Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash — "Center of the World"
14-Day Tibet Tour including Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
Mt. Kailash, 1,220 km (730 miles) distant from Lhasa, is regarded as the 'Father Mountain' and the center of the world by Tibetan Buddhists. Even when it has nothing to do with religion or beliefs, many travelers are still attracted by the area's remote beauty, atmosphere of reverence, and extreme scenery.
The Ali (Ngari) Prefecture area where Mt. Kailash is located is considered to be "the Tibet of Tibet". It is one of the areas with the lowest population density in the world. The holy mountain and the holy lake stand aloof from the world there, where the mysterious Guge Kingdom flourished and fell. It is also a paradise for the plateau’s wild animals.
With this 14-day Tibet tour including a 3-day Kailash kora (pilgrimage circuit) and a visit to Lake Manasarovar, you can experience the most primeval and extreme beauty of Tibet.
Tour 'Wow' Points
Make a Once-in-a-Lifetime Kailash Kora
Pilgrimage to the holy mountain worshipped in Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Jainism, and Bonism. Do a 3-day trek to witness the mysterious phenomenon of this mountain, which cannot be explained.
Stand between Holy Lake and Ghost Lake
Enjoy the tranquility and pureness of Lake Manasarovar and the gloomy color and windless waves of Lake Rakshastal — 'the Lake of Ghosts'.
Find Traces of the Lost Guge Kingdom
Climb up the soil cliff to discover the remains (earth fort walls) of a splendid kingdom that disappeared overnight.
Feast Your Eyes on the Unique “No-Man’s Land” Landscape
Stand in front of the unbelievable "soil forest", which has never been seen by most travelers.
Stray into the Wild Animals' Plateau Paradise
Driving across the vast grasslands, yaks, Tibetan antelope, and Tibetan donkeys might be running right by your side.
See Premonitions on the Sutra Wall in the Most Mysterious Monastery
Discover Sakya Monastery to learn the history of how Tibet was incorporated into China's territory in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). Witness the mysterious sutra wall, which is believed to show signs of disasters in the world.
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About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
Lhasa Tibet Adventure
Coco helped us plan our ideal trip to recent trip Tibet. She was informative, patient, and helped us tailor the trip to our own needs. She made excellent suggestions and supported us with the permits, travel itinerary, and even flights. She is an incredible asset to the China Highlights Team! Our local guide Tenzin was also excellent and flexible with us each day. I was hit with some altitude sickness and Tenzin helped me get oxygen and medicine needed. He worked with us each day to help us eat local foods and recommended ideal times to visit sites to minimize wait times. We were able to see everything on our list and eat excellent food. Thank you Coco and Tenzin! more
Itinerary Quick Look
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
Your private guide and driver will pick you up at Lhasa's airport or train station and accompany you to your hotel.
Pilgrimage to the Potala Palace in the morning. Discover this architectural marvel created by the hands and wisdom of Tibetan people. Admire the treasures housed in the palace and you may be intrigued by the stories behind every piece of art work. View the palace from four expertly-chosen angles to fully enjoy its beauty.
Enjoy a walking tour in the afternoon. You may be moved by the devoted pilgrims prostrating themselves at Jokhang Temple.
Then walk along Barkhor Street to experience Tibetan daily life in a local market. Learn the history of Tibet at a Qing Dynasty ministerial office site and a wealthy merchant’s residence — the Pandatsang Compound.
Finally, have a rest and enjoy a cup of Tibetan sweet tea in less-touristy Ani Tsangkhung Nunnery at the end of the day's touring.
You will get out of Lhasa and travel into the west on day 3. First, you will stop at Lake Yamdrok, which has a charming blue color, and then you can enjoy the fabulous scenery of the Karola Glacier up close.
When you stop at Gyantse town, visit the town's top attraction: Palcho Monastery. The huge white pagoda is very impressive. It is a monastery containing the three main sects of Tibetan Buddhism.
