Zhangmu

Zhangmu Travel Guide, Tibet

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Overview

Also known as Kasa, lies on a mountainside 10km inland from the Friendship Bridge that spans the Bhotekoshi River, 473km southwest of Shigatse. It is the last Chinese town before hitting Nepal.

The town was built along a winding road lined with private houses, shops, restaurants and government buildings.The subtropical climate endows the small town with warm, humid weather and beautiful scenery throughout the year. The hills around Zhangmu are heavily wooded with innumerable waterfalls in the summer and frozen'icicles'during the winter.

The small town has become a major trading post between Tibet and Nepal.The booming border trade attracts merchants from inland China, Tibet and Nepal.  A free trade market formed spontaneously near the Friendship Bridge about 8 years ago, which is under further development today.

A tiny collection of wooden houses before the border opened in 1980, Zhangmù is now one of the wealthiest towns in Tibet, due to licit and illicit trade in gold, clothing, and footwear. Zhangmù stretches for several miles through a series of switchbacks towards the border.

Get in & out

There is public transport into Zhangmù from Tibet. So you can thumb a ride or hire a car. Visitors can inquire at the bus station or from the receptions desk at the hotel. There are also some tourist groups from Nepal to Lhasa. If you want a lift, you can contact with the driver or tour guide at the hotel.

Arriving overland from Nepal involves arranging a "group visa" of 15 to 20 days through a travel agency in Kathmandu. But you are not obliged to stay with the group, and can extend the visa elsewhere in China.

The border is open from 9:30am to 6:30pm on the Chinese side, and from 10am to 6pm on the Nepali side, with a time difference of 2.5hrs. If you haven't arranged for your driver to take you the extra 8km to Nepali Customs, taxis wait beyond the immigration building. From the Chinese side, there's no rush.

Coming from Nepal, it is possible to get stuck. In the unlikely event that you make it across the border without a group tour, look for a lift to Lhasa (2 days/Y250) from 8am in front of the Zhangmù Returned Tibetan Hotel, on the corner of the second-to-last hairpin bend.

Accommodation

Zhangmu Hotel is the only hotel in town, a little bit pricey of Y100/std. room. You’d better go to Lhamu for accommodation, where it is much cheaper and most of the drivers stay there. Then it will be easier for you to charter a car.

Besides the restaurant in Zhangmu Hotel, there is no other restaurants in the town, so it’s a good idea to take some food with you.

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