3 possible routes between the two biggest towns in central Tibet. Plenty of choices...
Since April 2008 it has become impossible to enter Tibet individually. That is when mainly the checkpoint have been reinforced with army personal. Because of that it is no more possible to enter without permit as it used to be possible for many years. This applies for the whole of the TAR.
There are three different route to get from Shigatse to Lhasa:
Following the Brahmaputra
280km all paved and more or less flat. But that is not why we came to Tibet, is it?
The southern route
This route should be mostly paved by now. But there is great scenery along the route passing the beautiful Yamdrok lake, high passes Gampa La(4790m) & Khari La(5045m) and Gyantse a nice town with the biggest stupa of Tibet.
The northern route
The remotest of all routes. Mostly not paved but good road and little traffic. Cycling Suge La (5435m) is great with good views of Jomo Gantse(7043m) and as reward you can soak in the hot springs of Yangpachen. I will describe this route.
Of course there are a lot of possible side trips here too...
Hot springs of Yangpachen
8km before you meet the Golmud-Lhasa highway you pass the hot springs of Yangpachen. The place itself is not very nice with ugly industry buildings but you will soon forget that when you lie in the hot pool...
Rather easy side trip to the second biggest saltwater lake of Tibet. Brand new paved road all the way to the lake. To get back you have to take the same road.
The climate in this part of Tibet is wetter then in the rest. When I cycled over Largen La by the end of october there was already lots of snow!
Tsurphu monastery is the seat of the Karmapa. The current 17th Karmapa (* 1985) is equally respected be the Dalai Lama and the chinese authoroties. He was the most important lama to live in Tibet until he also fled to Dharamsala in 1999.
It is only 24km to get to the monastery but don't underestimate them! The ride is very bumpy ans steep but well worth the effort.