Tibet Trekking — Popular Trekking Trails in Tibet
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Tibet Trekking — Popular Trekking Trails in Tibet

By Carol WangUpdated May. 26, 2021

Tibet is a land full of adventure. There are a lot of places for hiking on the "roof of the world" and most areas are best suited to a multiday trek. We have listed below some of the most popular hiking routes in Tibet based on our customers' feedback.

However, not everyone is suited to hikingin Tibet, mainly because of the low-oxygen altitudes, but also the mountainous terrain and potentially harsh weather conditions. Only those who are fit and well-prepared are encouraged to set out onthe following treks.

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The Top 6 Popular HikingRoutes in Tibet

This well-received variety of five treks and one day hike rangefrom “easy” to “very hard”.The following are brief descriptions of each difficulty level.

Difficulty Level Easy Moderate Hard  Very hard 
Hours/Day 4–5 5–6 7 8
Max Altitude (m) 3,200 4,500 5,000 5,000+
Max Altitude (ft) 10,500 14,800 16,400 16,400+
Suitable for Beginners Less-experienced trekkers Experienced trekkers Fearless adventurer

1. Pabongka Monastery to Sera Monastery Hike

This is a hidden route, which is seldom seenby travelers.

The hike starts from Pabongka Monastery, which is located on a mountain in the northern suburbs of Lhasa. This old and small monastery (hermitage) is on a huge rock and has a longer history than the Potala Palace.

Along the way, you will also pass small monasteries like TashiCholing Hermitage, Takten Nunnery, and Sera Utse. They are not as fancy as the famous monasteries of Tibet, but you can feel the history and mystery of Tibetan Buddhism from them.

The magnificent bird’s-eye view of Lhasa city is another highlight during this hike. You will end the hikeat Sera Monastery where you can see the interesting activity of monks' debating — a discussion of Buddhist knowledge between monks.

Pabongka MonasteryPabongka Monastery

Recommended Tibet Tours:

2. Galie Village to Nomads’ Pasture Trek

Galie Village is a beautiful Tibetan nomad villagethat has never been touched by development. It’s in a valley 150 km (90 miles) from Lhasa.

Atributary of the Lhasa River flows across the village and nourishes the vegetation in the valley. Local people make their living by growing barley and raising yaks.

You’ll need a 4-hour drive to get from Lhasa to Galie village. Starting from the village, you will hike about 2 hours to a pasture to visit a Tibetan nomadic family.

In the evening, you will cook and enjoy a dinner with the local Tibetan family together. Sleep in your tent right by the nomad’s tent.

Galie VillageGalie Village

Suggested itinerary:

Day 1: Lhasa – Galie Village –nomads’pasture. Stay with a Tibetan nomad family.
Day 2: Pasture –Galie Village – Lhasa. Take part in the work of the local Tibetan nomads.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

3. Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery Trek

Hiking from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery is one of the most popular adventure trips in Tibet. The trail was created by local pilgrims. It covers a distance of 80 kilometers(50 miles).

The daily walking distance is about 15km (9 miles) taking5–6 hours.  Most of the route's altitude is around 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sealevel.

You will spend fournights in atent with onenight at a spot over 4,700 meters (15,400 feet). Along the way, Shug-La Passand Chitu-La Pass are the highest points, which areover 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) above sea level.

Scenery on the way includes lakes, snow-capped mountains, alpine forest, and meadows, as well as Buddhistmonasteries, such as Gandan Monastery —one of the three principle Gelugpa monasteries and Samye Monastery — the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Ganden MonasteryGanden Monastery

Suggested itinerary (an extra 2/3 days for Lhasa acclimatization and return travel are recommended)

Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery to Tsubshi Village — 55km (34 miles)
Day 2: Trek from Tsubshi Village to Yama-Do — 7 km (4 miles)
Day 3: Trek from Yama-Do to Tsotup Chu — 10 km (6 miles)
Day 4: Trek from Tsotup Chu Valley to Chitu-La Pass —14 km (9 miles)
Day 5: Chitu-La to Yamalung Valley — 14 km(9 miles)

See more on >>Hiking from Ganden to Samye.

