Home  »  Tibet Tours  »  Mount Kailash Tours  »  How to Get to Mount Kailash and How to Reach Manasarovar Lake?

How to Get to Mount Kailash and How to Reach Manasarovar Lake?

Travelling to the sacred Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar Lake can be done from three different directions; from Kathmandu, crossing the border into Tibet; from Lhasa, as a long overland journey; and from Kashgar, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture, to the north of Tibet. Please follow our detailed guide to navigating your way to two of the holiest Buddhist sites in Tibet.

Kailash Manasarover Lake

Where is Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar?

Both Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar Lake are located in the western of Tibet, to be more exactly in Ngari Prefecture. Mount Kailash lies in the Gangdise Mountains, part of the Transhimalaya that stretches across Tibet to Qinghai Province. Lying on the southern edge of the Gangdise Mountains, not far from the Chinese border with the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Mount Kailash is 1,211 kilometers (752.5 miles) from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, by road. In a direct line, the mountain is a mere 955 kilometers (593.5 miles) from Lhasa, though there is no available flight to the mountain region.

47.6 kilometers due south of Mount Kailash, in an alluvial plain that separates the Gangdise Mountains from the Himalayas that line the border between China and India, lies the sacred Lake Manasarovar, next to its twin, Lake Rakshastal. Located just north of the ancient Guge Kingdom town of Burang, the “Gateway to Mount Kailash”, Lake Manasarovar is unique in Tibet, as it is a freshwater lake, whereas most of the lakes in Tibet are saline lakes.

Different Ways Get to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar

Traveling to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar can be done from one of three directions, traveling down from the north, from Kashgar in Xinjiang, from the east, along the Friendship Highway and G219 from Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and from the south, crossing the border traveling from Kathmandu.

Travel from Kashgar to Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar

Traveling south from Kashgar, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture, is one of the most spectacular road trips in Tibet, and is a journey of around 1,549 kilometers (962.5 miles). Traversing two high-altitude passes that exceed 5,400 meters, the Xinjiang Tibet Highway is the highest drivable road in the world. Running south from Kashgar (1,270m), the route takes you through several counties in Xinjiang and past the Quanshui Lake (5,137m), before entering the disputed area of Aksai Chin. After Aksai Chin, the road enters Rutog County of Ngari Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and runs south along the shores of Bagong Co and over the Mariom La Pass, at 4,725 meters.

Once in Gar County of Ngari Prefecture, the road continues through the county seat of Shiquanhe, once known as Gar Town, through which the Sengge Zangbo River runs. The route continues south into Burang County, and down to the small town of Darchen, the starting point of the Kailash Kora, at 4,575 meters above sea level.

One of the main concerns when taking this route is the fast increase in altitude along the road. As the road passes through Kargilik County of Kashgar Prefecture, it maintains a relatively low altitude, increasing gradually as it heads south. However, once the route reaches the mountains, the altitude increases dramatically, rising from well below 1,500 meters on the plains to more than 3,100 meters within the span of just 45 kilometers. With such a huge increase in altitude over a short time, there is a very high risk of altitude sickness.

Flights to Mount Kailash can be obtained from the Kashgar Airport in Xinjiang to Ngari Gunsa Airport, located at Shiquanhe in Ngari Prefecture. The Gunsa Airport is just a single day’s drive from Darchen, the small town that lies between Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, which makes travel to the area much shorter and easier. However, altitude is still an issue, as the area of Darchen lies at an elevation of 4,575 meters, an increase of more than 3,000 meters from the starting point in Kashgar.

If you are planning the route from Kashgar to Mount Kailash, then you are going to need to book a pre-arranged tour with a Tibetan tour operator. Independent travel in Tibet is prohibited, and once you have passed through Aksai Chin, you are officially in the Tibet Autonomous Region. You will also need a number of permits in order to get to Mount Kailash, including the Tibet Travel Permit, the Alien’s travel Permit, the Frontier Pass, and the Restricted Areas Permit. Unlike traveling from Lhasa, these permits must all be applied for by us before you depart from Kashgar, and since the Tibet Travel Permit and Restricted Areas Permit take several weeks to process, you will need to book your tour well in advance of your trip in Kashgar.