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Journey to the sacred Mount Kailash

15 days 14 nights

Code TMK-15D

Category West Tibet and Mt. Kailash

  • Group Size 2-16
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Rating Non-Touristic
  • Highest Altitude 5,630 m at Drolma La
  • Trip Starts From Lhasa
  • Trip Ends At Kathmandu
  • Accommodation Hotels and tents
  • Type Tours
  • Season Apr to October
  • Destination Lhasa Gyantse Shigatse Saga Lake Manasarovara Darchen Zuthul-Phuk Gompa Gonggar Airport
Dates & Prices


Mount Kailash is not among the highest mountain of the earth but the world's most venerated holy place. The mountain is the sacred site of four religions of the world-Hindu, Buddhism, Jain and Bon and very popular pilgrimage destination for several thousand pilgrims each year. Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The Jains believe the mountain to be the place where Rishaba- the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation and call the mountain as Astapada. Followers of Bon, Tibet's pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen. Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the 'Precious One of Glacial Snow', and regard it as the dwelling place of Demchog (also known as Chakrasamvara) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo.

Lake Mansarovara is equally important in Hindu mythology. Hindus believe, the lake was formed in Lord Bramha's mind.

The trip begins at Lhasa-the heart and soul of Tibet, where we spend three days, exploring the major Buddhist monasteries and palaces and getting acclimated at the same time. We drive on the high roads of central Tibet via Yamdrok Tso (Turquoise Lake) and visit the cultural and religious centers of Gyantse and Shigatse before advancing to the western Tibet. We then drive across the wide-open spaces of the Tibetan Plateau to Lake Manasarovar. At Lake Manasarovara, you will have an extra day to explore the shores of the holy Lake. Religious travelers will perform rituals and meditation at the lakeside. We complete the parikrama or the circumambulation trek in 3 days and retrace our drive back to Lhasa.

Due to earthquake in Apr 2015, the Tibet-Nepal border crossing is currently closed and we need to start and finish the trip in Lhasa. The road condition in Western Tibet has improved in a great deal and so 4WD vehicles are no longer required. We use vans and buses for transportation. While we have the comfort of hotels in the central Tibet, basic guest house accommodations are available in the West Tibet.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 ~Arrive in Lhasa

Flights to Lhasa arrive from Kathmandu (Nepal), Beijing and other mainland Chinese cities.

Upon arrival, you are met and greeted by our representative and drive to Lhasa City (1hr). Check into your hotel and take rest for acclimatization. You are most likely to experience some mild symptoms of the altitude sickness such as headache, dizziness, disorientation, breathlessness etc. but it should go away in a day or two. Please, drink plenty of water, consume liquid food and take enough rest. Do not overly exert yourself.

Overnight Dekhang Hotel or similar

Day 02~Sightseeing in Lhasa.

Full day sightseeing of Lhasa, that includes Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace-the principal attraction of Lhasa, Sera Monastery-the last of the three Yellow Sect monasteries to be built in Lhasa and Norbulingkha- the summer palace of the Dalai Lama.

If you are a hiking enthusiast and if you do not show signs of altitude sickness, Sera Monastery kora (hiking on the pilgrimage path around the monastery) would be worth trying. We will also take chance to attend the debating ceremony of Sera Monks. 

Overnight at Dekhang Hotel or similar

Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Continue sightseeing of Lhasa

Today, we will visit Drepung Monastery-the largest, richest and the most powerful of the three major Yellow Sect monasteries of Tibet and was the power centre of Tibet before the 5th Dalai Lama moved to Potala palace. At Drepung, we will visit the Ganden Palace, Main Assembly Hall and Colleges of Drepung.

Optional: Hiking enthusiasts can also attempt 1 hr long circuit hiking but you need to be fully acclimatized.

In the afternoon, visit the ancient Jokhang Temple in the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa and the Barkhor Street that forms the pilgrim circuit around the Jokhang Temple. 

Overnight at Dekhang Hotel

Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Drive to Gyantse

(160 miles, 5-6 hours)

Today, we head  to Gyantse town which still maintains Tibetan characters. The journey involves crossing of two high passes Kamba La (15,700 ft) and Karo La (16,500ft) and follows the shores of Yamdrok Tso Lake for more than 40 miles. Yamdrok Tso Lake is one of the four holiest lakes of Tibet and has turquoise green water.

As we leave the lake behind, the road climbs to Karo La (16,500ft), once again offering breathtaking views of the mountain and vast Tibetan plateau. We arrive at Gyantse town late afternoon.

Check in hotel and take rest for the day.

Overnight at Gyantse Hotel

Meals : Breakfast
Day 05~Drive to Shigatse

After breakfast, we will visit the Pelkor Chode and Kumbum Monastery-the main highlights of Gyantse City. Kumbum Stupa is the landmark of Gyantse and can be spotted from far away. We will also hike the historical fortress of Gyantse that offers good views of the city.

Now, we take 2-hours long scenic drive to Shigatse-Tibet's second largest city after Lhasa. About 13 miles (20 km) before Shigatse, we take 2.5 miles detour of  Shalu Monastery-the first of the major monasteries to be built by noble families of the Tsang Dynasty during Tibet's great revival of Buddhism, and was an important centre of the Sakya tradition.

Upon arrival in Shigatse, we visit Tashilunbo Monastery-the principal seat of Panchen Lama who is the second most revered Lama of Tibet, after Dalai Lama.

Now, we check into your accommodations. After wash up and change, we go for a stroll through the Shigatse's Flea market which is a nice bargain place for Tibetan souvenir. 

Overnight at Tashi Choeta Hotel or Shigatse Hotel

Meals : Breakfast
Day 06~Drive to Saga

(280 miles, 7-8 hours)

After breakfast, we are off on a long drive to Saga. We continue on the friendship highway to Shegar, also known as New Tingri that involves crossing of two high passes Tropu La (16,236 ft) and Gyatso La (17,122 ft). The road passes through villages with the mountain views following all the time.

Shortly after Lhatse ( 98 miles from Shigatse), the road bifurcates and we keep right towards Saga.

Upon arrival in Saga town, check in the hotel and take rest for the day. Anyway, there is not much to do here.

Overnight at Saga hotel or local best guest house


Meals : Breakfast
Day 07~Drive to Chiu Gompa Monastery by the Lake Manosarava

We continue across the vast dry plains to the small Tibetan town of Zhongba. The road condition from Zhongba deteriorates due to invasion of the sand dunes from either side of the road but we have photogenic views of the sand dunes, lake and mountains comes in 37.5 miles from Zhongba. We cross a high pass of Mayum-la (5216m/17108ft).

We overnight by Chiu Gompa monastery in the north-western shores of the holy Lake Manasarovara. According to the Hindu mythology, this lake was formed in the mind of Brahma-the creator of the world. 

Overnight at the guest house.


Meals : Breakfast
Day 08~Transfer to Darchen

In the morning, we will explore the lakeshores. Chiu Gompa monastery has the fabulous location atop a craggy hill overlooking the sapphire blue lake Manasarovara and offers spectacular views of lake and on a clear weather day, Mount Kailash. Pilgrims perform rituals and take a dip in the holy waters of the lake and clean the sins of lifetime! Hindu travellers will even care to collect some water in the bottles and bring back home for their families and friends.

In the afternoon, we will drive to Darchen; it's a short drive of about 2 hours. We have lunch in Darchen and we prepare for 3 days trekking. 

Overnight at Darchen Himalaya hotel


Meals : Breakfast
Day 09~Begin the trekking. Overnight at Drira Phuk Gompa

Altitude 4910m/16,102 ft, 20km/12.5 miles, about 6 hrs trek 

Tarboche, marked by Tibetan flags is the starting point for kora and it is the site for Tibet's most important annual Saga Dawa festival. We walk up the Lha Chu Valley through beautiful green meadows and streams with Mt Kailash towering above us. We follow the river, which enters a narrow canyon with high, steep cliffs and spectacular waterfalls. Continuing up the valley, the north face of Kailash comes into view before we reach the 13th century monastery at Dira-phuk. 

