- by Beatrice
- Last Updated: 2018-11-23
Ngari, a remote region in west Tibet and south-west Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is bordered by Shigatse to the Southeast, Nagqu to the East, Xinjiang to the North, India and Nepal to the Southwest. Ngari has a total land area of 345,000 square kilometers, spanning 680km from south to north and 700km from east to west. The landscape of Ngari is full of gorges, peaks, lakes, forest, and volcanoes, making it difficult to develop a good transportation system in this region. However, tourists are able to get to Ngari and see Lake Manasarovar, Mount Kailash and Guge Kingdom through the constructed roads and airport.
Flight to Ngari
Presently, three cities are linked with Ngari by flights. These cities are Lhasa, Kashgar, and Urumqi. There are two daily flights between Lhasa and Ngari, TV9807 from Lhasa Gonggar Airport to Ngari Gunsa Airport and TV9808 in the other direction. It only takes about 2 hours to travel between these two cities by flight and more than 20 hours by road. If you are traveling from mainland China to Ngari, you can also travel via Lhasa by flight because there are flights to Lhasa from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Shangri-la, etc and many trains from Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Chongqing to Lhasa. You can also take a flight from Urumqi Diwopu Airport to Lhasa with a stopover at Kashgar Airport. It only takes about 4 hours between Urumqi and Ngari by flight.
Ngari Gunsa Airport
Ngari Gunsa Airport is a dual purpose airport because it is used by the civilians and military. This airport is 4,274 meters above the sea level, which makes it the world’s fourth highest airport. Its runway is 4,500 meters long and its terminal covers 3,900 square meters area of land. The population of travelers using this airport is expected to rise to 120,000 by 2020 year. It takes about 5 hours to drive from Gunsa Airport to Mount Kailash.
Note: Ngari Gunsa Airport is 4,274 meters above the sea level, so it is advisable not to fly to Ngari directly if you don’t have any plateau-travelling experience. Most people traveling to Tibet for the first time always have high altitude sickness symptoms.
Driving to Ngari
Classic Driving Route: Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – Saga – Ngari
Travelling by road is the most popular way of getting to Ngari. It gives travelers the opportunity to enjoy the amazing views of Lhasa and Ngari such as the gorges, peaks, lakes, forest, volcanoes, etc. it takes about 8 days to travel from Lhasa to Ngari by road. Start your journey on the first day by driving to Shigatse to cover a distance of 350km – this journey takes about 8 hours. On this day, you won’t miss the natural beauty of Karola Glacier and Yamdork Lake as well as the Buddhist sites of Palcho and Tashilhunpo Monasteries. On the second day, travel to Saga where you will enjoy beautiful landscape views such as the domination snow peak , wild plains and pure Pelkhu Tso Lake on the way. On the third day, you will travel from Saga to Ngari covering a distance of about 550km. It is a 3-day journey that is tiring and long but it gives you the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views on the way. Also, tourists always adapt to the high altitude gradually and seldom get high altitude sickness.
In fact, many tourists love to visit Mount Everest and Mount Kailash during their tour. They always drive about 9 hours from Shigatse to Mount Everest and drive about 8 hours from Mount Everest to Saga on the next day.
How to get around Ngari
Road transportation is the best way of moving around Ngari. But usually there's a long driving distance from one spot to another.
Travel to Kailash
Mount Kailash is a top attraction destination for tourists visiting Ngari. First, drive to Darchen, the starting point of Kora around Kilash. Darchen also offers great food and accommodation. If you are taking a Kora or trekking around Mount Kailash, vehicles will not be available to help you save your energy on the way, but yaks can help you carry your luggage. The road contains a lot of gravels and you need to go with a pair of comfortable shoes.
Darchen to Manasarovar
Lake Manasarovar is about 40km away from Darchen. It takes about 50 minutes to travel from Darchen to Lake Manasarovar. You can visit this lake before you arrive at Darchen or after your pilgrimage kora to Mount Kailash.
Darchen to Guge Kingdom
After driving for about 230km on the G219 National Express for 5 hours, you will arrive at Zanda County. After arriving at Zanda County, continue your journey by driving to Guge kingdom, which is about 20km. The journey takes about 30 minutes. This section of the road is in bad condition.
Some tips for getting to and around Ngari
- Road condition
The majority of the roads to and around Ngari are bituminous national highways. These roads are in good condition and bumps are rarely seen, but some sections might be frozen during winter because of low temperature.
In addition to the compulsory Tibet Travel Permit, you also need Border pass, Alien’s travel permit and Military permit. As a tourist, only your travel agency can apply for all these permits on your behalf. There are many check points along these roads where security personnel will check all your traveling documents.
- Food and Accommodation
Cars always have stopovers at restaurants along these roads so that travelers can have their lunch. These restaurants offer Sichuan cuisine and some Chinese food which you may not like, but they will definitely replenish your energy. It is a good idea to go with some snacks and food. The hotel accommodation in Ngari is very cheap and basic.
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