How to Travel to Mt. Kailash

It is said that the real Tibet lies in the west. Heading westwards to Ngari, can let you see the "Secret Land of Tibet, Ngari from the Heaven". Ngari is the "ancestor of all mountains" and "the source of all rivers".

There are several world-renown sites in Ngari area. The world famous sacred mountain-Mt. Kailash is here, also the holy lake of the holy lakes-Manasarovar Lake, the Zhada soil forest stretches for a hundred kilometers and the Guge Kingdom Ruins that has a history of 700 years.

For many people, Ngari is full of mystery, so for those who want to travel to the Ngari and do the Mt. Kailash pilgrimage tour, what options of the starting points do they have to set out from?

Generally speaking, there are three routes to Mt. Kailash. You can start the journey from Lhasa, Xinjiang and Kathmandu in Nepal.

Lhasa to Mt. Kailash

Lhasa to Mt. Kailash

The most common choice is departing from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa city. The drive to Ngari area takes a few days, and you could gradually get used to the high altitude. There is also a flight from Lhasa to Ngari ran by Tibet Airlines, but you may struggle physically because of the altitude difference between Lhasa and Ngari without sufficient acclimatization.

From Lhasa to Mt. Kailash, it takes about five days for a one way trip. You will not only see the Mt. Kailash as the travel destination, but also the scenery along the way. You will visit Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier and Pelkhor Monastery by driving via Gyantse, as well as the visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse and Rongbuk Monastery near Mt. Everest Base Camp.

The best time to visit Mt. Kailash is from May to early October each year. Please note Mt. Kailash is not an ideal travel destination in winter because of the cold weather and low temperature.

Here is the rough itinerary from Lhasa to Mt. Kailash:
D1 Arrive in Lhasa
D2-D3 Lhasa Sightseeing  
D4 Lhasa-Yamdrok Lake-Shigatse <350km> 
D5 Shigatse-Sakya-Tingri <250km>
D6 Tingri to Rongbuk Monastery <365km>
D7 Rongphu Monastery-Everest Base Camp-Saga <385km>
D8 Saga to Darchen <500km>
D9 Trek day one (Outer circuit)-Darchen to Drirapuk <20km> 
D10 Trek day two-Dirapuk to Dzultripuk<18km>
D11 Trek day three-Dzultripuk to Darchen<14km>
D12 Drive from Darchen to Saga <530km>
D13-14 Saga to Gyirong border / Lhasa
D15 Leave Lhasa and end the tour

The detailed tour package from Lhasa to Mt. Kailash you may be interested in: 15 Days Lhasa to Mt. Kailash Pilgrimage Tour

Xinjiang to Mt. Kailash

Besides the route from Lhasa to Ngari, you can also opt to travel to Mt. Kailash by overland via Xinjiang-Tibet Highway.

The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway starts from the zero-kilometer stone tablet in Yecheng County, Kashgar, Xinjiang, and connecting with the 2140 kilometer stone tablet in Latse, Shigatse. The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway and the China-Nepal Highway intersects here on the 318 national highway.

The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway passes through the world-famous Kunlun  Mountains, Gangdise Mountains and the Himalayas, with an average altitude of more than 4500 meters. 

The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway has 915 kilometers above 4000 meters and 130 kilometers above 5000 meters. It is the highest, longest and the most dangerous road in the world. Almost all sections of the route are cold and anoxic unmanned areas, along which lie over 1000 kilometers of desert gobi, permafrost layer and perennial snow-covered mountains.

Xinjiang to Mt. Kailash

Here is the rough itinerary from Xinjiang to Mt. Kailash:

D1 Arrive in Kashgar and rest in local hotel
D2 Kashgar-Yechang <250km>
D3 Yecheng-Polong Primary Forest Area-Kudi <300km>
D4 Kudi-Sanshili Yingfang <400km>
D5 Sanshili Yingfang-Ritu <570km>
D6 Ritu-Shiquanhe Town <300km>
D7 Shiquanhe Town-Zhada Soil Forest-Guge Kingdom Ruins <300km>
D8 Zhada-Manasarovar Lake-Lhanag-tso Lake-Darchen
D9 Trek day one (Outer circuit)-Darchen to Drirapuk <20km> 
D10 Trek day two-Dirapuk to Dzultripuk<18km>
D11 Trek day three-Dzultripuk to Darchen<14km>
D12 Drive from Darchen to Saga <530km>
D13-14 Saga to Gyirong border / Lhasa
D15 Leave Lhasa and end the tour

The detailed tour package from Xinjiang to Mt. Kailash you may be interested in: 17 Days Overland Tour from Xijiang to Tibet via Mt. Kailash

Nepal to Mt. Kailash

Traveling from Kathmandu to Mt. Kailash through the Nepal-Tibet overland border (Gyirong border) is also a considerable route. However, this option would increase the risk of suffering from a serious high altitude sickness due to the rapid speed of ascending, as you’ll quickly travel from Kathmandu (1350m) to Darchen (4600m) in 3-4 days. Therefore, if this is the only way you could arrange, then 1-2 days acclimatization at Gyirong border (2300m) is highly suggested before heading to Saga (4600m) and Darchen (the starting point of the pilgrimage circuit around Mt. Kailash).

Meanwhile, please note that if you plan to travel to Tibet from Nepal, then you’ll need a Group Chinese Visa which is different from a standard Chinese Visa for entering Tibet from inland China, and your original valid Chinese Visa in your passport will be canceled. Know more about How to Travel to Tibet from Nepal.

The detailed tour package from Nepal to Mt. Kailash you may be interested in:

  1. 14 Days Nepal to Tibet Tour with Mt. Everest & Mt. Kailash
  2. 16 Days Nepal to Tibet Tour with Mt. Kailash & Guge Kingdom
Related articles
Altitudes of Lhasa to Mt. Kailash Tour You’ll get acclimatized to the high altitude from Lhasa to Mt. Kailash. The highest point is 5660 meters while trekking around the Mt. Kailash.
Mt. Kailash Tour Cost The cost for a Mt. Kailash tour can be broken down into 7 parts, and this article lists the cost details for doing a Mt. Kailash tour in Tibet
Dining for Lhasa and Mt. Kailash Tour There are many restaurant choices in Lhasa. But only simple meals are available at Everest Base Camp and along the trekking tour around Mt. Kailash.
Saga Dawa Festival at Lhasa and Mt. Kailash April 15th in Tibetan calendar is the Saga Dawa Festival. Pilgrims gather at Mt. Kailash to celebrate this important festival every year.
Accommodations for Lhasa and Mt. Kailash Tour There are many hotel choices in Lhasa. But you’ll only find simple guesthouses at Everest Base Camp and along the trekking tour around Mt. Kailash.
Mt. Kailash Tour Packing List Traveling to Mt. Kailash and doing the circuit trekking need to be well prepared in advance. Here below is a packing list for a Mt. Kailash tour.

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