Namtso Lake

On Nov. 14, 2005, Namtso Lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region was selected as one of the five most beautiful lakes in China by Chinese National Geography magazine. Its touching beauty should not be missed by any visitors there. Its purity and solemnness are symbols of Qinghai-Tibet Platean. In Tibetan, Namtso means 'Heavenly Lake.' It is considered one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and famous for its high altitude of 4,720 meters (about 3 miles), vast area of 1,961 square kilometers (about 757 square miles) and beautiful scenery. 
Namtso Lake
Namtso Lake
Prayer flags, Heavenly Lake
Prayer flags, Heavenly Lake

 Namtso Lake Pictures

 Namtso Lake Video

Being the second largest saltwater lake in China only after Qinghai Lake, Namtso is the biggest lake throughout Tibet. Meanwhile, it is the highest altitude saltwater lake in the world. The water here is a storybook crystal-clear blue. Clear skies join its surface in the distance, creating an integrated, scenic vista. Soul of every visitor who has ever been here seems to be cleansed by the pure water.

Five Islands in Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake maintains its levels from rainfall and melted snow flowing from high mountains. Five islands stand in the water area, among which the largest one is  Liangduo island. In addition another five bylands stretch into the water from different directions. Zhaxi byland is the largest in area of these five. A great many bizarre stone peaks can be found on this byland. Some of them are like trunks; some look like human beings; some resemble trees. Various kinds of vivid shapes can easily arouse your imagination. At the same time there are many quiet grottos which are masterpieces of nature. Some grottos are narrow and long like subways; some are full of stalactites; still, others are like louvers. Queer rocks, steep peaks, natural stone ladders and other landform wonders on Zhaxi byland present visitors a picture filled with mystery and enchantment.

Best Time to Visit Namtso Lake

Prayers along Heavenly LakeSummer is the best time to pay a visit here. Wild yaks, hares and other wild animals leisurely look for food along the expansive shores; countless migratory birds fly here to lay eggs and feed their young; sometimes lovely fishes jump out of the water, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine; sheep and cows herds are like flowing white blanks on the green grassland which can stretch as far as your eyes can see; the dulcet songs of Gauchos resound through the valleys. This time of the year Namtso Lake is full of life and activity. Therefore it is no wonder Tibetans take it  the symbol of goodliness and happiness. Really Heavenly Lake Namtso is a blessing from nature.

Zhaxi Temple

Besides the beautiful scenery, the place is also a famous sacred Buddhist site. There is a Zhaxi Temple in Zhaxi byland. In every Tibetan year of sheep, thousands of Buddhism adherents will come here to worship. As a rule, they will walk clockwise along the lake in order to receive the blessing of the gods.


The sea level is 1,100 meters (about 1,203 yards) higher than that of Lhasa, therefore please bring lots of water and don't over-exert yourself.

It takes about 5-6 hours to the lake from Lhasa, so you need to spend at least one and a half days to enjoy it. You are suggested to stay in the hostels nearby, which charges CNY 30 - 50 one night for a bed.

How to get to Namtso Lake

There are no direct buses to the lake. The best way is to rent a mini bus from Lhasa. The fare is around CNY 2,000, and you are suggested to share it with other visitors.

Entrance Fee May - Oct.: CNY 120
Nov. - next Apr.: CNY 60

 Free admission from Jan. 1 to Mar. 15 and Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, 2021.

Further Reading
Top 10 Things to Do in Lhasa

Top 10 Things to Do in Tibet

- Last updated on Nov. 19, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Namtso Lake
Asked by iracubet from SINGAPORE | Oct. 06, 2013 23:50Reply
Is it ok to visit in December to the Heavenly Lake?
My wife and I, both in our healthy 40s are planning to visit Llhasa in December. Would it be ok to visit the Lake? I assume there would be snow? How is the scenery then? Thanks
Answers (2)
Answered by Agoda from AFGHANISTAN | Oct. 08, 2013 21:04

Although it will be very cold to travel there in Dec., with the lowest temp of around -16C, it is worth time and money. And you are right, it will snow and the scenery would be pleasant. As it will be during the slack season, the entrance will also cost less, around CNY100 per person.

