Qinghai-Tibet Highway Travel Tips
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Qinghai-Tibet Highway Travel Tips

Update: Mar. 3rd, 2014

Qinghai-Tibet Highway

Strictly speaking, Qinghai-Tibet Highway refers to the highway to Lhasa from Xining via Golmud. It is the highest (with an average altitude above 4000 meters) highway above the sea level. With a length of 782 kilometers, the Xining-Golmud section of Qinghai-Tibet Highway stretches across several mountains and rivers. Tourists traveling to Tibet along this highway will have the chance to appreciate the fascinating Qinghai-Tibet Plateau landscapes.

Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the highest and longest asphalt road above the sea level, and also the shortest and safest highway to Lhasa. The magnificent natural landscapes on both sides of Qinghai-Tibet Highway attract a large number of domestic tourists planning to make a self-driving tour to Tibet. Visitors who've traveled to Tibet along Qinghai-Tibet Highway were always deeply impressed by the endless prairie, wild desert and magnificent mountains. It is reported that Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the busiest one among the four highways to Tibet. Be different from the other highways, Qinghai-Tibet Highway could be opened to traffic even in the cold winter season.

The construction of Qinghai-Tibet Highway was started in 1954. Qinghai-Tibet Highway was completed and opened to traffic in 1954. The road condition of Qinghai-Tibet Highway is pretty limited in the early period due to the severe local climate condition and special geological condition. With a total length of 1937 meters, Qinghai-Tibet Highway enjoys a width of 10 meters. Golmud is about 1100 kilometers away from Lhasa and it takes about 24 hours driving to complete this long journey.

Compared to the other three highways to Tibet (Xinjiang-Tibet Highway, Yunnan-Tibet Highway and Sichuan-Tibet Highway), Qinghai-Tibet Highway is a better choice for tourists planning to enter into Tibet by self driving for it enjoys better road condition. Tourists entering into Tibet along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway are strongly suggested to make enough preparation for the possible high altitude sickness.

The best period for traveling to Tibet along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway is between May and October. There are only a small number of visitors on Qinghai-Tibet Highway for it is pretty cold in the other months. It is necessary to prepare warm sweater and down jacket to cope with the low temperature in the night even in the summer season on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The restaurants along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway mainly provide ordinary Sichuan flavor food and Tibetan style food. It is advisable to prepare some favorite food and beverage in case the food provided by the restaurants could not meet your appetite. Fresh vegetables could help travelers to get better adaptation to the high plateau environment.

Tourists making a self-driving tour along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway are strongly suggested to stay overnight in the rest station with lower altitude. To enjoy a better rest in good conditioned hotels, some tourists would like to start this long journey from Golmud early in the morning so as to get to spots with better accommodation before the nightfall. Therefore, it is necessary to have two experienced drivers in the same vehicle so as to avoid any fatigue driving.

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