Generally speaking, the cost of a trip includes several major items, such as traffic, cars, tour guides and entrance fees. The price is also one of the most essential items for tourists to consider before they make their choices.
Mt. Kailash Kora is a pilgrimage tour. It is a long journey and also not a cheap one. In order to give more detailed information to our tourists, let’s breakdown the cost of the Mt. Kailash tour. You can usually see what’s included in the tour itinerary and what the tour fee was spent on. Plus, the cost of the car is directly priced by the car company in Tibet, so there will be a big discrepancy between the transportation cost in Tibet and other parts of China.
Of course, the prices given are just for reference, as they're changeable at different times and seasons.
The most expensive part of this trip usually is the cost of the vehicle, which is decided by the tourist vehicle company and is charged by the kilometer or by the day. From Lhasa to Darchen, the small town lying at the foot of Mt. Kailash, is the starting point of the three days of kora. The total journey going one way is more than 1,200 kilometers, and it usually takes about 3 to 5 days to drive it.
Considering the speed limits for tourist vehicles in Tibet, the drive could be quite tough. There is an average of 8 to 10 hours of driving per day for tourists. For our 15-day Mt. Kailash Pilgrimage tour, generally, we will make a detour to visit the Mt. Everest Base Camp. So the distance for the tour to Mt. Kailash and back would probably be close to 3,000 kilometers.
This tour is usually completed in about two weeks, and our standard journey is 15 days (13 days if exiting Tibet from China-Nepal Gyirong border). The cost for different types of cars, such as minivans, MPVs or 4WDs, will change because the price changes a lot during different seasons and times due to the different demands for cars.
The price goes up a lot during the high season, like between July and August, and during holidays and festivals like the golden week or National Day Holiday, or during the Saga Dawa Festival or Shoton Festival.
With all the kilometers involved, even if the price goes up a little bit for each kilometer, it could make a huge difference in the total price. We generally recommend to tourists to join a group tour so that their cost can be reduced. In a group tour, more people are available to share the cost of the vehicle, guide, driver, etc.
Vehicle cost in details:
|Off-Season||15000-18000 RMB||16000-20000 RMB||18000-20000 RMB|
|High Season||20000-22000 RMB||20000-30000 RMB||20000-25000 RMB|
All our tour guides are Tibetan. Usually, we pay the guide by the number of days they guide the group. The cost of the tour guide varies, according to the different itineraries and seasons. In the offseason, like during winter times or an easy city trip, the cost for a guide would be relatively lower than the cost for a guide that guides the tours to Mt. Everest or Mt. Kailash. For some hiking and trekking tours like Mt. Kailash or the Ganden-Samye Monastery trek, the salary of the guide would also be higher. Not only because the itinerary is difficult, but because the guide would stay in a tent or guesthouse just like you. This might only be a trip for you, but for the guide, this is part of their ordinary life.
Guide cost per day:
|City Tour||Remote Places||Hike & Trek|
|Off-Season||350 RMB||450 RMB||500 RMB|
|High Season||400 RMB||500 RMB||600 RMB|
Besides the expense of a vehicle and guide, the accommodation cost is also a relatively expensive travel item. Some of the trips are relaxing, but the pilgrimage trip to Mt. Kailash is by no means relaxing.
Tibet is relatively less developed compared to China mainland. You could stay in a 3-star , 4-star or even a 5-star hotel with good service and quality in Lhasa and Shigatse. Even in a town like Tingri, Lhatse, Saga and Darchen, you could still find a good quality hotel with electricity and a bathroom. Although you cannot compare them to the hotels in Lhasa and Shigatse, they definitely charge a higher price. But once you drive further to remote areas like Mt. Kailash or Mt. Everest, you can only stay in a tent guesthouse dorm bed without tap water, electricity, or toilet in the room. If you need to use a toilet, you'll need to go out to a public toilet, but it won't be a descent one. Those places are too far from city life, with very simple and basic equipment. In the tent area where you live, you can buy water and simple food. Usually, the tent or guesthouse also provides butter tea and sweet tea for a price of RMB 30-45.
Cost for hotels or guesthouse dorm bed:
|Lhasa & Shigatse 3 star Hotel||200-300 RMB||300-400 RMB|
|Lhasa & Shigatse 4 star Hotel||350-500 RMB||400-600 RMB|
|Tingri, Saga & Darchen Hotel||300-400 RMB||400-600 RMB|
|Guesthouse Dorm Bed||100-150 RMB||150-250 RMB|
There are three types of permits needed to travel to Mt. Kailash: the Tibet Entry Permit, Alien's Travel Permit and Military Permit. It costs RMB 50 per person while applying for the Alien's Travel Permit in Shigatse. The other two permits are officially free of charge.
Although the Tibet permit itself does not lead to any cost, you'll need to hire a travel agency to do the paperwork for the application and manage all the application procedures. The application form needs to be submitted to different departments for approval and stamps. This will certainly cost the travel agency some money, so they charge it to you.
