Upper Mustang is in the Annapurnas, yet the landscape and people are very different from those in the region. Close to the Tibetan border, the local population follows the culture of their neighbouring country in religion, traditions, and language.
Because of its proximity to Tibet, it is still a restricted area today. Traveling in this region is much more expensive than in the rest of the Annapurnas and other regions of Nepal. Having said that, the rewards are great.
This region, also known as the Hidden Kingdom of Lo, is steeped in mythology and rich in culture. High rocky cliffs, hidden caves, rock paintings, monks, and monasteries are some of the highlights.
With fewer tourists coming to this area, those who come feel privileged to have experienced this unique land. Even recently, it was only possible to enter this area on foot.
Today there is the possibility to get there by vehicle, allowing even the less physically fit to enjoy this magical experience.
This page details how much it costs to come to Upper Mustang. Please take a look, and if you have any questions or wish to know more about trips to the arid trans-Himalayan mountain region of Lo, please contact us.
Upper Mustang Permits – Costs
Everyone traveling in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) needs this permit. Valid for a single entry, it is good for the whole journey, regardless of how long the journey is.
Cost: $30 per person
Restricted Area Permit
A Restricted Area or RAP Permit is required for everyone going into the Upper Mustang area. This is valid for 10 days and can be increased if the trek is likely to take longer.
Cost: $500 per person for 10 days | $50 per person per day for each additional day
Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS)
TIMS cards are not required for Upper Mustang. But please note you will require TIMS for the rest of the Annapurna Region.
Cost: $10 per person
Transport to Upper Mustang
Getting to Upper Mustang can be fast and expensive or slow and inexpensive! How you travel, there will depend on your budget and time. It is possible to make the whole ‘getting there’ an adventure in itself, or for those on a tighter timescale, it is possible to travel faster and start the real adventure from
First, one must get from Kathmandu to Pokhara, then from Pokhara to Jomson in Mustang. Then from Jomson, it’s a short walk or fast jeep drive to the starting point of the Upper Mustang trek.
Below the methods and costs of transport are broken down:-
Kathmandu to Pokhara
From Kathmandu to Pokhara, the options are to fly or take road transport.
There are several flights daily from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The most reliable airlines are Buddha Air and Yeti Air. Please remember that during the winter and monsoon seasons, flights can be delayed due to the weather.
On the other hand, if there is no delay, you can leave your Kathmandu hotel in the early morning and sit at the lakeside in Pokhara for breakfast!
Cost: $121 (subject to slight variation)
Time: Check-in one hour before; flight time 25 minutes
There are many buses and mini-buses traveling to Pokhara throughout the day. For safety and comfort, we recommend taking a tourist bus, all of which leave from Kantipath, on the outskirts of Thamel, at 7 am. These buses are the same in terms of comfort and price.
Travel time: 7 to 8 hours depending on road conditions
There are two more comfortable buses, which you pay extra for:-
Greenline Tours – Cost $25
Office: Tridevi Marg, Thamel
Tel: 01-4417211, 01-4417199/ 01-4257544
Departing 7.30 am from Tridevi Marg
Jagadamba Travels – Cost $25
Office: Opposite the Malla Hotel, Lainchour
Departing 7.30am from the Annapurna Hotel, Durbar Marg
Travel Nepal Bus – Cost $25
Travel time:7 to 8 hours depending on road conditions
Private Car Hire
Two or three people traveling together might want to hire a car or jeep to take them to Pokhara. This will enable you to stop where ever you want to take photographs, drink, eat, etc. Travel time is around the same as traveling by bus – 7 to 8 hours depending on road conditions – but there is more freedom.
Cost: This will depend on the availability and type of car or jeep.
Please budget for approximately $100 for a car, $120 for a jeep and
$150 for a Hiace. Please ask us for the current prices.
Pokhara to Jomson
There are several ways to reach Jomsom from Pokhara – by flight and by road.
Airlines fly in the early morning from Pokhara to Jomsom. In the afternoon, the winds in Mustang become higher, making it difficult for planes to land. Please be aware flights can be canceled in bad weather.
Cost: Approximately $125 each way.
Time: Check-in 1 hour before; flight time 20 minutes.
There are direct buses from Pokhara, coming from Kathmandu to Jomsom. There are also buses from Pokhara to Beni, then Beni to Jomsom.
Travel Time: Approximately 8 to 10 hours, depending on road conditions.
Private Jeep Hire
It is probably better to hire a jeep than a car for this journey.
Cost: Please ask us about availability and cost.
Travel Time: Approximately 8 to 10 hours, depending on road conditions.
Jomsom to Upper Mustang
If trekking, Upper Mustang starts at Kagbeni, a short 2-hour walk from Jomsom. You enter the Kingdom of Lo and a completely different world.
See here for details of the Upper Mustang trek. Going by jeep takes around 3 days to reach the walled city of Lo Manthang.
Although the route is not particularly long from Jomsom by jeep, time is needed on the way to acclimatize to the altitude and, besides, you want to explore the area!
Cost: Please ask us about private jeep hire and jeep tours.
Cost of a Guide for Upper Mustang
Trekkers (or those going by private vehicle) cannot enter Upper Mustang without permits and guides organized by a Nepal-registered travel agent.
Very often, how much you enjoy your trip depends on the guide you have with you. The more experienced and knowledgeable the area the guide is, the more you will learn and enjoy.
At Magical Nepal, we try to use guides who either come from the region they are trekking in or who have a lot of experience leading treks there. All guides can speak English, with the more experienced able to speak fluently. If you require a guide in another language, please advise us, and we will try our best to organize this. All guides are insured.
