Sacred to over a billion Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Bon, Mount Kailash is quiet and possibly the world’s holiest mountain. Pilgrims believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. Trekking also called “kora”, in Buddhist tradition is believed to erase a lifetime of bad karma. It is one of the highest trekking routes in the world with the average altitude of this route is around 5000 meters, so it is a very great challenge and requires strong perseverance.
Mount Kailash trek would test the limits of physical strength and endurance, however, with a full preparation and tourist-friendly support from a professional team, you can enjoy the journey to purify your mind.
The most popular and classic route is: 15-Day Mt. Kailash Trekking Tour with Mt.Everest, more than 90% tourists would choose this route every year. Before your journey, let’s know about what will happen and how to plan a Mount Kailash tour.
The fact is we are not genetically programmed to walk at such high altitude than locals. The trek around Mount Kailash is 52 kilometers long, it can be completed in 3 days on general. A person in good shape may take 2 days to complete the entire trek. It depends on your strength and schedule. However, some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Mount Kailash should be made in a single day.
The altitudes of the places where tourist will pass by during the trek are listed in brackets.
Are you ready for the tough Mount Kailash trek?
Traditionally, Mount Kailsah trek is circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot for 3 days, visiting Lake Manasarovar and the west Tibet. A holy bath is an indispensable part for many Indian tourists, Some of the highlights of the Mount Kailash trek involve:
Darchen, the start points of Mount Kailash trek, which is a charming village. There are Endless wasteland, luxuriantly green valleys, snow-capped mountains and pure blue lakes, winding past mani walls and skirting the base of the Kailash massif. The average altitude of this route is almost 5000m, it’s also difficult for the expert trekkers. For those who want to test their limits of physical endurance, the challenges of the trek make it a fantastic experience, there is no doubt that this will be a special trekking experience. Besides, there are some simple accommodations on the road, so you can enjoy the pleasure of trekking without worries.
You will observing the imposing pyramid-shaped summit of Mount Kailash closely, it’s considered to be the “Abode of Lord Shiva“ ,and walking along with devoted pilgrims for an unbeatable spiritual odyssey around the holy mountain. For the normal trekkers,`the peregrination is made in a clockwise direction in 3 days .The 52km’s trekking around the “King of the Mountains” will push your physical limit to a whole new level.
Devout Tibetan pilgrims
Mount Kailash is located on the southern side of Lake Manasarovar in the Kailas Range, with an altitude of 4,588 meters and an area of 412 square kilometers, the deepest part of the lake reaches 77 meters.According to the legends, Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva, used to bathe here and consequently bestows the magical power in this holy water. You can walk along the lake, or enjoy the meditation here . Accompany with the sapphire-blue waters, sandy shoreline and snow-capped-mountain backdrop, the holiness of the lake is heightened.
Jiwu Temple is the best place to enjoy the sunset of Manasarovar Lake, which is located the west bank of Lake Manasarovar. If you have enough time, you can visit Lake Rakshastal,it is the sister lake of Manasarovar.It’s a mysterious salt lake and there are no vegetation on the lake bank. Locals believe that Manasarovar Lake symbolizes good and virtue, while Lake Rakshasta symbolizes sin and evil.
Tips: For tourists, especially for the Indian tourists, please don’t take a long dip more than 3 minutes in the holy lake, the freezing water would make you cold. So don’t forget take precautionary measures like a warm towel. A cold at such a high altitude is a big trouble, so you must follow the guide’s advice.
Peaceful Lake Manasarovar
The Mount Kailash is surrounded by five monasteries: Nyari Monastery, Drirapuk Monastery, Dzultripuk Monastery, Selung Monastery and Gyangzha Monastery. Nyari is the first station on the Mount Kailash trek, and the last two located on the inner trek. Each monastery has it’s own legends, and decorated with different sculptures, statues, murals, Thangka and other Tibetan cultural relics.Unfortunately, all cultural relics have been damaged to varying degrees. Monasteries provides simple accommodation to pilgrims and tourists.But remember that priority will be given to devout pilgrims over tourists when space is limited.
Tips：Time permitting, continue visit the Guge Kingdom is a good choice, which is ruins of the ancient Tubo Kingdom. You may photograph the magnificent Zanda Clay Forest, which is formed by erosion and rise of the Himalayas.If you want to see those rare wild animals，such as herds of wild donkeys, antelopes...Moreover,you could follow loop tour of Northern Route from Shiquan River to Gerze,Namtso, and then back to Lhasa. I believe you will never forget the thrilling wildlife trip.
