Mt Kailash Budget Tour

A small group tour to Mt. Kailash can drastically reduce the costs of this amazing journey. Read for further details on how to affordably travel to Asia’s holiest peak.

Mt Kailash Budget Tour

Mt Kailash Budget Tour

For affordable and reputable travel agency recommendations for Mt Kailash and Western Tibet, send an email to: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

Mt. Kailash, known as Kang Rinpoche to the Tibetans, is Tibet’s most famous and most holy mountain. It is located in far Western Tibet’s Ngari Prefecture, more than 1250 kilometers/780 miles west of Lhasa. Mt. Kailash is a major pilgrimage destination to both Buddhists and Hindu’s. Each year, tens of thousands of Tibetans and Indians, along with some foreign travelers, make the long journey to Kailash to trek the pilgrimage circuit around Asia’s most revered peak. The Kailash trek is 52 kilometers / 32.5 miles in length and takes about 3 days to complete (however, some Tibetans will do the entire route in one long day). Altogether, a journey from Lhasa to Kailash and back takes between 15 and 18 days to complete.

Kailash Trek

The mountain viewed along the 3 Day Kailash Trek

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet

Costs of Getting to Kailash and Western Tibet

Since Kailash is so remote and journeys to the mountain take in excess of 2 weeks, the costs of going to Kailash can be quite expensive, especially for budget and solo travelers. For solo travelers, the cost of a journey to Kailash can easily cost $6000 USD or more during the high season, not including flights/train tickets to and from Lhasa. However, traveling with a small Mt Kailash budget tour, usually around 6 to 10 people, the costs of traveling to Kailash can be more affordable. It’s important to remember that Mt Kailash is very remote and far from Lhasa (where nearly all journeys in Tibet begin) so there will still be some cost involved, but it will be considerably less than if you were traveling on your own or with a partner. A small group tour from Lhasa to Kailash for 15 days usually will cost between $2450 and $2850 USD per person, depending on the size of your group.

Western Tibet

Journeys to Kailash also go to Everest Base Camp and Rongphu Monastery

A yak in Tibet

Itinerary from Lhasa to Mt Kailash

For most Mt Kailash budget tour, the starting point is in Lhasa. However, it is also possible to begin a group tour from Nepal. Most trips to Kailash begin with spending at least 3 nights in Lhasa to acclimatize and see the main Buddhist pilgrims sites. From Lhasa, journeys to Kailash and Western Tibet pass through all of the main places in Central Tibet, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier, Gyantse, Shigatse and Everest Base Camp. From Everest, you will continue traveling west to Manasarovar, one of the most holy lakes in the Himalaya. Here is an example itinerary for a Mt Kailash Budget Tour:

  • Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa
  • Day 2: Around Lhasa–Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery
  • Day 3: Around Lhasa–Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery
  • Day 4: Lhasa–Yamdrok Lake–Gyantse–Shigatse
  • Day 5: Shigatse–Tashi Lhunpo Monastery–Sakya–Lhatse
  • Day 6: Lhatse–Saga
  • Day 7: Saga–Manasarovar–Darchen
  • Day 8: Kailash Trek day 1
  • Day 9: Kailash Trek day 2
  • Day 10: Kailash Trek day 3–Manasarovar
  • Day 11: Lake Manasarovar–Saga
  • Day 12: Saga–Everest Base Camp
  • Day 13: Everest Base Camp–Shigatse
  • Day 14: Shigatse–Lhasa
  • Day 15: Depart Tibet

NOTE: This is an example only. Some travel agencies follow this specific itinerary while others will be slightly different.

Kailash Trekking

Mt Kailash

Kailash trekking

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse

Kailash Trekking

The trek around Mt Kailash is 52 kilometers / 32.5 miles long and takes 3 days to complete. The trek is not overly difficult, but is at high altitude the entire time. No mountain climbing skills are required to complete this trek. There are “tea houses” all along the trek so camping is not required. In addition, there are small shops and restaurants serving basic rice and noodle dishes along the way as well. Most people only take a 30 liter or 40 liter backpack (or day pack) on this trek as it is only 2 nights and 3 days long. If you need a porter, you can hire one the day before starting your trek. Porter rates are usually around 250 RMB ($40 USD) per day.

