Ngari is remote area in west Tibet and southwest Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, bordered Nagchu to east, Shigatse to southeast, Xinjiang to north, and India and Nepal to southwest. Reaching to 680km from south to north and 700km from east to west, Ngari covers an area of 345,000 square kilometers. With a landform full of peaks, gorges, soil forest, lakes and volcanos etc., Ngari is really hard to develop a perfect transportation system. Even so, tourists are able to reach Ngari and get a close sight of Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar and Guge Kingdom much easier with the construction of airport and roads.
How to Get to Ngari
Flight to Ngari
At present, Ngari is linked with three cities – Lhasa, Urumqi and Kashgar by flights. There are two daily flights between Lhasa and Ngari, TV9807 from Lhasa Gonggar Airport to Ngari Gunsa Airport and TV9808 in the anti-direction. The flight duration takes about only 2 hours while one nonstop driving from Ngari will cost over 20 hours. If you travel to Ngari, from mainland of China, you can conveniently make a transfer at Lhasa for there are flights to Lhasa from Beijing, Chengdu, Xian, Chongqing, Kunming, Shangri-La etc. as well as several trains to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou.
It is also available to take a flight to Ngari from Urumqi Diwopu Airport with a stop at Kashgar Airport. The whole flight between Urumqi and Ngari takes about 4 hours.
Ngari Gunsa Airport
Ngari Gunsa Airport is served as a dual-use military and civil airport. With an elevation 0f 4,274 meters, Gunsa Airport is the fourth highest airport in the world. It is equipped with 4,500 meters long runway and 3,900 square meters large terminal. The annual throughput capacity is expected to reach 120,000 passengers by 2020. It takes about 4~5 hours to drive to Mount Kailash from Gunsa Airport
Notes: The altitude of Ngari Gunsa Airport reaches to 4,274 meters, so you are not suggested to fly to Ngari directly if you don't have any plateau-traveling experience. The people who firstly visit Tibet get high altitude sickness easily in such a high area.
Check the following Ngari flights timetable as a reference and read more at Lhasa Ngari Flights and Urumqi Ngari Flights.
||Departure -- Arrival
Driving to Ngari: Classic Driving Route: Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – Saga – Ngari
Driving is the most popular transportation to Ngari and you can take stop to take some great pictures. The classic driving journey to Ngari from Lhasa takes about three days. On the first day, drive to Shigatse about 7~8 hours to cover a distance of 350km, and accommodate in Shigatse. On this day, you won’t miss the natural beauty of Yamdork Lake and Karola Glacier as well as Buddhist sites of Palcho Monastery and Tashilhunpo Monastery. Then drive to Saga and you can enjoy the fabulous landscape – domination snow peak Shishapangma, pure Pelkhu tso Lake and wild plains on the way. On the third day, you will have another long driving about 550km from Saga to Ngari. Three days’ driving must be long and tough, but it also offers you an unforgettable sightseeing feast. In addition, tourists always acclimatize themselves to the high altitude gradually and seldom get High Altitude Sickness.
Besides, many tourists prefer a tour combining amazing Mount Everest and Mount Kailash together. They always drive about 9 hours to Everest from Shigatse and drive about 8 hours to Saga from Everest on the next day.
How to Get around Ngari
Without long distance public buses to go around, driving is also the best choice to travel in Ngari.
Travel to Kailash: Visiting Ngari, Mount Kailash is the top attraction tourists will visit. You can firstly drive to Darchen, the starting point of kora around Kailash as well as the place offering food and accommodation. If you want to take a kora or trekking around Mount Kailash, there will be no vehichles to save your energy on the way, but yaks can help you carry your luggage. The road is piled by gravels and you need to prepare a pair of steady and comfortable shoes.
Darchen to Manasarovar: Lake Manasarovar is about 40km away from Darchen and it takes nearly 50 minutes to travel between them. You may visit Lake Manasarovar before reaching Darchen or after your pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.
Darchen to Guge Kingdom: Driving along with G219 National Express about 230km (5 hours), you will get to Zanda County. Then continue to drive to Guge Kingdom about 20km (30 minutes), and this section of road is not good you will encounter sever bumps.
Warm Tips for Geting to/aroung Ngari
Road Condition: Most of the roads to/around Ngari are bituminous national highways (G318 and G219) in good condition and seldom bumps occur, but some sections might be winding and steep. During winter time, the road may be frozen because of the low temperature.
Necessary Permits: Apart from Tibet Travel Permit which is a must to Tibet, you need Alien’s Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit as well. All these permits can only be applied by travel agency on behalf of tourists. There are several check station set on the road, and the staff will check all your permits, and sometimes you passport also.
Food and Accommodation: The car will stop for lunch in the roadside restaurants. They often offer Sichuan cuisine and some other Chinese food, which are not good enough but able to replenish your energy. You are also suggested to bring some food and snacks with you. The accommodation in Ngari is very basic and can’t be compared with the hotels in Lhasa or Shigatse.