• Last Updated on Feb 14, 2024

Upper Mustang Trek of Nepal is arestricted area, so as a foreign traveler in this limited zone, all the preparations regarding permits, guides, accommodations, etc. must be made. 

The Upper Mustang trek area is filled with lots of nature and man-made things, plus untouched Tibetan culture and living. There are many things to look at and visit, but because they're a limited zone of Nepal, only a few secrets have been discovered. The Mustang region is famous for its large range of land, plants, animals, and culture. It is a little place in Nepal, north of Mustang district in Gandaki Province.

Mustang travels deep into the Tibetan highlands. Just so you know, it's not a kingdom anymore. In 2008, Nepal abolished its monarchy, and the Mustang Monarchy was terminated, too. 

Mustang only let guests in 1992. This meant it had to take care of itself for a long time, keeping its culture mostly the same and safe. The Upper Mustang area has a lot of history and culture from the 8th century. Most of its culture, norms, and traditions represent the hat of Tibet as it once belonged to Tibet's kingdom. 

The Mustang region also played a key role as a significant salt route to India and Tibet many years ago. Many traders from Tibet, China, and India went through Mustang. So, the place became a blend of various cultures and customs.

 In the 14th century, the Kingdom of Lo took control of this region. This kingdom practiced Buddhism, and its leaders came from Tibet's Bön religion. The Kingdom of Lo was all by itself, and no one ruled it until the late 1700s. Then it was later added to Nepal.

The Lower Mustang region started allowing tourists in the 1970s, but the Upper Mustang was not open to visitors and became The Forbidden Kingdom of Lo. Later, they started letting people visit in 1992. Upper Mustang is still restricted due to its open border with Tibet, which preserves its rich Tibetan Buddhist and ancient Thakali culture and preserves the Bon religion.

This guide is for those travelers who don't know how to gear up while visiting the restricted zone, i.e., the Mustang area. It will help them prepare for an odyssey through the restricted area of Upper Mustang in Nepal. Here, we give everything one needs to arrange for adventure and off-limit hikes. This includes budget planning, seeking permissions in restricted areas, and logistic preparations. 

upper mustang trekking


Table of Contents

Preparation Step 1: Strategical Upper Mustang Trek Preparation

The first thing to do is devise everything out. You must gather all the details, numbers, and data about trekking in the upper Mustang. What permits do you need, and how do you get them? Where is it located?When's the best time for a hike? These questions will help you find out what info you should know. Then, plan wisely on your trek! So, planning for a trek involves considering the details and numbers of that journey. Let's go into each of the strategic preparation topics:

Acquiring Permits for Upper Mustang Trek

The first readying steps must be made toward arranging authorizations. As we said before, the upper Mustang trek is in a limited area and can't be done alone. So, don't forget to devise your hiking permits with the help of a registered local trekking company. You need two essential permits for the trek: the Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit and the Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit (ACAP).

Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit

You can't go through this area on foot without the RAP. The area above the Kagbeni village is known as the Upper Mustang region. Here, you will see a RAP check post. People who hike need to show their Upper Mustang travel permits and other papers when going in or out of this area.

The government of Nepal in Kathmandu or Pokhara issues it. Remember that you can only get it from a local trekking group registered in Nepal.

Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit Cost: US$ 500 per person per week and then $50 more per person each day.

Permit for Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)

Upper Mustang is a part of the Annapurna Conservation Area. So, you can't go into the Annapurna area without proper permission. When ACAP is given, hikers can stay in the ACAP zone for as long as they like because there are no rules about how long the stay should be. Mountain Rock Treks will get all the required permits for Upper Mustang to make your trek easy and worry-free.

We'll take care of it, so you don't have to stress about anything. The cost of the ACAP for foreigners is US$ 27; for SAARC nations, it is NPR 1,000; and for local tourists, it is NPR 100.

Here are some rules you must know: 

You need at least two people in your group to get permits for the Upper Mustang Trek. If you are hiking only in the Upper Mustang area, then there is no need for a TIMS card because there are not any TIMS checkpoints on the way to Upper Mustang.

How Long to Stay and Hike? 

The distance and length of the upper Mustang trek change a lot based on which trekking company you hire, their different itineraries, and how much time you have free. Your likes or choices also play a part in it too. How long you stay and how far you travel helps you know what the best value and most efficient length of trekking trip to Upper Mustang is.

The Upper Mustang is 153 km long yomp. You can finish the walk in 12 days. It will start and end at Jomsom. But, even though the real walk begins and ends in Jomsom, you first need to get to Jomsom from Kathmandu by flying or driving via Pokhara. This increases the total time needed for their plan up to 17 days based on whether they stay at Pokhara. Many people hiking for the first time only focus on how many days and miles they must travel.

