• Modified on Mar 5, 2024

Nestled in the rain shadow of the intimidating Himalayas, Mustang, often referred to as the "Forbidden Kingdom," is a hidden gem in Nepal that captivates adventure explorers and culture enthusiasts. 

The Mustang region is divided into two different areas:Upper Mustang and Lower Mustang with Lo Manthang as the capital of the Mustang kingdom. Lower mustang Nepal covers the Marpha, Jomsom, Muktinath, and Kagbeni villages whereas Upper mustang covers 2 ⁄ 3 of the total area of the Mustang region. In both areas, travelers can experience the authenticity of nature and culture simultaneously. The Mustang region experiences less rainfall across the year, and due to the low precipitation rate, the land is more rugged and dry mostly. Likewise, you can explore this region throughout the year,except during the peak winter season. 

Mustang Region is full of ancient culture, practices, and festivals along with the desert valley in the trans-Himalayas of the north-western side of Nepal. The trekking journey to the Mustang region is a privilege , offering insights into the culture, people, festivals, and breathtaking views. Being a restricted region of Nepal, the cultural and natural beauty remains preserved  in the Mustang region.

This comprehensive guide for Mustang, aims to dig into the mysteries and intricacies of Mustang, offering an exhaustive overview of its geographical, cultural, and historical aspects, providing essential information for an enriching and well-prepared visit.

Table of Content

Introduction and History

Mustang, a remote and enchanting region nestled in the north-central part of Nepal, stands as a testament to both natural grandeur and cultural richness. Bordered by the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges to the south and the vast Tibetan Plateau to the north, Mustang boasts a landscape that ranges from high-altitude deserts to lush river valleys.Mustang, a geographically diverse region, is divided into two main sections: Lower Mustang, with its charming villages like Jomsom, and Upper Mustang, a mystical and once-forbidden kingdom.

The Kali Gandaki River, flowing through the region, has carved the deepest gorge in the world, adding an extra layer of geographical intrigue to Mustang. The landscape is dotted with ancient monasteries, caves adorned with centuries-old paintings, and traditional mud-brick villages that echo the cultural influences of neighboring Tibet. The capital of Upper Mustang, Lo Manthang, with its historic palaces and walled city, exudes an aura of mystery and heritage.

Kali Gandaki River Gorge

Mustang has long captured the imaginations of adventurers and cultural enthusiasts alike. Its history is intertwined with tales of trade along the ancient Salt Route, and the region was once closed to foreigners until 1992, contributing to its moniker as the "Forbidden Kingdom." Today, travelers can explore Mustang's unique landscapes, immerse themselves in its distinctive culture, and witness the convergence of Tibetan and Nepali traditions.

Whether you are trekking through the desert-like highlands, discovering ancient cave paintings, or participating in the vibrant Tiji Festival, a journey to Mustang offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and cultural authenticity. As Mustang gradually opens its doors to the world, it beckons intrepid explorers to experience a realm where time seems to have stood still, and the spirit of the Himalayas weaves a tapestry of wonders awaiting discovery.

Weather and Climate in Mustang

Mustang, situated in the rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, experiences a distinctive climate marked by its high altitude and arid conditions. Summers, from May to September, bring relatively warm daytime temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 °C, but nights can be cold, particularly at higher elevations. Winters, spanning November to February, are characterized by cold temperatures, with daytime highs between 5 and 15 °C and freezing nights. The region witnesses the influence of the monsoon season from June to September, with precipitation remaining comparatively low. Strong winds are a notable feature, especially in the afternoon, owing to the Kali Gandaki Valley's wind tunnel effect. 

weather in miustang

Best Time to Visit Mustang

The best seasons to visit Mustang for an ideal experience are during Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November). During spring, the weather is mild and pleasant, with blooming flowers adding vibrancy to the landscape. Autumn offers stable weather conditions with clear skies, making it ideal for trekking and other outdoor explorations. These seasons provide an optimal balance between favorable weather, stunning scenery, and cultural experiences, attracting trekkers and travelers keen on discovering the unique beauty of the Mustang region. It's advisable to plan visits during these times, considering the diverse terrain and altitude variations in Mustang.

Normal Itinerary to reach Lower Mustang

  1. Arrival in Kathmandu
  2. Kathmandu SIghtseeing
  3. Drive to Pokhara 
  4. Fly to Jomsom, and Trek to Marpha/Kagbeni 
  5. Day tour at Muktinath
  6. Trek back to Jomsom
  7. Flight from Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara
  8. Departure Day

