The Most Complete Guide to Plan a Namtso Trekking

Namtso, with an area of 1,961 square kilometers, is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, together with Yamdrok Lake and Lake Manasarovar. With a length over 70km from east to west and width over 30km from north to south, it is considered the second largest saltwater lake in China after Qinghai Lake. “Namtso” in Tibetan language means “Heavenly Lake”. Known for its crystal-clear blue water and stunning scenery, Namtso is one of the most popular destinations among Buddhism followers and travelers. In every Tibetan Year of Sheep, the Trekking Namtso Lake Festival is held and countless pilgrims from every corner of Tibet come to worship.

Namtso Lake Trekking

However, the lake situates at the height of 4718m in Qinghai-Tibet plateau, around 250km away from Lhasa, and climate near the lake is always cold. In order to avoid the bad impact of extreme weather and high altitude on your body, you’d better get well prepared before starting your Namtso tour. That’s why we write this guide. In this guide, we will give you some practical advices on planning a Namtso trek.

Note : We have committed to Tibet tour for over 10 years and have rich experience in planning Tibet tour. If you have any questions, you can contact us  to help you out.

Part 1: Brief Introduction of Namtso Trekking 
Part 2: Highlights of Namtso Trek
Part 3: The Most Recommended Itinerary of Namtso Trek
Part 4: How to Prepare for Namtso Trek (Document, Physical Condition, Clothes, Gear)
Part 5: What to Eat and Where to Stay in Namtso
Part 6: Best Time for Namtso Trek
Part 7: Important Tips for Trekking around Namtso

Part 1: Brief Introduction of Namtso Trekking 

There are three different ways for Namtso trekking, including car-driving (about 2-3 days), trekking with pilgrims (17-30 days), trekking around Tashi peninsula (several hours). Generally, foreign travelers would like to take a bus to Namtso and have some leisure treks around the lake. And the locals prefer to choose to trek around the Tashi peninsula. Anyway, no matter which way you prefer to trek, you need to learn about Namtso first. Now, you can learn about the details of Namtso by reading the following text.

Note: The completion time is varied from person to person, which mostly depends on travelers’ physical conditions.

Namtso Lake

Altitude : 4718m
Opening Hours : 6:00am – 6:00pm
Entrance Fee : 120 RMB per person for peak season (May-October); 80 RMB per person for off season (November – April).
Duration : 2-3 Days
Start : Damxung
Finish : Tashi Dor
Highest Point : Kyang-la (5330m)
Distance Away from Lhasa : 250km
Road Conditions : It could be a bumpy journey due to bad road conditions. Sometimes, the road might be closed temporary due to heavy snow, depending on the weather.

Part 2: Highlights of Namtso Trek

Namtso is more than a beautiful lake or the highest saltwater lake of the world, Namtso is about a spirit of Tibetan typically. And we believe you won't be regret for a visit here.

Sunrise and Sunset of Namtso -  This is one of the prettiest lakes in Tibet. We would strongly recommend getting up early to watch the sunrise. If your time allows, don’t miss the sunset either. Both of sunrise and sunset are remarkable. Be aware that if you stay at the lake, the accommodation is very basic. There are several hotels but only two outside toilets to serve the whole resort.

Sunset of Namtso Lake

Stunning Scenery - The water in the lake is a stunning shade of turquoise and surrounded by magnificent views of the nearby mountains. The mountains, the light and the scenery around the lake are phenomenal and picturesque! It is all worthwhile to see the turquoise water framed by snowcapped peaks.

Namtso Lake Kora – Namtso is one of the most important sites of pilgrimage. Pilgrims from every corner of Tibet come to worship every year, particularly in the Sheep Year of Tibetan Calendar. You have the chance to join them to pray at some stupas, monasteries, and meditating caves.

Note : If you are a shutterbug, there are some good places for taking pictures: the Yingbin Stone, Gassho Stone, and Good and Evil Hole are excellent to shoot the lake scenery. And the Hilltop on Tashi Peninsula is good to shoot the stunning sunrise and sunset of Namtso.

Part 3: The Most Recommended Itinerary of Namtso Trek

Day 1: Arrival at Lhasa & Acclimatization
In the first day, you will arrive at Lhasa by train or air. We will pick you up and send you to your hotel for some rest. You can take walks around your hotel.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Lhasa
In the second day, you will have chances to visit the landmark of Tibet – the Potala Palace , which was the dwelling place of Dalai Lama. After Dalai Lama’s exile to India, this palace was converted to a museum. In the afternoon, we will drop a visit of the Jokhang Temple, the   spiritual center of Tibet. Every day, lots of pilgrims trek to this temple. 

Day 3: Sightseeing in Lhasa
In the third day, we will take you to Drepung Monastery , which is the largest monastery in the world. Besides, it is also one of the two greatest Gelugpa Monasteries, the other is Sera Monastery. And in the afternoon, we will visit another influential monastery – Sera Monastery , where you can see the largest scale of sutra debating in Tibet.

