Mount Kailash Transportation
Mount Kailash transportation is not very convenient. It is located at Darchen Town of Burang County, the starting and ending point of the Mount Kailash Trekking. Since foreign tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet, after entering Tibet, travel to Mount Kailash must be arranged by travel agents. It is a long journey to drive to Mount Kailash. Generally speaking, it takes at least 4 days departing from Lhasa to Mount Kailash in Ngari, and sometimes longer.
How to Get to Mount Kailash
There is no direct flight, train or long-distance bus to Mount Kailash. You should enter Tibet first, usually via Lhasa, for some cities in China, planes to Ngari are also available.
With the construction of Ngari Gunsa Airport, Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar transportation by air is available. Ngari owns numerous featured natural scenery and cultural sites, but nothing is more influential than Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. Ngari Gunsa Airport, located in Gunsa Township of Gar County, 45 kilometers southwest of Shiquanhe Town in the Ngari Prefecture of Tibet, is another important air passage into and out. It is the third highest airport in the world, and provides flights to and from Lhasa, Chengdu, Xi’an, Urumqi, Kashgar.
It will be more convenient for you to transfer in Lhasa, as it has flights from Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shangri-La and other places, as well as trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou to Lhasa. No matter which route you take to Lhasa, whether by plane from Kathmandu or by train or plane from mainland of China, you will need a few days to acclimatize to the altitude in Tibet. In order to better adapt to the altitude of the plateau, tourists usually stay in Lhasa for two days, visit the scenic spots there first, then set out for Mount Kailash.
For those travelling from Lhasa to Mount Kailash, there are several routes to choose from, but the most popular is the southern route, which is shorter and less rugged. The south route wriggles between Mount Himalaya and Gangdise, passes Shigatse, Lhatse and then arrived at Lake Manasarovar. After that, it goes south to Burang County and turns northwest to Mount Kailash. Finally, the bus arrives at Shiquanhe Town.
Ngari - Mount Kailash
If you set out for Kailash from Ngari, you can take the bus to Burang County in Shiquanhe Town. The bus to Burang County will pass by Mount Kailash, but with long driving time. You may also drive to Darchen first, which is the starting point for Mount Kailash Kora, as well as a place providing food and accommodation.
By Car Rental/Sharing
The most convenient and worry-free way for you to get to Mount Kailash would be car rental, as the public transportation to Mount Kailash is not well developed.
- Rent a car: about 10,000 yuan of deposits is required, but the total cost of renting a car is cheaper than that of taking a driver, and it is suitable for tourists who are familiar with the route (the deposit will not be refunded until one month after return, and fines and repair costs will be deducted if there are violations of regulations, etc.)
- Chartered car: no deposit is required, the fee includes driver service, but the daily cost is higher than that of car rental only. However, this has the advantage that the driver can also serve as half a tour guide, you will have better travel experience along the way.
- Car sharing: You can choose to carpool if the number of people is not enough or the budget is limited. The price is the most cost-effective.
Driving Route: Lhasa – Gyangtse – Shigatse – Saga – Ngari – Darchen
Driving is the most popular means of transportation to Mount Kailash, Ngari. You can stop to take some great pictures on the way. The classic drive from Lhasa to Ngari takes about three days. The first day, drive about 7-8 hours to Shigatse via Gyangtse County, the journey is about 350 kilometers, and stay overnight in Shigatse. On this day, you won't miss the natural beauty of Yamdork Lake and Karola Glacier, as well as the Buddhist attractions of Palcho Monastery and Tashilhunpo Monastery. Then drive to Saga and you can enjoy the wonders of the snowy mountains, the pure Pelkhu tso Lake and the wild plains on the way. On the third day, you will have another long drive of about 550 kilometers from Saga to Ngari. The three-day drive must be a long and hard, but it also provides you with an unforgettable sightseeing feast. In addition, tourists always gradually adapt to high altitude environment, rarely occur plateau reaction. When traveling in the Ngari area, Mount Kailash is the most attractive spot that visitors will visit. You can drive to Darchen first, which is the starting point for Mount Kailash Kora, as well as a place providing food and accommodation.
How to Get around Mount Kailash
- Darchen to Manasarovar: Lake Manasarovar is about 40km away from Darchen and it takes nearly 50 minutes to travel between them. You may visit Lake Manasarovar before reaching Darchen or after your pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.
- Darchen to Guge Kingdom: Driving along with G219 National Express about 230km (5 hours), you will get to Zanda County. Then continue to drive to Guge Kingdom about 20km (30 minutes), and this section of road is not good you will encounter sever bumps.
Porters and Pack Animals for the Kailash Kora
As the Kailash Trek only takes 3 days and 2 nights long at most, with tea houses and basic restaurants all around the mountain, you do not need to carry a lot of gear. Most people carry a 50 to 80 liter backpack for this trek. If you do need a porter or pack animals, they are available through the Purang County Tourism Bureau. They operate an official office where you can arrange porters, horses and yaks. If you need to use these services, tell your guide the day before you arrive to Darchen. Upon reaching Darchen, remind your guide to arrange the porter or pack animals that you will need. This needs to be done at least the afternoon before you plan to start trekking.
Here are the prices charged for the 2018 tourism year (Price could slightly change). Prices could be higher in 2019:
- Porter: 630 RMB per porter for the 3 day trek
- Yak: 720 RMB per yak for the 3 day trek
- Horse: 1710 RMB per horse for the 3 day trek
- Animal keeper (required if you take a horse or yak): 780 RMB per “yak-man” for the 3 day trek
Note: One animal keeper can usually take up to 3 yaks. However, each horse will require its own animal keeper.
Warm Tips for Getting to/around Mount Kailash in Ngari
- Road Condition: Most of the roads to/around Ngari are bituminous national highways (G318 and G219) in good condition and seldom bumps occur, but some sections might be winding and steep. During winter time, the road may be frozen because of the low temperature.
- Necessary Permits: Apart from Tibet Travel Permit which is a must to Tibet, you need Alien’s Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit as well. All these permits can only be applied by travel agency on behalf of tourists. There are several check station set on the road, and the staff will check all your permits, and sometimes you passport also. It should be noted that only the tour operator can obtain the necessary permits to travel to an in Tibet, and individual applications for the Tibet Travel permit will not be accepted by the Tibet Tourism bureau. Please contact us for consultation of the permits.
- Food and Accommodation: The car will stop for lunch in the roadside restaurants. They often offer Sichuan cuisine and some other Chinese food, which are not good enough but able to replenish your energy. You are also suggested to bring some food and snacks with you. The accommodation in Ngari is very basic and can’t be compared with the hotels in Lhasa or Shigatse.