Darchen, Darchin, or Tarchen is one of the most important towns in the western Tibet Ngari Prefecture, located at an elevation of 4, 500 meters ( 14, 763 ft)  The town was named after the Saga Dawa festival's huge prayer flag pole at the Tarboche Valley, which is located around 13 km from Darchen. 

Darchen to Lhasa : 1300Km

Darchen to Tada Guge Kingdom: 270Km

Darchen to Ali Gar City Shiquanhe: 320km

Darchen Town is the starting point of the Kora pilgrim to Mount Kailash. The total duration of the Kora trek is 52 km 

Photo: Stunning Mount Kailash

Saga Dawa festival is celebrated every year on April 15th in the Tibetan Lunar calendar. on this day a huge prayer flag pole will be erected at Tarboche. Saga Dawa is the month Buddha Shakyamuni enlightened. 

Travelers will travel to Darchen to witness the beauties of the Saga Dawa festival during May. Check out Travelers Join Group Guarantee departure Saga Dawa festival Tour.

They are three ways to travel to Mount Kailash and Darchen town. 

1. Overland from Lhasa.

2. Flight from Lhasa to Ngari Gunsa Airport.

3. Nepal border to Darchen town.

Highlight Mountains near Darchen

  1. Mount Kailash 
  2. Mount Gurla Mandala
  3. Bonri

Mount Kailash is the most desired destination in Tibet. Gurla Mandala can be seen on the way to Mount Kailash.  Bonri is a small mountain with snow that can be seen from Darchen.

Highlight Lakes near Darchen

1. Manasarovar Lake

Manasarovar Lake is a 30 km drive from Darchen town. Manasarovar Lake is a holy Lake for Hindu, Buddhist, and Bon followers. The Lake is surrounded by mountains and monasteries.  Manasarovar Lake is a great spot for a night after finishing the 52 km trek at Mount Kailash. 

Photo: Mount Kailash view from Manasarovar Lake 

2. Nag Tso Lake

Also known as Black Lake, located around 10-20 km from Darchen. The color of the Lake is quite dark. Legend says it was once a Lake of an evil spirit.

3. Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Lake is located around 270km from Ali City Shiquanhe. This Lake is popular for wild birds including Black neck Crane. 

Rivers near Darchen

1. Singge Kapap river 

2. Langchen Kapap river

3. Macha Kapap River

4. Tachok Kapap river

Monasteries near Darchen

1. Gangdrak monastery

One of the best day trips from Darchen is Gangdrak monastery.

From Darchen Town it is not possible to see the view of Mount Kailash because of the hill near Darchen so the best way to see Mount Kailash is doing a day hike to Gyangdrak monastery, which is also the route to inner Kora. 

2. Sera Long monastery

Sera Long is another option for a day trip from Darchen town. The view of the Mount Kailash and the valley from Sera long monastery is special. 

3. Dirapuk monastery

Dirapuk monastery is located on the Kora trek to Mount Kailash. It was once a retreat center of many great Yogis. For the 52 km Kora trek around Mount Kailash, Travelers will stay the first night at the Dirapuk monastery. They are a few guest houses including the monastery guest house. 

4. Zutrulpuk monastery

On the second day of the kora around Mount Kailash, Travelers will stay a night in the Zutrulpuk monastery.  Zutrulpuk monastery was once the retreat area of Je Milarepa. Nowadays we can still witness the blessing of the meditation cave with footprints. 

5. Chiu monastery

Also known as a bird monastery, located near Lake Manasarovar. Chiu monastery is the most popular monastery near Lake Manasarovar. It was once a retreat area of Je Padmasambhava in the 8th century. 

Hotels located near Darchen

1. 3-star Himalaya hotel

2. 2-star Shishapangma hotel 

3. Youth hostel 

In the summer, many of the hotels in Darchen town offer a hot shower with a private bathroom. During the winter because of the cold, it is not possible to have a hot shower. Kora trek around Mount Kailash at Dirapuk and Zutrulpuk, there are no private bathrooms and no showers.

Restaurants located near Darchen 

They are many local and Chinese Restaurants in Darchen town.

Photo: Tibetans Traditional Dress of Ngari People 

City & Towns near Darchen

1. Ngari Ali City

Ngari Ali Shiquanhe is the main city in western Tibet. Located 320 km from Darchen town towards the west.

2. Purang town

One of the border towns between Nepal Simikot and India is Purang. Located 160 km from Darchen town. 

3. Tada or Tsanda town

Tada is famous for the Guge Kingdom ruins and Toling monastery. Tada is also known as Tsaparang in the local Tibetan language. It is the border town between Ladakh. 

4. Hor Qu town

Hor Qu is the nearest town to Lake Manasarovar. 

Airport located near Darchen

1. Ngari Gunsa Airport 

The one and only airport in Ngari western Tibet is Gunsa Airport. Located about 55 km from Ngari Gar City and around 270 km from Darchen town.


Darchen is a very important town in Tibet. The Ngari highlights include Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, the Guge Kingdom ruins, the Shangshung Kingdom ruins, Garuda Valley, Dungkar, Piyang wall paintings, and stunning landscapes. 

Nowadays the road from Lhasa to Darchen is paved all the way. There is also free wifi in many hotels and restaurants in Darchen town. Travelers can send us an Email regarding traveling to Darchen town, foot of Mount Kailash. info@tibettravelers.com 

Written By :Tenzin

Jun 23, 2023


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