Lhasa to Mount Kailash Distance: how to get to Kailash from Lhasa by road and flight

Last updated: December,25 2019

Located in western Tibet, in Ngari Prefecture, Mount Kailash lies more than 1,083 kilometers from Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, as the crow flies. For those driving to the sacred mountain from Lhasa, it is a distance of more than 1,200 kilometers, and an epic journey to the most sacred mountain in the world. There are three main routes that can be used to get to Mount Kailash from Lhasa, two overland and one that uses the flights from Lhasa to Ngari. However, for most tourists heading for the mountain for the kora trek, the southern route, along the G318 Friendship Highway via Mount Everest, is the best option.

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    Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar Distance by Road

    The two road routes to Mount Kailash are the southern and northern routes, two distinctly different roads that are suitable for different types of travelers. The northern route is the most scenic, traveling past Lake Namtso and through Nagqu to get to Ngari from the northeast. The southern route is the faster and better of the two for road conditions, and is the best route for those heading first to Mount Everest before going to Kailash.

    Map of Lhasa to Kailash Road(Simple click to enlarge the map)Lhasa to Kailash Travel Map

    To experience the most classic expedition, you can follow the Ngari southern route from Lhasa to Kailash (1,672km)

    Travel Route: Lhasa (3,650m) - Gyantse (4,040m) - Shigatse (3,836m) - Tingri (4,300m) - EBC (5,200m) - Saga (4,487m) - Lake Manasarovar (4,588m) - Darchen (4,600m) - Mt. Kailash (6,638m)
    Total Distance: 1,672 kilometers.
    Road Condition: Good, asphalt roads for the entire distance.
    Duration: Four Days
    Highlights along Lhasa to Kailash Southern Route:
    One of the most outstandingly epic journeys across Tibet, the four-day drive from Lhasa to Darchen, at the southern foot of Mount Kailash, is filled with amazing sights, outstanding attractions, and a wealth of connections with the local Tibetan people everywhere you go.

    After departing from Lhasa, the first major attraction you will come across is the stunning Lake Yamdrok. Located around 112km to the southwest of Lhasa, this beautiful lake is one of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet. As you continue on to Shigatse, you will pass through Gyantse, a small town that was once the largest town in Tibet and is the home of the famous Gyantse Kumbum stupa.

    In Shigatse, you will get to see the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second highest religious incarnation. Then it is on to the Everest Base Camp, the best place in the world for viewing the summit of the world’s highest mountain, at 5,200 meters above sea level.

    Lake ManasarovarHoly Lake Manasarovar lies on the way to Mount Kailash.

    On the third day out from Lhasa you will pass through the small town of Saga, and the road will run parallel to the western Himalayas, with great views of the high mountains, including Mount Shishapangma, Mount Manaslu, and the Annapurna Ranges. Shishapangma is the only 8,000 meter mountain that is wholly in China.

    After passing through Saga, Zhongba County, and Paryang, you will reach the northern shores of Lake Manasarovar, just before you finally end the journey at Darchen.

    Dining and Accommodation:
    While there are a wide range of hotels in Lhasa, from small guesthouses to 5-star luxury hotels, after you get out of Shigatse, there are fewer four and five starred hotels, and the most you can expect is a half-decent three star hotel or the guesthouses, which are the most common types of accommodation as you move west. At EBC you can stay in the monastery guesthouse, or you can try out the tent guesthouses at the base camp for a real Tibetan experience. In Saga, you can find decent guesthouses to stay in, and a couple of 2-star hotels, and at Darchen, the only accommodations are the guesthouses and hostels for people heading to the mountain kora route.

    >> See more details of 15 days Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar overland group tour.

    To enjoy wildlife safari, you can adventure along Ngari northern route from Lhasa to Kailash (1,832km)

    Travel Route: Lhasa (3,650m) - Damxung (4,200m) - Namtso Lake (4,718m) - Baingoin (4,700m) - Nyima (4,800m) - Dongcuo (4,414m) - Gerze (4,985m) - Xiongba (4,609m) - Yare (4,800m) - Baga (4,680m) - Darchen (4,600m) - Kailash (6,638m)
    Total Distance: 1,832 kilometers
    Road Condition: Poor to average, with several stretches of gravel road and narrow single lane asphalt.
    Duration: Six Days
    Highlights along Lhasa to Kailash Northern Route:
    In comparison to the southern route, the northern route has a much poorer road condition for most of the length, after you depart from the Qinghai Tibet Highway at Damxung County. The latter part of the road is in worse condition still, though the trip is well worth it for the unique landscapes and stunning scenery of northern Tibet, something few foreign tourists have ever seen.

