Drive from Litang to Daocheng

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At noon, 10 October, 2015, we grab some lunch at a raucous Sichuan restaurant in Litang Town (理塘). The roadside restaurant is swarm with dinners who are just like us, mostly using Litang as  a jump-off point to further go south ( Daocheng  稻城 or Yading), west ( Tibet ) or east ( Kangding or Chengdu ).

Drive from Litang to Daocheng

Drive from Litang to Daocheng

We understand that there are plenty to see and do around Litang itself at 4014 meters, one of the highest settlements in the world including Chode Gompa and hiking trails on the nearby mountains. It is also the birthplace of holy men including the Seventh and 10th Dalai Lamas.

The high altitude town can leave new arrivals vulnerable to altitude sickness and bad sunburn. We have hung around at 2000 – 4000 meters for almost 3 days, which has allowed us to acclimatize to the plateau environments. If taking a flight from Chengdu to Daocheng, people need a couple of days to acclimatise when they arrive.

Litang Town has one main street with a strip of joints, restaurants, stores and travel-related business outlets. The old part of the town is packed with identikit Tibetan houses with a backdrop of high mountains. Tourism has been growing fast here in the town. Eating at a restaurant is not cheap. There is much room for improvement both in terms of food and service here.

The Highway S217 runs from Litang 理塘 to Daocheng 稻城 (148km), which is further stretched to Yading (115km 亚丁). Tonight we are going to stay overnight in Daocheng.  S217 is a provincial level  highway which is said to have been built according to the Second-Class Highway Standard with speed limit at 60 km /h. The highway was completed on 24 September, 2014.

Litang - Daocheng S217

Litang – Daocheng S217

Though a dull overcast afternoon, we feel much lucky to drive along the newly built highway, a wide and flat asphalt road.  The 148km drive can be billed as “Sightseeing Drive” or “Scenic Drive”,  one of our highlight self-drive sections of the total length of 0ver 6000km we will cover eventually.

We are really amazed at the high quality highway, especially the 121 km long road from Litang to Sangdui (桑堆) , which is situated all above 4200-meter elevation.

Most of the 4200 meter elevation highway is still covered by white snow.  We even encounter snowing on the road over the valleys of the passing-by high mountains.

Tuershan Mountain

Rabbit Mountain (兔儿山) 4696 meters

When we go over Rabbit Mountain (兔儿山) at the elevation of 4696 meters, we slope down and gradually find the valley is covered with motley colours – yellow meadows, autumn leaves and green pine trees.

The valley is covered with motley colours

The valley is covered with motley colours

Grazing Yaks on the meadows at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains flanking the highway.

Grazing Yaks

Grazing Yaks

The vermilion Buddhist Monastery, the undulating mountains, yellow poplar trees and dry riverbeds, a picturesque view!

A breathless view!

A breathless view!

We stop and  park at the viewing platform,  an elevated sightseeing platform by the riverside of Wuliang River (无量河).

Wuliang River is one of the tributaries of Yalong River (Yalongjiang) with a total length of 516 km. The surrounding views leave us breathless.

Wuliang River

Views around Wuliang River

The expansive grassland is dotted with Tibetan houses at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains with yellow meadows.

Tibetan houses

Tibetan houses at the foot of the undulating alpine mountains

We are passing through Sangdui Town ( 桑堆镇), a  small town, about 28km north of Daocheng. Sangdui Town is located in a fork road – to Litang on the north; Daocheng on the south and Xiangcheng (乡城) on the west, which is connected to Shangri-la City in Yunnan Province.

Sangdui Town

We are passing through Sangdui Town

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town standing in rain.

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town

The Tibetan girl from Sangdui Town

Driving on for about 10 km south of Sangdui Town,  on our left side of the road we find the well-known scenic spot – “Red Grass Field”. It is a very special land grown with reddish grass,  surrounded by Tibetan houses and dotted with poplar trees, a spectacular photogenic spot.

Sangdui Red Grass Field

Sangdui Red Grass Field

We get to Daoheng (稻城) around 5:30 pm. There are plenty of hotel choices due to the shoulder season. It doesn’t take long before we locate a nice hotel with a decent price.

Any questions on the drive from Litang to Daocheng,  just drop a line.

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6 Responses to “Drive from Litang to Daocheng”

  1. carles says:


    Congratulations for your website

    We’re planning to drive from Litang via Sangduixiang to Dequen. My question is: Do you know if is it possible? Is this road ok for a tourism car?

    Thanks so much for your information!

  2. Daniel says:

    Dear Carles,

    Thanks for your inquiry! We didn’t have the experience driving from Litang via Sangduixiang ( Sangdui Town )to Dequen, but we did have the experience driving from Shangri-la ( south of Deqen) back to Daochedng via Sangduixiang. For more information on the road trip, check out the link below:

    As far as I know it is possible to drive from from Litang via Sangduixiang to Dequen.The road condition is improving and it is ok for normal cars or van to drive. Good luck!

  3. Playjun says:

    From thailand. My plan in daocheng trip from chuengdu about 6 days 4 peoples.Can u tell me about rent for car include driver , no guild , how much for the way?

  4. Daniel says:

    Dear Playjun,

    Thanks for your inquiry! But at present we don’t offer the car rental service for the ride from Daocheng to Chengdu.

  5. Zali says:

    Hello! Just wondering how safe the road is from Xiangcheng to Litang? As you mentioned the altitude is very high and covered with snow. Thanks

  6. Daniel says:

    Dear Zali,

    As far as I can remember the the road from Xiangcheng to Litang is not bad, a kind of asphalt paving road. The landscape along the road is very beautiful.

    The snow-covered mountains are distant and remote. Enjoy your trip!

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