Mant travellers planning for Mustang trek has a frequent question in their mind,
“How to Get to Mustang Nepal?”
You can get to Mustang in lots of different ways. All the transportation modes have it’s own perks and draws.
Each of them offer magnificent views of the surrounding landscapes, villages and farms.
The region of Mustang is geographically divided into two parts- Upper and Lower Mustang.
Regardless of which part you choose, Mustang is an accessible destination for tours or treks or a short visit.
Lower Mustang has been accessible to the world for centuries. Lower Mustang attracts locals and foreign tourists alike.
Most locals and Hindus travel to Lower Mustang for pilgrimage. Lower Mustang is home to Muktinath, one of the most sacred temples for Hindus and Buddhists.
Yet, this is not the case for Upper Mustang trek. It became accessible to foreign visitors only in the year 1992.
Mustang was once an isolated and independent Tibetan kingdom. Due to its lack of accessibility, Upper Mustang enjoys one of the most well-preserved cultures of Nepal. You can witness the traditional and ancient lifestyle of the locals of the Himalayas to this day.
Hence, it has garnered a rugged and mystical reputation. Now with the increase in popularity and the building of roads, Upper Mustang has become more accessible.
Your journey to Nepal usually begins in Kathmandu if you come by flight. This city has the only international airport of Nepal.
For Lower Mustang, you need to first travel to Pokhara and then onwards to Jomsom. Jomsom is also known as Dzongsar or New Fort. It is a small town and the administrative headquarter of Mustang District.
From here onwards, you can take other modes of transportation to Muktinath. Muktinath is the endpoint and one of the main highlights of visits to Lower Mustang.
There are no flights to Muktinath.
On clear days you get beautiful views of some of the highest mountain peaks in the world.
The standard cost for a one-way ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara is as follows:
- Nepali or Indian Citizen- USD 45 (NRS 4500) per person
- Rest of the world- USD 125 (NRS 12,500) per person.
Pokhara to Jomsom
This is another short 20-25 minutes flight. The cost of this flight is as follows:
- Tourists other than locals: USD 100-125 (NRS 10,000-12500) per person.
- Locals: NPR 7000-8000 per person
Helicopter Flight to Lower Mustang
Helicopter is definitely the easiest and the most convenient way to get to Lower Mustang.
It takes around 6 hours to do the whole trip to Lower Mustang.
This includes 1-1.5 hr stopover at Ranipauwa. Ranipauwa is the place where the helipad for Muktinath or Lower Mustang lies.
Muktinath Temple is in one and half hour flying distance from Kathmandu and forty-five minutes from Pokhara. The Helicopter trip costs around US$ 4250 (NPR 425000).
The helicopter seats between 1-6 persons. If you have a group, you can share the total cost.
Perks of Lower Mustang tour via helicopter
- Shortest of all the other tours. You will complete the entire trip in less than 6 hours.
- Easiest and the most convenient
- Amazing view of the world’s eight highest peak – Mount Manaslu (8,163m).
- Bird’s eye view of magnificent lakes like Begnas Tal, Rupa Tal, Fewa Tal.
- Bird’s eye view of Pokhara Valley.
- Panoramic views of some of the tallest mountain peaks. This includes peaks like Annapurna, Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Tukuche Peak, Nilgiri.
- Views of Gandaki River, Jomsom and Muktinath Village.
- Visit the temple of Muktinath
- One of the most expensive ways to visit
In terms of flights, Upper Mustang is not as accessible as Lower Mustang. The nearest airport to Upper Mustang is Jomsom. Hereon, you will have to find other modes of transportation to Upper Mustang.
Helicopter Flight for Upper Mustang
The quickest way to get to Upper Mustang is by helicopter. It usually takes 4.5 hours for the entire trip. This includes a 45 minutes stopover at Lo-Manthang.
