Located in one of the most remote parts of the world, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway is deemed to be one of the deadliest roads in the world. However, the dangerous reputation is second only to the Sichuan-Tibet Highway’s reputation as one of the most scenic drives in the Asian continent, if not the world.
Originally known as the Kangding-Tibet Highway, this road is part of the China 318 National Trunk Highway that connects the Sichuan region to Tibet. The road stretches more than 2,000 kilometers from Chengdu to Lhasa, and motorists braving this death-defying drive will be rewarded with views of the region’s majestic peaks and breathtaking landscapes below.
The road is open for most of the year (barring extremely bad weather conditions in the winter), but the threat of falling rocks and landslides will always hover around those who were courageous enough to traverse the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. Snaking through mountains and forests, the road makes for great pictures—just make sure that you bring your camera with you!
The majestic views that the Sichuan-Tibet Highway offers are more than enough to attract droves of tourists during the spring and summer seasons, which are the best periods to drive through this usually perilous road. Busloads upon busloads of tourists flock to the region every year to experience the magic of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, and many of them got more than what they were expecting. There are plenty of great spots along the 2,000-kilometer drive, including misty mountain peaks and majestic rivers. Taking the southern route will bring you from Chengdu to Lhasa—the most popular route, so far—but you can also start from Lhasa and go all the way to Chengdu.
Among the scenic highlights motorists will encounter along the way is Kangding, home of Lake Muge and Mt. Paoma. Kangding is one of the cultural, commercial, and political hubs of the region. Straddling the rivers of Yagongjiang and Daduhe is Mt. Zheduo, which also forms a part of the famous Great Wall of China. The vast plains of Litang, one of the highest towns in the world, are also a noteworthy stop for any motorist braving the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. Make sure to drive through the town in the summer to witness the annual Litang Horse Racing, an unforgettable event that serves as one of the most anticipated in Tibet. Again, do not forget to bring your camera as the local herdsmen in their finery, set against the emerald plains, will be a great subject for photographs. Mt. Daguniang in Xiaojin is also a must-see sight, and with the nearby Haizi Gully with its amazing alpine lakes, you are sure to have a memorable trek.
However, do not let all the majestic scenery lull you into complacency—driving through the Sichuan-Tibet Highway does not only require skill; it also requires a lot of preparation. Make sure that you choose your vehicle well, and keep your eyes wide open at every inch of the way. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway has claimed thousands of lives over the last few decades, and a single mistake can result into swift death.