.

Where to sleep: difficult to camp in hidden places, but few people around the road, except bk5244-5265. Around Nam La, it's very desert. Some places 2,5 km before Pelbar checkpost (left). Grassy area just after the deep ford (km74). Ruins at the foot of  Lalung La (bk5272). Some bridges under which you can sleep : bk5249/5250½/5262½. After Nyalam, difficult to camp ; shelters bk5354½ & 5369½. If police let you pass, you can camp 300 m just after checkpost at the entrance of  Zhangmu.

Water: no problem, except in the up/downhill of Pang La : better to have enough water from She to Pedruk. Before Lalung La, last water source around bk5262, then at the bridge between the two passes.     

Features: this road is not, from far, the most direct. Nevertheless, at least the detour by the Pang La worth it, giving to the route up to Nepal a reason to be cycled, as the direct road is almost monotonous. You can reach the Rongbuk monastery and the Everest base camp, at around 15 and 23 km from the deep ford. From the Pang la, superb view on the Himalaya range (Everest, of course). Some beautiful views from the two first passes. If good weather, the downhill section from Nyalam to Zhangmu is scenic, very different from the arid Tibet.

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Zhangmu-Kathmandu          123km-76mi, 22km-13,5mi unpaved        TIBET/NEPAL

Boundary: time China 10h00 -> Népal 07h45 (!). Not really possible to cross before 10am Beijing Time.

State of the road: horrible dirt road, frequently ruined by monsoon july/august : carry bags, or even bike. Up to mid-june and from october, no problem. Kodari-Barabise : better road, but prone to landslides. Then excellent asphalt up to KMD. For  Dhulikel-Kathmandu, see Vallée de Kathmandu map. to find your way at the entrance of the nepalese capital, see  plan de Kathmandu.

Profile: steep downhill up to Kodari, then smoother up to Barabise, with some uphills in between (some are very steep, due to landslides). Long but soft uphill up to Dhulikhel, last pass at Sangu (easy).

Total ascent : Zhangmu-Dolalghat 350 m, Dolalghat-Kathmandu 1100 m.

Where to sleep: rather frequent (Zhangmu, Kodari, Tatopani, Barabise, probably Dolalghat, Dhulikhel, Banepa). Discrete camping uneasy (steep and crowded), possible at Saping Pass (there's even a small kiosk), and at the pass just after  Lamidanda (wood).

Water: except monsoon season, rather trusty up to Dhulikhel, mainly up to Barabise. At KMD, water is so dark, better forget it.

Features: complete change from the Tibetan Plateau : dense flora, heath, moisture... To be avoided from mid june to end september. From Dhulikhel and surroundings (Namo Buddah), we can see the himalayan range, weather conditions permitting (better early in the morning).

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