Once you book a tour package with us, arranging for your Tibet permit will be our job. Of course, the service fee for getting the permit and arranging the tour will be included in the tour fee.
In addition to some of the world-famous scenic spots in Lhasa, such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, there are many scenic spots worth visiting on the way from Lhasa to Mt. Kailash. It is up to 1,300 kilometers one-way drive, and we will drive pass Gyantse, Shigatse, Everest, etc.
You can view not only the monasteries but also the holy lakes and Mount Everest. The name of the scenic spots and the cost for entrance are listed below:
|Lhasa Area||Potala Palace 200 RMB
(extra booking fee is needed in shoulder season and high season)
|Jokhang Temple 85 RMB|
|Drepung Monastery 50 RMB|
|Sera Monastery 50 RMB|
|Lhasa-Shigatse||Yamdrok Lake 60 RMB|
|Karola Glacier 50 RMB|
|Pelcho Monastery 60 RMB|
|Shigatse Area||Tashilumpo Monastery 100 RMB|
|Rongbuk Monastery 30 RMB|
|Mt. Everest National Park 180 RMB
(vehicle also needs to pay a fee to enter the nature reserve. It will be charged according to the vehicle type)
|Ngari Area||Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar 300 RMB|
Tibet is in northwestern China, where the climate is suitable for stock-breeding but not suitable for the cultivation of rice and vegetables. Nyingchi in eastern Tibet, which has a lower altitude and enough rainfall. It is the only place in Tibet with a suitable climate to cultivate rice and vegetable.
However, most areas of Tibet still rely on food to be shipped from the Chinese mainland, like Sichuan, Xining, etc. Plus the cost of transportation, labor and supplies adds up quickly on the trip. The price for food in Tibet is generally high as well.
Of course, in remote areas like Mt. Everest or Mt. Kailash, the price will be higher. If you go further out where the vehicle can't reach, the resources can only be transported by yaks, horses or manpower. This causes the price of food to go up even more. For example, a bowl of noodles in the Lhasa region is only 10 to 20 RMB, while out of Lhasa it is 20 to 35 RMB. And to a remote place, it could be 40 to 50 RMB. The taste and restaurant environment are not as good as in Lhasa; sometimes it is not even a restaurant but rather just a tent or local family kitchen. You can see the price change clearly through the most ordinary food in Tibet: the noodles and sweet tea & yak butter tea.
|Simple||Ordinary||Noodles||Sweet & Butter Tea|
|Lhasa Area||10-20 RMB||30-50 RMB||10-20 RMB||8-12 RMB|
|Shigatse Area||20-30 RMB||40-60 RMB||20-30 RMB||10-20 RMB|
|Small Town & Village||20-30 RMB||40-70 RMB||30-45 RMB||15-30 RMB|
|Tent Guesthouse||30-40 RMB||Instant noodles||30-45 RMB|
Most people will choose to leave their luggage in the car without hiring yaks, yak men, or horses, and take only the necessary items with them for the 3-day kora.
You can get bottled water and food, such as instant noodles or sweet tea & yak butter tea, in the teahouse along the way. You will encounter a teahouse every 3 to 4 hours of walking, which is around every 8 to 10km. So you do not need to carry a lot of food and water with you. Trek light is one of the essential matters to finish the Kora successfully.
If you do have a lot of stuff like sleeping bags and clothes and it feels hard for you to carry them by yourself, then you have some choices like hiring yaks (also yak worker to keep the yaks behave) or porters to carry your luggage. Usually, there is a yak man with 3 yaks, and the group members could hire the yaks together and share the cost.
The difficulty of this kora is not only the 20 kilometers of travel on the first day and the 18 kilometers on the second day, but also the lack of oxygen as well. All these things make the kora even harder and very tiring. During your trek, you may see some people going the opposite way on horseback. Those are the people who have to go back down to a lower altitude and rest. They need an emergency evacuation because their bodies cannot adapt to walking in a high altitude environment for a long time.
There is a big challenge which lies during the second-day trek: the Dromala Pass, with an altitude of 5,700 meters. The first 8 kilometers initial hit is very harsh, and it may take more than 4 hours. You can see some people choosing to ride a horse to reach the Dromala Pass.
More people will choose a relatively economical way to hire a porter to carry their luggage so they can trek light and easier without carrying any heavy stuff. Please find the general cost of the trek animals & porters as follows:
|Each yak||250-300 RMB per day||300-350 RMB per day|
|Yak man||250-300 RMB per day||300-350 RMB per day|
|Horse||300-350 RMB per day||350-450 RMB per day|
|Horseman||250-300 RMB per day||300-350 RMB per day|
|Porter||250-350 RMB per day||300-450 RMB per day|
By the way, all the food and accommodation costs during the trekking will be borne by the locals themselves.