Tibet Trekking Routes: How to Choose the Best Trek in Tibet

Last updated: September,28 2020

There are lots of treks you can take in Tibet, from the long hike to Mount Everest to the short strolls around the Lhasa foothills. For someone planning a trip to Tibet, the best trek really depends on several factors, including their expectations, their preferences, their schedules for travel, and their budget. Some treks are more suitable for experienced trekkers, like the Kailash Kora Trek, while others are ideal for those that want a shorter hike or are novices to high-altitude trekking. Depending on your own preference and experience, find the right one for yourself from the following best treks in Tibet.

3 Days Mount Kailash Trek - Experience Tibetan Buddhism and Spiritual Pilgrimage

Start-end:
The trek starts and ends at Darchen, the small village just below the southern face of Mount Kailash. However, for many people, it begins at Sarshung Village, where the eco-bus drops them off for the trek up the Lha-chu Valley.

Mount Kailash Kora trek is rated as the hardest trek in TibetMount Kailash Kora trek is rated as the hardest trek in Tibet

Trekking route:
The route of the trek takes you around Mount Kailash, the sacred mountain of four religions, in the course of three days. The first section runs from Sarshung Village to Drirapuk Monastery, the second monastery on the trail around the mountain. After a night’s rest, you will continue over the Drolma La Pass to reach the second night’s stop at Dzultripuk Monastery. The final day is the shortest, taking you back out onto the plains to Zongto, where most people stop and get the bus back to Darchen.

Distance:
Most articles cite the distance of the trek as being one of 52 kilometers. In actuality, the distance that most people take for the kora trek is a lot less. For those starting in Sarshung Village and ending in Zongto, where the last teahouse is located, the trek is only 38 kilometers. However, even for those starting and ending in Darchen, the route is actually only 48 kilometers long.

Duration:
The trek takes three days for most hikers and tourists, although the local Tibetans can do the whole route in a single day as part of their pilgrimage.

Difficulty level:
The Kailash Kora Trek is rated as the hardest trek in Tibet, and is an arduous hike at high altitudes. Rough trails and the high Drolma La Pass make this a trek only for hikers with some experience at high altitudes.

Best trekking time:
Spring and autumn, from April to May and September to October, are the best times to take this trek. The weather is clear enough for great views and dry, so the hard trail is not any harder. It can be hiked in summer, but it is hotter and more likely you may experience some rainfall.

Trekking highlights:
The highlights of the trek are the amazing views of the stunning sacred mountain. Each side has its attractions, though the most popular view is that of the swastika that can be seen on the southern face of the mountain. - See more details at 15-day Lhasa Kailash tour.

4 Days Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp Trek - Enjoy Wildlife Safari and Mount Everest View

Start-end:
The trek starts in Old Tingri, on the G318 Friendship Highway, and ends at the Everest Base Camp next to the Rongbuk Monastery.

Trek to Everest Base Camp in OctoberTrek to Everest Base Camp in October

Trekking route:
The route of this amazing trek takes you through some of the most outstanding landscapes in the region. From Tingri, you trek south through Cholung Gompa and the fields of barley to reach Lung Thang on the first day. In the morning, the trail continues southwards, passing through Pang la and Churak, to reach the Lamna La Pass, below which you camp for the night. The third day sees you trekking through the farming fields and meadows, along the gravel trails that lead you to Zommug, where you stop for the night. The final leg of the trek takes you over the rough terrain to the Rongbuk Monastery, and EBC.

Distance:
The trek is now actually only 66 kilometers long, as the tourist base camp was recently moved to be closer to Rongbuk to preserve the environment of the actual base camp site.

Duration:
The trek is a four-day hike that is done in sections that make the most of the landscapes and the location of decent camping spots.

Difficulty level:
While it may not be the hardest trek in Tibet, this is no walk in the park. The trek runs through landscapes that are above 4,500 meters, and has a climb up to more than 5,000 meters at its highest point. However, it is suitable for lesser experienced trekkers, with no high-altitude experience.

