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How to Plan a Mount Kailash Trekking Tour?

Written by Senior Expert Felicia|Updated: 2024-04-26

Taking a trekking tour to Mount Kailash, one of the most sacred and challenging pilgrimages in the world, requires careful planning. The journey to this remote and mystical mountain in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China is not just about physical endurance, but also a test of determination and spiritual devotion. This three-day Mount Kailash trekking tour will show you the mystery and beauty of Mount Kailash within 52-kilometer trekking trails.

Whether you're beginning your Mount Kailash trekking from China, Nepal, or Kashgar, the key elements to consider are the best time to trek, the cost, and how to save money during the tour. Essential aspects such as where to stay, what to eat, and the required travel documents and permits also play a crucial role in this adventurous endeavor. In this guide, we will delve into each of these aspects, providing you with a comprehensive roadmap to plan your Mount Kailash trekking tour successfully.

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  • triangleMount Kailash Trekking Facts: Map, Routes, Altitude
  • triangleWhat to Expect for Mount Kailash Kora?
  • triangleHow to Take a Mount Kailash Trekking Tour (Itineraries)
  • triangleRequired Travel Documents/Permits for Mount Kailash Yatra
  • triangleHow to Get to Mount Kailash for Trek
  • triangleKailash Yatra Cost - Effective Tips to Reduce Cost
  • triangleBest Time to Trek Mount Kailash & Packing Advice
  • triangleWhere to Stay and What to Eat During Kailash Kora
  • triangleExplore Tibet with Asia Odyssey Travel

Mount Kailash Trekking Facts: Map, Routes, Altitude

Mount Kailash, or Gang Rinpoche as it's known in Tibet, is the centerpiece of the most reputable trekking route in Tibet, attracting devout pilgrims and adventure-seekers alike. This trek, circling the base of the sacred mountain, offers a unique chance to walk side by side with dedicated worshippers. Its allure lies in the blend of spiritual mystique and raw natural beauty, making it a favorite among both domestic and international tourists. To help you understand the route better, we provide a comprehensive map detailing key facts about the Mount Kailash trek. This valuable resource will enhance your understanding and preparation for this extraordinary journey.

Distance: 52km

Duration: 2-3 days

Start: Darchen (4,675m)

End: Darchen (4,675m)

Highest Point: Drolma La Pass (5,630m)

Difficulty: Medium to hard

Accommodation: Tents or local guest houses

Meals: Local simple restaurants

Mount Kailash tour
Mount Kailash trekking route map
Mount Kailash tour
Kailash kora is the most reputable trekking route in Tibet

What to Expect for Mount Kailash Kora?

The Mount Kailash Kora, or circumambulation route, is also a remarkable trek for those interested in experiencing the region's unique cultural and natural beauty.

Different Views of Mount Kailash - As you circumnavigate the mountain, you will experience diverse views of Mount Kailash from various angles.

Temples - Along the Kora, you will encounter several Tibetan Buddhist temples, including the Chugu Monastery (曲古寺), Dirapuk Monastery (止热寺), and Zutulpuk Monastery (尊珠寺).

Pilgrims - As you trek the Kora, you will share the path with Tibetan pilgrims. One such practice is the act of full-body prostrations at various points along the route. It is a profound ritual that can be deeply moving to observe.

Drolma La Pass (卓玛拉山口) and Gauri Kund (空行母沐浴池) - The highest point of the Kora is the Drolma La Pass, which is over 5,600 meters above sea level. The Gauri Kund is believed to be a sacred bathing site for the Buddhist deity Tara.

Valley Views - The trek will take you through various landscapes, including beautiful valleys with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rivers.

Mount Kailash tour
The starting point of Kailash Trekking
Mount Kailash tour
Drolma La Pass and Gauri Kund is the Highest Point

How to Take a Mount Kailash Trekking Tour (Itineraries)

The outer circuit of Mount Kailash, known as the Kora, covers a distance of approximately 52 kilometers with altitudes ranging from 4,600 to 5,200 meters. You can take a sightseeing vehicle for the first 6 kilometers and the last 4 kilometers instead of trekking on foot. This means that tourists need to hike only about 42 kilometers of the entire route. Local Tibetans can typically complete the entire 52-kilometer circuit in a single day. However, for most tourists, it is recommended to take 3 days to complete the high-altitude trek.

