Dreaming of travelling from Almaty to Tibet via Yunnan

I have started to put a little thought into my future travelling ambitions which are getting more extensive. I now am wondering about the feasibility of going from Almaty in Kazakhstan, through Xinjiang, down to Yunnan, Laos, Thailand and then finishing in Tibet. This sort of trip could take three months i think, but would be amazing. I reckon i’d need at least 10,000 Yuan per month, maybe more, but it would surely be my best trip ever.
The travel DVDs that i have been watching recently have inspired me to be a bit more ambitious with my ideas for what we could do. It is my desire to stick to train travel wherever possible as i much prefer this to coach travel, and in the main this can be achieved on the route that i would like. From Yunnan to Tibet is the only part, as far as i know, where train travel is not available. I shall include a map here soon to give an idea of the route, as most people do not know the geography of China particularly well.

This blog post is more brainstorming than anything, and i will continue to update it as i get new ideas in the coming months!! Have you done parts, or all of this trip before? If so, any advice is greatly appreciated!!

Whilst scanning the map i found on the internet i noticed close to the possible route is the Chinese Space Station, which would be a very interesting place to visit. Other cities included would be Urumqi, Hami, Lanzhou, Xian, Chongqing, Hanoi, Chiang Mai and more. All key touristy spots around these would also be covered, as i would want most to be out in the countryside and use the cities only as bases for getting around China.

This illustrates the initial trip of the journey from Almaty in Kazahkstan to Urumqi in China. I would fly from Shanghai to Almaty to begin the trip, i expect.

This shows the overall route that i have in mind (currently! – i change my mind every few days). For those unfamiliar with China, i would fly from Shanghai to Kazahkstan to begin the trip, just North West of the Chinese border. I would then travel through the Islamic province of Xinjiang and head South East to Xian, before looping round to the Southern coast of China where i can visit the exciting scenery of Yunnan, plus Vietnam, Laos & Thailand. After heading back North i would visit Kunming before taking a coach from Chengdu to Tibet to complete the trip.

Please note the lines on this map are only an approximate guide to where i would go – most areas in Yunnan that we would visit are not indicated on this map, so its just an overall guide to get an idea of the journey and distance.

Marked in green was a possible extra route that seems unlikely now, as there is no train service available for Tibet – Nepal, Kathmandu – Calcutta. There is some Mount Everest in the way, which could make things tricky :-)!

Below are some photos of these two great destinations!


Almaty, Kazakhstan


Lake Karakul, Xinjiang Province of China