Duration: 6 hours; Trekking Length: 20 kilometers; Altitude Up: 200 meters; Detailed Itinerary: Darchen - prayer square/two-leg pagoda - Guqu Temple - Dirapuk Monastery
Hire a porter or a yak：It’s better to begin your trek in the early morning, the travel vehicles will take you to the prayer square, where is the starting place of Mount Kailash trek.
Some tourists will have physical difficulties during the trek because they do not have trekking experience before. It is challenging to complete the 52-kilometer mountain transfer without a strong will. But you can rent a yak, horse or poter to help you carry the luggage, the cost is calculated by the day. You also can contact with the Yak Transport Service Centre, this office in the northwest of Darchen is the place to hire a porter, a yak or a horse for the trek around Mt Kailash.
It is possible to ride a horse instead of trekking if you are tired
The following prices are just for your reference. The actual prices vary in different months:
Tips: All these prices are for a minimum of three days, sometimes the price would be higher, depending on the season or your luggage. A horse is better for the small group of two or three people than a yak, as single yaks are difficult to manage.
It is suggested to follow your guide’s instruction. Although the altitude rises slowly, you may still have some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, which your guide will help you to ease.
The Mount Kailash trek usually begins on the western edge of Darchen. This road goes up in the Southwest and end of a ridge and reaches a cairn at 4730m.
Surrounded by prayer flags, the cairn features the first views of Mount Kailash’s southern or lapis lazuli face and a chaktsal gang, which is the first of the trek’s four prostration points.The path soon wriggles north into the barren Lha-chu Valley. The narrow Lha-chu River provides a steady supply of water all the way starts here, until you enter the Dirapuk Monastery.
After passing a series of ruined chortens and a number of long mani (prayer) walls, you will reach a small bridge across the Lha-chu at 4710m. This bridge is 3 hours walk far away from Darchen and located below the Chuku Monastery. During the pilgrim season, a few nomad tents would be set up on the other side of the river from the monastery, it sell foods and water, talk with nomads can make your trekking more interesting, and let you know more about Tibet.
After crossing the Chuku bridge, there are two roads along east bank and the West Bank of the river. Either way take three hours to Dirapuk Monastery.
The path along the eastern bank is the regular pilgrim route, while the path along the western bank sites at Damding Donkhang (4890m), there are many fine grassy camps. Just take your time between Chuku Monastery and Dirapuk Monastery as this stretch has some of the best scenery of the entire trek. Some monastery may provide basic guesthouse (50 CNY for each bed ), but you need to know that Indian pilgrims often book all the beds here, too.
Duration: 7 to 8 hours; Trekking Length: 18 kilometers; Altitude Up: 550 meters; Altitude Down: 600 meters; Detailed Itinerary: Dirapuk Monastery - Sky Burial Site - Dolma La Pass - Lha-chu Valley and Tuoji Lake (Shiva’s wife Parvati ever took a bath in the Lake ) - Dzultripuk Monastery
Today is the most exciting day of the 3 days’ trek, because you will climb to the Dolma La Pass (5630m) and you need to be especially careful with the steep mountain path during the trek.
Lots of our customers want to stay at the Dolma La Pass longer to admire the spectacular views, however, you may have more symptoms of altitude sickness if you stay too long. Normally, 5 to 10 minutes' rest time are recommended.
Dolma La Pass
If you get up early, you can go to the Kangkyam Glacier which descends from the north face of Mount Kailash, the round trip will take 2 hours. Under normal circumstances, you will head off to the east, crossing the Lha-chu again by bridge and climbing on to a moraine to meet the path on the east bank. It is a long ascent to Dolma La, so you need to bring water to last a few hours.
After 2 hours’ walking, you will arrived reach a rocky expanse of Shiva-Tsal. At this point, pilgrims are supposed to undergo a symbolic death and entering in the realm of the Lord of the Dead.
According to the legends, until they reach the top of the Dolma La they could reborn again. About 30 minutes from Shiva-tsal the path turns eastward for the completion of the ascent to the highest point - Dolma La Pass. If the weather is good, most pilgrims and trekkers will take a rest at the pass before starting the steep descent. It takes an hour to make the long and steep descent to the grassy banks of the Lham-Chu Khir (Lha-chu Valley).
Lha-chu Valley is on the western side of Mount Kailash, there are routes along both sides of the river in the valley. The path on the east bank has better sceneries and less marshlands, however, you need to cross the river by boulder hopping. After 3 hours trekking, there are grassy fields, where provide people with tents to set up camp. About an hour on, you may reach the Dzultripuk Monastery, where also provides the simple accommodations. (50 CNY for each bed)
Duration: 3 to 4 hours; Trekking Length: 14 kilometers; Altitude Down: 150 meters
Today is a relaxing day. What you need to do is just take a short sightseeing trek to Darchen to finish this Mount Kailash kora.
