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Namtso lake in Tibet with maountain on the background


Namtso Lake is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Tibet.

Along with Yamdrok Lake and Manasarovar Lake, it is the holy lake in Tibet.  The magnificent snowcapped Nyechen Tanglha mountain range surrounds the lake.  

Visiting Namtso lake in Tibet

It is Tibet’s largest saltwater lake, and also one of the highest lakes in Tibet. The lake is over 70 km / 43 miles long, reaches a width of 30 km / 19 miles, and is 35 m / 115 ft deep at its deepest point.

When we visit the lake,  you can relax being far from all the distractions of the modern world, and enjoy the serenity of this place. 

Photographers love the lake for its incredible sunrise and sunset views. Another popular activity at the lake is birdwatching. Namtso attracts thousands of birds in different seasons and some birds choose it as their nesting ground.

The lake is located between Damshong (Dangxiong) County of Lhasa and Bange County of Naqu Region in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

There is a road connecting Lhasa and Namtso lake. The road leads to the Tashi peninsula. Historically, it was an island and only monks and nuns visited it. They stayed on the island for long meditation retreats. Far from cities and villages, they could concentrate on their studies and practices. 
Later, the road connected Tashi island with the land and nowadays we can visit this peninsula that recently was accessible only by boat.


Namtso lake surrounded by snowy mountains in Tibet
Namtso Lake is surrounded by snowy mountains

Namtso Lake’s altitude is 4718 meters / 15, 480 ft above sea level.  Because of its location high in the mountains, some people call Namtso a “sky lake” or a “Heavenly lake”.

Surrounding snow-peaked Nyechen Tanglha mountains are often covered in snow even during the summer months. 

You should acclimatize to the high altitude before visiting Namtso. You can spend a few days in Lhasa before traveling to the lake or explore Central Tibet and then head to the lakeshore to rest. 

To help you with the tour itinerary, we listed suggested tours to Namtso.


Namtso lake and white yak on the shore, Tibet
Namtso Lake and white yaks on the shore

During warmer months, the landscape is stunning. Various sun hues paint the skyline in incredible colors. Namtso Lake reflects the sky color and it can change from light greenish-blue to deep blue throughout the day. Of course, photographers love visiting Namtso during the sunrise and sunset hours. The water is very clear and you can see stones under the water.

Surrounding mountains are often covered with snow even in summer. The snow-capped mountains create magnificent framing for the landscape.

Because of the high altitude and northern location, the climate in the area is harsh. Even during warmer months, there is a big drop in temperatures at night. On some days, water evaporating from the lake can form hail storms.

In July and August, it can rain or even snow. You should be prepared with a thick jacket and rain gear.


Frozen Namtso lake surrounded by snow mountain range
Frozen Namtso lake

Namtso Lake is covered with ice from November until the end of May, sometimes even into June. In October snowfall can block the road to the lake. That’s why it is best to plan your visit to the lake between June and October.

As the weather is warming at the end of spring, the ice starts to melt and crack. You can hear a very loud sound of it from a large distance.


Namtso lake scenery on the shore

Before 2018 guests were staying at the Namtso Lake guesthouses by the shore. Starting in 2019, to protect the fragile lake environment from waste and destruction, guesthouses were removed from the lakeshore. Unfortunately, camping is also not possible, as well as there cannot be any bonfires along the lakeshore.

The most convenient option is to stay in the nearby town of Damxung (also spelled Damshung). There are several accommodation options in Damxung, and most of them are simple.

There is a Tibetan Hotel Naroyang. It is a simple hotel with all basic necessities. There are choices of double and triple rooms with a private shower in each room.

The newer option is the Namtso Holy Goat Manor Hotel which opened in 2021. The hotel offers simple standard rooms and more comfortable deluxe rooms with oxygen in the room, heated floors, wi-fi, and other amenities.


Tibetan women walking sacred kora around Namtso lake in Tibet
Tibetan pilgrims walking around Namtso lake

There are 3 main trekking routes near Namtso lake.

The first one is trekking from Damxung to Namtso Lake. Although it was a popular route in the past, at present the route runs along the road. If you wish to spend time enjoying nature, it is best to choose a different option.

An important pilgrimage circuit goes all the way around the lake. It takes about 1 week to complete, and it is popular among Tibetans. Tibetan pilgrims visit this sacred lake to walk around it to collect merit.

The most popular trekking route near Namtso Lake goes from Tsurpu to Yangpachen. It is a beautiful 4 days trek going through magnificent valleys, surrounded by snow-peaked mountains.

At the end of the trek, you can take a short ride to visit Namtso Lake.


We often receive a question about whether it is better to visit Namtso Lake or Yamdrok Lake. Both lakes are incredibly beautiful, you can visit them in one day from Lhasa and they are sacred for Tibetans. It is of course, ideal to visit both if you have time. However, there is no short answer to which lake is the best to visit.


View on Namtso lake from Nagenla Mountain Pass

The road from Lhasa to Namtso goes through valleys first. After that, it starts climbing up to the mountain area. We will travel on the winding mountain road. When we drive through high passes, you will see a panoramic view of Namtso Lake.

In 2019, the road connecting Lhasa and Namtso Lake was rebuilt and now its quality is very good. You will enjoy your ride to the lake and the views along the way. The road is about 250km / 155 miles long and it usually takes around 4-5 hours to drive one way.

During the rainy season and in winter, the road can be blocked by snow.

On the way to Namtso, you will see the Tibetan railroad connecting Xining and Lhasa. It is the highest railroad in the world reaching a pass over 5,000 meters high on the Tibetan plateau.

Train seen on the way to Namtso Lake

If you wish to spend more time at the Namtso Lake, you can stay in Damshung town overnight instead of going back to Lhasa.





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