Drive west from Shigatse City to Saga County Town. Enjoy the scenery of rivers, lakes, snow-capped mountain, and pasture along the way.
Continue driving to the west on day 5 with the magnificent Himalaya mountains on your left-hand side along the way.
You will get to Lake Manasarovar in the afternoon. In Tibetan people’s hearts, Manasarovar is the “sweet dew” granted by the Buddha. The prayer stones on the lake bank show the respect of believers. Kailash can be seen in the middle distance. The holy mountain and the holy lake have accompanied each other for millions of years, according to geologists.
Don't miss 'ghost lake' (Lake Rakshastal) right by the holy lake. It is also attractive and full of the air of mystery. Let your guide explain why it is called 'ghost lake'.
You will start the 3-day kora trek on day 6. First, you will go by car to a prayer square. Colorful prayer flags are tied on the prayer stones. There is an important ceremony on April 15th every year to change the prayer flag pole. This is a place where you can see a good view of Kailash from close by.
From the square, you will hike downhill into a valley. Walk along the river to Dirapuk Monastery. During your day's trekking, you can see the west and north faces of Mt. Kailash. You will sleep in the guest house of the monastery.
Day two of the trek is the most challenging day. You will ascend about 700 meters (2,100 feet) to climb over a pass, which is the highest place in this trek at altitude 5,600 m (18,400 feet). Then descend to another valley where a beautiful lake with green water will come into sight. You might see devoted pilgrims prostrating themselves on their koras.
You will visit Zutulpuk Monastery, which was built by two important religious figures, and sleep in the guest house of the monastery.
The third day of the trek is the easiest. You will just have 7 km (4 miles) left to finish the Kora. At the end of the trek, you will take a bus back to Darchen. Have a rest in the afternoon, and get ready for the westernmost destination of this trip on the next day.
Driving northwest along the Gangdise (Kailash) mountain range, you will discover the evidence of an old civilization existing in Ali (Ngari) more than 1,000 years ago. The unique landscape there — the soil forest — is a masterpiece of Himalayan orogenic (mountain-forming) movement. Rain and wind have shaped the hills into "towers, camps, castles, and palaces".
You will visit Tholing Monastery, which was the first temple built by the Guge Kingdom, to see its old and beautiful murals.
The remains of the Guge Kingdom still stand on the cliffs, telling people of its glory days. It is nice to climb up to the top of the hill before sunset. The sunlight colors the soil forests golden. The broken soil walls have a kind of mystic and desolate beauty.
On day 10, you will drive eastward on your return trip to Lhasa. Enjoy the scenery of snowy mountains, grasslands, lakes, and the animals running in their paradise.
Stay overnight in Paryang, which is a little town in Zhongba County in the far west of Shigatse Prefecture.
You will drive from Paryang to Sakya County Town via Lhatse County Town. Stop at Lhatse and visit a traditional Tibetan knife workshop to discover the old and exquisite skills of Tibetan knife-making.
Explore the most mysterious monastery — Sakya Monastery in the morning. The murals on its yellow walls, the woman ghost statue tied by iron chains, and the mysterious sutra wall are the highlights you should not miss.
Drive from Sakya to Shigatse. Visit splendid Tashilhunpo Monastery in the afternoon. Admire the architectural beauty of Tashilhunpo monastery: its golden roof, red walls, and white pagodas. Figure out the relationship between Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas.
Drive along the Yarlung Zangbo Canyon to Lhasa. Enjoy the marvelous scenery on the way. See plateau lakes, rivers, snowy mountains, and traditional Tibetan villages. Stop at a small village that is famous for Tibetan incense making. Experience producing hand-made Tibetan incense. Get a small box of incense as a gift. Its fragrance when burning will remind you of your great experiences in Tibet.
Your guide and driver will take you to Lhasa's airport or train station on time for your departure.
—the Icing on the Cake
Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.
- Tibet Travel Permits
- Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
- English speaking local guide
- Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
- 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling
Tour code: xz-34