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4. Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp Trek

Tingri to Everest Base Camp is regarded as one of the world's classic hiking trails. It is 66km (41 miles) of trekking with altitudes ranging from 4,000m (13,000 ft) to 5,350m (17,500 ft). The daily trekking distance is from 12 to 22km (7–14 miles), taking 5–8 hours.

You will trek through Himalayanvalleys and remote Tibetan villages, across highland meadows, and desert-like plains. In Rongbuk Monastery, you can talk with a monk and receive a most sacred blessing.

Rongbuk Monastery Rongbuk Monastery 

Suggested itinerary (an extra 3 days for Lhasa acclimatization and return travel are recommended):

Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Gyantse to Shigatse (7 hours)
Day 2: Drive from Shigatse to Old Tingri (5 hours)
Day 3: Trek from Old Tingri to Lungthang — 12km (7.5 miles)
Day 4: Trek from Lungthang to Lamna La — 21km (13 miles)
Day 5: Trek from Lamna La to Zommug — 20km (12 miles)
Day 6: Trek from Zommug to Rongbuk Monastery — 5km (3 miles)
Day 7: Drive from Rongbuk to Shigatse via Sakya (8 hours)
Day 8: Drive from Shigatse to Lhasa (5 hours)

Read more on Everest Base Camp Trek — a Top Tibet Trekking Trip.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

5. The Kora Trek around Mount Kailash

It is one of the world’s classic trekking routes and most travelers who have aspirations of exploring Tibet will choose this route.It is a very great challenge to finish the 52-km(32-mile) trek, and you are expected to need to walk 6–8 hours per day.

The average altitude of the whole trek is 5,000m (16,000 ft), and Drolma La Pass at 5,630m (18,470 ft) is the highest point on a Mt.Kailash kora.

A Kailash kora usually starts and ends in Darchen, alwayswalking in aclockwise circle around Kailash.You can observe sacred Mt. Kailash from every angle as well as take a glance atthe temples around it.

Enjoying the beauty of Manasarovar Lake is recommended while acclimating to the locality.

Mt.KailashMt.Kailash

Suggested itinerary (an extra 3 days for Lhasa acclimatization and return travel are recommended):

Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Gyantse to Shigatse (7 hours)
Day 2: Drive from Shigatse to Saga (3 hours)
Day 3: Drive from Saga to Darchen, then to Lake Manasarovar and the Ghost Lake
And back to Darchen (7 hours)
Day 4: Kailash Kora Trek (Darchen to Dirapuk Monastery)— 20km (12miles)
Day 5: Kailash Kora Trek (Dirapuk Monastery to Dzultripuk Monastery)— 18km (11 miles)
Day 6: Kailash Kora Trek (Dzultripuk Monastery to Darchen) — 14km (9 miles)
Day 7: Drive from Darchen to Zhada (9 hours) to see the Guge Kingdom remains
Day 8: Drive from Zhada to Paryang (7 hours)
Day 9: Drive from Paryang to Sakya (9 hours)
Day 10: Drive from Sakya to Shigatse(3 hours)
Day 11: Drive from Shigatse to Lhasa(5 hours)

More of >> Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar Yatra.

Recommended Tibet Tours:

6. Tsupu Monastery to Yambajan Trek

The Tsupu Monastery to Yambajan (Yangpachen or Yangbajing) Monastery trek is one of the most popular trekking routes in Tibet. It is 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Lhasa to Tsupu Monastery and 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Tsupu Monastery to Yambajan.

Between Yambajan and Lhasa the journey back is around 90 kilometers (56 miles).

The trekking route is 60 kilometers in total with an average altitude of 4,300 meters (14,100 feet). Lasar-La pass is the highest point during the trek with an altitude of 5,300 meters (17,400 feet).

During the trip, you are not only can enjoy the beautiful Chubu Valley, alpine meadows, the glorious Nyainqentanglha Mountains, brilliant rape flowers, and magical geothermal springs, but also get the opportunity to experience mysterious Tibetan Buddhism and rich Tibetan culture close up.

YambajanYambajan

Suggested itinerary (an extra 3 days for Lhasa acclimatization and return travel are recommended):

Day 1: Drive from Lhasa to Tsupu Monastery (2hours)
Day 2: Trek from Tsupu Monastery to Let Set Village— 10km (6 miles)
Day 3: Trek from Let Set Village to Bacuo Village via Lasar-La Pass — 20km (12 miles)
Day 4: Trek from Bacuo Village to Yambajan via Yambajan Temple — 30km (18 miles)
Day 5: Drive from Yambajan to Lhasa (2 hours)

More of >> Hiking from Tsupu Monastery to Yangbajing.

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Best Times for Trekking in Tibet

Spring and autumn are the best seasons for hiking in Tibet —from April to May andfrom September to October. During theseperiod of time, there is littlerainfall and the weather is cool.

It can make your hiking more enjoyable is there’s less mud, more clear skies, and not too much heat. There’s sunshine in daytime, so you will feel warm enough when walking.

The temperature during the daytime may still be as high as 12°C (54°F), however the nightsare very cold, mostly below freezing.

Yamdrock lakeYamdrock Lake

Summer (June–August) is also suggested for hiking,but monsoon-season rainfall may suddenly stop your hiking and landslides could block mountain routes.

As a plus, oxygen is most plentiful in this season and so there’s a smaller possibility of altitude sickness. Easy/moderate treks, like Pabongka Monastery to Sera Monastery or the Galie Village trek are most recommended for summer.

Winter (November to April) is not suggested for trekking tours in Tibet, due to the harsh cold and thin air, not to mention that most of trekking trails will be closed during this time due to snow-blocked passes.

Also to know >>Best Time to Tibet 

Recommended Tibet Tours:

Avoiding Altitude Sickness When Trekking

Altitude sickness is the main problem whenhiking in Tibet. When ascending to high-altitude areas above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), most people experience altitude sickness.

Most travelers feel symptoms of shortness of breath, no appetite, weakness, and headaches. At night, you might feel short of breath and find it difficult to fall asleep.

If you have severe symptoms of altitude sickness during the trek, the only treatment is to descend to a lower altitude. You should stop your ascent and supply yourself with medicines or oxygen immediately.

If you feel very ill— for example breathing difficultiesor dizziness, your local tour guide and driver will help you to go to a nearby medical service base for treatment.

Good preparation is the first step to avoiding altitude sickness. Consult yourdoctor, do some physical training before going, and prepare altitude medicine.

Most importantly choose the right travel insurance policy for you with an emergency evacuationservice. Please read more about avoiding altitude sickness.

Booking a tour with an experienced travelagency like China Highlights will ensure that you’re cared for if you encounter difficulties. We will provide a bottle of oxygen for each traveler and an expert local guide.

Things You Should Know before Trekking in Tibet

Tibet Permits

Not only will you have to get a China Visa to hike in Tibet, you'll have to get a Tibet Entry Permit as well. Also, an Aliens' Travel Permit and a Military Permit are required for travelling to Mt. Kailash, Everest Base Camp, and other areas outside Lhasa.

Tibet PermitTibet Permit

Tibet permits are granted by Tibet Tourism Administration and cannot be obtained independently. They are issued only when you have booked a tour with a China travel agency.

See >>How to Apply for Tibet Permits

Packing List for Trekkingin Tibet

More of >> What to Pack for a Tibet Tour.

Hiking Tips:

1. The hiking trails in Tibet covered here are politically stable and safe.(Currently disputed areas like Ladakh/Kashmir are not recommended.)

2. There are porters or yaks to carry your packs on almost all trekking trails. Please ask your tour guide to help you hire a porter or yak.

3. It is hard to cook at high elevations as water boils at lower temperatures and it would all evaporate away without a pressure cooker, however it’s easier to make a cup of tea. Instant cold food is suggested, such as bread, milk, dry beef, or fruits.

4. Based on the above hiking tours, accommodations will mostly bein local guesthouses, monasteries, or tentswhere facilities are really rough and simple. Most of them don't provide bathrooms or toilets. Do not expect too much of the accommodation

For more general suggestions, see our Top 12 Tibet Travel Tips.

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Trekking in Tibet with China Highlights

Check out our trekking expeditions linked above if you’re interested in a unique way to discover Tibet. Let us know what you’re interested inif you have other ideas or would like some advice, and our expert travel advisors will help you pick the trek that best suits you and ensure you’re well taken care of throughout your trip.

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