Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake, meaning long neck swan in Tibetan, is located partly in China and the rest is in Kashmir that is controlled by India. This inland lake is about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from northwestern Rutog County, Ngari District of Tibet. It is 155 kilometers (96.3 miles) long from east to west and very narrow from south to north, 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) at the widest part and only 5 meters (16 feet) at the narrowest part. The depth of water is 57 meters (187 feet). And the entire Pangong Tso Lake is 4,240 meters (13,911 feet) above sea level.

Why is Pangong Lake blue? Actually, the color was made due to the different intensity of the sun and depth of the lake. The limpid water is so blue and looks like an opal in the earth. It mirrors the blue sky, white clouds and snowy mountains, forming a picturesque view. Its uniqueness is that the same lake has different characteristics in China and Kashmir: The water in China is clear and sweet, harboring a kind of freshwater fish without scales; but the water in Kashmir so salty that no creatures can survive. Why is Pangong Lake salty? Because there is much more water evaporated than supplied in the salty part.

Bird Island

This vast Pangong Tso Lake is dotted with big and small islands like stars in the night sky. The central island is the kingdom of birds, and is named Bird Island. It is not that large, about 300 meters (984 feet) long and over 200 meters (656 feet) wide. However, around ten thousand birds of more than 20 species inhabit it. The main species include the bar-head goose, brown-head gull, seagull, crested duck and tadorna ferruginea. These birds feed on the fish and aquatic plants in Bangong Lake. During the birds’ breeding season, the whole island is almost covered with thousands of birds. Bird nests and eggs are everywhere. Because there are no natural enemies or anything to disturb their habitat, they live in a quiet and peaceful life. Thanks to the natural barrier of water protecting the birds, it becomes a special sight on the Ngari Plateau.

How to get to Pangong Tso Lake

1. At Lhasa you can take a long-distance bus to Shiquanhe, costing CNY600-700. Upon arrival at Shiquanhe, you can take a direct bus to Rutog County, which is only around 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) from the destination. There you can rent a car for the rest of the journey. Or you can rent a car at Shiquanhe to reach the attraction directly.
2. Fly from Lhasa to Ngari, where you can rent a car to the attraction. On the way, you can also visit Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova, Ruins of Guge Kingdom, Tholing Monastery etc. 

Note: (1) To rent a car, it is suggested you turn to local travel agencies, as they generally offer acceptable charges.
(2) Generally speaking, you should rent an SUV if you are traveling to a remote areas as the road conditions can be a little tough.
Upon arrival at Pangong Tso Lake, you can rent a boat to Bird Island, which takes 30-40min.

Entrance Fee Free
Opening Hours 8:00 - 16:00


1. As well as the Tibet Entry Permit, you also need to apply for Border Permit for traveling as this destination lies near the Chinese territory boundary.
2. As the bird eggs are protected, it is forbidden to take any away.
3. Owing to the long distance and circuitous route, it is better to head for the attraction in the early morning and return early.
4. There are inns and restaurant near the lake, where you can have a rest and a bite to eat. you can also take a picnic if you like.
5. If it is sunny, you can also put up a tent for enjoyment.
6. The best time to visit Pangong Lake is May and September when visitors can view the birds.
7. As there is a large temperature gap between daytime and night, it is highly recommended to take along one or two pieces of thermal clothing.

- Last updated on Jul. 18, 2022 -
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