The China-Nepal Highway (also known as the Friendship Highway) is a very scenic route on the Tibetan Plateau with a length of 753 km (467 miles). It’s regarded as one of the best overland journeys on the planet.
This high mountain road crosses three passes over 5,000m and runs over 4.000m for a long section. Some call the overland journey “epic,” “the experience of a lifetime,” and “wondrous.” The scenic route is totally paved and links the capital of Tibet, Lhasa and the Chinese/Nepalese border.
The journey has some rather fascinating parts. This is an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. The road goes through the westernmost part of China National Highway 318 from Lhasa west to Lhatse then south to Nepal as well as the southernmost part of China National Highway 219 from Lhatse to Gar in far western Tibet.
The road was opened in 1967, but Nepal closed the border to trade due to severe restrictions imposed by Beijing. At that time the road's sole purpose was militaristic. Today it’s the most popular route travelers take in Tibet, with many interesting things to see. The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! Scenery along the highway features important cultural monuments, the upper valley of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River, vast grasslands and meadows, and mountain vistas including five of the world's highest peaks: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. Along the Friendship Highway, you can visit beautiful turquoise Yamdrok Lake that is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, the Karuola Glaciers lying on the roadside, the Pelkor Chode Monastery with unique style taking in several sects of Tibetan Buddhism, the famed Tashilhunpoknown as the Panchen Lama's seat, the Sakya Monastery reputed as the "Second Dunhuang" for its magic murals.
Pic: Christopher Yin