Starting from the Dzultripuk Monastery, you will trek along the path beside a river for an hour, then climb to a narrow canyon above the river. When the canyon become narrower, you can take a look for holes on the cliff walls. These holes were not naturally formed, they were cut by pilgrims who were looking for holy stones. Also, you can admire prayer flags across the river, and blue waters of the lake Raksas Tal. When you reach the Barkha plain, it’s now an easy way back to Darchen, where you started the trek three days before, in one hour. Yes, you will finish one of the most sacred trek in one hour!
The final section is a sightseeing trek
Itinerary is listed as below, with the altitudes included in Brackets. Please note that Dolma La Pass, with an altitude of 5630 meters, is the highest place you will reach during a Mount Kailash trek. No body is allowed to ascend to the top of Mount Kailash, whose altitude is 6638 meters.
Lhasa (3650m) - Gyantse (4040m) - Shigatse (3836m) - Tingri (4300m) - Mount Everest Base Camp (5200m) - Saga (4487m) - Lake Manasarova (4588m) - Darchen (4600m) - Mount Kailash (6638m)
The 15-day tour to Mountain Kailash is such a unique itinerary. In our experiences, more than 90% travelers will choose go to Lhasa first, either by taking flight or train from other cities of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xining, Guangzhou and Xi’an, also some of them take flight from Kathmandu, which takes 1.5 hours.
After spend 3 days for acclimation in Lhasa, Tourists will go to Gyantse, Shigatse, Tingri, and the EBC. After that, turn to West to visit Saga, Lake Manasarovar and Darchen, a small town and beginning of Mount Kailash trek.
Almost covered all of the most important Buddhist attractions and natural scenery from Lhasa to Ngari; The elevation rises slowly, you can avoid the AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). You can visit Lake Yamdrok and Lake Manasarovar, which are two of the three holiest lakes in Tibet.
You can observe Mount Everest at EBC closely by your own eyes, you also can enjoy the top 4 highest peaks of Himalayas at Gawu La Pass (5198m).
You need to bear the long-distance journey of road trip from Lhasa to Mount Kailash, and the accommodations are limited. (about 1300km or 15 days)
Quite a few tourists like to take a Mount Kailash tour from Nepal. The itinerary of a Kailash tour from Nepal is listed as below.
Kathmandu (1400m) - Syabrubesi (2380m) – Gyirong Port (1800m) - Gyirong Town (2700m) - Saga (4487m) - Lake Manasarova (4588m) - Darchen (4600m) - Mt. Kailash (6638m)
Mount is close to Nepal, as a result, Kathmandu become the closest gateway to Mount Kailash. First of all, you need fly to Kathmandu and stay there for 3 days to get China Group Visa. Then you can enjoy our transfer service from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (7 to 8 hours, 130 kilometers), which is 20 kilometers to Gyirong Border. After a night here, you will cross Gyirong Border - Sino-Nepal border, and arrive in Gyirong Town for acclimation. In the next day we will drive upwards to Saga and keep driving to Darchen via Manasarovar Lake.
Tourists can visit two Himalayan kingdoms in 7 days. As you know, Nepal is located on the south slope of the Mount Everest, while Tibet is on the north slope. The sceneries of the two slopes are different. If you have ever been to Tibet before. You may not want to other places except the Mount Kailash. This tour can save your time.
The cost is much higher for this tour, because most Tibetan tourist cars and tour guides are in Lhasa. If your tour in Tibet starts in Gyirong Town, your Tibetan travel agency has to send a car and tour guide from Lhasa to Gyirong. The expense of this section will be charged from you.
Beside the mainstream, you can choose the route from Kashgar to Mount Kailash. In this way, you need to take connecting flight from big cities like Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai to Kashgar, then drive to Mt.Kailash via Karghalik, Sanshi Li Yingfang, Rutog and Shiquanhe and Darchen. Many cross-country vehicle enthusiasts choose this ways to get to Mount Kailash.
Many people may ask that if it could take flight from Lhasa to Ngari, where Mount Kailash is located in, and drive to Mount Kailash. In theory, this is doable. However, due to the drastic altitude ascent, you are very likely to have serious altitude sickness. Besides, you will miss all the landmark attractions from Lhasa to EBC. So, this way is not recommended. Actually, the airport in Ngari is mainly built for freight transportation.
If you're pressed for time, you may take Lhasa-Shigatse train (Z8801, 2 hours 53 minutes) to reach Shigatse. It cuts down over 6 hours’ drive to nearly half and you may save up to 4 days.
