Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek - Visit The Forbidden Kingdom

Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek – Visit The Forbidden Kingdom


On this page you will find a comprehensive and impartial guide to the Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek.

As this is a very long and detailed article on the Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek, we recommend using the quicklinks below to navigate to the sections that interest you most. Alternatively, bookmark this page for future reference.

Route Overview

The region where the Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek takes place was only opened to trekkers in 1992, before which it was a literal forbidden kingdom, and even now it sees only around 700 trekkers a year.

The Mustang Circuit itself takes from 12 to 14 days. The continuation onto the Upper Mustang trek can take up to an additional 4-6 days

Sights include monasteries and castles dating to the 14th century, fossils which are believed to be older than the mountains and the walled city of Lo-Mathang. Lo-Manthang has walls 20 feet high with a turret at each corner. Often, on street corners you will find small groups of women spinning wool. Towards the end of the afternoon, large herds of goats are taken through the city gate and back to their sheds. There are beautiful, large monasteries such as Thugchen Gompa. An amchi is a traditional Tibetan doctor, and the amchi museum and school await you.

Among the most eye-catching attractions along the trek are the colourful rock formations found here, which could pass for the work of a major artist. This trek is of moderate difficulty and, being in the rain shadow zone, less subject to rain in the monsoon season.

Mustang has it own king, albeit unofficially, since Nepal became a republic in 2008. Still well-regarded, he is Jigme Dorje Palbar Bista, who was born around 1933 and can trace his lineage as far back as the warrior, Ame Pal, who founded the kingdom in 1380. His palace is a huge, four-storey building. He sometimes takes visitors.

One highlight is the three-day Tiji festival, which takes place at the end of the dry season in late winter or spring. Here, a thousand people re-enact a myth of a deity named Dorje Jon who fought with his demon father to the save the kingdom – his father deprived it of water, a highly-precious resource. Everything along this trek looks much as it did 600 years ago.

Regional Map

The trek takes place north of two giants – Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, at the southern tip of the Tibetan Plateau. Lying so close to Tibet, Tibetan influence is heavy. It is a massive, high valley that is arid and dry, brimming with eroded canyons and those colourful rock formations. It has the appearance of a desert and was once famously described as “barren as a dead deer.” The average elevation of Mustang is 13,000 feet and the highest point, Mui La, is less than 700 feet more than that.


Tour Recommendation

If you are unsure about how suitable Mustang Circuit Trek is for you and your group, please leave a comment below with your enquiry, and we will try to help you choose the most suitable option. 

We always reply within 24 hours!


Below is a detailed Mustang Circuit itinerary. Please note that there are several Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek itineraries that can be done.

Below we have laid out the most popular version – 14 days, leaving from Kathmandu. You can choose a slightly longer or shorter version depending on the amount of time you have. If you want to make your own way to Jomsom then you could probably organise this with your operator or guide.

Click each day to

Day 1-2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11​​​​

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14


Video Overview

A beautiful video by Carsten Nebel. The video is 25 minutes long and gives a very detailed overview of what to expect on the Mustang Circuit.

Recommended Guidebook

The Mustang Trek is covered in Annapurna: A Trekker’s Guide by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons and in Shangri-La: A Travel Guide to the Himalayan Dream by Michael Buckley.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the trek cost?

Are permits required for this trek?

When is the best time to trek?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the trek?

What gear do I need?

What travel insurance do I need?

Insurance Information

Trekking insurance is vital in Nepal. This is particularly true on the Mustang Circuit and Upper Mustang Trek which is very remote. If an accident should occur that requires medical assistance and/or evacuation you will most certainly want adequate trekking insurance that can cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Be sure to purchase insurance that covers you for any travel related risks, like lost, damaged, stolen or delayed baggage; flight delays and interruptions; and tour operators default.

This article on travel and trekking insurance provides great information on what type of insurance you need, as well as provides an easy quote calculator from a leading travel operator.

Other Routes


Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular and iconic treks in Nepal. Trekkers get to retrace the early footsteps taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their historic Everest expedition in 1953. Discover the Everest Base Camp Trek.


Langtang Valley Trek

The Langtang Valley Trek is a relatively easy trek and is often far less busy than other popular treks in the Everest and Annapurna region. The trek can be done in seven days, however, it usually takes 10 to 12 days. Discover the Langtang Valley Trek.


Manaslu Circuit Trek

Robin Boustead, author of Nepal Trekking & the Great Himalaya Trail: A route and planning guide, pronounced, “Many would argue that the Manaslu Circuit trail is the best general trek in the country.” Discover the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

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Tour Recommendation

If you are unsure about how suitable Mustang Circuit Trek is for you and your group, please leave a comment below with your enquiry, and we will try to help you choose the most suitable option. 

We always reply within 24 hours!

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Leave a Comment:

Carl Gustafson says June 14, 2018

Hi there is a group of three of us looking to do the upper Mustang trek starting at the end of October and finishing in the first two weeks of Nov. Is that too late in the season? Will there be lodging still available? Also which guide services do you recommend? Thank you for any help you can offer. Cheers, Carl

    Mark Whitman says June 14, 2018

    Hi Carl, it is possible to do the Mustang Circuit this late in the year. I’m not sure on availability of guides and teahouses though. Anyone want to chime in here, to help Carl?

AnuRadha Singh says December 21, 2018

Want to do the trek in April or may need costs and can I do it single or join a group

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