The costs per person is less when you are in a group of four or more. The cost for the Upper Mustang Helicopter tour is as follows:
1 person: USD 11200 per person
2 individuals: USD 5600 per person
3 individuals: USD 3950 per person
4 individuals: USD 3100 per person
To tour to the Lower Mustang on public vehicles (buses), there are two different options.
This takes around 5 or more days. The itinerary for your public bus Lower Mustang tour can look something like this:
Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara
You can get local buses to Pokhara from Kathmandu almost any hour of the day till 5:00 PM. It departs from New Bus park or Kalanki Bus Stop in Kathmandu.
The cost of the local bus to Pokhara is between US$ 5-6 (NPR 500-600) per person for one way. It is cheaper than the tourist bus.
Yet, the seats are not as comfortable nor do you get any other service. But, the experience is quite different. You get to mingle with the locals and get a Nepali way of travelling experience.
Or you can travel by bus from Kathmandu to Beni. The bus from Kathmandu to Beni leaves twice a day. It is not as frequent as the buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
The cost of the local bus from Kathmandu to Beni can be between US$9-14 (NPR 900-1400) per person.
Day 2: Pokhara to Jomsom
You will have to change buses twice for Pokhara to Jomsom and once for Beni to Jomsom.
First, you take a bus from Pokhara to Beni. This bus journey lasts between 3-4 hours. It costs around US$ 3 (NPR 300).
From Beni, you can take a bus to Ghasa. This costs around US$ 4 (NPR 400). From Ghasa, take another one to Jomsom. This costs the same at US$ 4 (NPR 400).
Day 3: Jomsom to Muktinath and Back the Same Way
Muktinath is around 21 km from Jomsom. The cost for this part of the journey is US$ 3 (NPR 300) for one way.
Day 4 Jomsom to Pokhara
Day 5: Pokhara to Kathmandu
Note: You can modify the above itinerary in more than one way.
Tips for this Itinerary:
- When you start your journey, it is better to choose the Kathmandu-Beni route. Costs of accommodations, meals are cheaper in Beni. The bus ride the next day is also quick and early.
- You can take a different route while returning- Jomsom-Pokhara instead of Beni. Pokhara is a great place to relax and sightsee. You can spend extra days here in the city of seven lakes.
- You can also spend a day each in Jomsom and Muktinath. These unique, quaint little towns have ancient stupas, monasteries, caves and temples.
Day 1: Kathmandu to Jomsom- NPR 1900 (US$ 19) per person
Day 2: Jomsom to Muktinath and back
Day 3: Jomsom to Kathmandu- NPR 1900 (US$ 19) per person
- This direct jeep from Kathmandu to Jomsom is an exclusive service for devotees wishing to go to Muktinath.
- This is a daily night bus service. You leave from Kathmandu at 2:30 in the afternoon. This is a 17-20 hour direct bus journey.
- This bus journeys through Mungling-Pokhara-Beni-Tatopani-Ghasa-Kalopani-Marpha-Jomsom.
- You usually reach Jomsom at 7-9 in the morning.
- From Jomsom, it usually leaves at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. You reach Kathmandu in the morning around 7-9 am.
- The total distance from Kathmandu to Jomsom is around 375 kilometers. Once in Jomsom, you can take another local bus to Muktinath.
Kathmandu to Pokhara: Tourist Bus
Tourist buses are more comfortable and safer than the local buses. They drive at a more comfortable pace and avoid overspeeding and overcrowding.
There are various types of tourist buses available.
(Deluxe, Super Deluxe Tourist, VIP Super Deluxe Bus Ticket)
The fares for these are as follows:
- Deluxe Bus: US$ 7 (NPR 700)
- Super Deluxe Bus: US$ 8 (NPR 800)
- Greenline Tourist Bus: US$ 15 (NPR 1500)
- VIP Deluxe Bus: US$ 20 (NPR 2000)
- VIP Super Deluxe (Air suspension) Bus: US 22 (NPR 2200)
Kathmandu to Beni: Tourist Bus
The choices for tourist buses for this route is less. The only choices available are:
Regular Tourist Bus: US$ 13 (NPR 1300)
Deluxe Bus with Ac: US$ 9 (NPR Rs. 900)
The difference in the costs is due to the availability of different facilities.
