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Ngari (prefecture)

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Ngari (prefecture)


Ngari prefecture (also known as Ali prefecture 阿里地区 Ālǐ Dìqū) is in the far west of Tibet, it's an extremely remote area with nearly no infrastructure of any type. Nicknamed the "Top of the Roof of the World".


  • Ali - AKA Sengge Khambab, The prefecture capital, a small town of no interest for the tourist, other than to stock up on supplies and have a hot shower.
  • Rutog - located some 1,140km northwest of Lhasa, Tibet and on the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. It is famous for a rich history of folk tales, myths, legends, proverbs, folk songs and more.
  • Zanda - means a downstream place of grassland. There are two popular tourist spots: Clay Forest and Guge Kingdom[1].

Other destinations[edit]

  • Mount Kailash - The reason most people make the long journey out to this part of Tibet, the most holy mountain for the Tibetans. Each year, there are many Tibetan Buddhist coming to kora around Mount Kailash[2].
  • Lake Manasarovar - is famous as one of the three most sacred lakes in Tibet (the other two are Namtso and Yamdrok lakes).


Get in[edit]

Ngari Gunsa Airport is 40 km away from the town of Ali. Destinations include Lhasa and Kashgar.

Ngari's capital Ali is on G219 Xinjiang–Tibet Highway. Road condition is good from Lhasa to Ali. As of 2012, road beyond Rutog is still under construction, with unpaved sections here and there. The road will be completely paved in 2013.

Domestic travelers: Ngari is restricted area. A Border Permit (边境通行证) is required. The permit can be arranged in your home city, or you can also get the permit in Lhasa or Kashgar.

Foreign travelers: As of 2012, foreign tourists must travel to Tibet in a group of 3+ with the same nationality.

Get around[edit]

  • There is a National road named G219, which runs through Ngari regions and stretches to Kashgar, Xijiang. Its location is far away from the center of Tibet - Lhasa, and the average altitude is more than 4,500m. Therefore, the transport is not very convenient, and self-driving is impossible. Usually, visitors travel there by renting a car in Lhasa and follow the pre-arranged itinerary.


  • Mount Kailash
  • Lake Manasarovar
  • Guge Kingdom
  • Clay Forest
  • Pangong Lake: Pangong Lake is a famous border lake. It is called “Cuomu Angla Renbo Tso”, which means “Long-Necked Crane Lake”.
  • Zhari Namco: the largest salt water lake in Ngari and the third largest lake in Tibet.
  • Rutog Rock Paintings: a wide range of contents, including hunting, domestic animal herding, and farming, as well as the sun and moon, and people.
  • The Ruins of Guge Kingdom, 20 km west to the town of Zanda. CN¥200.  edit


There is a must-do thing when travel to Ngari region: 3 days kora around Mount Kailash. Kailash Kora is very attractive to pilgrims, for pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. Every year, thousands of pilgrims throng to the mountain: not just Tibetans, but Hindus and Buddhists from India to Japan, joined by Western and Chinese travellers.


Due to the influence of a harsh climate, there is quite limited varieties for eating in Ngari, for example, there vegetables and fruits are mostly imported from other places. Fortunately, the restaurants can be found in most towns. The cuisine is mainly Sichuan food, Tibetan cuisine and Xinijiang dishes.


Due to the poor condition, when travel to Ngari region, it is necessary to purchase enough drinking water in Shiquanhe county or Purang County beforehand. In addition, the over 4,500 meter highland make the boiling water not up to 100℃, which is not healthful to your body and sometime might let you have loose bowels.

Stay safe[edit]

The main safety concerns relate to the extreme remoteness of the area. Always bring a couple days of food with you when traveling outside of a village, and carry a few liters of water when traveling by truck, (The driver will probably have a big jerry can, but don't be dependent on it). In summer it can be warm when the sun is out, but change as soon as it's overcast to wintery conditions. Hail is common, and snow not unknown in the middle of summer. Bring a good sleeping bag, and warm cloths.

Get out[edit]

There is a free bus from the airport to the Shiquanhe Town, taking about one hour's driving.

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