Always remember: When cycling in Tibet the golden rule is not to ask for permission to bicycle, but just go for it!
A good link regarding the current travel situation in Tibet and the Alien Travel permit
April 2008. On the current sitation on cycling/travelling to tibet: please take a look at these links:
Or look at the latest posts on the Lonely Planet thornthree,
24.01.2008: pr. 1. jan 2008 it's not possible to get a 6-month Chinese business visa in Hong Kong, only three months. See this link
The road between Ali and Rutog has now been paved: http://en.tibet.cn/en_index/pas/t20070926_282228.htm
The friendship highway is planned to become paved in its entire length within 2010: http://en.tibet.cn/en_index/pas/t20071026_285381.htm
Here a link to a cyclist who biked the last part to Zhangmu last autumn.
17.09.2007: Info on the road from Saga to Lhasa
its all the way paved from latze to lhasa. from saga to latze there are some streches paved but not all. maybe half of it in random spots. to be honest, i can't remember wich kilometeres from where to where since i didn't write it down. but even the dirt is pretty good and the lot of river crossings with mud were kind of fun to me.
Update 26 oct. 2006: Long sections of the main roads in Tibet are being upgraded now and paved. Below is a list of present status.
- Roadconstruction between Shigatse and Lhatse is finished - road is paved now. Road construction should be going on all the way to New Tingri.
- The road between Nargarse and Gyantse is still under constrution. Chances are it will be paved in 2007.
- The road between SangSang and Raga/Kaga is under construction and is in bad condition some places.
- The road between Namru and Moincer is under construction - relatively good surface now - can be paved soon.
- The road between Ali and Rutok is under construction - sandy but may soon be paved.
I stopped over in Darchen, Zhanda (Tholing) and Ali (5 days). In none of the places did I go to the police to get an Alien Travel Permit. Not one time did the police check if I had the permit either. Bottom line: It seems unnessary to obtain the permit (50 yuan) and pay the mandatory fine (300 yuan). Below is a few emails from other cyclists - seems like east tibet is become more open as well.
Mails from other cyclist in Tibet:
9 Nov 2006
(...) I really really want to come back to cycle East Tibet and you know they are not stopping people coming up from the East through Markham now and tourists who took the train from Chengdu or Beijing to Lhasa said they were not asked for permits either so its getting very slack and easy.
Steve and I did not have any problem with the
PSB. No checkpoint. We stayed
in most towns, went to Internet cafe where the police play video games, ate
in restaurants. All of this in full daylight. I just wander if we have been
damned lucky or if it's a new Chinese policy in view of the coming Olympic
Games. We even rode along the Southern border with India, an heavy
militarised area (Tsetang - Miling - Bayi). Same, same.
DOM (cycling Lhasa to Chengdu)
21 OCt. 2006:
..Oh yes now Ive calmed down I ment to tell you,
that all those statistics -road markers - you and the boys did are now codswallap-
after Darchen they mysteriously became way way out- new road markers that
are 100km or so out, but I still use the road book with the speedometer to
find where the next village is etc- things are changing so quick out here
I dont think it is worth me making any alterations to the notes as they will
be out of date in a year.
13. oct. 2006:
Hello Dominique and Martin,
we arrived some days ago in Lhasa and we want to thank you for the maps you
gave us concerning the road up to Tinkye and Gampazhol. We have used them
very well. The trip was magnificent. There is a checkpost 30 km before
Tinkye, but this is no problem. But there is also one 30 km after Kala and
this road from Khangar until the border with Sikkim is closed for foreigners
and even tibetans need a travelpermit. We were held for 2 hours at the
checkpost and after some hassle they let us go. The road from Tinkye
Gampazhol, untill just before Kala is not closed. It was beatifull but
sometimes very rough road with sanddunes en stones following the riverbed.
Bart and Hilde
28 Feb 2006
Another little update - I just passed the bridge
over the Jinshajiang
from Sichuan to Tibet on the NORTHERN Sichuan-Tibet highway (G317),
near Dege, and it's the same story there as it was further south on
the G318 - no guards on the bridge, apparently no problem with
foreigners going across. There was a freight control checkpost on the
Sichuan side, and the guy there let me across with no problems.