- Regular Tourist Bus: Air condition
- Deluxe Tourist Bus: Air-condition, WIFI & a bottle of mineral water
- Super Deluxe Tourist Bus: Air-condition, WIFI & a bottle of mineral water.
- VIP Deluxe & VIP Super Tourist Bus: Air-condition, WIFI, a bottle of mineral water & Lunch.
- Greenline Tourist Bus: Air-condition, WIFI, a bottle of mineral water & Lunch.
The Super Deluxe Tourist Bus is also newer, more comfortable and spacious than Deluxe Tourist Bus.
All of these tourist buses leave at 7:00 AM. You need to report here at 6:30 AM. The buses usually stop for lunch for 30 minutes.
You can catch these buses at different spots near you like Sorakhutte, Balaju, Banasthali. There are also spots at Swayambhu, Kalanki and Durbar Marg. The nearest one to the tourist hub of Thamel is Sorakhutte.
This journey takes around 7 hours and covers a total of 200 km.
Note: There are no tourist buses available from hereon. If you do want to take one, you need to hire the entire bus from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Due to the conditions of the road, buses are also discouraged.
Local and Tourist buses do not go all the way to Lo-Manthang. The nearest local and tourist bus stop is Muktinath and Jomsom. The way you do this is the same as for Lower Mustang.
Hereon, you have the option of hiring private jeeps, vans.
Hiring Private Jeeps, Vans
You also have the option of hiring a private jeep or van for your Lower Mustang Trip.
For this, you can hire your vehicle in Kathmandu or Pokhara. From here, you usually have a stopover at Jomsom.
The next day you drive to and from Muktinath. From there, you can drive back directly to Kathmandu or Pokhara.
The cost of hiring a private jeep or van for Lower Mustang tour is US$1000-1600 (NPR 100000- 160000). It will increase with the increase in the number of days and distance travelled.
Hiring of Private vehicles like jeeps and vans are now possible for Upper Mustang. Due to the completion of the road construction to Lo-Manthang, this car journey is possible.
For this, your itinerary can be something like the following:
Day 1: Kathmandu to Pokhara. Overnight at Pokhara.
Day 2: Pokhara to Tatopani (2600m) via Beni. Overnight at a local tea house at Tatopani.
Day 03: Tatopani to Kagbeni 2900m. Overnight at a local tea house
Day 04: Kagbeni to Ghami (3510m).
Day 05: Ghami to Lo Manthang (3840m). Overnight at a local tea house
Day 06: You can choose to spend a day exploring the beautiful region of Lo Manthang. Else continue on
Day 07: Lo Manthang to Chuksang (2980m).
Day 08: Chuksang to Kalopani (2530m).
Day 09: Kalopani to Pokhara
Day 10: Pokhara to Kathmandu
The cost of renting a Jeep can be around US$ 1000-2000 (NPR 100000-200000)
Note: There are other itineraries available for Upper Mustang tour by jeep. You can do tours to include Muktinath as well. You can choose to extend or decrease the number of days as well.
Perks of hiring a private jeep or van
- Comfortable seats
- Personalized itinerary
- Personalized rest stops.
- Air Conditioned
- More expensive than public vehicles. Yet if you have a group large enough to occupy all the seats in the jeep or van, you can split the cost.
Trekking to Mustang
Treks are the best ways to fully enjoy all the things that a place has to offer. You have the experience of travelling to different villages, landscapes. You can enjoy all that nature has to offer in the particular area and region.
You also get intimate encounters with the culture and lifestyle of the people of the region.
Both regions of Mustang- Lower and Upper are accessible through treks.
You also have more than one option on the route, distance and duration for treks to both these regions.
For Lower Mustang, there is a wide range of trekking options. The standard Lower Mustang trek lasts anywhere between 10-14 days.