Day 4: Drive to Damxung

Day 5: Damxung to the Treeline

Day 6: Treeline to Kyang Do

Day 7: Kyang Do to Tashi Dor

Namtso Trekking Map

Part 4: How to Prepare for Namtso Trek (Document, Physical Condition, Clothes, Gear)

When you trek at some high-altitude areas like Namtso (above 4,000m), the air is thin and oxygen is less, which makes it difficult for you to breathe. In order to complete your trek in the best conditions, it is important for you to make full preparation for your Namtso trek. Besides, you are also required to provide some documents like TTP and needed clothes and gears. In the following text, we will tell you how to prepare for your Namtso trek.

The document is necessary for a Tibet tour. Every foreign tourist must apply for a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) , a document that is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Without this permit, you are not allowed to enter Tibet or even be permitted to board a flight or train to Lhasa. Notably, you must provide the original permit. You can contact a professional travel agency  to help you arrange it.

A Good Physical Condition is a basic requirement for Namtso trek. You need to build a strong foundation of fitness for your trek in advance so that you can deal with the low oxygen condition in Namtso. The best way to prepare your body for lower levels of oxygen is to improve your VO2 max - the top level of oxygen your body can consume, which allows you to absorb more oxygen, and in return, keep physical output high. To achieve this, you can focus on your aerobic fitness by running, cycling, jogging, and swimming.

Best Clothes and Gears  are must take items, they can keep you safe and comfortable on the trail. To choose available clothes and gears, you can navigate to this guide, which will help you select the right trekking clothes and gears.

Part 5: What to Eat and Where to Stay in Namtso

Food : You'd better pack some snacks like chocolate, energy bar, cookies and water since there are only two guesthouses in Namtso.

Accommodation : Due to the high altitude and harsh weather, there are a few guesthouses in Namtso. And these guesthouses wouldn’t offer any heater or electronic blanket. If you want to stay in Namtso, remember to bring a warm sleeping bag. There are no water or washing facilities. You can forget about bathing or brushing your teeth or even washing your hands. For that, you are suggested to bring hand sanitizer and toilet rolls.

Part 6: Best Time for Namtso Trek

The best time to trek to Namtso Lake is from May to October. Avoid trekking to this lake in monsoon and winter season if you want to capture the scenic beauty of the lake and mountain nearby. Clouds cover the snowcapped mountains in the rainy season, and the lake remains frozen in winter. So, the ideal season to visit the holy lake is in late Spring and Autumn.

Namtso Lake in Autumn

Note : Check the weather forecast before setting off. If it rains, the road will be closed, and you will be not allowed to go to the Lake. If the weather is not very good, the snowcapped mountains might be covered by cloudy weather.

Part 7: Important Tips for Trekking around Namtso

  1. Trek slowly as the air is thin. If you walk fast, you might suffer from high altitude sickness.
  2. Due to the intense sunshine and dry weather, you are suggested to bring moisture and sunscreen to keep you from the sustained UV radiation.
  3. Remember to trek around Namtso in a clockwise direction.
  4. Don’t throw rubbish!  
  5. There are only two toilets around the lake.
  6. It is quite cold and windy in Namtso lake, so remember to bring layers.
  7. Bring some snacks with as there are no places for you to buy food. You will get thirsty and hungry after trekking.
  8. The road is bumpy, so be prepared for a light backpack.
  9. Don’t take pictures of seagulls you might meet in the temple because you might be charged for that.

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 please contract us, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

Ms. Ho*** from: When to get my Tibet permit
January 15, 2020 05:11

Hello, we are considering to travel in Tibet in summer. We are a family of 5, two adults and three kids, age 13(then), 10, 8. We are interested in the 10 days Mt. EBC & Namtso Lake Group tour. We are US citizens with valid 10-year Chinese multiple entry visa, which we have applied when we went to Beijing in 2019. We are currently living in South Korea.  


1. Are kids suitable (or even allowed) for this tour?  

2. If kids can join, are there any discount deals for kids?

Answered by Helen
January 15, 2020 07:54

Dear Ms. Ho***,

    Greetings from Helen at Budget Tibet Tour and welcome you to join our 10 days Mt. Everest & Namtso Lake group tour. For your questions: 1. Your kids are suitable for this tour. Travelling in Tibet is as safe for kids as it is for their parents. While the high Tibetan plateau may be the highest place on the planet, very often, the kids that visit this region are more adaptable and have fewer problems than their parents. We also have arranged wonderful Tibet tours for many families with kids such as a tour to EBC for a family with a 3-year-old son, a 9-year-old girl and a 11-year-old boy, they did have fun in Tibet and there is no problem for them. Or you can take some medicine under the guidance of doctor to prevent high altitude before enter Tibet. 2. If kids travel with you, we'll offer some discount for them, please check your email and find more detailed information. Thanks & Regards

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

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