But the journey isn't only about reaching places. You must stay for at least two days in a couple of these spots and see incredible landmarks to get the most from this walk. We suggest this hike to finish it in 17 days. This means walking for about six hours each day. This info is very useful for planning "Upper Mustang Trek Preparations."

Budget Planning

Walking in Nepal is usually cheaper. But when you are ready to go into the limited area, having a budget plan is very important. You may need an expensive restricted permit, and yes, that's true. 

The cost of the Upper Mustang trek in Nepal is not as high as you might think. Food, lodging, and other costs are almost the same as at Everest Base Camp. For many travelers lucky to see this place, paying $500 for permission was valuable. Every dollar spent will be worth it in the end.

Upper Mustang probably isn't one of the most visited spots in Nepal. It's still far off, and few people have ever been there. It's a different place that hasn't been affected by travel or changes in the modern world. The day cost for a trek in upper Mustang, not including permits, is 25 to 35 dollars. 

This includes a sleep spot, three daily meals, and drinks like tea or soda. The amount you spend each day depends on your spending habits. If you use a lot of money, the price can be big. If not, it will remain about 20 to 30 dollars each day. This is a cheap price to go on trips from your home.

When to do the Upper Mustang Trek? 

The next decision you need to make is when you should take this journey. This gear-up step makes your journey either a great adventure or the worst one of your life.

Usually, fall and spring are seen as the best times for travelling, especially hiking. But, the Upper Mustang Trek is not like other usual hikes. Upper Mustang gets very little or no rain at all because it's in an area that protects from the wet stuff. 

So, it's a spot to visit any time of the year. But wandering during winter is risky because snow and bad weather are possible. So, some things need to be remembered when hiking in the Upper Mustang. Every season has its challenges and rewards. 

Spring (March, April, and May)

Spring is a good time to see the Upper Mustang. The weather, paths, and everything about the culture will be warm and fun. In May, you can also walk and join the Tiji Festival. The time usually feels very hot, around 16 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Autumn (September, October, and November)

Fall is the best time to visit any place in Nepal. No matter where you go, the blue skies and good weather make it a happy place for travellers. So, Upper Mustang is also a place you can visit in the fall. Nice weather that is not too hot or cold makes for a good journey. The normal temperature is usually between 12 and 20 degrees Celsius. 

upper mustang trek Preparations

Do I need a guide for the Upper Mustang? 

You cannot go to a restricted place in Nepal without a special pass, guide, or porter, so yes, you need a guide for Upper Mustang. You might need permission or a registered guide from a registered agency to make your Upper Mustang trip safe and enjoyable.

The hard trails in Upper Mustang can be tough, with different landscapes, heights, and changing weather. A smart guide can go safely, see possible dangers, and help in trouble like sickness. Similarly, the guides can also manage permits, lodging, travel, and food. This lessens your worry and makes for a better trip for you.

You don't have to hire a porter in a limited area for your journey. But if you don't have many physical skills, think about hiring one. They will help you carry the weights, making your trip easy.

Preparation Step 2: Logistics Upper Mustang Trek Preparation

Now that you know how to get permits, the best time for trekking, and how long your trip will be on Upper Mustang. It's time to think about the logistics needed for this exciting journey. Arrange things well, like getting transport, booking places to sleep, and planning what you will eat. This will make your adventure in Upper Mustang much better and more enjoyable.

Accommodations - Where to Stay During The Trek? 

On the trek in Upper Mustang, you can stay at tea houses. They are typically made from brick and mud, often painted white. These tea places are very cozy and have a few rooms.

Rest spots and refreshments are tidy and secure areas to take a break during your trip in the high Mustang region. You can also get food there at night. Tea houses are like basic hotels or stays. They provide neat places to stay for a good cost. These rooms can cost around 3 to 6 dollars. The cost might increase if you need plug-in sockets, hot water showers, and internet service.

Lo Manthang has many new concrete tea houses with multiple stories, and many travelers stay. The rooms usually have two small beds with not much stuff around. They don't feel as comfy or cozy even if they give us pillows and blankets. So it's best to put your sleeping bag on top of them because cleanliness is also important.

A few tea places in the lower part have toilets, but most higher-ups use shared bathrooms. Bring your toilet paper and hand soap because not all tea houses have it.

The food place is also shared, with large tables that can fit many people. The walls are bright and full of colors, while the tables have butter lamps and smelly stuff. Some tea houses use gas heaters in rooms to stay warm.

Cave on mustang trek

Transportation - How to Travel? 

There are two ways to travel to Upper Mustang i.e., via air (flights, helicopters) and via road (motorbike, private vehicle, tourist bus). 

Your official walk begins in Jomsom. Before and after your trek, your journey starts from Kathmandu to Pokhara and then Pokhara to Jomsom and vice versa. These are the main points where you require transportation services. 

  • Travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara and vice versa

The trip from one city to another by plane takes about 25-30 minutes and covers a bird's eye range of 146 km. With us, you'll travel by shared jeep before and after your hike. The road trip takes 6 to 8 hours to complete. The path follows the Trishuli River and then runs along Prithvi Highway. You can go by private vehicle or a tourist bus.

  • Go from Pokhara to Jomsom and back.

When you get to Pokhara, plan your next stop at Jomsom. Jomsom is located nearly 154 km north of Pokhara in the Mustang District. Flying to Jomsom is the simplest and fastest way because it takes around 20 minutes to get from Pokhara. The flying distance between these two places is just 60 km. We include your airplane ticket from Pokhara to Jomsom in our costs, so you don't need any other rides after booking with us.

Preparation Step 3: Mental Preparation, Altitude Preparation, and Physical Training for Upper Mustang Trek

Taking care of your body and mind is a good way to get ready for the Upper Mustang. The Upper Mustang Trek is a 153 km walk in mountains and high places. This walk is for everyone, whether new or experienced in the long haul. However, beginners who aren't used to long walks need the preparation part for their body and mind. 

Training Strategies- How to Prepare Mentally For Upper Mustang Trek?  

Preparing your mind is as important as getting ready physically for a big walk in the mountains of Nepal. It's very important to strengthen your mind to get past different issues that may drag you down. Below are some strategies to develop your mental strength for the Upper Mustang journey.


Sports heroes have long used visualization as a key method to aid them. It's about imagining in your mind what you want to happen. If you picture winning, it will help to handle issues. Here's how you can do it:

  • Imagine yourself going forward with confidence and power.
  • Imagine the thrilling feeling of breathing in mountain air that fills your lungs and gives you lots of energy.
  • Picture yourself conversing with other hikers, sharing stories, and making new friends.

Creating a Positive Mindset

Telling yourself good things is very important to get rid of bad thoughts. A good attitude can also help keep your body healthy. Here's how you can do it:

  • Tell yourself some nice things like "I can do it," "I will get through," and "I can do anything." These are just a few examples.
  • Turn negative thoughts about yourself into positive self-talk. When you go on a trip, thinking negatively about yourself is easy.
  • Find humor in adversity. Even if something bad happens, remember it's for a good reason.
  • Make an effort to change failures into lessons. View problems as opportunities for personal growth and learning. This will stop you from making the same mistakes again.
  • Look for friends who encourage and motivate you on your path.

monastry in Mustang

What Ways are there to Prepare Physically for the Upper Mustang Trek?

You can hoof it upward the upper Mustang when you involve physical training. Your activity should involve getting fit, practicing at higher heights, and building power for long times. You can't copy how Upper Mustang Trek feels, but doing cardio workouts will help your body keep going even when there is less oxygen. Training in a higher place like this will strengthen your muscles to handle rising levels better.

Upper Mustang Trek Physical Training Option 1: Practice Hikes

Going on walks is The best way to qualify for your Upper Mustang. Look for trails near your home, walk around your neighborhood, or simply go outside and take a short trip. Get used to long walks. Find out what your body finds hard and how much you can do. You won't believe how much fun you can have once you get used to going past the first feeling of being scared.

Upper Mustang Trek Physical Training Option 2: Gym Workout

If you can't find good routes for your practice hikes, this simple training plan will get you physically fully prepared for an upper Mustang trip. You can use a  treadmill and step machine if no trails are available. If you can't use these machines, jogging in the park or strolling around your area will also be good.

Upper Mustang Trek Physical Training Option 3: Cardiovascular Fitness, Strength Training, Endurance Training

  1. Cardiovascular Fitness:- Improving heart endurance is very important for odysseying at high altitudes with low oxygen. Do activities like walking, running, biking, and swimming to make your heart beat faster. These activities lower heart diseases and increase brain health and life expectancy. Begin with a few minutes and slowly add more time to 30 minutes of daily workouts.
  2. Strength Training:- A long haul needs strength for carrying a backpack, going up sharp hills, and dealing with rough ground. Make sure to work on your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles for long walks uphill or down. This is often needed in high-altitude hikes. Workouts like squats, lunges, step-ups, and leg presses strengthen these muscle groups. 
  3. Endurance Training:- Endurance Training is very important for hard hikes in Nepal or other big mountain areas. These hikes need strong physical effort for a long time. Hikers should join in walking fast, running or jogging, biking, and swimming to grow strong. 

Altitude Sickness and How to Prevent It?

The highest point on the 17-day trip to the "Kingdom of Lo" is Ghar Gompa at 3930 meters or 12,894 feet. This height isn't as high as other treks you might do in Nepal. Still, preparation for the possibility of getting AMS still remains. 

