Mustang region at an elevation of 3,840 m retains a rugged and mystical reputation. It lies in the North-West part of Nepal.
The whole Mustang region is divided into two parts- Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang. Though connected, the two parts are quite unique from each other.
Both parts of Mustang are popular and you will find a lot of things to do in Mustang, Nepal.
Mustang region of Nepal was once an isolated and independent Tibetan kingdom. It is also known as a ‘Mini Tibet of Nepal’. You can see the Annapurna and Nilgiri mountain range across the northern part of Mustang.
Upper Mustang is popular for adventurous trekking and sports. Whereas Lower Mustang is famous for natural scenery. This part of Mustang is rich in vegetation. You can find local apple fields and rhododendron forests in this part of Mustang.
In the past, Mustang used to be popular only for treks on foot or as a route to Tibet. Now, with the construction of roads, you can find other popular adventure as well as a lot of other interesting things to do in Mustang.
Some of the most popular things to do in Mustang besides treks are tours, biking, and horse riding.
While indulging in these activities, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and scenery. They can also enjoy stays at local villages and visits historical Buddhist shrines.
- Things to Do in Mustang, Nepal
- Tours to Do in Mustang
- Adventure Sports to Do Mustang
- Participate in Festivals in Mustang
- Other Things to Do in Mustang, Nepal
- Popular Places to Visit in Mustang
- Final Say,
Things to Do in Mustang, Nepal
Trekking in the region of Mustang takes you through a different landscape of Nepal. It shows you a different culture, landscape as well as the scenery of Nepal. There are different treks and day hikes you can do in the region of Mustang, Nepal. Some of the most popular ones are:
Upper Mustang Trek
This trek provides you with an extraordinary opportunity. You will experience the authentic presence of the “highlanders” or the mountain people.
Treks here gives you a great example of how treks in Tibet can feel.
This region of Mustang has similar topography and culture to that of Tibet. Hence, it is also known as ‘Mini Tibet of Nepal’.
Upper Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Himalaya. Hence, you can enjoy clear, bright and dry trek even during the wet summer of Nepal. Yet, this trek is not comfortable during Winter.
Most of the locals migrate to Lower Mustang or further down to avoid the cold and harsh winter.
The highest elevation you reach on this trek is 3840m. You can do this trek as a tea house trek as well. The region has tea houses run by the locals of the region.
Hence, it is not a difficult trek and anyone with reasonable fitness can do this trek.
As the name suggests, this trek takes you to Muktinath of lower Mustang. It takes you through amazingly serene villages. You will also see exciting waterfalls, jungles, and stark, barren landscapes.
On the way, you can explore the deepest gorge of the world- Kali Gandaki gorge as well as the lovely landscapes and mesmerizing views of the Himalayas.
Lower Mustang Trek
This trek is accessible and doable throughout the year. It experiences a dry summer and not so cold winter. Hence, it is the perfect trekking destination at any time of the year.
You can do the trek while enjoying your nights at the beautiful and comfortable tea houses along the trails. You also go through beautiful forests of Rhododendrons, Magnolia on the way.
You can also explore the traditional, old villages.
Day Hike to the Nepali Grand Canyon
Visitors can do a day hike from Chele to visit this marvelous place. It is only 45 minutes uphill from Chele to reach the place.
After crossing a small metal bridge over Kali Gandaki River, you can see the magnificent canyon.
Kaligandaki River originates in Mustang district. This river makes the second deepest gorge of the country.
You can do a day hike to witness these natural attractions of Mustang, Nepal.
Tours to Do in Mustang
Bike Tour to the Himalayas
This tour takes you on a Royal Enfield tour to both Lower and Upper Mustang. It takes you on the wild track to observe the high Himalayan desert.
4WD Upper Mustang Jeep Safari Tour
You can do an adventurous overland journey to both regions of Mustang. You can do this from Kathmandu or Pokhara.
This journey gives you the chance to explore the amazing region of Mustang in comfort and ease. This is the ideal way to visit the area for individuals who don’t enjoy multi-day treks or hikes.
Travel by Bus Along Kaligandaki River
The local transportation of Nepal is a unique way to mingle with the locals. It is also the cheapest way to get to Mustang. You can enjoy the amazing landscape to and from Mustang while indulging in the local life of the people of Nepal.
You can also see the different types of wall carving by the river as well as the sky caves on the cliff on a budget.
Adventure Sports to Do Mustang
Mustang is well known for its adventurous sports. Some worth trying are cycling, horse riding, rock climbing.
The land structure of Mustang is ideal for mountain biking. This mountainous region of Nepal offers diverse landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty.
You will ride on the wild and challenging trails to and from Mustang. Yet, you will enjoy some of the most stunning scenery and culture along the way.
Participate in Festivals in Mustang
Festivals are a great way to get an in-depth look into the culture of a place. Mustang of Nepal celebrates two grand festivals.
Celebrated during early spring, Tiji Festival takes place on the courtyards of the palace in Lo Manthang (Upper Mustang).