The foreign-affairs policeman in Baiyu, a little
way south from there,
also claimed that foreigners were now free to enter Tibet at this
Again, though, I only cycled a couple of km on
the Tibet side, out of
curiousity, before returning to Sichuan, and cannot confirm from
personal experience that you would be allowed to ride all the way on
to Qamdo and Lhasa.
The G317 road, incidentally, is sealed on the
Sichuan side but dirt on
the Tibet side.
I'm here in Batang, on the Sichuan-Tibet border, just thought I'd pass
on some info that might be useful for the Tibet-travel-intelligence
section of your website.
32 km south of Batang (Sichuan) on the G318 is
the little village of
Zhubalong. Here there is a bridge across the Jinshajiang/Yangtze to
the Tibetan side. (In fact they are building a new bridge, nearly
finished, but for the moment the road takes the old bridge.) There is
accommodation in Zhubalong.
The guard-posts on the bridge look long-abandonned.
I pushed my bike
across in broad daylight and nobody seemed to object. There is a large
new police station on the Sichuan side, but it does not seem to
contain any policemen.
On the Tibet side, there is a checkpoint with
two barriers, about 300
metres after the bridge. I asked the guy there if I could pass
through, he said no problem, and raised the barrier for me to pass.
In fact I was only going out of curiosity, my
route is going to take
me up the Sichuan side, so after a couple of km in Tibet I turned
around and came back.
So - is there a new 'open Tibet' policy operating
here? That's the way
it seemed at the 'border' and the checkpoint, but I didn't carry on to
Markham so I can't be sure.
Since the Lhasa-Golmud railway is going to open
this year, I wonder if
they have decided to open up Tibet to foreigners?
As for Bjorn - our paths crossed in Zhongdian,
he was going south, I
was going north. He's probably almost in Laos now, enjoying some warm
All the best
Last autumn (2005) I bike the Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Lhatse. The road between Gyantse and Shigatse is now paved according to a german cyclist. Also, the road to Nagarze up the Kamba La pass is paved now. There was some major road constuction going on between Shigatse and Lhatse and when I passed they had just begun to pave the road from Lhatse toward Shigatse. I was told the road all the way down to Zhangmu is under construction, meaning it the whole Friendship will be paved within the next few years.
I didn't meet any checkpoints between Lhasa and Lhatse. There was a minor one just after Lhatse toward Zhangmu, but they let me through without any problems. However, there is a heavy checkpoint outside Saga (in west Tibet) coming from east. I was stopped by personel in military uniforms, the police from Saga town was called in and took me along to the police station where I was fined 300 yuan. I wasn't given a alien travel permit, but was told to show my receipt to the police in Ali where I then would get a Alien travel permit. However, I had other plans and never went to Ali (I crossed the Chang Tang instead).
Messages from other cyclists:
News from East Tibet on the 2 July 2005.
sounds like good sport to me!
i came up through the yanjing and markham checkpoints
the problem was in zuogong where a psb came to see me when i was eating
dinner. he didnt do anything then but stopped me in a village 40km past
town the next day and told me to return to z. i just carried on during
the night and got away. unfortunately they had phoned ahead to bashoe
and they were waiting for me there again. this time i was told to get on
a bus back to zuogong. luckily i met some foreigners who helped me
continue on the road by taking me with them out of town, until bayi
infact then i cycled the rest of the way...
perhaps in january they had nothing better to
do. since then, i've met
cyclists who crossed the mnarkham checkpoint by day, stayed in hotels in
every town (including bayi) and did not get trouble from a psb once!!
sounds like totally different road, no?!
I got the mail below on 29 June 2005 - it seems like West Tibet is pretty open this year to cyclists.
I'm cycling the south western tibet road at the
moment, and have been
using your road notes which have been excellent, I have some updates If
you would like them.
At the moment I'm in Ali and about to head off
to Lhasa/Katmandu, I can
send you the updates I have from this trip if you like?
The good news is that the Yecheng-Ali road seems
to be open, I only had
my passport checked at Kurdi with no problem, but no other check points
even into Ali. The PSB found me in Ali and I paid for a permit and
Thanks for the notes,