Upper Mustang is a continuation of Lower Mustang on the Annapurna Circuit yet its people and landscape are much different. Formally, and still locally, known as the Kingdom of Lo, Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992.
This was because of its close proximity to Tibet. Today the local population still speak Tibetan based languages, follow Tibetan culture and preserve Tibetan culture in their homes. In 2008 when Nepal became a republic, Lo lost its status as a kingdom also.
However, much respect was still awarded to Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, the King of Mustang, until his death on December 2016. So you can begin to see why Upper Mustang takes on the image of a lost kingdom, steeped in mythology and rich in culture.
Particularly so when it is an area which has fewer tourists due to its highly-priced entrance permit. Does Everyone Need a Permit? Yes, all non-Nepalis need permits to enter Upper Mustang.
What Kind of Permits do I Need? Everyone entering the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) area requires an entry permit which costs $20 per person for a single entry into the area but is valid for as long as the trek takes.
There is no restriction on the length of time a person can stay in the ACAP area. In addition, if someone is going into Upper Mustang (from Kagbeni onwards) they require a RAP (Restricted Area Permit).
This costs $500 per person for 10 days. If longer is required, an additional $50 per day is charged.No TIMS or Trekkers Information Management System card is required for Upper Mustang as the Restricted Area Permit(RAP) is sufficient as it provides details of the trekker and his/her destination in case of an emergency or problem.
Upper Mustang Permit Cost in Summary:
- Restricted Permit Cost: $500 per person for 10 days. If longer is required, an additional $50 per day is charged
- ACAP Permit: $20 per person.
Can I Get the Upper Mustang Permits Myself?
For those trekking in Lower Mustang, TIMs and ACAP permits can be obtained by the trekker themselves at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and the Tourist Office in Pokhara.
Individual trekkers cannot obtain the RAP permit for Upper Mustang themselves. In fact, no one can trek in Upper Mustang alone. Please also note that an individual guide cannot obtain the permit for a trekker. RAP permits must be obtained through a trekking company registered in Nepal.
What do I need to do to Get the Permits?
For all permits, ACAP, RAP, and TIMS, the trekker is required to show their original passport (still valid for at least six months) with a current Nepal visa, two passport size photographs, and a scanned copy of the passport-sized photograph.
The registered trekking company will organise the rest.
Please note that to enter Upper Mustang, and to obtain the permit to do so, there must be a group of at least two (2) trekkers. However, if you are alone and determined to go but cannot find another person or group who are traveling at the same time, a ghost RAP permit can be issued in another name.
For this, the solo trekker will have to pay an additional $500, thus, $1,000 in total. This is the only way to enter the forbidden kingdom alone (with a guide of course!).
Upper Mustang Permits in Brief
- Passport must be valid for at least six months.
- Original passport and current visa are required when applying for the permits.
- Cost is $500 per person, for 10 days, with an additional $50 per person, per day after that.
- Scanned copy of passport-sized photograph is required.
- One printed passport-sized photograph is required for ACAP permit.
- ACAP permit is also required ($20 per person).
- Minimum of two trekkers in the group.
- The permit must be obtained through, and trekkers must go with, a Nepal registered trekking company.