    Lake NamtsoEnjoyin the breathtaking view of Lake Namtso

    After leaving Damxung to head over the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, you will stop for a while at the beautiful Lake Namtso, the Heavenly Lake, before heading over the boundary and into Nagqu Prefecture of northern Tibet to Baingoin. From Baingoin, the road gets worse, and the route to Nyima, while filled with stunning mountain vistas and amazing natural lakes, is mostly gravel, with some stretches being mere dirt roads across the meadows, with only the tracks of the other vehicles that use the road pointing the way.

    The road from Nyima to Gerze runs across the vast Changtang Grasslands, and this is the best opportunity to see the various wild animals of northern Tibet, including the Tibetan antelope, wild kiang, and wild yaks, among others. From Gerze, the road passes through the twin villages of Wenbu, and continue through the lake-strewn landscape to Xiongba, passing the stunning lakes of Trari Namtso and Tangra Yumco, as well as many smaller lakes and vast stretches of marshlands. Then, turning south to pass through the mountains and the villages of Tare and Baga, you will rejoin the main road from Saga to pass along the northern shores of Lake Manasarovar to reach Darchen.

    Dining and Accommodation:
    There is very little in the way of good quality accommodation after you depart from Damxung County, and most of the accommodation you will stay in for the four-day drive will be guesthouses, with little to no useful facilities, and often with no running water and electricity. The route is harsher and more arduous than the southern route, but the beauty of the scenery and the potential for seeing the amazing wild creatures of northern Tibet more than makes up for that. You may also want to bring plenty of packet and tinned foods with you if you are not fond of basic Tibetan food, as you will not be able to find any western food along the route, and few restaurants as you pass over the grasslands of Nagqu.

    Is it possible to travel from Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar by flight?

    If you are not into long drives that take several days, then it is possible to take a flight to get closer to Mount Kailash. Flights run from the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport to Ngari Gunsa Airport in Shiquanhe Town of Ngari.

    Lhasa to Ngari Flight (1,083km)

    Flights from Lhasa to Ngari run daily, with Tibet Airlines, and take around two hours to reach the airport in Ngari Prefecture. The flights depart from Lhasa at around 7:30am daily, and cost from around US$ 380 per person. Ngari Airport, also known as the Ngari Gunsa Airport or Ali Kunsha Airport (but listed on flight search engines as Shiquanhe NGQ), lies around 54 kilometers to the south of Shiquanhe, the seat of Ngari Prefecture.

    Ngari to Kailash Manasarovar by Road (248km)

    From Shiquanhe, it is around 248 kilometers to the small village of Darchen at the southern foot of Mount Kailash. The road is a good asphalt-paved road, and is part of the main Xinjiang Tibet Highway. Traveling to Kailash from Shiquanhe requires travelers to be on a pre-arranged tour, and your guide and driver will meet you at the airport in Shiquanhe to take you first into the town itself and then on to Mount Kailash the following day.

    Notice: Due to the sharply increasing altitude, it’s more likelier to get altitude sickness. As a professional Tibet travel agency, Chinatibettrain.com strongly suggest you to travel overland from Lhasa to Kailash Manasarovar instead.

    Tibet Permits for Kailash Tour from Lhasa

    For those traveling to Mount Kailash from Lhasa, there are a number of permits you will need in order to get to the sacred mountain. The first, which you will have been given to get into Tibet, is the Tibet Travel Permit, which is required for all tourists traveling to Tibet and covers travel only in the area of Lhasa prefecture-level city. This is applied for before you fly to China to travel to Lhasa, and takes around 15-20 days to process.

    Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit is needed to travel to Tibet.

    You will also need the Alien’s Travel permit, which is required for all tourists traveling to the areas of Tibet outside Lhasa that are not military controlled. These are generally known as the “unopened” areas of Tibet, and include Shigatse and Mount Everest. This can be obtained from the Lhasa office of the Foreign Affairs Office and takes around an hour to procure.

    To get to Ngari, you will need to have the Military Permit, otherwise known as the Restricted Areas Permit, which allows you to travel in the military controlled areas such as Ngari, Nagqu, and Nyingchi. This permit is applied for after your Kailash tour has been booked, as it can take up to two weeks to process.

    You will also need the Frontier Pass, which is required for all tourists, both foreign and domestic, who are traveling in the border areas of China with India, Nepal, and Bhutan. This is also obtained in Lhasa, and takes just an hour or so to process.

    Conclusion

    The routes from Lhasa to Mount Kailash are both long, and which route you take depends on what you are looking for in your trip. If you prefer the sights of the cities, monasteries, and Mount Everest, then the southern route, which is the shorter route, is ideal for you. However, if you prefer to travel through open grasslands and prairies, pass hundreds of small and large lakes with the sun shimmering on their bright surfaces, and hope to see some of the beautiful creatures of northern Tibet, including the potential to spot a snow leopard, then take the northern route. If neither appeals to you, there is always the flight to Ngari from Lhasa.

    Related Readings:

    Most Recommended Tibet Kailash Tours

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