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Ngari Transportation: how to travel to Ngari from Lhasa, Xinjiang, Nepal and India?

November,16 2019 BY Master Kungga Dundruk 0 COMMENTS

Also known locally as Ali Prefecture, Ngari is the farthest western prefecture of Tibet, and is the second largest area of the plateau region after Nagqu. Bordering with Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the north, India and Kashmir to the west, Nepal to the southwest, Shigatse to the southeast and south, and Nagqu to the east, this stunning yet remote area has almost no infrastructure, but is one of the most stunning locations on the plateau for tourists to the region.

Located at an average elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level, Ngari is the highest area of Tibet. This area is dotted with beautiful lakes and rivers, great mountains and glaciers, vast grasslands, spectacular snow mountains and clay forests, and ancient relics. Noted for its famous tourist sites, such as Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, as well as the mysterious Guge Kingdom, This high-altitude area of the roof of the world is one of the most spectacular places to visit on the Tibetan plateau.

Tibet Lhasa to Ngari: how to get to Ngari from Lhasa

Lhasa to Ngari Flight Route: Distance (1,250km) and how to travel

If you are strapped for time and want to head to Ngari only to visit the great ancient sites there, then a flight from Lhasa Gonggar International Airport to Ngari Gunsa Airport is the best way to go. Located just outside Shiquanhe, the main town of Ngari Prefecture, the airport lies at an altitude of 4,274 meters above sea level, and is the fourth highest airport in the world.

Only one airline offers flights from Lhasa to Ngari, and Tibet Airlines have one flight per day that runs to the remote airport in the far northwest of Tibet. The flight leaves Lhasa Gonggar International Airport daily at 7:30am, and takes two hours to cross the 1,250 kilometers to Ngari, costing from around 380 US dollars per person.

Southern Ngari Travel Route: Distance (1,456km) and How to Travel

The fastest and simplest way to get to Ngari overland is to use the Southern Route that takes you west from Lhasa to Shigatse and then northwest up to Ngari. The most popular and frequently used route to get to Ngari for Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, this stunning route has some of the most spectacular sights in Tibet along the way, like Yamdrok Lake, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Everest Base Campe, etc. Stretching for around 1,456 kilometers across the plateau, this amazing route takes you through the most popular attractions of the plateau, along roads that are well-paved and comfortable to drive on. While domestic tourists may be able to make this trip in their own vehicles, international tourists are required to be on a pre-arranged tour of Tibet with a registered tour operator. Our 15 days Kailash Manasarovar group tour gives you a safe vehicle, driver, and guide for the entire trip.

map of ngari road(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Nagri travel route map

Northern Ngari Travel Route: Distance (1,782km) and How to Travel

Covering a distance of around 1,782 kilometers, the Northern Travel Route to Ngari Prefecture is one of the less-traveled routes in Tibet, taking you north into Nagqu before turning west to head for Ngari, Shiquanhe, and the stunning Mount Kailash. However, while this may be a route that is used little by international tourists, it is one of the most stunning routes to Ngari in terms of scenery and landscapes. Not only do you get to visit Lake Namtso and several other sacred lakes along the way, but the road passes through the vast Changtang Grasslands, one of the most prolific areas of Tibet in terms of the local indigenous wildlife.

Ngari Loop Route: Distance (3,239km) and How to Travel

This vast route to Ngari and back to Lhasa takes you along a 3,239km route that loops around following first the southern route to Ngari via Shigatse and EBC and then back along the northern route. Taking in Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, Shiquanhe and Rutog County for the Guge Kingdom, and several holy lakes on the way through Nagqu and down to Lhasa, this is an epic journey for travelers to Tibet. While the roads may be good on the way to Ngari, the northern route back to Nagqu does have several stretches which are still dirt and gravel roads, as few people travel through this region of the plateau. - See more details at 19 Days Big Loop Tour around Ngari Region.