The starting point of the trek is the town of Darchen, elevation 4690 meters / 15,385 feet. From Darchen, you will begin the first day of trekking. This day you will cover around 20 kilometers to the monastery of Dira Puk. The elevation of Dira Puk is 5080 meters / 16,667 feet. The next morning, you will leave Dira Puk and cross over the 5640 meter / 18,500 foot Dolma La Pass, which is the highest point along the trek (and one of the highest trekking points in the Himalaya). You will descend the Dolma La to Zutul Puk Monastery, elevation 4820 meters/15,815 feet. The distance from Dira Puk to Zutul Puk is 18 kilometers. The final day of the trek will take you 14 kilometers back to Darchen.

Kailash Trekking

Along the trek around Mt Kailash

Guesthouses at Mt Kailash

Kailash, as well as the Everest Region, Peiku Tso Region, Saga, Lake Manasarovar and areas west of Kailash, are very remote areas of Tibet. These places are limited to basic guesthouses that are well below international standards. There is no heating in these places, no internet and only simple restaurants serving basic noodle and rice dishes with vegetables. Regardless if you are taking a budget tour or normal tour, accommodation and restaurants in these remote areas are very basic and not clean. Toilets are usually located outside and are not clean compared to international standards.

Travel agencies for a Mt Kailash Budget Tour

Having lived in various regions of the Tibetan Plateau for over 14 years, I know the best local, Tibetan-owned travel agencies to contact for budget journeys to Kailash and Western Tibet. Even with budget group tours, these travel agencies take great care of their clients, make sure that itineraries allow for proper acclimatization, offer excellent prices and have great safety records. The best time to make the journey to Western Tibet and trek around Mt. Kailash is April through June (**especially during the Saga Dawa festival in May) and then again in September and October.

If you are interested in a budget small group journey to trek around Mt. Kailash, send me an email at: thelandofsnows@gmail.com and I will recommend some excellent Tibetan-owned agencies for you to contact.

South Face

The South Face view of Mt. Kailash

Guge Kingdom

The Ancient Kingdom of Guge at Tsaparang in far Western Tibet

Prayer wheels

Prayer wheels along Lake Manasarovar, not far from Mt. Kailash

15 thoughts on “Mt Kailash Budget Tour

    1. Petdet

      I am from Thailand and would like to go during the same period. Send me as email to check if we go to the same period of time. Thanks.

  1. Pietro Brambilla

    Hello jamin,

    Would You please tell me your plan about this Kailash trip.

    I have interest to go there, i tried in 2014 but i do not succed.

    Pietro

  2. julie

    My husband and I are interested in the photography tour to Everest Base camp and Kailash from Lhasa in October 2015. How big is a group? Is it possible to arrange flights from Shanghai to Lhasa and return? How would this affect the price? What is included in your package price?
    Cheers
    Julie

    1. Losang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hi Julie…Hope you are doing well. As stated on my website, I am not leading any journeys to Kailash this year, but I can recommend some Tibetan-owned travel agencies in Lhasa for you to contact. These agencies have excellent reputations, great safety records and offer competitive prices. I have sent you an email with further information.

      Please send any additional questions you may have to: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

      Thanks!
      Losang

    2. Adriana

      Hi Julie, a friend and I are thinking of doing the same tour in October too. If you dont mind, we can join your tour to bring down the cost.

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  4. Don

    Hi Losang,

    Is it possible to do a trip from Lhasa to Kashgar via Mt. Kailash? Please email me the name of some companies that do this trip.

    Also is it possible to fly to Ali from Lhasa and start the tour to Mt. Kailash from Ngari then continue overland to Kashgar?

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Yes, the overland route from Lhasa to Kashgar via Mt. Kailash is open to foreign travelers. It has been open for many, many years and is an amazing route.

      I do NOT recommend flying from Lhasa to Ngari (Ali). You need to give your body time to acclimatize to Tibet’s high elevation. This advice could save your life!! In addition, you would still have to pay for a vehicle from Lhasa to meet you in Ngari. Since you are paying for the vehicle, you might as well use it as the scenery along the way is quite amazing.

      Losang

    2. Lisa

      Don, when are you interested in doing Lhasa – Kashgar? I was hoping to do this route ( or even better, in reverse) in June- July this year, but, although there were companies offering it, there were no people signed up so I binned the idea. I would still be keen, if I can find a small group to join, to make it financially viable. I am currently overlanding through Central Asia and I fly out of Xian on July 15th. Let me know if you’re interested!

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