Overnight at local guest house


Meals : Breakfast
Day 10~Second day of trekking. Overnight at Zuthul Phuk Gompa

Altitude 4790m/15,711 ft., 18km/11 miles, about 6-7 hrs trek

Bid farewell to Lha Chu Valley and prepare to fight the toughest part of the trekking. You will enter the Drolma Chu Valley, heading up towards a high pass, the Drolma La [5,630m/18,466 ft] that is marked Tibetan prayer flags. The rest of the day's walk is mostly downhill and flat land. On descent, you will pass by one of the highest lakes in the world, Thukpe Dzingbu Lake (Gauri Kunda), known as the Lake of Compassion.

Zuthul Phuk monastery is built at the site of a famous cave, which is believed to have been created as a result of contest between Milarepa (Buddhist Yogi) and Naro Bonchung (Bon Saint). 

Overnight at local guest house


Meals : Breakfast
Day 11~Finish trekking and transfer to Darchen

Altitude 4,560m/14,956 ft, distance 14km/9 miles, about 3-4 hrs trek.

The final day of the kora is rather short and easier. It takes merely 3 hours that involves crossing of several streams and follows an impressive gorge from where you can look back for fabulous views. 

Overnight at Darchen Himalaya hotel


Meals : Breakfast
Day 12~Retrace your drive to Saga

We retrace our drive back to Saga.

Overnight at Saga hotel or similar


Meals : Breakfast
Day 13~Continue Shigatse

Another long day drive! Basically, we retrace our drive to Shigatse.

Overnight hotel

Meals : Breakfast
Day 14~Drive to Lhasa via the northern route.

We will have chance to visit the famous Tashi lunpo Monastery, if we skipped it on our previous stop in Shigatse. Tashi lunpo Monastery is the principal seat of Panchen Lama-the second most venerated religious leader of Tibet after the Dalai Lama. Tashi lunpo is one of the 6 major Gelugpa Monasteries of Tibet.

From Shigatse, we take a different route to Lhasa that joins the main highway near the Tsangpo Bridge.

Upon arrival in Lhasa, check into your accommoation and balance of the day is at leisure for self-exploration.

Overnight at hotel.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 15~Depart Lhasa.

After breakfast, your guide and driver will transfer you to the airport in time for flight to your next destination.


Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Middle range hotel in Lhasa and top end hotels in Gyantse and Shigatse, guesthouses in Lhatse, Lake Manasarovara, Darchen and Nyalam.
  • Daily breakfast at your hotel/guesthouse
  • Tibet entry permits
  • All transfers and sightseeing by private vehicle
  • English speaking Tibetan Guide and drivers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Yak and yak men during the Mt. Kailash trekking for luggage transfer
  • Oxygen cylinder

Trip Does Not Include

  • International airfare and internal airfares
  • Chinese visa fee
  • Lunch and dinner 
  • Drinks, tip and other expenses of personal nature such as drinks, tip, phone, laundry etc.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, illness, road blockade, epidemic, civil unrest etc.
  • Personal clothing and trekking gears
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airfares

Getting into Tibet

You can fly into Lhasa from major Chinese mainland cities as well as from Kathmandu of Nepal. Flights from Bangkok, Hong Kong and from many Chinese cities connect at Chengdu. You can also travel overland from Kathmandu, Nepal.

Chinese Visa and Tibet Permits

Chinese visa and Tibet Permits are not that complicated as they sound to be. If your travel begins at Kathmandu, we will take care of this. We will obtain visa invitation document for you and once you arrive in Kathmandu, we will have you complete some paper works and submit your passport with visa application to Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Please, bring one passport picture.