Day 1: Darchen - Dirapuk Monastery (22 km, 200m ascent)

The first day spans from Darchen (塔钦) to Dirapuk Monastery (止热寺), covering 22 kilometers in approximately 7 hours. The trek is not particularly challenging, with a slow ascent and minor undulations.

Trekking typically begins in the early morning, with a tour vehicle transporting you to the Prayer Flag Square (经幡广场), 6 kilometers from Darchen. This is the starting point for the trek, where you have the option to hire porters or yaks to carry your luggage and backpacks.

Following the river valley northwards, you'll trek about 16 kilometers to reach your first-day accommodation at Dirapuk Monastery. This journey takes around 6 hours, during which you can admire the valley landscape and the view of Mount Kailash to the right of the path.

Day 2: Dirapuk Monastery - Dzultripuk Monastery (18 km, 550m ascent, 600m descent)

The second day's trek takes you from Dirapuk Monastery to Zutulpuk Monastery (尊珠寺), situated at an altitude of 4810 meters. The whole trek is 18 kilometers and takes approximately 9 hours. This is the most strenuous and challenging day due to the need to traverse the highest paths of the trekking Drolma La Pass (卓玛拉山口), standing at 5630 meters.

The uphill journey to Drolma La Pass is challenging, with an elevation increase of 600 meters within 5 kilometers, requiring about 3 hours. This is followed by a 3-kilometer downhill trek on a gravel road, with a rapid descent of 400 meters, which can be descended in approximately 1.5 hours to reach the valley.

The final stretch of the day is a 10-kilometer trek along the river valley, which is relatively gentle with minor altitude variations. After about 5 hours, you'll reach the accommodations at Zutulpuk Monastery.

Day 3: Dzultripuk Monastery - Darchen (12km, 150m descent)

The third day is the least strenuous and shortest part of the journey. The 12-kilometer route only requires about 8 kilometers of trekking, moving along the river valley on a gentle path with a gradual descent in altitude. After approximately 4 hours of trekking, you will reach Zongdue (宗堆), from where you will board a tour vehicle back to Darchen.

Mount Kailash tour
Dirapuk Monastery is the best place to view the northern mountain of Mount Kailash.
Mount Kailash tour
Zutulpuk Monastery is the accommodation point for the second night of hiking

Required Travel Documents/Permits for Mount Kailash Yatra

For the Kailash Yatra, you would need several permits and documents, as follows:

Passport: An original passport with a minimum of six months' validity is required.

Chinese Visa: As Mount Kailash is in Tibet, China, you need a Chinese visa.

Tibet Travel Permit (TTP): Issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, this is required for all foreign tourists. Your tour operator usually arranges it.

Aliens' Travel Permit: Required for travel in 'unopened' areas of Tibet, including Mount Kailash. This is also arranged by your tour operator.

Military Permit: For travel in some sensitive border areas, including Mount Kailash, a Military Permit is required. Your tour operator should arrange this.

Please note that independent travel in Tibet is not allowed; you must join a tour or hire a guide. Your tour operator will generally handle all the permits on your behalf.

How to Get to Mount Kailash for Trek

To reach Mount Kailash for trekking, you can start from China, Nepal, or Kashgar. From Lhasa, you can take an overland journey to Darchen, the base of Mount Kailash, which takes about four days with stops in Shigatse, Everest Base Camp, and Saga. From Nepal, you can travel from Kathmandu through Jilong, Saga, and Paryang to reach Darchen, which usually takes three days by road. Alternatively, a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is also an option, followed by the aforementioned route to Darchen. From Kashgar, a flight to China followed by a vehicle to Darchen is a viable option, or you can take a longer overland route through Ali (Ngari), but this requires special travel permits.

Check more details about How to Get to Mount Kailash.