There is a range of guides to suit different budgets but expect to pay from $25 to $40 per day. This includes their food and other necessary expenses.
You might consider hiring a porter for your trek, particularly if you are not so young or fit! Or if you just want to be freer to enjoy your surroundings easily.
Porters may not speak English, but are always willing and able with a smiling face and value the work. Do not see hiring a porter as laziness on your side, but as a way to contribute to a Nepali family or community.
Although they can carry up to 20kg, we suggest you keep the weight down to under 15kg. All porters are insured.
Hiring a porter costs around $20 to $25 per day. This includes their food and other necessary expenses.
Food and Accommodation during the Trek
There are two options when trekking in Upper Mustang – teahouses or camping.
Whether it is a teahouse trek or a full camping trek, the cost of accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be included in the total cost of your trip. Alcohol and cold drinks are an extra expense.
Should the cost not be included, please budget from $3 to $6 per meal. Rooms cost around $5 to $15. Teahouse accommodation is limited, particularly around the time of the festivals in the Upper Mustang. (May and August). Booking well in advance is recommended.
Comfortable lodges with hot water are available in Jomsom and Kagbeni at the start or end of the trek.
If camping then remembers that the food has to be carried, expect something like this: Breakfast consisting of porridge (good on cold mornings!), tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner consist of soup and dal bhat or a western alternative.
All the food is vegetarian, in keeping with the Buddhist culture.
Food and Accommodation in Kathmandu
Back in Kathmandu, tourists can have a range of cuisine from around the world, with prices to match! Some of the best places to eat in Thamel are as follow:
This is probably the best vegetarian and vegan restaurant in town. Located on Seven Corners, this unassuming casual restaurant serves great food, well presented. It has live music weekly and also hosts a weekly film night Inexpensive.
This funky restaurant serves vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine. Situated in Mandala Street it’s a great place for either lunch or dinner inexpensive.
Fire and Ice
Reportedly the best pizza in town, this pizzeria has been running for more almost 20 years. Pizza, pasta and an assortment of salads and desserts are on offer. They are also open for Italian breakfasts.
Chimney Restaurant, Yak and Yeti Hotel, Durbar Marg
The Yak and Yeti were established by Boris Lissanevitch, a legend in the story of tourism in Nepal.
He was a famed Russian ballet dancer and entrepreneur who has left behind this legacy in the Chimney Restaurant. Serving original recipes such as borsch and chicken a la Kiev, there is also baked Alaska and, in the winter, fondue on the menu.
Che Caroline, Babar Mahal Revisited
A courtyard setting at this French restaurant provides the ideal ambiance for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Although the prices are quite high, it is value for money. All the usual French delights can be found here.
Garden Kitchen, Boudha
Behind the main kora around Bouddhanath stupa is a lovely restaurant serving traditional Tibetan fare. It is always full of monks, students of Buddhism, and locals. Go upstairs for a more comfortable seating area and to view handicraft items for sale.
For further information, see the best restaurant in Kathmandu to eat.
Once again, there is a choice to suit every budget – from the inexpensive hostel or guest house to the luxury hotel. Expect to pay around $20 to $30 for budget accommodation, $40 to $60 for mid-range accommodation, and from $60 to $200 for luxury hotels. Please remember that in the high season, prices increase and accommodation may be harder to find.
However, in the low season, you might find a room in a luxury hotel for far less than you would normally pay! For budget accommodation, we suggest you either walk around Thamel and take a look once you arrive or employ google to do the work for you before leaving home!
In the mid-range:-
Bodhi Boutique, Thamel
Opened in December 2017, this offers comfortable accommodation in a quiet part of Thamel.
Inexpensive to mid-range.
Tings Tea Lounge, Lazimpat
If you don’t want to be in the heart of the tourist area but are still within walking distance (20 minutes), this might be the place for you. Built around a small garden courtyard each room is unique, and the staff is very friendly.
Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat
Within walking distance of Thamel, this 4-star hotel has less expensive rooms in its old wing and more expensive rooms in the newer wing. There is a swimming pool and gym.
Summit Hotel, Sanepa
Completely away from the tourist area, it is an old favorite with a large garden. Swimming pool for the summer months and bar with a real fire for the colder months.
Gokarna Forest Resort, Gokarna
A few kilometers outside Kathmandu, this hotel is situated in a forest and offers guests access to its golf course. Some of the attractions are luxury rooms with huge stone bathtubs, a swimming pool, a spa, monkeys, and deer.
Dwarika Hotel, Gausala
This unique, Newari-style hotel offers luxury rooms, a wonderful Newari restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, continental food, bar food, a swimming pool, and a spa.
There are, of course, many more hotels and resorts in Kathmandu – the choice is yours.
Solo Trekkers Cost
For those who want to visit Upper Mustang but don’t want to be in a large group, it is possible to go alone. Note: going alone means with a guide hired through a Nepal-registered travel company. But bear in mind it is going to be expensive.
Step 1: Make contact with a registered travel company
Step 2: It is necessary to make the permit for TWO people (even if you are alone). That means you pay the $500 for 10 days x two or $1,000. If you must stay longer, you will also pay the $50 per day, times two, or $100 extra day.
Step 3: Hire your guide. The cost for a guide is $20 to $40 per day. You will have to bear all this cost alone. If you wish to take a porter, that’s another $20-$25 per day.
Step 4: As an individual trekker, you will likely stay in teahouses along the way. In the festival
seasons (May and August in Upper Mustang) it might be an idea to book ahead if possible.
Step 5: Make your travel arrangement, and off you go!
Aside from the costs above, the average cost of a room in a teahouse is around $5, and expect to pay around $3 to $6 per meal, per day. As we said, it’s expensive to go alone!