Considering the height we will reach, the likelihood of being vulnerable to AMS does not often happen on the Upper Mustang Trek. And if it occurs, AMS, or Acute Mountain Sickness, is a not-so-bad version of Altitude Sickness. 

As you go higher, the air has less oxygen. So your body can't use it easily. Problems like headaches, sleepiness, and trouble sleeping might happen. People who hike usually feel signs of AMS when climbing higher than 3,000 meters or 9,842 feet. Here are some tips to minimize the risks of AMS below.

  • Go slow when you travel or climb to a high place. This lets your body get used to less oxygen in the air.
  • Spend a few days at an altitude below 2500 meters before going any higher.
  • Take a break every three to four days at the same height if you are 3,000 meters or higher.
  • Drink enough water so you don't get too dehydrated. 
  • To allay the symptoms, you can take Diamox or similar drugs.
  • If the symptoms do not cease, then inform your hiking guide. 

Preparation Step 4: Packing Essential Equipment and Gears For Upper Mustang Trek

What should I bring for the Upper Mustang Visit? This can be difficult for hikers to choose. The bad packing uselessly makes your bag heavier. A big bag means carrying many things, and you probably don't want that when hiking. So, it's important to be fully prepared when backpacking.

What to pack For Upper Mustang Trek?

All high-altitude hikes need good gear and equipment to enjoy every second without worrying about weather, climate, or temperature. Get Everything set for some basic things during the Mustang trek for 17 days. 

  • Good and waterproof hiking shoes. It will always help you walk on rough ground every day. Good hiking socks protect your feet from staying too cold or freezing.
  • Good and warm jackets- Not every tea house or lodge might have a heater in the room. So to stay warm, you need a good jacket. You can only have a fireplace inside.
  • Sleeping bags will help you stay warm on a chilly night in the mountains.
  • A nice drinking water bottle and clean-up tablets for water. Lack of water can happen fast and make you feel annoyed, give you a headache, and cause skin problems in the top part. You might see some water stations, but the water is not very clean and can make you sick with bad diseases. So, when going on a trek, bring some purifying tablets for water.
  • Sunhats and sunglasses. Sunburn happens faster at the top part of the walk.
  • Pack Mediocre: Diamox tablets, Band-aids, Anti-nausea tablets, Feminine hygiene products, Mosquito, and insect repellents are some important things to pack. 
  • Toiletries: Upper Mustang is a remote trekking area with no advanced lodges. Most of the time, you will stay in simple tea houses with no private washrooms. So pack Toiletries like Bathing Soap, Sunscreen, Hand wash, Shampoo, Moisturizer and Hand sanitizer.

Where to Buy or Rent Trekking Gears and Equipment?

The next question is where to buy, and the clear destination to either buy or rent is, of course, Thamel. Thamel is a paradise for backpackers. Here, you can purchase what you need before your adventure, whether traveling to the camp or climbing the Big Everest mountain

Some hikers don't want to get hold of a lot of stuff. We can guess that their top option would be to rent those things in Kathmandu. You might want a sleeping bag, blanket, or down jacket for some days. Maybe even rent trekking poles, too. Even though you will get gear in Thamel, bringing your hiking shoes and basic clothes is smart. Some shops where you can rent gear and equipment are Shona's Alpine, Sportswear International, etc. 

Dry valley in mustang

Extra Tips on How To Prepare for Upper Mustang Trek

Here are some tips that may help with your preparation while trekking to the secluded area of the upper Mustang. 

Tip 1: Understand your skills and knowledge.

Knowing your skills and experience when planning a ramble in Nepal is good. Don't be overly ambitious. Your experience and health will decide what trails you pick, how much time you spend on them, and if a guide or porter is needed. 

Tip 2: Get ready for all types of weather and trail situations.

The Himalayas' weather and temperature are very hard to guess, not just from one year to the next but every day. so be prepared for all types of weather you may encounter on your upper Mustang tour by foot. 

Tip 3: Don't overpack

If you think 15kg feels good in Kathmandu, it won't be the same when going up a big slope at 3000m. It's best to only take half of what you think you need. 

Tip 4: Make your cash in Nepali RS Ready

You won't find ATM tracks, so it is smart to take enough money to last the trip. How much you need to bring depends on your previous choices. If you're going on an all-inclusive package, your bed, food, and ride are covered by the tour agency leading it. 

Tip 5: Respect the local Culture.

Upper Mustang is a place where people who follow special Tibetan customs live. Respecting these local religious values as you start your hike is important. Ensure that your actions and behavior don't hurt the keeping of these old cultures.

Dipak Pande

Dipak Pande

Dipak starts to step up from potter, guide, and trekking leader to the company owner. Sometimes he share his experience with others as well as wrote in local travel news. Most of time he spend his time on mountain and his company.