Pilgrims from across Asia trek across the high-altitude landscape of remote Western Tibet to pay homage and walk around the sacred mountain. Mount Kailash trek is one of the world’s great overland trips. Despite the altitude, it’s surprisingly accessible.
The scenery on the way is splendid: vast mountain rivers, large grasslands, desert, and of course, spectacular mountain ranges, including Mt. Everest. The three-day clockwise walk around Mt Kailash is one of Asia’s classic treks. It isn't particularly strenuous, but it does take you to high altitudes, starting at 4670m and peaking at 5650m at the Dolma La pass, so you need to be well acclimatized and physically fit. Don’t panic, we’ll help you to accomplish this lifetime tour.
Due to its special location and unique policy, all Tibet travels can only book tour with a licensed Tibet travel agency at least 30 days in advance.
According to the regulations, Travel agencies are not able to arrange Indian Passport Holders to visit Mount Kailash. If Indian passport holders want to have a trip to Mount Kailash, they need to book it through Nepal or an Indian travel agency that has a cooperative relationship with the Pilgrim Center and the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Because only these two agencies can legally serve Indian passport holders in Tibet operates Mount Kailash tourism. Although we are not capable of arranging trips to Mount Kailash for Indian tourists, we are still willing to provide you with free consultation and any possible assistance.
As a well-established Tibet travel agency since 2009, our offices are located in Lhasa, Kathmandu, Chengdu and Bhutan, so that it’s very easy to book the Mount Kailash tour directly from us. Moreover, we promise to offer an easy handling of your travel documents from all Tibet-entry cities, and we also can help you book hotel, flight, Tibet train tickets to Lhasa. Feel free to let us know should you have any questions about the Mount Kailash.
For foreign tourists, if you prefer to visit Mount Kailash from Lhasa, it requires the essential document - Tibet Travel Permit, Foreigner’s Travel Permits, the Military Passes and the Foreign Affairs Permits.
If you decide to visit Mount Kailash from Kathmandu, in addition to the above four types of documents, you need to have China group visa to enter Tibet. You need to spend at least 4 working days in Kathmandu to process Group Visa with your original passport. But don’t worry about the documents, after you book a tour with our travel agency, we will arrange all of these documents for you.
It needs 20 days to for Tibet Permit application. After getting your Tibet Permit, we will deliver you it to your hotel or the place your will stay in mainland China. You can only board a train or flight to Tibet with the permit. Please note that it is illegal to send Tibet Permit abroad according to Chinese law.
If you enter Tibet via Gyirong Port from Kathmandu, our guide will pick you up at the Gyirong Town. If fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, you only need take your passport and China Group Visa to board the flight. The application for Tibet Permit is free.
For most tourists, the best months for Mount Kailash Trek are from April to October. The weather won't be very cold at this time, which is more suitable for Mount Kailash Trek. In this period, you will trek under a clear blue sky and breathe fresh air during the trek. The average temperature is around 8℃ or 9℃. The rainy season in Tibet is from June to August , and it accounts for half of the year's precipitation. Although continuous rain is not common in Kailash area, you’d better to check the weather for a week before your travel.
It may snow and be windy whenever at Dolma La Pass, the highest point for Mount Kailash trek. If you go to the Mount Kailash in April, an early spring month, you may have to trek on frozen mountain paths. So, you have to be very careful.
After middle October, locals will close their accommodation due to the cold freezing weather until next April, it marks the end of Mount Kailash trek in a year.
The best time to visit Mount Kailash is the Horse Years （once in 12 years）and the festival of Saga Dawa. Locals believe that a horse year trek will get more blessings, even more that 13 times in the common time! Saga Dawa marks the enlightenment of Sakyamuni, and occurs on the full-moon day of the fourth Tibetan month. In the Kailash region the highlight is the raising of the Tarboche prayer pole in elaborate costumes, with horns blowing. After the pole has been raised, about 1pm, everyone sets off on their trek. Saga Dawa is a particularly popular time to visit Mount Kailash. There are plenty of stalls, a fair-like atmosphere and a non-stop tidal flow of pilgrims around the prayer pole.
We provide both join-in small group tours and private tours to for the Mount Kailash trek, however, considering about the expensive transportation fee from Lhasa to Mount Kailash and travel safety, the join-in small group is a better choice for you.
You can share the tour expense with other tourists from the worldwide, and for sure, you can make friends with them. The most important point is, when you push your limit to pass treacherous Dolma La Pass, both our experienced guide and other group members can help and encourage you along the way.
If there are friends or family members travel with you, customizing a private small group is a good choice for you, so that your schedule can be more flexible. The more people your have, the bigger discounts you will get.