Travel Documents Needed

As with all trips to Tibet for international tourists, the required permits must be obtained before you can travel. These documents are important to allow you to get into and around the various areas of Tibet outside Lhasa, as well as being required to get into Tibet in the first place. All permits and passes are obtained by us prior to your travel in Tibet. The permits you need after obtaining your visa are:
Tibet Travel Permit - This is required for entry to Tibet and to travel around in the area of Lhasa.
Alien’s Travel Permit - Required for travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet outside Lhasa, including Shigatse.
Restricted Areas Permit - This is often called the “Military Permit”, and is required for travel to military-sensitive areas such as Ngari, Nyingchi, etc.
Frontier Pass - While most tours will not actually cross the border out of China, the Frontier Pass is required for all tourists traveling in the areas of the Chinese border with India, Nepal, and Bhutan, which includes Mount Everest and Mount Kailash.

Xinjiang to Ngari: how to get to Ngari from Kashgar

For those traveling to Ngari from Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture, there are two means of travel, either by flight or traveling overland.

Xinjiang Kashgar to Ngari Flight Route: Distance (858km) and how to travel

Starting from the Kashgar Airport, also known as the Kashi Airport, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture of northwestern China, there are only two flights per week that run to Ngari Gunsa Airport in Tibet. Direct flights from Kashgar to Ngari are available every Tuesday and Friday, departing at around 10:00am and arriving in Ngari at around 11:35am. This 1 hour 35 minute flight, which covers a distance of 858 kilometers, is an ideal way to make the travel from Kashgar to Ngari for those with little time to spare.

Travel overland via Xinjiang Tibet Highway (National Highway G219)

Known as the Xinjiang Tibet Highway, China National Highway G219 runs all the way from Kashgar in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Prefecture to Ngari, passing by Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash and all the way to the G318 Friendship Highway. Renowned as the world’s highest road at an average altitude of more than 4,500 meters, this well-paved asphalt road is the driving option for getting into Ngari from the north. Covering a distance of around 1,547 kilometers, it is a long and arduous journey that is best done with a professional local driver, as the road passes through some of the most remote and arid lands in Tibet.

map of xinjiang tibet highway(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Xinjiang-Tibet Highway Map

Travel Documents Needed

For international travelers, you will need to have all the relevant permits and passes in order to get to Ngari from Xinjiang. Firstly, the Tibet Travel Permit is required to get into Tibet, and the Alien’s Travel Permit and Restricted Areas Permit are required to travel through Ngari. You will also need the Frontier Pass, as the route takes you close to the Kashmir and Indian borders with China.

Nepal to Ngari: how to get to Ngari from Kathmandu

Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa and then get to Ngari by flight or road

The fastest way to get to Ngari is to fly, and while there are no direct flights from Kathmandu in Nepal to Ngari Gunsa Airport, you can get a flight to Lhasa and change for a flight to Ngari. Flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa leave daily from Tribhuvan International Airport, the only international flights that run direct to Tibet. Once there, you can get a connecting flight to take you to Ngari, which depart daily. Alternatively, once you reach Lhasa, you can also take a tour along the G318 and G219 to Ngari, along the Southern Route to get to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

Fly from Kathmandu to Simikot and then get to Ngari

If you want to travel a more direct route to Ngari from Nepal, you can get a flight to Simikot, in northwestern Nepal, and cross the border to Ngari to make the journey a little faster. The flights from Kathmandu to Simikot take around 55 minutes, and land at the small airstrip in the Nepali town, where you will then get a short helicopter flight to the village of Hilsa, close to the Sino-Nepal border with Burang County in Ngari. Once in Hilsa, you will need to trek across the border, as there are no vehicle crossings permitted there. The trek is short, just crossing the bridge over the Karnali River into China, and you will be met by your guide on the other side to be driven to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. - See itinerary of 11 Days Tibet Kailash Pilgrimage Tour by Helicopter from Nepal.

Kailash Tour by Helicopter from NepalIt’s so thrilling to take helicopter from Hilsa to Burang and then travel overland to Mt. Kailash

Travel overland from Kathmandu to Ngari via Gyirong Port

For those that do not want to take the flights to Lhasa or Simikot, there is an overland route that can take you by car all the way to Ngari. Nepal is the only country with international access to Tibet, and you can take a bus or car to Rasuwa Gadhi, the Nepali border control on the Sino-Nepal border. From there you will cross the Resuo Bridge into China, and process through Chinese immigration. Once across the border, your guide and driver will meet you and transfer you to Gyirong to acclimatize. Then you will be driven along the remainder of the Southern Route to Ngari, covering around 840 kilometers from Kathmandu to Mount Kailash. - See itinerary of 13 Days Kailash Pilgrimage Tour via Gyirong Port .

Travel Documents Needed

For travelers entering from Nepal, the permits are required as with all tours to Ngari, which includes the Tibet Travel Permit, the Alien’s travel Permit, the Restricted Areas Permit, and the Frontier Pass. And tourists will also require the Chinese Group Visa, instead of the standard Chinese Entry Visa. This special visa is only available for tourists entering Tibet from Nepal, and can only be processed by the tour operator once you arrive in Kathmandu at the Chinese Embassy there. All tourists are required to have all the relevant visa and permits before entering Tibet from Nepal, which can only be obtained by taking a pre-arranged tour with a Tibet tour operator.

India to Ngari: how to get to Ngari from Delhi

Delhi to Ngari by Flight: distance (2,473km) and how to travel

There are no direct flights from New Delhi to Ngari, nor even to Lhasa, and all travelers flying from New Delhi will need to take connecting flights to either Nepal or mainland China in order to fly to Lhasa. The route to Nepal is the easiest, as there are daily flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Once in Lhasa, you can get one of the daily flights that head to Ngari Gunsa Airport in Shiquanhe. The flights are not always well-connected, and you may have some layover times in both Kathmandu and Lhasa before reaching Shiquanhe. In total, the flights cover a distance of around 2,473 kilometers.

Delhi to Ngari by Road: distance (2,187km) and how to travel

If you are planning to travel overland from Delhi to Ngari, then you are looking at an epic journey of around 2,187 kilometers, crossing India to Nepal and traveling overland from Gyirong Port to Shiquanhe. From Delhi to Kathmandu, it is a distance of around 1,119 kilometers, much of which you can cover by using the large railway network in India. From there, you will head to the border at Gyirong Port, and cross into China, where you will be met by your guide and driver and transported to Shiquanhe.

Enter Tibet from Nepal via Gyirong PortYou can get to Kathmandu from Delhi first and then travel overland to Mt.Kailash via Gyirong Port.

Travel Documents Needed

For most international travelers, you will need to have the Tibet Travel Permit, the Alien’s Travel Permit, the Restricted Areas Permit, and the Frontier Pass in order to cross the borders and travel to Ngari, whether by flight or overland. For tourists traveling to Tibet from India via Nepal, the standard visa does not apply, and you will need the Chinese Group Visa for entry into China, whether by flight or overland. This special visa is not available by personal application, and will be applied for by us on your arrival in Kathmandu, using your original passport. Processing time is just three working days. However, for Indian Pilgrims, the rules are different, and you will need to contact the Pilgrim Center for Tibet to arrange the tour.

>> See more details at India to Ngari: How to Reach Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake from Delhi by Flight, Road, or Train?

How to travel from Ngari Gunsa Airport to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake?

The easiest way to get to Darchen, the small village at the foot of Mount Kailash, is to travel overland following the G219 National Highway. For international travelers to Tibet, you will need to be on a pre-arranged tour of the region with a Tibet tour operator, and once you arrive in Ngari Gunsa Airport, you will be met by your guide and driver to start your tour. The route to Mount Kailash takes you south and southeast to the sacred mountain, a distance of around 249 kilometers.

Conclusion

Travel to Ngari can be done from a number of places inside and outside Tibet, and is not as hard as most people would think. With all tourists required to be on a pre-arranged tour, getting to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar is simple. Just contact us for Kailash tour of your choice, and we will make all the other necessary arrangements for your travel within Tibet. You just need to get here.

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

The Lhasa-born prodigy used to study business overseas, and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland.With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

Responsible, considerate and humorous, he devoted his entire life guiding and serving international tourists travelling in Tibet.As a legendary Tibetan travel guru with 20-year pro guide experience , he once had an exclusive interview with the US media. Currently he is working in Tibet Vista as the Tour Operating Director. Whenever our clients run into troubles, he is your first call and will offer prompt support.

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