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Mount Kailash

Mount Kailash Trekking Guide – The Mountain That No One Has Ever Climbed

Mount Kailash is a sacred mountain for over a billion Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Bons, and also is the holiest mountain in the world. In Tibet, it’s also known as Gang Rinpoche, which means “Precious One.”  


Every year, pilgrims from across Asia trek a 52-kilometer pilgrimage circuit around the mountain, across the spectacular high-altitude landscape to pay homage. It is one of the world’s great overland trips and, despite the altitude, it’s surprisingly accessible.


Mount Kailash’s highest point is 6,638 meters. It isn’t the highest mountain in the world, but for sure it is the holiest.


For comparison, Mount Everest is 8,848 meters. It is located in West Tibet, near India/Nepal, 1,300 km by road from Lhasa. 


Dolma la Pilgrims, Kailash
Dolma la Pilgrims Photo source CCL


There are two beautiful lakes at Mount Kailash’s foot, Lake Rakshastal, and Lake Manasarovar.


Lake Rashtal is believed to be a lake of demons. People avoid even touching it lest they get cursed.


On the other side is Lake Manasarovar which is considered a place where a true believer can become a god or get a great blessing. 


If you are a great adventurer and want to explore the mountains and reach the inaccessible peaks, but still you can not climb Mount Kailash, the best way to feel this sacred mountain is to go on Mount Kailash Kora with pilgrims in Tibet. 


Everyone can have the opportunity to be part of the pilgrims walking around Mount Kailash. The most popular time for trekking is during Saga Dawa Festival, which according to the Gregorian calendar, is usually in May and June.


Next year (2020) Saga Dawa Festival is 5th June. 


 Pilgrims, Kailash
Photo Source CCL


Why Trek Around Mount Kailash 


For pilgrims, walking around Mount Kailash is a tremendous spiritual benefit. They believe that their lifetime sins would be cleared away. They also believe that walking it 13 times will bring enlightenment within one lifetime, and walking it 108 times will bring instant enlightenment. 


However, for the adventurers, Mount Kailash is an insurmountable peak. Crossing along with some breath-taking scenery, visiting sacred lakes near Mt. Kailash is just a part of this amazing Kailash tour. 


Mount Kailash
The beginning of the Mount Kailash trek. Photo source CCL


Trekking around Mt. Kailash is about 3-4 days for travelers. It starts day one at Darchen and continues to Dirapuk Monastery and is approximately 6 hours and 20 km. The second trekking day is around 6-7 hours from Dirapuk Monastery to Dzultripuk Monastery, you will need to cross 18km. 


The third day is a trek from Dzultripuk Monastery to Darchen, about 3-4 hours and crossing 14km.


The Chinese travel agencies have to offer various tours for Mt. Kailash. You’ll need to choose the best one for you. 


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Lake Manasarovar in front of Mount Kailash, Tibet Photo source CCL


How to Choose the Right Mount Kailash Tour For You


When choosing an adventure tour, the essential part is to select the best one for you. If you go on a journey that isn’t suited to your taste, it will surely be a disappointment. You don’t want to have that kind of experience during your trip to Tibet and Mount Kailash. 


Here are a few pieces of advice on your travels when you want to choose a tour in Tibet.


First, and an essential part, is to know what precisely what points of interest you want to be included in your tour. What do you want to visit on your journey? Many travel agencies have tailor-made Mount Kailash tours, which is the best and most practical option for travelers to create their own tours.


Dolma La Pass & Gaurikund Lake - Kailash
Dolma La Pass & Gaurikund Lake – Kailash Photo Source CCL


When you are going on a Mount Kailash tour, you must know how resistant you are to low temperatures and harsh weather conditions. Know your strength and be well fit.


Most of the tours last between 10 and 15 days, sometimes more. Most of the time you are hiking and walking. Yes, the tour includes transportation from one place to another, but still, Mount Kailash tours are mostly trekking.  


Choose the best time to go on the Mt. Kailash tour. Winter isn’t the best period for trekking around Kailash. 


The most important thing when you are choosing a tour is to select the best travel agency. When you have the most reliable travel agency, you will have no worries. The professional team will help you to choose the right tour for you. 


Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash


Things to Know Before Traveling to Tibet 


Before going anywhere in the world, first, you should learn more about the regulations and rules about the region or the country that you are visiting. Every country has unique requests and regulations.


Tibet, as a unique region, also has unique regulations, here are the basic ones that every traveler should know before traveling to Tibet. 


Kailash trek
Kailash trek Photo Source CCL


Organized Tour


Every foreign traveler must have an organized trip to Tibet with a tour guide, transportation, and driver. Tourists can not travel alone anywhere in Tibet.


The best option is to book a Mount Kailash tour via a Chinese travel agency.




Moreover, every foreign traveler must have a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. To visit Far West Tibet and Mount Kailash, you also must have several more permits required, such as the Tibet Alien Permit (PSB permit) and the Military Permit. 


You can not apply for permits on your own. Your chosen travel agency will apply on your behalf. You’ll need to send copies of your valid passport and Chinese visa. And they will arrange all the necessary permits for you. 


Saga Dawa Festival
Saga Dawa Festival Photo Source CCL


When to Go on a Mount Kailash Tour 


As we said before, the best time for the Mt.Kailash tour is during the Saga Dawa Festival. This festival is one of the most important festivals in Tibet, which celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the great Buddha Sakyamuni. 


Also, the excellent time to trek around Mt. Kailash is from April to October. Also, the summer period is the rainy season, from July to September. However, these rainfalls are mostly like rainshower. 


Avoid the winter period for trekking Mt. Kailash Kora.


buddhist prayer flags

The Cost of a Trip to Mount Kailash 


Many of the travel agencies will tell you to travel with a group tour to save money, but the difference with a group tour and a private tour in the prices are not so significant.  


If you choose 15 days Mt. Kailash Kora and a Mt. Everest Base Camp tour, you’ll need to divide from your budget US$1,800 included tour guide, driver, transportation, accommodation, and meals. 


A tour to Mt. Kailash for Saga Dawa Festival is US$1,674 which also includes the tour guide, driver, transportation, accommodation, meals, necessary oxygen and medicine for acute high altitude sickness, necessary travel documents, etc. 


Prices may vary depending on which period you choose to travel.


For Example:


From April to June and late October, the prices per person are:

  • For two persons US$ 3009
  • For three persons US$ 2335
  • For 4-6 persons US$ 1990


For tour from July to mid. October the prices per person are:

  • For two persons US$ 3272
  • For three persons US$ 2549
  • For 4-6 persons US$ 1973


Add the costs for a Chinese visa for US Passport holders: US$160 for a regular application (4 working days required), US$175 for an urgent application (3 working days). 


The costs for Tibet permits usually are free. They are included in your tour price. 


The prices:

  • For porter per day are up to US$31
  • For Yaks and Yak Herdsman are up to US$36 per day
  • For Horse-back riding US$43 per day
  • For groom are US$ 36 per day 


pack for a trip

Packing List for a Mt. Kailash Tour 


Clothing and shoes

  • Hiking boots and regular shoes 
  • A pair of wind-proof/water-proof hiking pants
  • Cotton t-shirts and pants
  • One or two moisture-wicking t-shirts
  • Long water/windproof jacket
  • Winter jacket
  • Rain shell
  • Underwear
  • Woolen socks
  • Sandals with a back strap to wear at camp


Essential accessories and personal items

  • Gloves
  • Wool hat
  • Hiking Hat with shadow 
  • Sunglasses
  • Bandana
  • Warm scarf
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpack
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste 
  • Sunblock
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lip balm



  • First aid kit
  • Altitude sickness medicines
  • Medicines for diarrhea
  • Pain killers 
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Antibiotics




Last Thoughts


If you are a passionate adventurer, then trekking around Mount Kailash can be a once in a lifetime experience for you.


Trekking around the sacred mountain is especially important for the followers of the four religions (Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Bons). 


However, even if you are not a passionate adventurer or a religious person, there is still something magnificent in this mountain that is worth feeling during the trek, and that is the energy. 


If you choose trekking around Mount Kailash, you will have a fantastic journey and an experience that you’ll remember your whole life. 

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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