According to the policy, Back packing or independent travel is not allowable in Tibet. You need find a legal travel agency to book your tour. We will provide the best tour and worry-free services for you, please contact us for more information.
There can be no doubt that the Mount Kailash trek is very difficult. You’d better prepare a good level of fitness. Swimming, hiking, jogging, cycling... all these exercises can help you to build up a better level of fitness and stamina for the hard trek.
It is also suggested to take some medicine before traveling to high-altitude areas. Please inquire your doctor for detailed advices.
It’s not cheap for a Mount Kailash tour. Taking the most popular 15-day Lhasa to Mount Kailash tour will cost 2300 USD per person on average. The costs include the accommodation, tour transfer service, travel insurance, guide service, oxygen supply, entrance ticket, travel documents, porter and yaks for trekking, etc. Transportation to Tibet is not included.
Another large disbursement is the international flight to the mainland China, plus the cost for either taking Chinese flight or train to Lhasa. The total cost may be enormously high for the single tourist.
Joining in a group tour can cut the costs significantly. In a small tour group of 8 to 12 travelers, you can share the cost for transportation, hotel and dinners. It can save you up to 800 USD in Tibet. Furthermore, you can meet many new friends and make your tour much more interesting.
There is also a workable way, which is visiting Mount Kailash between April to June, the rainy season in Tibet, the price normally can be around 250 USD/person lower.
With the improvement of accommodation, camping is not the only option during the 3-day trek. You can stay in the guesthouse at Dirapuk Monastery for the first night and Dzultripuk Monastery for the second night. Below the Dolma La Pass, a few Tibetan-run shops sell some simple food, such as instant noodle, soup and sweet tea, hot water and some stirred fried rice.
Because of the hostile environment，there is not hot tap water or showering facilities. During the night, you can use electric blanket and multiple sheets to keep warm. If you can't deal with the filthy bed sheets, bringing a sleep bag is better for you. There are many private toilets during the trek, but it is inconvenient for female tourists, so don’t forget to bring your toilet paper, wet tissue paper and toiletry.
Because of the high altitude, traveling light is preferred. Your luggage should not heavier than 30 kilograms. Be certain that you have prepared well before you begin planning your trip and planning your trip by your personal strength. As a matter of experience, the following is a list of some must-have gears:
(1) Small backpack, Gloves, Trekking pole, Headlamp, sun cream, sunglasses;
(2) Hiking boots, Hiking socks, insulated jacket, outdoor or fleece jacket and pants, down or fleece sleeping bag;
(3) Food, insulated thermos, stove, fuel bottle, a set of cookware;
(4) Personal medicine, don't forget to bring some medicines that prevent altitude sickness.
Other than that，the temperature in mountain areas of Tibet may be very low even in daytime. At night, the temperature will drop to below zero. Besides, the weather may change greatly in a day, so you need prepare thick and thin clothes. We also provide trekking poles, which can ease the pressure of your knee and make your trek much easier. Bring some high-calorie snacks and refreshing coffee and tea are useful, in case you need the energy for another round of adrenaline rush. Of course, don’t forget to bring some plastic bags to collect your garbage for responsible travel.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the most important medical problem while trekking. Also known as altitude sickness, the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3,000 meters can range from mild to severe, depending on the person. The average elevation of Mount Kailash is about 5000 meters, and the highest point is the Dolma La pass, which is 5630 meters high. The initial symptoms of altitude sickness are as follows: losing appetite, nausea, vomiting, insomnia/sleeplessness, dizziness, confusion, persistent headache, weakness, fatigue, heavy legs, breathlessness and breathing irregularity, etc.
If you experience altitude sickness during travel, please stop climbing, otherwise there will be more serious problems. Because of its remoteness, it is difficult to find a place for treatment in a short time. The only cure for altitude sickness is to walk to lower altitudes. You can rent or buy oxygen cylinders at the hotels in Darchen. It is strongly recommended that you bring one just in case. Otherwise you can prepare some drugs for altitude sickness, take it in advance, it will also be helpful to you. Diamox is a useful medicine for easing altitude sickness. Take it follow the doctors' prescription and dosage and advice, the side effects will compromise your trekking experience.
Whether you are a believer or not, walking along with these pilgrims is inspiring. Many devout pilgrims have saved for years to make the trip. Pilgrims touch the various manifestations with their own prayer beads or bow to touch their foreheads upon them. In still other places pilgrims test their level of merit, sin, and fortune through physical encounters with the landscape. During the trek, you can experience the essential components of Tibetan culture and religion, as well as test the limits of physical strength and endurance.
There is a conclusion to help you plan your Mount Kailash tour: