How to travel to Ngari in west Tibet
Located at an elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level, Ngari is the highest area of Tibet. Tibet is renowned as “the roof of the world”, thus Ngari is reputed as “the top of the world’s roof”. This area is dotted with beautiful lakes and rivers, great mountains and glaciers, vast grasslands, spectacular snow mountains and clay forests, and ancient relics. But how to travel to Ngari in west Tibet is a big problem.
The most famous tourist sites are sacred Mt. Kailash, holy Lake Manasarovar and mysterious Guge Kingdom. The grandest moment of Ngari should be Saga Dawa Festival held at Mt. Kailash. This year, the Saga Dawa Festival marking the date of Sakyamuni’s conception, enlightenment and entry into nirvana will fall on May 25, 2013. (Seek for the traditional Tibet events in May, 2013, go to the page of Tibet tour calendar please.)
The following are some ways of getting to Ngari at present.
Rent a car to Ngari
Currently, by road is the major way to travel to Ngari, but there are few buses to Ngari from other places of Tibet. Renting a car (SUV is the best) to Ngari is the best choice as it is more comfortable and flexible. Tourists are recommended to rent a car at Lhasa or Shigatse because Lhasa is the biggest city of Tibet while Shigatse is the second largest city of Tibet. If you are planning a trip to Ngari, it takes about 20 days to finish it and costs around CNY15,000 on renting a Land Cruiser.
In addition, if you wanna travel to Ngari in 2015, you must plan your Tibet tour at least one month in advance as tourists are required to travel in Tibet in a tour group with at least five travelers with the same nationality. If you are travel alone, Tibet travel org can help you find travel mates and apply for Tibet permits.
It is possible to hitch to Ngari, but it takes much longer time to do the trip. The best place to hitch a car to Ngari is Lhatse because it is a town that must be passed for tourists from Lhasa or Kathmandu to Ngari. In addition, it is not very easy to hitch a car because there are few vehicles available on the way even in summer.
There are coaches from Lhasa to Ngari, but they do not depart regularly due to unstable number of passengers. During the low season, there is a coach from Lhasa to Ngari every two days, while one coach every day during the peak season. If there are more passengers, there will be more buses. It takes over two days to take bus from Lhasa to Ngari. It is best to purchase tickets at the Lhasa Bus Station in advance.
Ali Kunsha Airport, the only airport at Ngari, was officially put into use in 2010. Now the China Air offers two flights from Chengdu to Ngari respectively on Tuesday and Friday. The flights make a stopover in Lhasa after taking off for two hours. The stop time is about 40 minutes to 50 minutes. And then the flight flies about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Kunsha Airport. The Kunsha Airport is located in the southwest of Shiquan River Town of Ngari, which is 50 km far away from Shiquan River. There is a free bus from the airport to the Shiquanhe Town, taking about one hour's driving.