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Darchen, Tibet

330 km to the southeast of Shiquanhe is Darchen (塔钦) which is the only town and base for visiting both Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. Darchen is a completely Tibetan town though there are now more and more Chinese settling down opening hotels and restaurants. It has quite a few hotels and many blocks of new buildings and even a (very) small primary school.

Getting Around: Darchen is the starting point for the kora around Mount Kailash. It is not exactly on the main road that connects Shiquanhe and Purang but buses to/fro these two places will turn into Shiquanhe to drop and pick up passengers- the main road is also part of the southern route to Lhasa. Generally the buses run every two days but occasionally they may skip a day. There is also a bus service that goes to Shigatse every two days.

Apart from public buses there are many 4WD’s that are happy to do the run to Lhasa. Generally it costs 800-1,000 RMB per passenger on one of these jeeps to get to Lhasa. However if one cannot wait for sufficient passengers to fill up the jeep, they can be chartered for around 6,000-7,000 RMB for the 2 days/1 night trip. Either ask the hotel owners to arrange these transports or ask any of the drivers that hang around the square or teahouses in town.

Lake Manasarover is only 22 km south of the town. The only transport to the lake is to charter a 4WD; there are many 4WD’s for charter and their drivers normally hang around the town square. It costs 400 RMB to charter a Landcruiser to the lake.

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