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How to Prepare a Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

The natural circuit around Mount Kailash is one of the world’s great pilgrimage routes. With a 5630m pass to conquer, this Mount Kailash pilgrimage is a test of both the mind and the spirit. For followers of Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Bon, Mount Kailash is the most sacred place. Tibetans’ lifelong dream is to be able to complete the Kailash kora, as they believe that walking around the holy mountain can wipe out the sins of a lifetime.

For many tourists, they expect to experience something holy or profound. Beyond that, the scenery along the trail deserves a witness. The pyramidal Mt Kailash in sunset looks gorgeous! This is a journey of mind purification. Follow this article to know how to prepare your Mount Kailash pilgrimage.

Mount Kailash Pilgrimage 
Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

Part 1. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Route & Map
Part 2. Best Time for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage
Part 3. Required Documents for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage
Part 4. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Packing List
Part 5. Important Tips for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

Part 1. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Route & Map 

Note: Usually, tourists first take a train or fly to Lhasa and stay there for 2-3 days for acclimatization. Then hire a vehicle and drive from Lhasa to Darchen where you start the Mt. Kailash pilgrimage, via Gyantse, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp, and Saga. The 15-day Mount Kailash trek plus Saga Dawa festival tour provided by BudgetTibetTour is a great choice.

The 52km pilgrimage route completely encircles Mount Kailash. The most popular circuit route usually takes 3 days. You start by crossing a plain, then head up a wide river valley, climb up and over the 5630m Drolma-la, head down another river valley, and finally cross the original plain to the starting point - Darchen. Here comes the Mount Kailash pilgrimage route:

D1 Darchen to Dira-puk Monastery (20km / 6hrs)
D2 Dira-puk Monastery to Zutul-puk Monastery (18km / 7-8hrs)
D3 Zutul-puk Monastery to Darchen (14km / 3-4hrs)

Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Map 
Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Map


  • About 6 hours will be taken to walk from Darchen to Dira-puk Monastery. You’ll enter the barren Lha-chu River that is a steady water supply to Dira-puk Monastery. From here, you can see ahead to the tall Tarboche flagpole in the distance which is one of the most significant sites for Saga Dawa Festival.
  • It takes 7-8 hours to walk from Dira-puk Monastery to Zutul-puk Monastery. The Drolma-la that marks the top of this pilgrimage route is barely visible behind an enormous number of prayer flags. Here you can add new prayer flags to the collection.

    Mount Kailash Pilgrimage - Drolma-la 
    Mount Kailash Pilgrimage - Drolma-la

  • 3-4 hours are required from Zutul-puk Monastery to the end and also start of this pilgrimage route, Darchen.

Part 2. Best Time for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage 

The best months to for Mt Kailash pilgrimage include April, May, June, September, and early October. More details on Mt. Kailash is offered below:

  • At the highest point of this route, the 5630m Drolma-la, the nights are cold and snowfall is always a possibility.
  • July and August are not recommended for trekking, because the two months tend to be rainy and this can make walking messy.
  • The colder months from November to early April are not recommended as well because the temperature is too low.

Part 3. Required Documents for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

Some must-have documents are required for your Mt. Kailash pilgrimage.

  • Passport with Chinese visa is the basic documents for international tourists to China. Double check that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your planned departure date.
  • Tibet Travel Permit, also called Tibet Entry Permit, is a must-have document for international tourists to travel to Tibet. And you can only get the Tibet Travel Permit from a local tour operator in Lhasa.

    Permits for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage  
    Permits for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

  • Aliens Travel Permit, is not needed in Lhasa, but is a must-have for Mt Kailash pilgrimage. Your tour guide will arrange it after your arrival in Tibet.
  • Tibet Border Pass is also required while travel to Mount Kailash. You can only contact a Tibet travel agency to apply the Border Pass from the Tibet Armed Police Border Corps in Lhasa.

Part 4. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Packing List

What to pack for the Mt. Kailash pilgrimage? Check the packing list below.

  • Equipment and drugs

    A light down-filled sleeping bag is necessary because it is cold at night. Prepare a pair of hiking sticks, a headlight, a power bank and sleeping pad. Also pack the medicine for cold, headache, stomach ache, insect bite, diarrhea, and high altitude sickness. Don’t forget to take a strong backpack.

  • Clothing and footwear

    For the Mount Kailash pilgrimage, you need basic warm clothing, including sun hat, gloves, wind and water proof jacket, long underwear, warm pants and shirts, as well as warm socks. It’s important to pack a pair of strong and well-fitting boots.

  • Food and drinks

    Pack some high calorie and high protein snacks, such as chocolates, biscuits, dried fruits, nuts and dried meat strips. Before the start of your pilgrimage, make sure your water bottle is full. There are water supplies midway.

  • Skin protection and others

    Take lipsticks and suncream with a SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from sunburn. A good pair of sunglasses with a high UV filter is necessary to protect your eyes.

    Tent Guesthouse at the foot of Mount Kailash
    Tent Guesthouse at the foot of Mount Kailash

Part 5. Important Tips for Mount Kailash Pilgrimage 

Some extra tips for Mt. Kailash pilgrimage are offered here for your reference.

  • Respect the local customs. Do not destroy the prayer flags along the road and do not use your finger to point at the sacred Mt Kailash.
  • If unfortunately, the high altitude sickness happens to you, please consider stopping walking.
  • You can leave things at the hotel before you hike. To relieve the burden on shoulder, you can hire yaks or horses to do the heavy work.
  • Use a dedicated rubbish bag and minimize packaging materials. And please take away every piece of your rubbish including toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons.
 Why Mount Kailash is worshiped as the most sacred mountain in Tibet?Saga Dawa Festival tour in 2019
Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

user portrait Mr. Mo*** from: Travelers' Questions Might Help

I'm interested in the 14 day trip from Lhasa to Nepal trip. In in January or February would be great. how much would that be? is there space?

best regards Mo***

Answered by Nancy

Dear Mo***,

Greetings from Nancy at Budget Tibet Tour, thanks for visiting our website and sending your inquiry. Sorry we do not have any group tour in Jan or Feb to Kailash as there will be heavy snow and the road will be blocked, and also the area would be closed, and no one do the business there, no hotel, no restaurants there. So from Nov to March we would not send any groups there.
If you would like to do this tour, you must plan it from April to Oct. and at present we have the group tour in next 6th May and 29th May, and we will have more available date in future. if you are interested in joining in this, please kindly let me know. Best regards.

Email to Nancy about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

 Why Mount Kailash is worshiped as the most sacred mountain in Tibet?
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