Hosted by the Crown Prince of Mustang, this is a colorful Buddhist festival.
This festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. According to the legends, Mustang was being destroyed by a demon who spread disease and took away water. Dorje Jono then fought and defeated this demon.
Dorje Jono is the name of a deity in Vajrayana Buddhism. This festival celebrates his victory with prayer chants and dances. The dancers wear colorful traditional costumes. The whole of Mustang gathers for this festival.
The locals enjoy the festivals with family and community members. They dance, sing and make merry until late at night while enjoying local cuisine and drinks.
Yarlung Horse Festival
The festivities of Yartung Mela takes place in Lower Mustang.
People from near and far come to enjoy the scenic beauty and to take part in an age-old ritual.
Celebrated by the Thakali people of the Mustang region, this festival marks the end of the harvest season.
It is a 3-day festival. During this festival, visitors can witness the locals enthusiasm to take part in various activities. These can be horse racing, dancing, and singing.
All these activities take place alongside sumptuous food and drinks. Besides these activities, locals also partake in making offerings Lord Buddha.
Both these festivals are so popular that there are tours and treks centered around these.
Other Things to Do in Mustang, Nepal
Go Fossil Hunting for Sea Creatures above 3000 m
The Annapurna region is home to an amazing geological feature- plenty of Jurassic-era fossils. This is especially true in the Kali Gandaki river that flows through Mustang.
You can find these curly, ridged ammonite fossils lying around the banks of this river. These fossils are a multi-million-year-old reminder of what the earth was once like.
While traveling through Lower Mustang, keep your eyes to the ground on any walk. If lucky, you’re sure to find whole pieces of fossils.
During winter, Mustang enjoys snowfall on a regular basis. Visitors can enjoy snowfalls and snow games during winter in Mustang.
Try the Local Cuisine
Mustang is the origin place of the famous Thakali food of Nepal. You can also enjoy different local products made from apples such as wine, beer, pie. You can also try local dishes like dried fruit and meat items, Tibetan bread, thukpa, and butter tea.
Capture the Exotic Beauty of Mustang
Mustang offers stunning views of the mountain ranges like Annapurna and Nilgiri. You also get views of beautiful landscapes of hills and villages.
In Lower Mustang, you can see colorful rhododendron forest and apple fields. You also pass through beautiful, quaint villages of Jomsom, Kagbeni, and Lo-Manthang. Along with this, you pass the beautiful locals of Mustang.
You can also explore the ancient sky tombs, monasteries of the area. Hence, you are bound to across something that you find yourself in awe.
Capture these moments in your camera lens. These can end up being great souvenirs, postcards or memorabilia to take back home.
Popular Places to Visit in Mustang
At 2800m, Jomsom is also known as Dzongsar or New Fort. It spreads over both the banks of the Kali Gandaki.
From here, you get to see the towering peaks of Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri. It is the district headquarters, an administrative and commercial center of Mustang. You get to meet the local inhabitants of the region- the Thakalis.
It has a wireless station, a police station, a bank, a hospital and a veterinary hospital. Yet, you get to experience raw and pristine nature.
Jomsom can also be the start and end point of your journey in Mustang. Jomsom is home to the domestic airfield where flights operate on a daily basis. The flight to Jomsom provides views of some high Himalayan peaks of Nepal.
Marpha – The Town of Apple Orchard
Marpha lies in the Trans-Himalayan region. It still maintains the authentic nature of a traditional town. The main inhabitants are Mawatan Thakalies. They rely on farming, animal husbandry. They also rely on tourism and work in other nations.
You can see the traditional level of mud roofed, many-storied houses. These houses have heaps of kindling stacked upon it. These houses have wooden cut windows, spotless flagstones, and cleared back roads.
Surrounded by green, irrigated orchards, Marpha is a clean and pretty town watered by paved canals. It is also famous for the delicious apples grown in the lush valley.
Be sure to try them along with a slice of the locally made apple pie.
Muktinath temple lies close to the town of Ranipauwa. This unique temple is a holy place for both Hindus and Buddhists. At an altitude of 3710m, it lies at the foot of the Thorong La Pass.
Once here, be sure to check out the 108 stone water spouts. Hindus believe taking a dip under all the 108 water spouts cleanses one’s soul. Water from the super frosty Kali Gandaki River flows through the mouths of these spouts.
Also check out the relentless, shining natural flame in the temple sanctuary.
From here, you also get views of the surrounding landscapes.
Located around 30 minutes from Marpha, this strange and small gompa lies near the Tibetan Evacuee Camp.
This gompa (monastery) is home to a bamboo idol of Guru Rinpoche. It also homes the most amazing Thangkas (frescoes), idols of Gods and Goddesses. The locals believe that Chhiwang Thinley, a Tibetan Lama built the monastery in around the mid 19th century.
It is home to a small number of young monks. You can roam around the monastery and witness the daily lives of the monks here.
