Ngari Travel Guide

Ngari (Ali) Travel Guide

Ngari Facts

Chinese Name: 阿里 (ā lǐ)
Population: 124,000
Area: 345,000 square kilometers (133,205 square miles)
Location: in the west of Tibet, southwest China
Administrative Division: 7 counties (Gar, Burang, Zada, Rutog, Ge'gyai, Gerze, Coqen)
Area Code: 0897
Zip Code: 859000
GDP (2019): CNY 6.24 billion (USD 0.90 billion)
Nationalities: Tibetan, Han, Hui

A Mountainous China’s Least Densely Populated Area

Ngari (Ali) stands in western Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest frontier of China. It neighbors Xinjiang to the north and Shigatse and Nachu to the east. Furthermore, it has a total frontier of 1,116 kilometers (693 miles) bordering upon India and Nepal in the south and Kashmir to the west.

Ngari is one of the least densely populated areas in the world. From the 10th century to the early 17th century, prosperous and powerful Guge Kingdom ruled here and promoted Buddhism, leaving many exquisite religious art works including wall paintings, sculptures and stone carvings. It built the first Buddhist temple in Ngari - Tholing Monastery. More than 300 caves and houses relics built in the mountains can be seen in the Ruins of Guge Kingdom. Besides, there are many mountain ranges in the territory, including the Himalayas and the Gangdese Mountains. The Mount Kailash is lionized by many religious denominations. The beautiful Lake Manasarova, Pangong Tso Lake and Lake Rakshastal also deserve a visit.

 Tholing Monastery was a famous Buddhist temple in Tibet built in the 11th Century by the prince of Guge Kingdom. In 1042, an Indian dignitary once gave sutra lectures here, greatly promoting the development of the Buddhism in Ngari. The monastery is also a witness of the renaissance of the area's Buddhism. Over one thousand deer antlers, pictographs and hieroglyphics collected in the temple are of great archeological value.

 Ruins of Guge Kingdom was constructed on a mountain 18 kilometers (11 miles) west of Zada (Zhada) County. During the 10th Century to 17th Century, Guge Kingdom created a brilliant history. Hundreds of rooms and caves are built on the mountain 300 meters (984 feet) above the mountain foot. After its national destruction, frescos in temples on the mountainside about Sakyamuni, the king and queen of the Guge are the most precious treasure the lost kingdom left behind. 

 Other Scenic Spots:
Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova: They are considered as the 'Sacred Mountain' and 'Holy Lake' by Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon both located in Burang or Pulan County;
Pangong Tso Lake at Rutog County; Lake Rakshastal: sisiter lake of Lake Manasarova.

Due to the 'Sacred Mountain' and 'Holy Lake', Burang is drawing increasingly more attention of visitors. It is about 400 kilometers (249 miles) from Shiquanhe Town, and only 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Sino-Nepal boundary in neighborhood of India. Pilgrims and peddlers often choose this port entering Tibet.
Two routes to Burang County:
1. southward from Urumqi along the Xinjiang-Tibet Road, passing Yecheng and Shiquanhe and finally arriving in Burang, whole course of 3,044 kilometers (1,891 miles)
2. westward from Lhasa passing Shigatse and Saga to Burang, whole course of 1,433 kilometers (890 miles)

Ruins of Guge Kingdom
Ruins of Guge Kingdom
Mt. Kailash
Mt. Kailash

How to Get to Ngari

 Ngari Gunsa Airport
It is the fourth airport constructed in Tibet, located in the southwest of Shiquanhe Town, Ngari Region. With an altitude of 4,274 meters, this airport mainly operates an airway from Chengdu to Ngari via Lhasa at present. The 1,098-kilometers' journey from Lhasa could be finished in 1.5 hours, which takes at least two days by road.

At 05:50 of every Tuesday and Friday, there is a plane of Air China taking off from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport to this airport via Lhasa Gonggar Airport. It will take 4.5 hours for the flight to finish the 2,300-kilometers' journey. Limited by the high altitude of Tibet, every flight could only take 60 passengers at most but 30 people during hot summer. The flight ticket of the day should be purchased at the local designated ticket office. No online ticket-booking service is opened at present.

Air Routes Chengdu Lhasa Ngari
Arr. Dep. Arr. Dep. Arr. Dep.
Chengdu→Ngari --- 05:50 07:50 08:40 10:20 ---
Ngari→Chendu 15:40 --- 12:50 13:40 --- 11:10

 There are also two ways from Lhasa to Ngari:
1. North Route: 1,760 kilometers (1,094 miles)
Lhasa - Shigatse - Lhaz (Lazi) County - Kaga Town - Sangsang Town - 22 Daoban (Road Gang) - northward to Coqen County - Dongcuo (salt lake) - Gerze - Songba (Xiongba) Town - Ge'gyai County - Shiquanhe Town
2. South Route: 1,190 kilometers (739 miles)
Lhasa - Shigatse - Lhaz (Lazi) County - Kaga Town - Sangsang Town - 22 Daoban (Road Gang) - southward to Saga County - Zhongba County - Paryang Town - Dagon Monastery (Dajin Si)
Notable is that the south route is better if going to Kangrinboqe Peak and Lake Manasarovar, and the best time is from May to July for the consideration of road and weather condition. Regular bus can hardly be found from Lhasa to 22 Daoban. The north route is much busier than the south. The latter one is usually chosen by the group tour. Visitors had better rent vehicles in Lhasa and Shigatse. As to those who want to hitch a ride, they should go to Shigatse or Lhaz.
Ge'gyai County-Shiquanhe Town
Lhasa-22 Daoban (Road Gang)
Lhasa-22 Daoban (Road Gang)



Basically, the area enjoys a plateau monsoon climate. In summer, the monsoon from the Indian Ocean may bring precipitation to this area. During winter and spring, gales and strong temperature drop may frequently occur. Its annual average temperature remains around 19C (66.2F). During daytime in August, the temperature is above 10C (50F), but it may drop to the subzero. May to July and September to October are suitable for a visit. Due to the great temperature difference in a day, warm clothes should be the prime priority. The annual rainfall here is extremely slim and mainly happens during July to early September. Road conditions are really awful at that time.

