Mini Tibet in Nepal - Upper Mustang Trekking

  • Hemanta Budhathoki
  • Last Updated on Apr 13, 2024

Table of Contents

Often referred to as the ‘Mini Tibet of Nepal’ - Upper Mustang overlap in the Himalayas and extends north to the Tibetan plateau. Upper Mustang is culturally and geographically more similar to Tibet than Nepal, and this is the main reason Upper Mustang is also called mini Tibet in Nepal. This region is a land beyond the Himalayas, also known as ‘the last Forbidden Kingdom’, as Upper Mustang is untouched by present-day progress. Before 1991 this region was abundant to visit for remote explorers and trekking in Mustang was authoritatively opened in 1992.

Upper Mustang is an exemplary blend of beautiful nature, vast barren landscape, a rich and remote enclave of Tibetan cultural heritage, a great history, ancient Buddhist monastery and forts, walled medieval villages, and caves. Being a hub of Tibetan culture and way of life preserved safely for centuries—untainted and unblemished by any alien elements is one of the many reasons for Upper Mustang being rich in cultural heritage.

Trip to Upper Mustang - Mini Tibet of Nepal

A trip into the Upper Mustang is like exploring Tibet in many ways, as the topography of the Upper Mustang is similar to the Tibetan Plateau. The district of Mustang was a different kingdom within the boundaries of Nepal until 1950. The last monarch of Mustang still has his palace in the ancient capital known as Lo-Mangthang. Upper Mustang has opened to non-Nepali trekkers only some years ago, and even to this present day, it is highly restricted to enter Upper Mustang. Enthusiastic trekkers from outside the country require a special trekking permit and must be accompanied by a registered guide to go on Upper Mustang.

If trekkers (non-Nepalese) want to go Upper Mustang from Kagbeni, they require a restricted area permit which costs $ 500 per person for 10 days. If you want to make the trek longer then, an additional $50 per day is charged. Being in the Himalayan rain shadow is one of the reasons why the Upper Mustang is suitable for trekking even during the monsoon season.
view of Upper Mustang The view of Upper Mustang is Plateau like Tibet 

Highlights of Upper Mustang

Mini-Tibet in Nepal - Upper Mustang enables us to witness a forbidden kingdom with a monarch beyond the Himalayas. The accumulative expedition through Lo-Manthang has much awe-inspiring trekking and driving destination as the place grants the unique landscapes and the typical Himalayan lifestyles in their authentic state. Some of the highlights of Upper Mustang are:

  • Experience Mini Tibet, i.e. you can experience Tibetan people, culture, and lifestyles in their walled medieval villages.
  • Visit the picturesque and beautiful places including magnificent barren landscapes, ancient caves, century-old monasteries, and many other archeological sites.
  • Taste and enjoy delicious local cuisines and the famous local apples, apple pie, and apple brandy (Marpha) in Jomsom.
  • Experience the stunning Himalayan panoramas from its backyard and beautiful villages like Kagbeni, Marpha, etc. along the way.
  • Visit Muktinath, a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Fly over and witness the Kaligandaki George, the world's deepest George.
  • Take a sightseeing tour in the beautiful city of Pokhara on the way to mustang (visit Fewa lake, Bat cave, Davis fall, and many other places)

Best Time to visit Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, which makes it suitable to trek or tour even during monsoon and open year-round for trekking. The main concern is during the winter as most residents leave to avoid the cold and snow. March to early November can be marked as the best time to visit Upper Mustang. You can contact Nepal Highland Trek, to make your trip to Mini Tibet - Upper Mustang. Our expert team will assist you to get a lifetime memorial trip.

How long does it take to visit Mini Tibet in Nepal?

It depends on your program. If you are trekking to Upper Mustang it takes 5 days to reach the capital of Upper Mustang. With the road access, an upper mustang now is possible for driving. Upper Mustang driving tour reaches Lo-manthang within 3 days. First needs to reach Jomsom either by flight from Pokhara or by driving. The trekking plan of Upper Mustang is about 10 days, the driving program can be short and there is a famous trip Motorcycling Upper Mustang. This is becoming one of the highlight adventures riding tours in Nepal 

Permit cost of Mini Tibet – Upper Mustang

Foreigners other than Nepalese need to obtain an upper mustang restricted area permit and Annapurna conservation area permit. A restricted area permit is only possible to issue through the registered trekking company of Nepal. Upper Mustang restricted area permit costs USD 500 per person for 10 days minimum. Staying more than 10 days inside a restricted area costs USD 50 per person per day. The restricted area starts after crossing Kagbeni. Similarly, the Annapurna conservation permit costs NPR 3000 for foreigners and NPR 1000 SAARC countries. This permit is for an unlimited time until no check out from checking points. Once you get the checkout stamp on it, your ACAP permit validity finish.  

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki is team leader of Nepal Highland Trekking and travel company. 

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