Mount Kailash tour
You can ride horse to take Mount Kailash kora
Mount Kailash tour
Hiking around Mount Kailash is hard but with much fun

Kailash Yatra Cost - Effective Tips to Reduce Cost

The cost of a Kailash Yatra (pilgrimage) can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the route taken, the length of the trip, the season, the type of accommodation chosen, and whether you're traveling in a private tour or Tibet Group Tour.

A classical Kailash tour from Lhasa to Mount Kailash and back, lasting about 13-15 days, could cost between $1,800 and $3,000 per person. This typically includes permits, accommodations, meals, guide service, and transportation, but excludes international flights.

Effective Tips to Reduce Kailash Yatra Cost

Plan in Advance: Booking your tour well in advance can often secure better rates. It also allows you to compare prices from different tour operators and choose the best deal.

Group Tours: Joining a group tour can be significantly cheaper than going on a private tour. You'll share costs like transportation and guide fees with other group members.

Check more about Tibet Group Tours in 2024 to plan your Tibet Tours.

Off-Peak Travel: If possible, avoid the peak season (May-June) when prices can be higher due to the Saga Dawa Festival. The shoulder seasons (April, September-October) can still offer good conditions but with lower prices.

Best Time to Trek Mount Kailash & Packing Advice

  Weather Forecast  

The best time to trek Mount Kailash is between May and October, when the weather is relatively stable, with less rain and snow. The Saga Dawa Festival (萨噶达瓦节) in May or June is a popular time for pilgrims. In terms of packing, essential items include warm clothing for the fluctuating temperatures, a good quality sleeping bag, hiking boots, a first-aid kit including altitude sickness medication, water purification tablets, sunscreen, sunglasses, and high-energy snacks. It's also recommended to bring a trekking pole for stability. Preparation is key to a successful and enjoyable trek.

Check more details about the Best Time to Visit Kailash>>

Where to Stay and What to Eat During Kailash Kora

During the Kailash Kora trek, your accommodation and dining options are quite basic due to the remote nature of the region.

Where to Stay during Kailash Trekking

Darchen: Before and after the trek, you'll likely stay in Darchen, the starting point of the Kora. There are a few guesthouses and hotels available, ranging from basic guesthouses to a few more comfortable options.

On the Trek: During the trek, you will stay in basic guesthouses or monasteries such as Dirapuk and Zutulpuk. These provide rudimentary accommodation, often with shared rooms and basic facilities. Some trekkers opt to camp, but this requires carrying all necessary equipment.

What to Eat for Kailash Trekking

Darchen: In Darchen, you can find simple restaurants serving Tibetan, Nepali, and Chinese dishes.

On the Trek: During the trek, food is basic. You'll likely have simple meals provided by the guesthouses or your tour company. Typical food includes tsampa (roasted barley flour), noodles, eggs, and vegetables. It's advisable to carry high-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars.

Mount Kailash tour
The second day of trekking is begin with an uphill climb
Mount Kailash tour
The first day of trekking Mount Kailash

Explore Tibet with Asia Odyssey Travel

With over 10 years of local expertise in Lhasa and Tibet (Xizang), our dedicated team at Asia Odyssey Travel brings you carefully curated Tibet tours for an authentic and unforgettable experience.

Drawing upon our extensive experience, we have meticulously crafted a range of Tibet tour packages, including Lhasa tours, Mount Everest Tours, Mount Kailash Tours, Tibet Trekking Tours, Tibet Train Tours, and Tibet Overland Tours. Whether you prefer the comfort and flexibility of a private tour or the budget-friendly option of a group tour, we have you covered without compromising on quality.

Additionally, we cater to various travel preferences, whether you wish to commence your Tibet tour from one of the popular gateway cities in China, embark on Nepal Tibet tours, or even explore the mesmerizing Himalayan region. Whatever you desire, Asia Odyssey Travel has the perfect tour to meet your needs, ensuring that your expedition to Tibet (Xizang) becomes an unforgettable adventure.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact us by submitting the following form and we'll immediately get back to you.

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