Ngari Travel Tips

 History: Before 1949, Ngari was ruled under the feudal serf system, practicing the combination institution of politic and religion and dictatorship of feudal seignior. Chinese People's Liberation Army marched into the region in 1950 and set it free one year later. By 1959, the feudal serf system had been abolished.

 Physical Features: Himalayas, Gangdise Mountains, Kunlun Mountains, Karakoram Mountains and several other arch-shaped mountains lay in order from southern to northern Ngari. They extend northwestward and converge at the Pamirs. Among theses mountain ranges and their branches, strips of mountain valleys and basins are distributed. Therefore, the general terrain of the region declines from north to south.

 Special Local Products: highland barley wine

 Local Highlights: Where there are religious, there are pilgrimages. Kangrinboqe is considered as a sacred mountain in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon religious. Every year, devotees from Tibetan, India, Nepal and Bhutan will make pilgrimages to the sacred places for blessing following the old traditional way: saluting full body kowtow all the way from afar and moving around and around the sacred mountain.

Mountain Valleys
Mountain Valleys
Ngari Climate
Ngari in Summer
- Last updated on Aug. 18, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Ngari Travel
Asked by fm Chin from MALAYSIA | Aug. 11, 2013 08:21Reply
Aiport in Ali, Tibet?
Is there an airport in Ali that we can fly out direct to Lhasa or Kathmandu?
Or where is the nearest airport in Ali where we can fly out to Lhasa or Kathamandu?
Thank u
Answers (3)
Answered by Gorden from USA | Aug. 11, 2013 22:54

Yes, there is airport in that place and you can fly out direct to Lhasa from that airport. It is at Shiquanhe Town in Ngari.
Answered by fm Chin from MALAYSIA | Aug. 12, 2013 10:37

Hi Gordon, thnks your reply. What is the costs, where and how do we buy the flight
tickets. Are these flights seasonal. We paln to leave Ali in mid May 2014.
Any flights going out to Kathamandu from Tibet or Ngari. Cheers... fm
Answered by Gorden from MALAYSIA | Aug. 13, 2013 03:27

It is hard to tell you the costs, because the flights are few.
I think you can find the detail information on the Tibet Airline's website.
From Ali airport, there is flight to Kathamandu.
Asked by Arun Bulchandani from USA | Jun. 18, 2013 18:06Reply
Lhasa to Kailash
Hello, I am planning a trip to Kailash from the US. Our desire is to get from Lhasa to Kailash as fast as possible. Would our best option be to fly from Lhasa to Ngari and then rent a car for the rest of the distance? Is this a reliable travel option?
Answers (4)
Answered by Dasiy from USA | Jun. 18, 2013 20:31

It can be a reliable option.
But I think I still need to remind you that if you want to travel to Tibet, you need to get a travel permit and join a group to visit that place.
If you are qualified for that, please enjoy your trip.
Answered by Arun from USA | Jun. 19, 2013 10:10

Thank you for your response. I am aware we will need a travel permit alongside a Chinese Visa to enter Tibet. I hear that it is very easy to get this now so I will proceed with that. How far of a drive is it from Ngari to Kailash? Also, are rentals easy to obtain or will we need to hire a driver?

Thank you,
Answered by Daisy | Jun. 19, 2013 22:34

Actually, Kailash is in Ali area. It might not be too time-consuming, but I am not clear about the exact driving duration.

You'd better travel by renting a car with a driver.

One more thing, you may be not able to easily get the Entry Permit unless turning to a travel agency.
Answered by Livleen Kahlon from INDIA | Jul. 16, 2013 23:03

Mr. Arun, the plan is right,to fly to Ngari from Lhasa and then drive to Kailash Mansarovar area and the Guge areas from there. Two difficulties: flight to Ngari from Lhasa is unsure. Second, renting of car in Ngari itself is not easy. You will also need to rent with a driver.
I would like to join your group if you are able to arrange this.
One option will be to get in touch with an agent in Lhasa to buy air tickets. Camp in Lhasa till you get the air tickets. It will help you acclimatize. You can also camp in Kathmandu, then take a flight to Lhasa to fly to Ngari. But Kathmandu Lhasa flights are also not always confirmed, they can change dates! You are welcome to contact me at|livleenk
Asked by Tony from USA | Apr. 05, 2013 02:23Reply
Can I rent 4wd from ngari to lake manasarovar. If so, how much? How long is the trip?
Answers (2)
Answered by Blair from KENYA | Apr. 09, 2013 02:42

Ngari covers a large area, so what exact place do you start your trip?
Generally speaking, it is hard to hire a car when you reach there and for us alone, it is not allowed to travel. If we want to travel, we should join a tour.
Answered by Livleen Kahlon from INDIA | Jul. 16, 2013 23:14

Hi Tony,
If you are able to rent a vehical at Ngari, do let me know. I am interested in traveling from Ngari to Guge and / or Kailash Mansarovar areas. For this you will need to fly into Ngari from Lhasa, a challenge, as Lhasa to Ngari flights are not certain.
Infact you can travel all the way to Yarkand (in Sinkiang) from Ngari: the ultimate road travel on this planet.
Do let me know how your plans pan out at|livleenk
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