One of the more popular itineraries for Lower Mustang trek is as follows:.
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu.
Day 02: Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu.
Day 03: Drive to Pokhara
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni
Day 05: Trek to Muktinath from Kagbeni.
Day 06: Trek to Marpha.
Day 07: Trek to Kalopani
Day 08: Trek to Tatopani( natural hot spring).
Day 09: Tatopani to Ghorepani.
Day 10: Trek to up to Ponhill for the sunrise view then trek down to Nayapul and drive to Pokhara.
Day 11: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 12: Final Departure
You can do Upper Mustang trek as a separate trek or as part of the Annapurna Circuit trek. Different tour/trek agencies and itineraries offer different ways to do this trek.
Regardless of what route you choose, you get a different experience of trekking in Nepal. The Upper Mustang trek is different from other trekking destinations of Nepal.
This part of Nepal is also known as the desert of Nepal. This is due to the presence of arid land, dry weather throughout the year.
Here is a glimpse of one of the standard, professionally designed Upper Mustang trek itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,400m).
Day 02: Sightseeing tour in Kathmandu and trip meeting.
Day 03: Drive to Pokhara (900m).
Day 04: Fly to Jomsom and trek to Kagbeni (2,800m).
Day 05: Trek to Chele (3,050m).
Day 06: Trek to Syangboche (3,800m).
Day 07: Trek to Ghami (3,520m).
Day 08: Trek to Charang (3,560m).
Day 09: Trek to Lo-Manthang (3,840m).
Day 10: Exploration of Lo-Manthang.
Day 11: Trek to Dhamkar (3,820m).
Day 12: Trek down to Syangboche.
Day 13: Trek to Chhusang (2,980m).
Day 14: Trek to Jomsom (2,720m).
Day 15: Fly to Pokhara and rest.
Day 16: Drive back to Kathmandu.
Day 17: Final departure.
If you do it as a part of Annapurna Circuit trek, make sure to let your agency know in advance. There are some conditions that you need to follow for entering Upper Mustang. This is usually not the case for the standard Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Seasons for Mustang Trek
- The local spring and winter are the best seasons for visits, tours and treks to Lower Mustang.
- Visits, tours and treks during the summer and winter are not impossible. Yet, these seasons are not for people who are short on time. It is also discouraged due to the conditions of the road, trails and unpredictable weather.
- May, June, August, and September are the best months to take a Helicopter tour.
- Upper Mustang treks are possible throughout the year. Yet, winter treks are for the professionals and physically fit adventure seekers.
- Upper Mustang doesn’t enjoy a wet summer, unlike Lower Mustang. Hence, it is safe to visit, tour or trek to Upper Mustang in summer.
- For visits, treks and tours during summer, have an extra day or two for flight delays, roadblocks while entering and exiting Upper Mustang.
Tips for Mustang Trek Nepal
- During the off seasons of summer and winter, always have an extra day or two. These come in handy to overcome situations of flight delays, roadblocks, bad weather.
- For road transportation to lower Mustang via local buses during winter, have an extra layer of clothing. This helps you keep warm and protects you from the cold wind outside. Most local transportation do not have air conditioners.
- For road transportation to Mustang via local buses during summer, make sure you carry your rain jacket near you. During the rain showers, the water does leak inside the bus at times.
- Local transportation via bus is high on risk during the summer (monsoon) season of Nepal.
- Book your flights ahead of your scheduled tour. You may get better prices and seats.
- Regular tourist buses are high on the list for most travelers visiting Mustang. The cost is not as different as the local buses yet are more comfortable and safer.
- Regardless of the way you reach Upper Mustang, you need special permits along with a local, trekking staff and a companion with you.
The entire region of Mustang is now easily accessible. You can choose from a wide range of options.
Depending on your preference, you can make your decision on how to get there.
If you have any further inquiries about tours or treks to Mustang or anywhere in Nepal, feel free to contact us.