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Yamdrok lake and snow mountains in Tibet


Group tour visits the Yamdrok Lake in Tibet

Yamdrok lake or Yamdrok Tso (Tibetan: ཡར་འབྲོག་གཡུ་མཚོ) is a freshwater lake. It is one of the four sacred lakes in Tibet, (the other three are Namtso Lake, Lake Manasarovar, and Lhamo Latso) and the third largest holy lake. It is stretching over 72 km in length and is 60 meters deep at the lowest point.


The Yamdrok Lake altitude is 4,441 meters/  14,570 ft above the sea level. The best lake viewpoint is located even higher, just below the Kambala Pass (5,300 meters) at the elevation of 4,800 meters.


Yamdrok is famous for its incredible turquoise color. Its water is rich in minerals, that give the lake this color. The color can range from light turquoise in the direct sunlight to the deep rich blue in cloudy weather. The water of the lake is crystal clear with low sediment.


Taking photo with yak by the Yamdrok lake

Summer is warm. Because of he strong wind it might seem colder than it actually is, and we recommend wearing light long sleeve jacket or a shirt. The sun is always very strong in Tibet. You should be ready with sunscreen, hat or baseball hat, a pair of sunglasses and a lip balm.

In winter weather is getting much colder near the lake. You will need a warm jacket to visit it. At the same time winter weather is usually clear and it is the best time to see incredible colors of the lake.

Lake freezes only for a short time in the middle of winter. The mountains surrounding lake are covered with snow, making a landscape to look dream-like.

If you travel to Yamdrok lake in winter, you can also see migrating birds. They travel from Western areas of Tibet to spend winter in valey between Lhasa and the lake.

Winter view of Yamdrok Lake


Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

Fish lives in the lake, and you can sometimes see it when you get close to the water. However, Tibetans don’t eat fish. First of all, they believe that spirits living in the lake should have fish for themselves. The second reason is that Tibetans would never disrespect the sacred lake, that’s why they don’t take anything from it and don’t swim in it.


The lake is filled up by water from precipitation and melting snow and ice from the surrounding mountains. The water level remained high as Yamdrok was only feeding one tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River). In recent years, construction of Hydropower Station was completed on the lake. It generates energy from the Yamdrok lake water dropping over 800 meters through a tunnel to the Yarlung Tsangpo river.


Palde nunnery near Yamdrok Lake in Tibet
Palde nunnery near Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake is located in Nangartse (Nakartse) County of Shannan Prefecture. It is 110 km southwest of Lhasa and about 90 km to the East from Gyantse. It is surrounded by high snow-capped mountains. On a clear day, you can see the peak of the Mount Nojin Kangtsang (7,191 meters).

The viewpoint place is located on the mountain road going from Lhasa to Gyantse and then further to Shigatse.

One of the largest towns on the lake is Nangartse, although travelers rarely stay there. Most of the tours visiting Yamdrok Lake,  continue towards Gyantse and Shigatse. The town of Nangartse is relatively small, with some old buildings. One of the main attractions is the Samding monastery 10 km to the East of Nangartse.

Vast pasture land surrounds Yamdrok Lake, and you can see many herd animals grazing on its shore.


Samding Monastery near the Yamdrok Lake in Tibet
Samding Monastery near the Yamdrok Lake in Tibet

The monastery is famous because it’s the traditional head is the female incarnation of the Lama Dorje Phagmo. The abbess is the third most important Lama in Tibet, after the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. The monastery dates back to the 12 century and belongs to the Bodongpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Both monks and nuns reside in the monastery.


Herd of cows near Yamdrok lake in Tibet
Pasture grounds: a herd of cows by the Yamdrok lake

Yamdrok Lake is a sacred lake for Tibetans, and many pilgrims walk around it. It takes about seven days to walk around it, and some Tibetans complete the Kora or circumambulation with prostrations.

If you are staying in the Nangartse town, you can hike to the Samding monastery. It only takes a couple of hours and at the end, you will be rewarded by the great views from the monastery hill.

There are also great camping sites near the lake. If you want to spend more time walking by this magnificent lake, taking photos of migrating birds or visiting the monastery, you can camp here for a night.



There are two options: setting up a camp by the lake or staying in a newly opened hotel right on the lake shore.

The hotel offers all modern amenities with a view on turquoise waters of the lake. It is a great chance to spend some quite moments by the holy lake and to see the sky full of stars at night.

Dining area in hotel by Yamdrok lake
Dining area with buffet
View on Yamdrok lake from hotel room
Room with Yamdrok Lake view
Restaurant in hotel by the Yamdrok lake
Restaurant in the hotel





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