I have to remind you that if it snows heavily, the scenic area may close in winter, so you'd better pay close attention to the news of the lake.

One more thing, it shall be best to rent a car or minivan get there, because there seems no direct public transport to reach.
Answered by Phillip Greene from USA | Dec. 30, 2017 19:05

It will be very cold - I advise not spending the night it was by far the least comfortable place we [with my 30 year old son] stayed in a 17 day trip in and around Lhasa in 2015.
Asked by Mrs.Kim Pham from USA | Feb. 12, 2011 18:18Reply
My family will travel from Kathmandu all the way to Tibet by private tour on first week of May. On the way I want to see Lake Manasarova,Namtso Lake, Yarlong tsangpo river. We will pass Zhang Mu-Xegar-Shigatse-Gyantse-Lhasa.Please let me know how to go to those place which these city.And how the wearther there.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ms.Jasmine | Feb. 16, 2011 02:29

The places you want to see are all out of the route you mentioned. Manasarova is 800km northwest of Zhangmu, Namtso is in damxung county, north of Lhasa and Yarlong Tsangpo River, the valley area, is in Lingchi, far and east of Lhasa. The weather in May is good. It will be the rainy season later. In Lingchi, the rainy season begins since May.
Asked by Mr.Katili from INDONESIA | Jun. 22, 2010 18:58Reply
My plan is flight on July 6, 2010 from chengdu to Lhasa, and July 7, 2010 drive to Gyantse
the next day Gyantse to Shigatse and Sakya. My question : it is enaugh for acclimatise if you see my itinerary?
Thank you
Answers (2)
Answered by Mr.Manny | Jun. 23, 2010 21:49

I suggest Lhasa - Shigatse - Gyantse - Sakya. It takes 6 hours from Lhasa to Shigatse and two hours from Shigatse to Syantse, not clear about Gyantse to Sakya. You can think about hiring a van in Shigatse for the trip to Gyantse and Sakya.
Answered by Phillip Greene from USA | Dec. 30, 2017 19:17

My suspicion is that when you exit the plane in Lhasa your 1st thought will be "where's the air?"
When I was there in 2015 my son and we spent 3 days in Lhasa aclimating before we took off for a 6-7 day tour of the country ending at lake Namtso.
Asked by Mrs.Kelly from AUSTRALIA | Jul. 22, 2009 00:53Reply
I am travelling to Tibet in September with my two children ( 8 years and 10 years ) and would like to visit the Namtso Lake. We would have 3 days to acclimatise in Lhasa before we took the day trip and I am wondering if this is enough time. Has anyone done this before with children? Any advice or comments would be welcome. Thanks, kelly
Answers (2)
Answered by Ms.Cherry from CANADA | Jul. 22, 2009 03:26

Hi, Mrs.Kelly. September is not a bad time to go to the area, and it is also necessary to acclimatise for 3-5 days before the day visit. But i don't think it's safe to take your children.
Answered by Ms.Pat from USA | Dec. 16, 2009 18:27

I visited the lake three years ago (early July 2007) from Lhasa with friends in a hired bus with English-speaking guide. I don't know the cost, but the all-day trip was 500 km round-trip and the road takes you over a pass that is 16,500 - 17,000 feet in elevation. The water area is at 15,500 ft. elevation and spectacular. You will need more than three days to acclimatize (and I had altitude meds); I would not recommend taking children. The view there is truly amazing, but in the summer time you will be mobbed by local vendors as soon as you exit the bus. Note: if you touch one of the items (like a necklace or bracelet) or they place it in your hands, you have to purchase it (keep your hands in your pockets). Also, the vendors are not afraid to grab you by the arm to direct you to rent one of their horses or yaks. Once you can get away from the vendors (fairly simple for an adult), the view is amazing as are the local yak herders. I highly recommend the visit and would do it again, but I do not recommend taking children.
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