Travel from Nepal to Mount Kailash in Tibet

Mount Kailash is located in the westernmost Tibet, the aridest and coldest prefecture Ngari. The road distance from Lhasa to Mount Kailash is around 1,200 kilometers; and the road distance from Kathmandu, Nepal to Mount Kailash via Gyirong border crossing is 930 kilometers. Although Mount Kailash is one of the remotest areas in Tibet, it attracts thousands of visitors every year. There are two main reasons for this: one is, Mount Kailash stands with high status in the hearts of the followers from the four religions Tibetan Buddhism, Bon religion, Hinduism, and Jainism; the other is, the 52 km trekking circuit in Mount Kailash is both with charismatic natural beauty and cleansing religious atmosphere because of the teeming pilgrims. As Mount Kailash is highly revered by the believers of the four religions, this sacred peak is banned from mountaineering or summiting. Therefore, trekking is the most popular outdoor activity for tourists in Mount Kailash.

Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash

For those traveling from Nepal to Mount Kailash, some practical info is gathered and listed as follows:

When is best time to travel from Nepal to Mount Kailash?

As Mount Kailash is very arid, the main factor that influence the suitability of travel in this area is the temperature situation. Except November, December, January and February, when it is frigid ( the average low can be -20℃) and extremely windy, Nepal to Mount Kailash tour is feasible for the rest of the year. June, July, August and September are the rainy months for both Nepal and Mount Kailash. However, the wet season in Mount Kailash area lasts for only one month and a half, normally from the mid-July to the end of August and the rain often occurs at night and stops in a short time, which in general doesn’t lead to big hazard.

Documents Required to Travel from Nepal to Tibet Everest Base Camp

  1. Passport with 6 months validity is the first must-have document;
  2. Tibet travel permit, issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB), is also a mandatory document.
  3. Travel through Nepal to Tibet, requires all the foreign passport holders to have a Group Chinese Visa. Even if you have already got a Chinese visa of other types, when you intend to enter Tibet from Nepal, you still have to apply for the Group Chinese Visa in Nepal. You’ll not be allowed to apply for the Group Chinese Visa on your own, but to have one registered Nepali travel agency to proceed the application. Once the Group Chinese Visa has been issued by Embassy of P.R.C in Kathmandu, the previous Chinese visas you hold will automatically expire.
  4. Foreign travelers to visit Mount Everest region, also need additional documents alongside the above three, which are the Aliens’ Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Pass.

Military Pass for Traveling to Mount Kailash
Military Pass for Traveling to Mount Kailash

Summary for documents preparation: Foreign travelers don’t need to and can’t apply for the required documents by themselves, but to have an authorized travel agency to arrange these documents for them. Those with occupations as diplomats, government officials should travel to Tibet under the arrangement of Foreign Affairs Office of Chinese Government.

How to Travel from Nepal to Mount Kailash

Option 1: Kathmandu - Mount Kailash (Overland by Road)

Day 1: Kathmandu to Gyirong Town (border crossing) (120km)

You can either take a bus or rent a private vehicle in Kathmandu to Gyirong Port, which is a roughly 7-hour drive. Then head to Gyirong Town, 23km from the border, to have accommodation and meals for the night.

Day 2: Gyirong Town to Saga Town (174km)

Drive northwards from Gyirong Town, you’ll first arrive at Gyirong County, and then get to Saga Town, from where you’ll hit the State highway G219.

Day 3: Saga Town to Paryang Town (255km)

Paryang Town(4,586m) is the seat of Zhongba County, Shigatse City, Tibet, with coordinates of 30° 03' N; 83° 47'E. Many travel groups or long-distance trucks choose to stay overnight at Paryang to do regular check on their vehicles and have a good rest after the grueling driving.

Day 4: Paryang Town to Darchen Town (via Lake Manasarovar) (381km)

Once departing Paryang, you’ll enter the vast expanse of the Ngari Plateau passing by Huoer Town. The highlight of today’s road trip is the sacred lake Manasarovar, on the left side of the road, which is a short distance, 30km away from Darchen Town.

Day 5/6/7: 3-Day Trekking around Mount Kailash (52-kilometer circuit)

Trekking around Mount Kailash can be done in one day, two days or three days. It depends on how fit you are and how well you’ve been adapted to the altitude and climate. Many Tibetan people take 12 to 15 hours to finish the trekking within one day. In this case, they trek light, because along the route, there are plenty of teahouses that offer supplies and accommodation. Some choose to spend two days finishing the trek with one-night stayover at Dirapuk Monastery. For the new comers, we recommend you plan 3-day trek, dividing your trekking into three sections as follows:

  1. Darchen to Dirapuk Monastery (20km)
  2. Dirapuk Monastery to Dzultripuk Monastery (18km)
  3. Dzultripuk Monastery to Darchen (14km)

Trekking around Mount Kailash
Trekking around Mount Kailash

Option 2: Kathmandu - Lhasa - Mount Kailash (Flight and Overland by Road)

As Lhasa has the most centralized networks in Tibet and relatively lower altitude (Lhasa: 3,650m) by contrast with that in Mount Kailash (6,656m) region, many people choose to accomplish their Nepal to Mount Kailash tour through Lhasa. In this way, they can not only have generous time to get acclimatized with the high altitude, but also do sightseeing in Lhasa, the spiritual center of Tibet, to visit the UNESCO site the Potala Palace, and other important religious sites Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery. 

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa
Day 2/3: Lhasa Sightseeing
Day 4: Lhasa to Shigatse (Optional attractions can be visited with a detour to the sacred Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse Kumbum)
Day 5: Shigatse to Saga Town (Highlight: Tashilhunpo Monastery)
Day 6: Saga Town to Darchen Town (via Paryang Town; this section can be split into two days to include another sacred lake Manasarovar)
Day 7/8/9: 3-Day Trekking around Mount Kailash (same as that indicated in the above Option 1)

Know Before You Go:

  1. Packing suggestion: weather wise clothing, sun hat, sunglasses, beanie, headwear, neckerchief, mountaineering shoes, alpenstock; sunblock, moisturizer; oxygen cylinder, stock medicine; power bank, headlamp;
  2. Be fully aware of altitude sickness: more than 60% of people would develop symptoms of altitude sickness when they are at the area with altitudes over 3,400m. You can take necessary medicines prior to your Tibet trip under instruction of your doctor or pharmacist; Be prepared to retreat in time if you have severe symptoms and make sure you’re on the main route rather than take short cuts;
  3. You can hire a porter or a yak at the start point Darchen if you have a heavy pack; and make sure you’ve made the deal clearly in advance;
  4. As the trekking trails are not paved, but are overspread with gravels, you’re advised not to run or jump to avoid ankle spraining;
  5. Please do not try to take shortcuts; they may lead you to swamp areas and waste your time to get back to the right passages;
  6. There are sufficient rubbish bins set along the whole circuit, please make sure you take care of any waste or litter;
  7. You may run into wild animals such as dogs, mascots, birds, etc; thin and clean creeks accompany you nearly all the way back to Darchen. The last 10 kilometer section is believed as the most beautiful part, where you can have broad views of the snowy mountains and lakes far in the distance.
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