Lhasa to Mount Kailash Tour Itinerary
Prices from $1650
The fifteen-day tour to Mountain Kailash is such a unique itinerary. Kailash is the sacred mountain of four religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Bon, and Jainism. It attracts thousands of pilgrims every year who attempt to walk the 52 km/ 32 mile-long trek surrounding it. It is one of the highest trekking routes in the world with an altitude above 4,500 meters throughout the trek. It begins at Darchen, which is 4,575 m/15,000 ft. and reaches the highest peak at 5,640 m/18,500 ft. Walking the so-called “kora” in Buddhist tradition is believed to erase a lifetime of bad karma. To get to Mountain Kailash we will drive to the western part of Tibet. The scenery on the way is splendid: vast mountain rivers, large grasslands, desert, and of course, spectacular mountain ranges, including Mt. Everest.
Main Attractions: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Yamdrok Lake, Kumbum Stupa, Tashi Lumpo Monastery, Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Manasarovar lake, Chiu monastery and Mount Kailash.
Duration: 15 days
Cost: Prices start from $1650 (based on standard accommodation, double occupancy in the hotel rooms)
Maximum Elevation: 5,640 m/ 18,600 ft
Day 1 – Arrival in Lhasa
You arrive at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport or the train station. The airport is 62 km/ 39 miles away from the city, and it takes approximately one hour to get to the hotel from there. On the way to Lhasa, you will enjoy beautiful views of mountains. The train station is located in Lhasa, and you will only need a short transfer to the hotel.
Depending on the time of your arrival, you might have some free time to spend in Lhasa. Our guides will be happy to advise you on what you can do with your time in Lhasa. After you check in the hotel, you are welcome to explore the city, visit nearby temples, do some shopping, try delicious Tibetan food in one of the local restaurants, or just take a rest.
Walking around Bakhor Street can be an excellent choice for your first day in Lhasa. You will join crowds of pilgrims, local Tibetans, and monks circumambulating the Jokhang Temple.
Most importantly, on your first day in Tibet, be sure to relax, enjoy your day and allow some time for acclimatizing.
Day 2 – Lhasa City Tour: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple
This tour visits the two most important religious sites in Tibet.
The Potala Palace was the seat of the Dalai Lamas since the 17th century. First, the guide will take you to the Chak Pori Hill to take photos of the majestic Palace. We will then go inside and spend approximately 1.5 – 2 hours there. While there, you will see many of its most famous artifacts.
There will be free time for lunch after visiting the Potala Palace. .
Time permitting, you can walk around the Potala Palace and join many of the local Tibetans.
Next, we will walk towards the Jokhang Temple. It was built in the 7th century to display the Jowo Shakyamuni Statue – the statue of the 12-year-old Buddha before his enlightenment. The statue was created at the time when the historical Buddha lived. It is elaborately decorated with gold, jewels, and precious stones.
After visiting the temple, we recommend taking a walk around Bakhor Street.
Day 3 – Lhasa City Tour: Drepung and Sera Monasteries
We are visiting the two most important monasteries in the capital.
We will first visit Drepung Monastery, which once was the largest monastery in the world with over 10,000 monks living there. It was the residence of Dalai Lamas before the Potala Palace was built.
There will be free time for lunch after the Drepung Monastery.
In the afternoon we are visiting Sera Monastery. It was founded by Tsongkhapa’s disciple in the 15th century. Nowadays it is famous for monks debate that you can witness. Debates are a very important part of learning and understanding Buddhism. Monks gather in the courtyard in the shade of the trees to refine their knowledge.
Day 4 – Driving to Shigatse: Yamdrok Lake and Glaciers
Today we will travel on some of the most beautiful roads in Tibet on our drive to Shigatse.
Be prepared to take photos of the breathtaking views as we go up to the highest point of the day – Kamba La Pass (almost 4,800 meters / 15,750 ft).
Our next stop will be at the Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the holy lakes in Tibet, and it is famous for its turquoise colored water.
After that, we will head towards Gyantse. On the way there, we will make a stop to see the spectacular glaciers.
In Gyantse, we will visit the monastery and the biggest stupa.
Finally, we will reach Shigatse late in the evening and stay there overnight.
Day 5 – Driving to the Everest Base Camp: Night by the Everest
Today we will be driving through towering mountain ranges, and going through several high passes and Everest viewpoints. We will reach tent camp near the Everest Base Camp in the evening.
Depending on the traffic and weather conditions, we might have time to visit the Rongbuk Monastery – the highest monastery in the world. There is a meditation cave there, dating back to the 7th century, where Padma Sambhava meditated. We will stay there for a few quiet moments to relax after a long day.
We will stay in the tent for the night. You can order dinner and breakfast there as there is an English menu available.
Day 6 – Driving to Saga
On the way to Saga, we will see the Phelku Tso lake surrounded by snow peaked mountains. You can also see Shishapangma mountain, one of the mountains above 8,000 meters (8027 m).
After that, we are driving up to the high pass to get the view of the grasslands.
We arrive at Saga in the evening to have dinner and check into the hotel.
Day 7 – Saga to Manasarovar Lake
On the way to the lake, we visit the 7th-century local temple. We will also stop at the desert area filled with sand dunes (an unexpected change of landscape!).