If you plan to start your trip from mainland China, you need to obtain Chinese visa on your own from the nearest Chinese and provide us the scan of your visa and passport photo page about a month before the travel date and we will take care of your Tibet entry permits. The entry permit will be shipped to you hotel in the gateway city such as Beijing, Chengdu or wherever you decide to travel from.

Accommodation in Tibet

In Lhasa, we use mid range Tibetan managed hotels in Lhasa in Barkhor area. Our preferred properties are Dekhang Hotel, Gyangyen, Dhodgu or Yak best wing. In Gyantse and Shigatse, we use the top end hotels which are 3 star standard properties. However, please do not compare the Tibetan hotels with the western hotels.

After Saga, the accommodation in the West Tibet are basic. You will have to use the shared toilet and shower. Please, bring a sleeping bag and bed sheet.


Our tour features breakfast only at your hotel or guesthouse. Lunch and dinner are not included. The hotels and guest houses have on-site restaurants. Your guide and driver will arrange stops in the restaurants for meals. There are limited food choices during 3 days kora trek. You are advisable to bring tea, coffee, chocolates, energy bars , snacks and food supplements.


Your trip will be led by an experienced certified English guide whom you meet upon arrival at Lhasa airport. Your guide works as an interpreter and gives valuable insight into the Tibetan culture, life and religion. He handles the logistics and deals with the bureaucracies as and when necessary. 

Transportation in Tibet

Now the road conditions in West Tibet has been improved in a great deal and 4WD vehicles are no longer required. We provide good conditioned minivan or bus for all transfers and sightseeing.

Health Concerns

There are no mandatory vaccination required to travel to Tibet but you may consider vaccination against rabies and Hep A. Travelers with cardiac-pulmonary issues or any other medical conditions are recommended to consult their physician before you sign up a trip to Tibet. The main health consideration in Tibet is altitude related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and sleeplessness, but these should lessen within a few days. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times should it be required.

We also carry basic first aid kit, but it’s good to bring your own as well. Hotels in Lhasa are equipped with oxygen. Doctors will also be available on call.

You are highly encouraged to start some physical exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking and aerobics about several weeks before the trip. You should have a good sleep the night before you fly to Lhasa and take complete rest on the first day. Its also advisable to drink 3-4 litres of water daily and consume liquid food.

Best Time to Trek in Tibet

While trekking trips can be undertaken from April through late October, May, June, September and early October are the best period. High Himalayas blocks the monsoon cloud and Tibet is generally dry but still there is some chance of rain during July and August. Trekkers must be prepared for the extremes in climate, even in the middle of the summer. Weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly. Night temperatures at 4500m (14,760ft) and above can fall below freezing even in July and August and its very much windy on high passes.


During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings. Below is the general clothing and equipment list for trekking in Tibet.

  • Down jacket or warm fleece top
  • Thermal underwear (top and bottom)
  • Cotton shirts (short and long sleeved)
  • Warm and cotton trousers
  • Sun polarized sunglasses
  • Beanie or warm woolen hat and gloves
  • Scarf (to keep out dust as well as cold)
  • Sandals (flip-flops)
  • Towel
  • Sleeping bag (for camping/trekking)
  • Rain jacket
  • Strong sun cream and lip protector
  • Moisturizer
  • Water bottle
  • Camera (and plenty of film and spare batteries)

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking and Cancellation

When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking. The internal flights are the key factor in determining whether your trip can be realized or not. A deposit of US$300 on land plus the cost of internal airfares is requested along with complete trip application form and passport copies.

Balance Payment

Balance payment is due 90 days prior to your departure. Depending on the number of applicants, we may set an early payment date. If balance of payment is not received by the requested date, we reserve the right to cancel your booking without prior notice.


  • 90 days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 50 per person.
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%

Some suppliers like airlines may have their own cancellation and refund policies which will supersede Highland Asia Tour’s Cancellation Policy to the extent of their difference.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Highland Asia’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.


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(Formerly Highland Asia Travel)

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Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137


Kapoordhara, Samakhusi, Kathmandu
Tel (977 1) 4351780, 4381823
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