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Pangong Lake(aka. Pangong Tso) is an international lake located in the Himalayas at a height of approximately 4,242 meters, at the junction of China's Tibet and Kashmir. "Pangong" in the Tibetan language calls "Cuomu Angla Renbo Tso", which means "long-necked swan". It's the longest rift valley lake in the world. There's the highest bird island in the world, located in the northwest of Ritu County, Ngari Prefecture, Tibet. 

China controls about two-thirds of the eastern part of the lake, and India takes about one-third of the western part. Pangong Tso covers an area of 604 square kilometers. The strangest thing about the lake is that it is a lake with different amounts of salt in the water from east to west. In other words, the east is a freshwater lake(in China), the middle is a semi-saline lake, and the west is a saline lake(in Kashmir).


Pangong Tso is located in the western part of the Tibetan Plateau. It's 155 kilometers long from east to west and it's narrow from north to south. The narrowest point is about 40 meters. It covers an area of 604 square kilometers and the deepest is 41.3 meters. The lake has a maximum depth of 41 meters and an average depth of 5 meters. The ice epoch of Pangong Lake is about six months a year.

It is an inland lake with beautiful scenery, clear water, and snow-capped mountains surrounding it in the distance. The lake is quite clear as the visibility can reach 3 to 5 meters. Due to factors such as light, depth, and brightness, it presents different colors such as dark green, light green and dark blue, which are very amazing. At night, you can see the starry sky, as well as the reflections on broad water, which is quiet and deep.

  • Location: Ritu County, Ngari, Tibet
  • Opening hours: 08:00 - 16:00
  • ​Ticket price: CNY 30
  • ​Suggest visit time: 3 - 4 hours
  • ​Best travel time: May to July

Animals of Pangong Lake

There are more than a dozen islands of varying sizes in the lake, among which the most famous is Bird Island. It's named after the nests of waterbirds on the island. Bird Island is the highest bird island in the world, as well as the kingdom of birds. It is located about 12 kilometers northwest of the Ritu county in the Ngari region, at the junction of the Nagri region and Kashmir.

Bird Island is small in size, about 300 meters long and 200 meters wide. There are no big trees on the island, only some low shrubs, and some unnamed grasses growing along the coast. Due to the good ecological environment, thousands of gulls on the island live here. The gulls and the Anatidae fly on the wind, covering the sky, which has become a major spectacle of the Ngari Plateau. There are about 20 kinds of various birds on the island, and the number can reach tens of thousands at the most.

The main birds are bar-headed gooses, brown-headed gulls, great black-headed gulls, crested ducks, red ducks, etc., among which bar-headed gooses and brown-headed gulls have the largest number. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Bird Island by boat from the shore. However, for the protection of birds, it is not allowed to land on the island. You can only enjoy this magical bird kingdom around this Island.

Pangong Lake is also a fish world. There are a lot of aquatic plants in the lake to provide a good habitat for fish. There are more than 10 species of fish. In the lake, there are endemic Tibetan fish, such as snow trout, especially famous for not growing scales.

​Best Time to Visit Pangong Tso

May to July each year is the best time to travel to Pangong Tso.  The weather in Pangong Lake at that period is fine, the surrounding scenery is stunning and there're thousands of birds come to Bird Island to breed offspring. Bird watching in Pangong Lake is a famous tourist highlight in the Ngari region and even in Tibet. Up above there're blue sky and white clouds; down below there're snow-capped mountains and lakes. At the same time, here you will feel the harmony between nature and the animals.

During this period of time, the average annual temperature of Ngari is 19℃. The altitude of this area is more than 5,000 meters, and there's a great temperature difference between day and night. In summer, the temperature in the daytime is above 13 ℃, however, it drops to below 0℃ at night. So it's necessary to take enough warm clothes if you're traveling here. From the end of October to the end of April of the following year, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway is blocked by heavy snow.

Pangong Lake Travel Tips

​1. Prepare the Necessary Documents

As Pangong Lake is located in a strategically important area, you need to obtain a permit to visit the lake. An inside-line permit (ILP) is required to visit Pangong Lake. Foreign tourists need to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP).

2. How to Get to Pangong Lake?

Pangong Lake is located about 12 kilometers northwest of Ritu County, Ngari, Tibet. It's 1,800 from Lhasa to Ritu County, which takes at least 3 days. Alternatively, you can drive along the Xinjiang - Tibet Highway. It's about 129 kilometers northwest of Shiquan Town.

3. Ticket and Boat Ride

The ticket for Pangong Tso is CNY30. If you want to take a boat trip, you need to pay another CNY 80 for renting a boat. A boat ride from the shore to the bird island in Pangong Lake takes 30 to 40 minutes. On the way, you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery of Pangong Lake and the magnificent scenery of remote mountains.

Attractions nearby Pangong Lake

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Witness the magnificent landscape of western Tibet, experience 3-day kora and explore the lost civilizations of Ngari.

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Asked by Sanj***

Need trip for 2 people
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Answered by Emily

Dear Sanj****,

We can arrange a 19-day Mt. Everest & Ngari Off-The-Beaten-Path Tour for you, which includes the Pangong Lake.