How to Get to Ngari
Taking Flights to Ngari - Ngari Gunsa Airport is the only airport in Ngari Prefecture. It is about 45km from Shiquanhe Town and 220km from Mount Kailash. Travelers can take flights to Ngari Gunsa Airport from Lhasa, Kashgar and Urumqi. Lhasa usually has a daily flight to Ngari in tourist peak seasons. It takes about 2 hours to get to Ngari. Urumqi in Xinjiang also operates flights to Ngari on Tuesdays and Fridays, with stopover at Kashgar, which takes about 4 hours to get to Ngari.
Driving to Ngari - There are two driving routes from Lhasa to Ngari – southern route and northern route. Usually, the southern route, about 1250km in distance, is most chosen because it has better road condition and more attractions to see along the road. It starts from Lhasa, via Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse and Sagar. The northern route is only taken by Chinese self-driving travelers.
Best Time to Visit Ngari
Ngari Prefecture has a harsh climate. Compared with Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse, Ngari is colder and windier, and has fewer rainfalls. The lowest temperature can be low to - 20.3°C. More than 149 days of a year have winds which reach least level 8. There are hug temperature gabs between day and night. So you’d better wear and pack accordingly. Considering weather and road conditions, you should avoid to visit Ngari area during January, February, March, November and December when the temperatures are very low, and there are usually strong snows. Trails are usually covered by snows, and not available for walking. April to October is the trekking seasons as well as the pilgrimage seasons at Mount Kailash area. The best month would be May, June, September and October. July and August are yearly rainy seasons.
Where to Accommodate in Ngari
The accommodation in Ngari Prefecture is quite simple and basic, especially during the Mount Kailash Kora. Shiquanhe Town, capital city Ngari prefecture, has the best accommodation in the fecture with 3-star hotel standard. Before the Kora, travelers usually have to stay a night at Sagar and a night at Darchen. Sagar County has several guest houses with 2 star standard. While in Darchen, there are only some basic guest houses.
During the Mount Kailash Kora, travelers usually accommodate at guest houses in monasteries or nomads’ tent along the kora, or camping overnight. But please be aware that everything is very basic. And sometimes it is very difficult to find a bed in the guest houses during the kora peak seasons. The houses are in or near the monasteries, constructed by stones and earth.There are multiple beds rooms with 3 beds, 5 beds, 8 beds. Don’t expect the private bathroom as well as a shower.
Mount Kailash Trekking
Mount Kailash Trek is one of the most popular and important trekking routes in the world. The trek goes along the ancient pilgrimage trails of Tibetan Buddhists, Hindus and Jains, with a total length of 54km. The highest location in the trek is Drolma-la with an altitude of 5630 meters. It starts from Darchen Village. After walking an circle around Mount Kailash, return to Darchen. The whole trek usually needs 3 days to finish. It is an exciting challenge for both your mind and body. During the Mount Kailash Trek, you can not only enjoy the closer views of the holies mountain in the Asia, but also witness how the devout pilgrims express their believes to the Gods - Tibetan Buddhist prostrate or walk forward while the Hindus usually ride horses in the barren valleys.
Useful Tibet Ngari Travel Notes
1. How to Plan Ngari Travel
Mount Kailash Kora and sightseeing the beautiful Manasarovar Lake is the most popular things to do in Ngari. To have a Tibet tour which includes Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake, you usually have to start their tours from the capital city Lhasa where you will spend one or two days for acclimation, then travel to Shigatse, and visit Yamdrok Lake and Gyantse City on route. From Shigatse, you can decide to visit Mount Everest or not. If you want to include Mount Everest, just add one day to your itinerary. If you want to ignore Mount Everest, directly drive from Shigatse to Saga Town where you will spend a night. Keep driving a full day from Saga to Darchen. Then the 3 days Mount Kailash Kora can start. The Manasarovar Lake can be visited after the Kora. After the tour, drive back to Lhasa along the way coming. If you don’t want to spend much time on driving, you can directly take a flight to Ngari Gunsa Airport first, then transfer from the airport to Darchen to start the tour. After the tour, fly back to Lhasa.
2. High Altitude Sickness Tips
The average elevation of Ngari Prefecture is about 4500 meters, which may cause High Altitude Sickness to some travelers. But according to our years’ experience, travelers can adapt the altitudes well if preparation is made well. Firstly, take a physical examination before traveling to Tibet and pack necessary medicines; secondly, spend some days in Lhasa for acclimatization, then travel to Ngari at a moderate pace; thirdly, keep yourself warm all the time and prevent from catching a cold; fourthly, keep a relaxing mind. Your tour operator will also prepare oxygen supply for emergency use.
3. Wearing and Packing Tips
Wear warm and comfortable for the harsh weather. The temperatures are much low in Ngari Prefecture, especially in Mount Kailash region. What’s worse, the weather changes frequently. The temperature gap between day and night is much different. Basic warm, comfortable and firm clothing are required. You are suggested to dress in layers (both thin and thick jackets). A pair of strong, well-fitting boots is necessary. Also bring a pair of gloves for possible snow. You should also bring rain gears if you travel in July and August.
4. Necessary Permits for Visiting Ngari
To take a tour to Mount Kailash and other areas in Ngari, travelers need to obtain several necessary permits. Firstly you will need a Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Entry Permit) which is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau. This permit is the most important permit because you will need to take flight/train to Tibet. And it will also be checked in Tibet. Secondly you have to obtain an Alien Travel Permit which allows you to visit Ngari prefectures, including Mount Kailash, Manasarovar Lake, Guge, etc. Thirdly you will have to apply for a Border Pass because Mount Kailash area is located near the border between China, India and Nepal. Fourthly, you will need the Military Permit which Issued by the Military office in Lhasa. Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before your trip while the Alien Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit will only be checked when you are already in Tibet.