Traveling from Kathmandu in Nepal to Ngari in western Tibet for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra can be done in one of three ways: by flights, by overland travel, and by helicopter from Simikot. 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 requirement considering budget and time.
For most people traveling to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar from Nepal’s exotic capital, the best way is to travel overland to Kailash from Lhasa, after a short flight over the Himalayas between Kathmandu and Lhasa. Not only can it reduce the risk of altitude sickness and travel cost, but also take in all the best of the Tibetan region where as other routes are slightly more strenuous.
Flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa
Kathmandu to Lhasa Flight (607km)
Direct flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa 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.
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Lhasa to Ngari Flight (1,083km)
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.
** These are Millitary aircrafts with limited seat allocation for civilians.
Ngari to Kailash Manasarovar by Road (248km)
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. Your guide and driver will collect you from the airport, and the following day, drive you to Darchen.
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 & picturesque view .
To reduce the risk of altitude sickness, you’re highly recommended to travel overland from Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar (1,672km) .
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.
Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar
Travel Overland from Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar
The road to Mount Kailash, which stretches for 1,672 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 amazing Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse, the stunning Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, and the wonders of the Everest Base Camp in Shigatse Prefecture.
Kathmandu to Kailash Manasarovar by Road 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.
Gyirong to Kailash Manasarovar Route
Kathmandu to Gyirong Town (172km)
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. Getting to the border can be done by private car or bus, or you can contact us to provide transport for you as part of the tour package we offer. The drive takes you first to Syabrubesi, where you will 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.
Gyirong Town to Kailash Manasarovar (667km)
After acclimatizing for a day, you will take the long drive from Gyirong Town to Darchen, at the foot of Mount Kailash for your Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. 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.
Kathmandu to Kailash Manasarovar by Helicopter
If you are planning a helicopter trip as part of your journey to Mount Kailash, then the route takes you on flights from Kathmandu to Simikot, via Nepalgunj, before taking the helicopter to Hilsa and trekking across the border.
Get to Mount Kailash by Helicopter
Kathmandu to Nepalgunj Flight (366km)
The first flight you take is from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj in the Banke District of southwest Nepal. The flights depart from Tribhuvan four times a day, and take around 60 minutes to cover the 366km to the small Nepali town. On average, a single economy flight costs around 183 US dollars per person.
Nepalgunj to Simikot Flight (208km)
From Nepalgunj, the next step is the flight to Simikot, close to the northwestern border of Nepal with China. The flight takes around 60 minutes to cover the 208 kilometer distance, and costs from around 96 US dollars per person for an economy one-way flight. Flights depart twice a day with Tara Airlines and Nepal Airlines.
Simikot to Hilsa Helicopter (20mins)
At Simikot, you will go through the immigration procedures for Tibet, before boarding the helicopter flight to the small village of Hilsa, on the banks of the Karnali River in western Nepal. It takes around 20 minutes to get to Hilsa, and the helicopters can carry only five people at a time. However, with around 80 helicopters plying the same route, there are normally plenty to go around, except in the busiest period.
Hilsa to Purang Trek (10mins)
From Hilsa, pilgrims heading for Mount Kailash have to walk the short distance across the border into Tibet, crossing the bridge over the Karnali River. The bridge over the river is a cable-strung suspension bridge with a metal grate deck, and is in very good condition, though it can sway a lot in windy weather. The walk across the bridge is short, and then the walk to the buildings is only a few hundred meters.
** This has military check post to clear immigration for the tourist travelling to the region.
Purang to Kailash Manasarovar (128km)
On the other side, in Purang County of Ngari, you will normally be met by our tour guide, who will help you sort your gear into the tour vehicle for the drive to Darchen. The route from the immigration buildings in Purang on the Chinese side of the river to Darchen is the paved road for the entire distance, and takes around three hours to cover the 128 kilometers to Mount Kailash.
Travel Permits for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 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.
Tibet Travel Permit
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. All of these are obtained on your behalf by the travel agency before you depart from Kathmandu.
Why Choose Kailashyatra.net for Your Kathmandu to Kailash Manasarovar Yatra
For many travelers, the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and everyone wants their trip to be the best possible. A life-changing experience for those that make it to the mountain every year, here at kaailashyatra.net , we can make sure that your trip to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar is the most outstanding tour possible.
Our amazing Kailash tour include all your permits for Tibet, all lodgings in your itinerary, your meals whilst in the lodgings, entrance costs to all of the tourist attractions in Tibet on the route to Mount Kailash, local transfers, and a local Tibetan guide, driver, and quality tour vehicle. And with our years of experience bringing people into Tibet to visit the sacred Mount Kailash, we can guarantee the best tour you have ever taken.
Taking the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra from Kathmandu is a great experience for anyone wanting 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, & route via Kathamndu combining Muktinath as it offers the best value-for-money, and can give you an amazing insight into the beauty of the Nepal Valley & Tibetan plateau and the unique Tibetan & Nepalese religion and culture.