A lot of the travelers I met in Nepal all wanted to go to Mustang and generally, they want to drive to get there. But most of the time, first time visitors to Mustang don’t know about the details of the road trip. So I decided to do some research and decided to make a helpful post on can you drive to Mustang Nepal?

There is a road which connects Kathmandu to Mustang, Nepal. The road is not black topped all the way, but you can drive a 4 wheeler to drive to Mustang. It takes 18 hours during the dry season and up to 24 hours during the rainy season. You will be staying the nights along the way in Pokhara, Jomsom or Kagbeni and Ghami before reaching Upper Mustang, Nepal.

Many travelers only look at the distance and time on the road when looking to drive to Mustang, Nepal. There are quite a few things about the road, challenges and legal permits you need to know before planning your drive to Mustang. 

Driving distance and duration from Kathmandu to Lo Manthang

The total driving distance from Kathmandu to Lo Manthang adds up to 411 km and it takes around 18 hours in ideal conditions. It breaks down to the following stops. 

Kathmandu to Pokhara (204 km)

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations from Kathmandu. has a road distance of 204km. The drive takes around 5-6 hours and the road is black topped. 

The drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara is an exciting and scenic tour, passing through rural farming valleys and providing vistas of the snow-capped Himalayan range.

Travellers on this route will enjoy a winding road that climbs high into the mountains, passing through terraced fields and pine forests. The arduous journey is worth it, however; upon arrival at Pokhara, tourists can enjoy a relaxing holiday in Nepal’s second largest city and the gateway to the country’s most popular tourist destination – the Annapurna Circuit.

Pokhara to Jomsom (158 km)

There are plenty of jeeps that make their way from Pokhara and Jomsom throughout the year. It takes 6 to 8 hours to drive during the dry season but can take up to 12 hours during the rainy season. 

The mountain roads are mostly good, although there are some bad patches of road with potholes. It’s important that you check your vehicle before departing and make sure it has been serviced recently and that the spare tire is OK.

There are a few hotels in Jomsom for overnight stay but for budget travelers, it is better to stay in Kagbeni (another half hour north of Jomsom) where there are many hotels at a lower rate than that of Jomsom.

Jomsom to Lomanthang (49 km)

The road deteriorates rapidly after Jomsom and becomes a bumpy dirt track. The view of the valley with terraced fields, villages , monasteries, rivers and local people is stunning. If you’re interested, along the way you can learn a lot of interesting facts about the area, its people and culture.

A jeep ride from Jomsom to Lo Manthang takes about four to five hours, depending on road conditions and weather. The road is rough and narrow with sharp turns and steep inclines but the views are amazing. As you drive higher, the temperature will drop significantly.

All in all, the drive from Jomsom to Lo Manthang is a great adventure. It takes you through stunning scenery and along some of the most stunning roads in Nepal.

Alternative stop – Jomsom to Ghami to Lomanthang

Instead of driving straight to Lo Manthang it is good to break the journey in Ghami (3 hours from Jomsom) and spend the night in Ghami.

Ghami to Lo Manthang, visiting Tsarang (45 min drive from Ghami) on the way.

The road from Jomsom to Ghami is new. There are lots of hotels in Ghami. Some of them are very nice but expect to pay US$10 per person as a minimum charge. The better hotels have hot showers and western toilets but most have squat toilets and no showers. 

The last stretch between Ghami and Lo Manthang is an asphalt road and takes two hours. The scenery through this part is stunning but if you don’t like bumpy rides it can be a bit uncomfortable; make sure your vehicle has shock absorbers!

Starting Location Distance Driving Time
Kathmandu 411 km 18 hours
Pokhara  207 km 12 hours
Jomsom  49 km 4 hours

Time taken to drive to Lomanthang, Upper Mustang from different cities, assuming dry season and open roads.

Best time of the year to drive to Mustang, Nepal

The best time of the year to drive to Lo Manthang Upper Mustang is April, May to early June.. 

The road is a single lane dirt track and not suitable for caravans or buses. It takes five hours to drive from Jomsom as the road winds up through forests of cedar, birch and juniper trees.

Also, the temperatures are just right, neither too hot nor too cold during this time. Although you will have to endure some rain showers on your way up, they are not frequent and usually last for only a few hours. It’s also worth driving in the Autumn when all the flowers bloom along the valley. It’s an incredible sight to see.

What season to avoid:

The worst season to visit Lo Manthang is Winter, especially December-February when the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius at night. Also, during these months it rains more frequently and there can be snowfall at higher altitudes. All this makes it difficult to travel through this region during this time of year.

Climbing the road to Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang is a major challenge for vehicles. The road is very narrow and dangerous. It’s not recommended to drive up to Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang during this season. The road is slippery, and it’s extremely hard to have a safe trip.

Also, Avoid July and August when it is the rainy season. When it rains,  the already steep dirt roads turn really slippery and a lot of vehicles struggle to get a good grip on the road. This makes the drive from Pokhara to Jomsom which would normally take 8 hour, upwards of 12 hours during these months, which can be frustrating and dangerous at some sections. 

Busy Season due to peak time for tourists

June to October: June to October is a busy season in Lo Manthang, but it’s still possible to enjoy your trip at this time of year. You can stay in local hotels with fresh local food, which is fresh and tasty. Pay attention to road conditions during these months because sometimes there might be traffic jams due to heavy rain normally from July to August.

 I highly recommend that you hire a driver-guide if you want a memorable trouble free tour during these months. 

Recommended Vehicles for driving to Lo Manthang, Mustang, Nepal 

You need a jeep with 4 wheel drive to get to Lo Manthang, Mustang in Nepal . if the road is in bad condition in some areas and you need 4 wheel drive to safely navigate the steep off-roads. 

Most jeeps which drive from Kathmandu to Lo Manthang are Mahindra Scorpio with 4 wheel drive option. Visitors also like the option of the more high end – Toyota Land cruiser which is a more comfortable vehicle but it costs a lot more than the popular Scorpio. 

People also Ask

Do you need a permit to drive to  Upper Mustang


First things first, you need to get your hands on a permit before you can enter Upper Mustang. The only way to get a permit is to book a tour through a registered trekking company in Nepal. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that you book your trip via an authorized travel agency. You will have to pay for all the permits upfront when you book your trip with your authorized travel agency, and these are the ones you need:

Permit to enter the restricted area of Upper Mustang (USD $500 for 10 days – USD $50 for each additional day after the 10 days are up)

  • You need to a permit to enter Upper Mustang Restricted Area Permit (USD $500 for 10 days – USD $50 for each additional day after the 10 days are up)
  • An ACAP Permit (USD $30)
  • A TIMS Card (USD $10)

These are the three documents that you need to have prior to arriving in Nepal. The permit is obtained in Kathmandu at the Ministry of Tourism.

The ACAP permit is arranged before arrival in Nepal through an agency, or if you are trekking independently, through a registered trekking agent.

The TIMS Card can be issued at the Rasuwagadhi border post on arrival in Nepal, but only if you have a valid visa for Nepal. A TIMS card can also be purchased online at http://timsnepal.com

If you need more information on where to get the permit or additional criteria in detail, you can get the information here.