Best trekking time:
The best time to tackle this trek is from April to May and September to October, the spring and autumn, as the weather is dry and pleasant with no rain. The trek can be done in summer, but there is no guarantee you will see the summit of the mountain due to cloud cover.

Trekking highlights:
The main highlight of the trek is the mountain you are heading for, Mount Everest. The world’s highest mountain can be seen getting closer as you hike the route, and you have an amazing view from the top of Lamna La Pass. - See the 12 Days Popular Tibet Trek Tour from Tingri to EBC.

4 Days Ganden to Samye Trek – Explore Best of Lhasa Outskirts

Start-end:
The trek starts at Ganden Monastery in Lhasa, and ends at the Samye Monastery, on the other side of the mountains, in Shannan Prefecture.

Trek to Samye Monastery from Ganden MonasteryTrek to Samye Monastery from Ganden Monastery

Trekking route:
After departing from Ganden, the route takes you from the nearby Tsubshi Village to Yama-do, a couple of hours down the trail. The second day of trekking takes you up the Shug La Pass and through the Tsotup Chu Valley, ending the day at the campsite in the valley. The following day, the route heads on through the valley and up to the Chitu La Pass, before descending to the fields below for the next campsite. The final day is a shorter hike through the fields to Changtang Village, where you will be picked up for the short dive to Samye Monastery.

Distance:
While the actual distance to Samye from Ganden is around 70 kilometers, the last 24km is done by car, so you actually only trek around 46 kilometers for the whole four-day trek.

Duration:
While the trek is actually four days long, the first day is spent split between touring around Ganden Monastery and then 2-3 hours of trekking. And each subsequent day only averages 5-6 hours of hiking for a moderate pace.

Difficulty level:
The route is not as hard as some treks, and is suitable for less experienced trekkers to manage. The route is not suitable for novices to high-altitude trekking, as it reaches very high altitudes.

Best trekking time:
Spring and autumn, from April to May and September to October, is the best time for this trek. The drier weather in Lhoka is better than trying to trek in the summer rains, which are heavier in the southern areas of the plateau.

Trekking highlights:
The passes you cross give you stunning views of the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains through which you are trekking. And the famous landmarks of Ganden and Samye Monasteries, two of the most important monasteries in Tibet. - Check the detailed itinerary for Ganden to Samye trekking tour.

4 Days Tsurphu to Yangpachen Trek – Enjoy Alpine Pastures and Nomadic Culture

Start-end:
This awesome trek starts at the Tsurphu Monastery, to the west of Lhasa, and ends at Yangpachen, the site of the famous Hot Springs on the road to Lake Namtso.

Trek to Yangpachen and enjoy hot springTrek to Yangpachen and enjoy hot spring

Trekking route:
The route starts at Tsurphu Monastery, and treks up to the high altitude of Leten Village at more than 5,000 meters. Then it is on to Bartso, crossing the Lasar La Pass at 5,300 meters, and Damchen La at 5,200 meters. From Bartso, you will cross the wide valley to Tajung Village, then climb up over the rolling hills to the Dorje Ling Ani Gompa, and the campsite near the nunnery. From Dorje Ling, you can trek the last few hours to Yangpachen Nunnery, before enjoying the hot springs, or ride in the vehicle.

Distance:
If you are trekking the whole distance, then you will be completing a 55-kilometer trek. For those that ride from Dorje Ling to Yangpachen, the trekking is only 41 kilometers.

Duration:
The trek takes four days, but only usually has 4-5 hours of trekking each day because of the terrain and altitude.

Difficulty level:
This is quite a hard trek, especially for those not used to higher altitudes above 5,000 meters. With several passes to cross, some reaching up to 5,300 meters, and camping at more than 5,000 meters, this is not suitable for novices to high-altitude trekking, and does require some experience.

Best trekking time:
Spring and autumn are the best time to make this trek, though it can actually be done throughout the year. The trek is even possible in the coldest months, as the passes do not get covered with snow.

