The hidden world of the ancient Buddhist kingdom, Upper Mustang is a remote area in Nepal with highly preserved Tibetan culture. Due to military unrest in the late 80s, it was not until 1992 that this region was reopened to foreign trekkers. Tucked and hidden from the outside world, the culture, mostly of Tibetan origin, has been well preserved. The region boasts of unspoilt nature with landscape unlike any other places in Nepal. Although it lies in the Himalayas, the terrain is a mixture of snow-capped mountains and desert lands. The people of Mustang strives to preserve the beauty and culture of the place, and hence, trekking in this region is a privilege. The local government has imposed very strict policies, and expensive fees to limit the entry of the outside world to this secret kingdom in Nepal. And therefore, this place is not very known to many tourists and very much less travelled.
To those who love exploring the unknown, and not being trapped in touristic places in Nepal, this hidden kingdom is definitely a place you would like to get into and experience, not just the unique landscape of the region, but also the culture of its people. You don't want to miss this short video, this is much powerful to convince you how Upper Mustang would look like then in my word.
While it is restricted, it is not impossible to trek in the area. Upper Mustang trek requires at least 12-14 days of trekking days. As mentioned above, what makes this the most expensive trek in Nepal is the cost of the permit. Therefore, it is worth knowing more about the region first before embarking on a journey! While it is expensive, I can assure you that it is worth every penny! Hopefully, the short introduction above has enticed you to visit the area! I have been in the region a couple of times and in this article, I hope to share my experience about Upper Mustang to help you plan your trekking itinerary. I encourage you to read on until the end as there are quite a few relevant tips about Mustang including our suggested itinerary. If you have any questions about this article, please do not hesitate to post a comment at the bottom of this page. If you enjoy reading, we would also appreciate giving us a rating please on the right side popping box.
Let’s start off with where you should plan to arrive in Nepal. The only international airport in Nepal is in Kathmandu, therefore, you should plan to arrive here. You are then required to travel to Pokhara from Kathmandu. Pokhara, s the second largest city in Nepal and also a popular tourist destination in the country. Since you are required to be in Pokhara anyways, you may want to explore the city as well and do some tour in Pokhara. If you are after the acclimatisation and some practice day hikes, there are several short hikes available around the Pokhara valley, depending on how many spare days you may have.
From Pokhara, you should plan to either fly or drive to Jomsom. We would recommend traveling by plane, unless you have plenty of days to spare. Jomsom is where you would want to start the trek.
Day to Day Itinerary
Everyday trek hour
Travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara (Tourist Bus,flight,)
7 hr. Bus / 30 min Flight
Fly to Jomsom from Pokhara and trek to Kagbeni
4 - 5 hours
Kagbeni to Chele
Chele to Zhaite
Zhaite to Charang (via Dhakmnar and Lo Gekar)
Charang to Lo Manthang (explore the ancient city)
Lo Manthang (Namgyal Gompa and Thinggar Valley)
Lo Manthang rest day and Explore around
Dhakmar via Lo Gekar
Geker to Geling
Geling to Chuksang
Chuskang to Jomsom
Jomsom to Pokhara
Pokhara to Kathmandu
7 hr. Bus / 30 min Flight
Upper Mustang is most recommended to be visited between February and November. As it is located in the rain shadow part of the Himalaya, it is still the perfect destination during the monsoon season in Nepal of June – August.
You may want to avoid the cold season (end of December and January). Even the residents of Lo-Manthang leave the capital to avoid the freezing temperature and snow.
You may also want to time your visit during the most celebrated festival in the region, called "Tiji Festival" which literally means, ‘prayer for world peace’. This is a three-day event characterized by the dancing of monks to commemorate the incarnation of Buddha. This is normally held in the third week of May but exact dates vary and determined by the Buddhist calendar. If you are ever in the region around this time, it is highly recommended to include this in your itinerary. Watch this quick video if you are thinking what a Tiji Festival might be.
Permit and Regulation
Most important to know as well is the Upper Mustang trekking permit. As mentioned above, this is considered the most expensive permit you are required to get in Nepal. Just in the restricted area alone, you are required to pay USD 500 per person. On top of this, as you are also entering Annapurna restricted area, you are also required the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) for USD 20.
As with other restricted areas in Nepal, individual trekkers are not allowed in the region. This means you must find a reliable and experienced local trekking agency based in Nepal, in order to process the permit and necessary arrangements for you. By Nepali law, you are also required to be accompanied by a guide and/or porter. If you really want to make it as cheap as possible, I would recommend simply hiring a porter guide for Upper Mustang trek. There are several checkpoints in the region, so this is definitely a must!
Is it really expensive to go to Upper Mustang? This is often the question from several clients interested to visit the region. The legend around Upper Mustang trek cost is true! But this is mostly due to the restricted permit. However, all other costs, such as food, accommodation, and transportation are comparable with other treks including Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna trek.
Several internationally-based travel companies prices this trek at least 3 times higher than the actual cost of what local company offers. You may want to consider looking at local operations as you could get the prices slashed by at least 30-40%!
One way to also reduce the cost is to find trekking partners to at least share the cost of porter or guide! And it is always fun to travel with a group as well!
It is indeed an expensive trek compared to other base camps trek in Nepal, and largely due to the restricted permit (as mentioned, this alone is USD 520 including ACAP). As they always say, you always get your money's worth and there is a reason why this is the most expensive permit set by the government.
More and more trekkers are being drawn to the mystery that this region has to offer and we encourage you to find out for yourself. Please comment here if you would like us to organize or find a trekking partner / group for you. We are a local based company and you can read the reviews from other clients and fellow travellers here.
An upper Mustang Trek itinerary would require roughly 10 days in the restricted area. You will also need to allot around 4 days for travelling to/from Kathmandu. It is important to know how many days you will travel in the restricted area, as this would affect the cost of your permit.
Born and raised in Gorkha, Nepal, I am proud to call the Manaslu region my home! I have been in the travel business for over a decade from being a porter, to being a guide, to being a manager and finally a founder of NEST Adventure. So you could say, I know my way well enough in the Himalayas especially in some of the off-the-beaten trails in Nepal like Manaslu, Kanchenjunga or Mustang.
I am passionate about travelling and I strongly believe that seeing the world shouldn't break the bank (at least not too much!). I have been to over 15 countries in Asia, Americas and one-third of the Europe (.. Latin America, Australia, and Canada are on my bucket list..one day!) as a backpacker myself, I am happy to share the experience about Nepal Himalayas. If you think I can be helpful planning your trip to Nepal, then do not hesitate to contact me. at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also available on Whats app and Viber +977-9851052042 Or If you are interested to know more about me follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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