We will see the Rakshas-Tal lake. It has a very beautiful bright color, but it is so salty that it is called the “dead lake”.
In the evening you can spend some time by the lake, walk y its shore.
Alternatively, you can visit a hot spring (approximately 10 min walk). The hot spring provides bathtubs and clean facilities.
We are staying at the guesthouse overnight. The guesthouse has dormitory rooms.
Day 8 – Manasarovar Lake to Darchen
In the morning we will visit 8th century Chui monastery. The monastery houses an important meditation cave where Padma Sambhava was meditating. Unlike most of the monasteries that we visited earlier, Chui monastery belongs to the Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism and the statue of Padma Sambhava is the main one there.
After the visit, we are driving to Darchen. It is a short drive (approximately 40 minutes). From Darchen you can see the Southern side of Mt. Kailash. We have enough time to walk around the city and take photos of Kailash and prepare for the trek.
We have to pack for the 3-day trek, and we are leaving everything else in the hotel.
There is a company in Darchen that can arrange porters if needed for some fee.
Staying in the hotel (a hot shower is available for a fee).
Day 9 – Trek, 1st day (20km/ 12.4 miles)
We will start our trek very early in the morning. We will be walking around the Kailash in a clockwise direction. From Darchen we will head west towards the area with the main prayer poll and the sky burial place. It is the area where Tibetans celebrate the Saga Dawa Festival, commemorating the day of Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment, and death.
Later we will reach the first tea shop on the trek where we will stop for lunch.
In the afternoon we will continue to the Dira Puk Monastery and stop there for the night (at a guesthouse). From the guesthouse you will get a spectacular view of the north face of the Kailash Mountain.
Day 10 – Trek, 2nd day (22 km/ 13.6 miles)
On the second day we will start the trek very early to go through the highest pass. First we will walk to the tea house to have breakfast and prepare for crossing the pass. After we are done eating, we will start ascending the pass. The Dolma La Pass is 5,630 meters/ 18,600 ft. high.
Once you reach it, you can see the stunning views of the mountains and the lakes below. There are many colorful prayer flags that people hang there to spread their prayers with every gust of wind.
On the way down, we will cross the river and continue to the next tea shop for lunch and a short break.
After that, we will walk to the Zutiulpuk Monastery where we will be staying overnight (in a guesthouse).
Day 11 – Trek 3rd Day (14 km/ 8.7 miles)
Today will be our shortest and easiest day. We will be walking through a gorgeous valley following the mountain river. Throughout the day we will see the east side of Mt. Kailash.
We will be staying overnight in the hotel in Darchen. (A hot shower available for an additional fee).
Day 12 – Driving from Darchen to Saga
Today we will be driving from Darchen to Saga. We will make some stops along the way to take photos. We will be staying the night at the hotel in Saga.
Day 13 – Saga to Shigatse
We will be driving back from Saga to Shigatse, making a stop at Langtso Lake.
We will be staying in a hotel in Shigatse.
Day 14 – Shigatse to Lhasa
In the morning we will visit Tashilumpo Monastery, the seat of Panchen Lamas. This monastery was founded by the first Dalai Lama, and it is one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. You can take photos in some of the chapels for an additional fee.
We will take the Friendship Highway on the way back to Lhasa. It is the most direct route and usually takes around six hours to reach the capital. We will make several stops on the way in order to enjoy the views of the Brahmaputra River. In the afternoon, you might have some free time to prepare for your departure the next day.
Day 15 – Departure From Lhasa
Please prepare in advance for your departure. It takes approximately one hour to drive to the airport and around thirty minutes to reach the train station. We will arrive at the airport three hours before your departure flight if you are traveling to Nepal and two hours before any domestic flight.
Packing for the trip
- Sleeping bag (optional)
- Inner sheet for your sleeping bag (optional)
- Hiking boots, ideally waterproof. Gore-Tex could work great in a range of temperatures and even in snow.
- Water bottle or thermos
- Rain gear (poncho, backpack cover)
- Small first aid kit and medications
- Camera with spare memory card and battery
- Power bank
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Hat and/or baseball hat for sun protection
- Personal toiletries, such as toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, wipes, hand sanitizer, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.
- Money: Chinese Yuan is the only currency accepted in Tibet and there are virtually no ATMs when you leave the cities. Be prepared in advance and take necessary amount for all the duration of your trip outside of Lhasa
- Personal Journal for making notes and writing the diary
- flashlight or headlamp
Included in Tour
- All necessary Travel Permits to travel in Tibet
- All accommodations based on double occupancy. Contact us for a quote on a single room supplement
- Breakfast when staying in hotels
- Assistance with your Chinese visa application
- Airport pick up and drop off
- Ground transportation in a clean and comfortable vehicle
- English speaking Tibetan guide
- All entrance fees, tickets to the attraction sites and monasteries outlined in the itinerary
- First Aid Kit
- Oxygen supply
Not Included in Tour
- Passport and Chinese visa fees
- International airfare to and from China or Nepal
- Photography fees inside monasteries
- Flight or train tickets to Tibet
- Lunch and dinner in the cities and all meals outside of the cities
- Travel insurance
- Medical expenses
- Tips for guides, drivers, and porters
- Porter fees
- Personal expenses: laundry, shopping, phone calls, etc.
Why choose us?