Trekking highlights:
Aside from the breathtaking scenery and the amazing views of the local mountain summits, this trek gives you some of the best possible views of the holy Mount Nyenchen Tanglha, the closest high mountain to Lhasa. - Check the detailed itinerary for Tibet Trekking Tour from Tsurphu to Yangpachen.

2 Days Shalu to Nartang Trek - Trace Old Trade Routes between Two Great Buddhist Centers

Start-end:
The trek begins at the Shalu Monastery, just outside Gyantse, on the road to Shigatse from Lake Yamdrok. The end of the trek is at Nartang Monastery, just outside Shigatse to the west.

Shalu to Nartang trekShalu to Nartang trek

Trekking route:
The route is shorter than most, and after visiting Shalu Monastery, you will take the trail past the Ripa Hermitage and through Phunup Village to the Showa La Pass. Then drop down to the campsite at Upper Lungsang at 4,060 meters. The second day takes you from Upper Lungsang to Nartang Monastery, passing through Ngor Village from the high Char La Pass (4,550m). After a brief stop at Ngor, you will finish the trek to Nartang Monastery, through the small villages and farming communities.

Distance:
A short trek, the route covers a distance of only 26 kilometers.

Duration:
The trek is a short two-day hike through the countryside around Shigatse.

Difficulty level:
The hike does not reach extreme altitudes, and the shorter hiking days makes it more suitable for novice hikers to Tibet.

Best trekking time:
Any time of the year can be good for this trek, with spring and autumn being the best time to travel.

Trekking highlights:
Shalu Monastery is the traditional seat of the Buton Rinchen, the master of the translation of the Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Tibetan. And you will visit the Ngor Monastery along the route, which is renowned for its Sanskrit Buddhist library. - Check the detailed itinerary for Tibet Trekking Tour from Shalu to Nartang.

8 Days Gama Valley Trek - Embrace the Most Beautiful Valley in the World

Start-end:
The stunning Gama Valley Trek starts at Youpa Village, near the Gawu La Pass in Shigatse Prefecture, and ends at Lhundupling Village, completing a loop around the valley.

Having a rest in Gama Valley trekHaving a rest in Gama Valley trek

Trekking route:
The trek follows a long looping route through the valley. Starting from Youpa Village, you will take the route that passes through Showo Tso Pond and the Showo La Pass, and on to Dolshang, Tsonang Tso, the Tangsung viewing platform, Paltang and the eastern slopes above EBC, and back to Tsocho Rim to head up to the Nangma La Pass and on to Lhundupling Village.

Distance:
Covering a total distance of 111 kilometers, this is one of the longest treks in Tibet.

Duration:
The trek lasts for eight days, and is normally part of a longer tour of Tibet.

Difficulty level:
This is not a trek for the novice hiker or someone without altitude experience, as the hike covers some rugged terrain and high altitude passes.

Best trekking time:
This is the ideal trek for the summer, when the Gama Valley is lush and green with verdant foliage covering the region. Spring and autumn are also great times to trek here, but winter is not a good idea.

Trekking highlights:
The Gama Valley is a highlight in itself, being one of the most beautiful areas of Tibet. However, for many, the view of Everest and the closeness to the base camp is a major highlight of the trek. - Check the detailed itinerary for Tibet Everest Trekking Tour in Gama Valley.

Warm Tips for Trekking in Tibet

Whether you are trekking around Mount Kailash, or hiking to the famous EBC, keeping warm is important. Make sure that you have enough layers to maintain your body temperature at high altitudes and often in colder weather than you might expect. And do not forget gloves and a hat, even in the summer months.

Stop as often as you need to, so that you can rest enough when trekking in Tibet. Even after you have acclimatized, over-exertion can still bring on the effects of altitude sickness.

Conclusion

Trekking in Tibet is one of the most amazing experiences you can have, and the plateau region has some of the greatest treks you can try. Whether you are a novice to high altitudes, or have experience in mountain hiking, there is a trek to suit all comers in Tibet.

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