The Sichuan Tibet Highway, originally called the Kangding Tibet Highway (a section of the No. 318 National Trunk Highway) takes you through vast, open landscapes with majestic peaks vaulting skyward. The plateau areas are dotted with castellated Tibetan homes and an infinite number of contentedly munching yaks. Travelers can enjoy the magnificent and changeable scenery ranging from warm spring to cold and snowing winter, which makes you intoxicated. This climate will be changing in front of you and you may think “days in heaven, but years on the earth”. The trip may take around 15 days if you you are not in a hurry. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway is also infamously known for bad driving surfaces and sharp mountain-side hairpins. Driving along single track sections in bad weather can be a great challenge to a less experienced driver.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway consists of two lines with its South Line linking Ya’an, Kangding, and Tongolo of Sichuan province and Mangkang, Zuogong, and Nyingchi of Tibet autonomous region to Lhasa.
The South Line has a length of 2,115 kilometers and is a part of No 318 State Highway, which starts from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in the east to the Zhangmu Port of Tibet Autonomous Region China-Nepal Highway in the west.
The North Line, with a full length of 2,414 kilometers, overlaps with South Line at the section from Chengdu to Tongolo, goes north after separating from South Line at Tongolo, overlaps with it at Bangda after Qianning, Ganzi, Dege, Jiangda in Tibet Autonomous Region, and finally leads to Lhasa.
Construction of the highway started in April 1950 and is the first highway to link Chengdu, Sichuan province with Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region.