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How to get to Mount Kailash from Nepal

2019-09-12 16:51:00China Tibet Online

Travel to Tibet from Kathmandu in Nepal to Ngari in western Tibet for the Kailash Kora Trek can be done in one of two ways: by flights or by overland travel. Each of these different travel options has its pros, as well as its cons, and the best way to travel is different for everyone, depending on their own requirements. For most people traveling to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar from Nepal’s exotic capital, the best way is to travel overland from Lhasa, after a short flight over the Himalayas between Kathmandu and Lhasa. This option is the best way to explore the other aspects of the Tibetan region as well.

Mount Kailash

Kathmandu to Mount Kailash via Lhasa

The route from Kathmandu to Mount Kailash by flight and overland travel first takes you from the Nepali capital to the City of Sunshine by flight. Once reached in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, you can fly to the Ngari Gunsa Airport in Shiquanhe, then travel overland in an epic adventure to the sacred mountain, or take the overland tour from Lhasa direct to the sacred mountain.

Kathmandu to Lhasa flight

Direct flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu depart daily from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal’s capital to the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport in Shannan Prefecture, just 60km southwest of the capital. Flights depart daily, and are offered by the major Chinese carriers, Air China and Sichuan Airlines, as well as Tibet’s own airline, Tibet Airlines.

The regular flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu normally take around 90 minutes, and cover a distance of 607 kilometers along the standard flight path, which goes directly over the summit of Mount Everest. Air China flights run daily, Monday to Sunday, departing at around 12:10pm, while the Sichuan Airline flights run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, departing at around 11:10am.

The cost of the flights does vary, depending on the time of year, the airline, etc., but on average, a single economy flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa costs from around US$ 330 per person.

Lhasa to Ngari flight

Covering a distance of around 1,083 kilometers on the direct flight path, flights to Ngari’s only airport, known as the Ngari Gunsa Airport or Ali Kunsha Airport (but listed on flight search engines as Shiquanhe NGQ), is a trip of around two hours from the Lhasa Gonggar international Airport. Flights depart daily from Lhasa at around 7:30am, and can cost from around 380 US dollars per person for an economy one-way flight. Currently, there is only one flight per day, which is offered by Tibet Airlines.

Tibet Airlines

Ngari to Mount Kailash Overland

The airport in Ngari lies around 54 kilometers to the south of Shiquanhe Town, the seat of the Ngari Prefecture, and from the town itself, it is around 248 kilometers down to the town of Darchen, at the southern foot of Mount Kailash. Travelers using the flights to Lhasa and Ngari and then taking the overland route to Kailash will need to be on a pre-arranged tour.

Road conditions are pretty good these days, with a completely paved road all the way from Shiquanhe to Darchen. The drive takes just one day, and you will pass through some amazing landscapes on the route south to the sacred mountain.

Lhasa to Mount Kailash Overland Tour

If you want to reduce the risk of altitude sickness when you reach Darchen for Mount Kailash, which lies at an altitude of more than 4,600 meters, then the best option is to take the flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu, and then take the overland trip from Lhasa to Darchen and Mount Kailash. As you will get to stop in Lhasa for two days before departing for Ngari, you have time to properly acclimatize to the higher altitudes of the plateau, something you will not get chance to do when flying from Kathmandu to Ngari via Lhasa.

The road to Darchen stretches for 1,513 kilometers across the vast Tibetan plateau, and the entire trip overland to Ngari takes around four days. However, this is not four days of constant driving, as the trip allows you to take in some of the amazing sights of the plateau region on the way. These include the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the amazing Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse, the stunning Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, and the wonders of the Everest Base Camp in Shigatse Prefecture.

Kathmandu to Mount Kailash via Gyirong Port

Another way to get to Mount Kailash from Kathmandu is to take an overland tour direct from the Nepali capital, traveling across the border between Nepal and China at Gyirong Port. Kathmandu is actually closer to Kailash than Lhasa, and an overland tour is easily arranged.

Kathmandu to Gyirong Town

The first section of the trip is the route from Kathmandu across the border to Gyirong Town, which is normally the first stop in China for acclimatizing for a day. The drive to Gyirong Town is a mere 172 kilometers, but will actually take more than one day, as the roads to the border from Kathmandu are not in the best condition, and travel can be quite slow, taking around 6-7 hours. Getting to the border can be done by private car or bus, and is best done via Syabrubesi, where you can stop for the night, before heading on to the border in the morning. The border in China closes at around 3:00pm Nepal time, so it is not recommended to arrive there too late in the afternoon, as there is no accommodation at the border. Once across the border, you will be met by your guide and driver for the trip overland to Mount Kailash.

Kyirong Town

Gyirong Town to Mount Kailash

After acclimatizing for a day in Gyirong Town, you will take the long drive to Darchen, at the foot of Mount Kailash, for your Kailash Trek. The route is done in the tour vehicle, with your driver doing all the driving while your tour guide points out the sights along the way. The distance to Kailash from Gyirong Town is around 667 kilometers, and can normally be done in one day. The roads from Gyirong to Darchen are pretty good, and have been upgraded in recent years from the old gravel roads that used to lead to Kailash in Ngari, as this forms part of the Xinjiang Tibet Highway, one of the five major routes into Tibet.

Travel Permits for Mount Kailash from Nepal

For tourists heading to Tibet for the trip to Mount Kailash from Nepal, there are certain requirements for visas and permits that differ from those required for traveling from Lhasa. The Chinese Entry Visa is no longer required, and a Chinese Group Visa is issued instead once you reach Kathmandu. The visa is obtained by the travel agency using your original passport, as personal applications are not permitted at the Chinese Embassy there.

You will also need to have the Tibet Travel Permit, for entry to Tibet and travel in the region of Lhasa; the Alien’s Travel Permit, for travel in the “unopened” areas of Tibet outside Lhasa; the Military Permit, also known as the Restricted Areas Permit, for travel to restricted military areas such as Ngari, Nyingchi, etc.; and the Frontier Pass, for travel in the area of the Chinese borders with Nepal, India, and Bhutan. The Tibet Travel Agency like Explore Tibet obtains all of these on your behalf before you depart from Kathmandu.

Taking the fabulous Mount Kailash tour from Kathmandu is a great experience for anyone wants to visit the sacred mountain, and the route you take is up to you. However, we do recommend the flights to Lhasa and overland tour to Kailash, via Mount Everest Base Camp, as it offers the best value-for-money, and can give you an amazing insight into the beauty of the Tibetan plateau and the unique Tibetan religion and culture.

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