Lo Manthang, the walled city of Mustang is one of the major attractions of the Mustang region. It was once an independent kingdom. There are many ancient places to visit within the town. Some of the most popular ones are:
Royal Palace of Mustang: Home of the King of Mustang, it housed the heirs of previous Kings of Mustang until 2015.
The place is a nine-cornered, five-story structure, built around 1400. During the earthquake of April 2015, the palace suffered many cracks.
Four Major temples: 4 major temples of Mustang lie in Lo Manthang. These are Jampa Lhakhang, Thubchen Gompa, Chodey Gompa, and Chopramg Gompa.
- Jampa Lhakhang or Jampa Gompa is also known as “God House”. Built in the early 15th century, it is the oldest among the four.
- Thubchen Gompa: Built in the late 15th century, it has a huge red assembly hall. This clean and serene Gompa is also home to beautiful ancient artwork, carvings, and You can also see several terracotta figures of various holy gods and goddesses. The Gompas cleanliness and serenity will make your trip remarkable. So, visiting Thubchen Gompa is among the top things to do in Mustang, Nepal.
- Ngonga Chodey Gompa is the current main gompa (monastery) of the town.
- Choprang Gompa is the New Gompa.
If you are lucky, you can witness the Bon Buddhist practices and their cultural activities that take place in these monasteries.
Kagbeni is the gateway to Upper Mustang. On your visit here, explore the junction of Muktinath and the Kali Gandaki river that lies here. The village of Kagbeni is also home to small, narrow alleyways.
The historic Tibet-influenced village is home to chortens, an ancient Buddhist monastery, and a fortress.
Kag Khar Ruined Palace
Built before the establishment of the village in the late 16th century, you can visit the ruins of the ancient palace.
The locals believe that the king of Muktinath valley built this fortress for his son. It used to have 108 rooms.
The fortress lies at the convergence point of four ancient trade routes. It also lies at the intersection of 2 major valleys- Upper and Lower Mustang.
This strategic location allowed the prince to levy taxes on the goods and animals that passed through the valley. There are holes in the fortress walls, which are unique. The use of the holes can be only guessed.
Also known as Kag Chode Thubten Samphel Ling Monastery, this monastery lies at the confluence of two rivers. Founded by a famous Buddhist scholar from Tibet in 1429, the monastery plays a great role in preserving the culture of Kagbeni.
Buddhism is the main part of the culture, although there is a general decline of the monastery.
Tharwa Choling Nunnery
Run by Red House Lodge, this nunnery is a little private cloister. The nunnery is home to a colossal earth symbol of Maitreya, the second biggest in Mustang. The Tibetan name for Maitreya is Jhampa or the Future Buddha. There is also a major Mandala in here.
A visit to this village is a must on your visit to the region of Mustang. This village is home to the 2500 years old Jhong Cave. There are more than 10,000 human-made caves here which hold great historical importance.
These caves have gone through many research and exploration by many groups of archaeologist and researcher.
These groups discovered partial and fully mummified bodies and skeletons. Most of them dating back 2000-3000 years.
Along with these, the groups have also found valuable Buddhist paintings, sculptures, manuscripts. They have also found several artifacts from the 12-14th century.
Some of the caves have five stories with more than 40 separate rooms.
The village has a colorful surrounding of gigantic red, orange and silver grey cliffs.
The town is around 2 hours walk from Jomsom along Panda Khola. Set up around 1200 A.D, this is the primary town in Mustang that practices the Bon (pre-Buddhist) religion. There is a Bonpo order named Lubra Gompa at the point of convergence of the town.
It was established by Lubragpa whom the locals believe a great analyst of Bon religion. Built in the eleventh century, it depicts an image of Walesa as well as other Bon divine beings. This Gompa also depicts Buddha on wall paintings and woodwork.
This is a site of the fascinating archaeological uncovering. Here, some of the most critical discoveries for Mustang’s paleontology was also made.
You can see a part of the discoveries in Mustang Eco Museum in Puthang, Jomsom airplane terminal.
Here, you can see the demolished settlements and remains of ancient development of Muktinath Valley.
It lies around an hour’s walk along Jhong River, situated inverse to Khinga.
Lurpa is a traditional Bon village of Mustang. Far from the trekking trails of Mustang, this isolated village still has its charm intact. Here, you will find the core culture of pre-Buddhist shamanistic belief, Bon religion.
This village is very attractive with traditional houses made using traditional methods.
Walls are finely made of adobe and cobble extracted from rivers around. The coating is then done using pigmented soil from a cliff nearby.
Lurpa village maintains a perfect balance between the habitat and natural environment.
Mustang offers something for everyone. There is a lot of things to do in Mustang, Nepal. It is one of the best places to enjoy treks, scenery, and culture of Nepal.
With easy and all year access, it is an amazing destination regardless of when you visit Nepal.
For any further queries or questions for your visit to Mustang, feel free to contact us. We can also arrange a custom itinerary for your visit to Mustang.