North Tibet Cycle Tour

Departure Date

Every Monday



Discovering Amdo’s Hidden Treasures

This challenging cycle tour brings you to Tibet outside of Tibet. That is, to the Tibetan areas in the Chinese provinces Gansu and Qinghai, formerly known as Amdo. Access to these areas is much less restricted than the province of Tibet, making it possible for you to discover the original essence of Tibetan culture in a genuine way. Starting in Lanzhou, a muticultural city at the Yellow River, we cycle into the Tibetan Highlands. We’ll pass through sparely populated plains, see Yak and Sheep herds by the side of the road and meet buddhist Pilgrims coming from far away to visit this region. The North-Eastern part of Tibet, originally called Amdo, boasts some of Tibet’s most important cultural and religious sites. The current Dalai Lama was even born in this area! On our way, we will pay a visit to the fmous monasteries of Labrang and Kumbun, as well as Tongren, the capital of traditional Thangka painting.


  • Difficulty • 3/3
  • Days Total • 21
  • Active Days • 13
  • Total cycled distance • 1000 km
  • Participants: min. 6 / max. 14

What’s Included

  • China By Bike tour leader
  • Train ride Zhangye - Lanzhou
  • All Transfers
  • Alle Accommodation
  • Bicycle rent
  • Support Vehicle
  • Boat ride as described below

Not included

  • International Flights
  • Meals
  • Entrance fees
  • Visa

Book this Tour


Day 1

Arrival in Lanzhou

Individual arrival and transfer to the hotel. After our arrival, we go for a first stroll through the city and along the yellow river.

Day 2

At the Yellow River

We prepare our bicycles and then set out for a first little tour along the Yellow River.

Day 3

Through Loess Territory

Cycling out of Lanzhou, we pass through landscape shaped by the Yellow River's loess. This area is populated by Hui people, the Chinese Muslims.

  • Cycled distance: ca. 84 km

Day 4

Along the big reservoir lake

Liujiaxi dam is one of the People's Republic of China's largest Projects, and its reservoir lake is the largest of its kind in China. On our bikes, we follow the lakeshore and cross the new bridge to arrive in Linxia, capital of the Hui muslim region of Linxia.

  • Cycled distance: ~ 63 km

Days 5-6

Climbing up to the Tibetan Highlands

Slowly but surely we make our way up, to reach the Tibetan Plateau. Today's destination is the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Xiahe with its big and prominent Labrang monastery. We have the whole next day to explore the town and the monastery.

  • Cycled Distance day 5: ~20km
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Day 7


Shambala is the name of a legendary buddhist Kingdom. The district of Ganna, through which we cycle today, has recently been renamed Shambala, for touristic purposes. Today's stage is rather challenging as we will cross two mountain passes to cycle into a landscape of red-coloured canyons.

  • Cycled Distance: ~104 km

Day 8

The Thangkas of Tongren

Tongren is considered to be the capital of the Tibetan tradition of Thangka painting. We have a whole day to explore the city and watch the artisans pursue their beautiful work.

Day 9

Visiting the Salar

Today we will reach Xunhua, capital of the Muslim Salar ethnicity. On our way there we pass through cultivated, green highlands framed by red and yellow rock, and experience Tibetan and Muslim everyday culture.

  • Cycled distance: ~75 km

Day 10

Long climb

Today's stage is the hardest of this tour. Of course, if your legs get sore, there's always the possibility to hop on the support vehicle. Leaving Xunhua, we cycle through a long canyon and then climb up through territory used by nomads to reach the mountain pass at an altitude of 3800 m. After a long ride down we reach the town of Ledu.

  • Cycled distance: ~122 km

Days 11 and 12


Xining is an exciting city - capital of Qinghai province and home to many different ethnic groups. Cycling into the city is always a bit strenuous. On the next day, we stay in Xining. We can go for a stroll through the city, visit China's biggest mosque - or simply grant our bodies a deserved day of rest.

  • Cycling on day 11: ~72 km

Day 13

The Kumbum Monastery

This rather short cycling stage leads us to one of the most important sites of Tibetan Buddhism: The Kumbum Monastery in Ta'er. Ta'er is the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, founding father of the Gelugpa school.

  • Cycled distance: ~28 km

Day 14

The World's longest Thangka

Today we cycle on a slightly less attractive, but necessary stage to Datong. On our way, we stop at the Musuem of Tibetan Culture and Medicine. The museum features an impressive collection of Thangkas, including the world's longest Thangka with a length of 600 m.

  • Cycled distance: ~69 km

Day 15

The peak of our tour

On another challenging stage we cycle on lonely roads. Staying northbound, we conquer a mountain pass at an altitude of 4000 m, before reaching Qingshui which lies beautifully in the green highlands.

  • Cycled distance: ~99 km

Day 16

Vast landscapes

We will conquer this tour's last two passes, before descending from the Tibetan plateau. We'll spend the night in a tiny place called E'bau on an altitude of 3400 m.

  • Cycled: distance 79%~20km

Days 17 and 18

Back to the yellow loess

On our last two cycling stages we can let it roll: Starting at around 3700 m we will finish at 1500 m in the city of Zhangye next to the Black River. This area is very fertile, withmany clear mountain creeks running through it. On our way, we'll stop in Minle to spend the night.

  • Distance on day 17: ~62 km
  • Distance on day 18: ~69 km

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Walking through Zhangye

After returning our bicycles, we'll set out to explore Zhangye by foot. The city, which used to be an important merchant town used by the silk road's caravans as a stopover was once frequented by important figures such as Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. Nowadays the many different infuences that have shaped this place can still be perceived. Among other sights, we will have tha chance to see China's largest reclining buddha statue.

Days 20 and 21

Back to Lanzhou and Return Jouney

It takes us just a few hours by train to get from Zhangye to Lanzhou. Sitting in a restaurant by the Yellow river we can reminisce about our adventures of the past three weeks.
Individual return journey on day 21.

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