Highlights of Mustang

  • Undertake a sacred pilgrimage to Muktinath Temple in Lower Mustang, revered by both Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Witness the majesty of the Kali Gandaki Gorge, one of the world's deepest, offering awe-inspiring natural views.
  • Explore the enchanting village of Marpha, known for its apple orchards, white washed houses, and cobbled streets.
  • Enjoy the serene atmosphere and take in the views of the surrounding mountains, making Jomsom a perfect resting point on your Mustang journey.
  • Experience the serene allure of Dhumba Lake, a hidden gem nestled in the Mustang region.
  • Wander through the captivating capital of Upper Mustang, Lo Manthang, where ancient palaces and monasteries tell tales of a rich cultural heritage.
  • Immerse yourself in the Tibetan-influenced architecture, exploring traditional mud-brick houses that echo centuries of history.
  • Traverse the barren landscapes and ancient cave dwellings as you embark on a trek through Upper Mustang.
  • Discover the rich history of the region by visiting historic monasteries like Thubchen Gompa and Jampa Gompa along the way.
  • Uncover the mystique of the "Forbidden Kingdom" as you realize its historical seclusion, closed to foreigners until 1992.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant Tiji Festival in Lo Manthang, an annual celebration featuring traditional dances, rituals, and ceremonies.
  • Marvel at the diverse terrains, from high-altitude deserts to lush valleys, offering breathtaking views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.

108 taps in muktinath

Best Places to Visit in Lower Mustang

Mustang, with its captivating landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers a variety of places to explore. From sacred temples to picturesque villages, here are some notable places to visit in Mustang:

  • Dhumba Lake: Situated at an altitude of 2,830 m above sea level, Dhumba is a heart shaped lake in Mustang. Surrounded by untouched natural beauty, the lake provides a peaceful setting for visitors seeking tranquility. The still water reflects the surrounding Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri mountain range, creating a picturesque scene that captivates those who venture to discover this serene haven in the heart of Mustang.

Dhumba Lake Mustang

  • Kagbeni: Nestled at the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Mustang rivers, Kagbeni is a timeless village that beckons travelers with its traditional charm. Its narrow alleys wind through ancient structures, revealing a rich cultural tapestry. Kagbeni serves as the gateway to Upper Mustang, offering breathtaking views of the towering mountains. The village's ancient monasteries and unique architecture provide a glimpse into the region's cultural heritage, making it a captivating stop for those exploring the Mustang region.
  • Jomsom: Jomsom, a bustling town in Lower Mustang, is a vibrant hub for trekkers and travelers at an altitude of 2,783 m. Framed by the Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, Jomsom seamlessly blends traditional Thakali culture with modern amenities. As a central  point for trekking into Upper Mustang, Jomsom welcomes visitors with its scenic beauty and lively atmosphere. The town's markets, monasteries, and surrounding landscapes make it a strategic and picturesque stop on the journey through Mustang.
  • Muktinath Temple: Muktinath is a sacred hindu temple located at the highest elevation of 3,800 m above sea level in Nepal. Nestled in the mountainous terrain of Lower Mustang, Muktinath holds profound religious significance for Hindus and Buddhists alike. The temple complex, adorned with 108 water spouts and an eternal flame, draws pilgrims seeking spiritual solace. Muktinath's sacred atmosphere and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains make it a destination of reverence and awe, contributing to the cultural and religious diversity of Mustang.

Muktinath Temple

  • Kali Gandaki River Gorge: Carving through the heart of Mustang, the Kali Gandaki Gorge stands as a natural marvel, separating the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. As the world's deepest gorge, it offers trekkers a dramatic backdrop as they traverse the region. The gorge's towering cliffs and the roaring Kali Gandaki River create a breathtaking spectacle, showcasing the raw power of nature against the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas.
  • Marpha: Marpha, a charming village in Lower Mustang, is renowned for its apple orchards and the production of Marpha brandy. White-washed houses line cobbled streets, creating an ambiance that transports visitors to a bygone era. Beyond its traditional appeal, Marpha offers a taste of local hospitality, making it a favorite among trekkers. The village's unique blend of culture, craftsmanship, and natural beauty makes it a must-visit destination in the Mustang region.

Accommodation in Mustang

Accommodation options in Mustang, Nepal, particularly in the towns and villages along popular trekking routes like the Annapurna Circuit and Upper Mustang, cater to the needs of trekkers and travelers. While the availability and types of accommodations can vary, here are some common options:

  • Tea Houses or Guest Houses: Tea Houses are a prevalent form of accommodation along trekking routes in Mustang. These establishments provide basic amenities such as a bed, blankets, and meals. The level of comfort can vary, but teahouses offer a communal and sociable atmosphere, allowing travelers to interact with fellow trekkers.
  • Lodges: Lodges in Mustang range from simple guesthouses to more comfortable accommodations with private rooms and attached bathrooms. These lodges may offer additional services such as hot showers, Wi-Fi, and dining facilities. The level of luxury varies, but lodges are generally a more comfortable option than teahouses.
  • Homestays: In some villages, particularly in Lower Mustang, visitors may have the opportunity to stay in homestays. This option provides a more authentic cultural experience, allowing guests to live with local families, share meals, and gain insights into the daily life of the community.
  • Camping: For those seeking a more immersive and adventurous experience, camping is an option in certain areas of Mustang. Trekking agencies and guides can arrange camping equipment and facilities for travelers who prefer a closer connection with nature.
  • Hotels in Major Towns: In larger towns like Jomsom and Kagbeni, some hotels offer a wider range of amenities, including comfortable rooms, attached bathrooms, and dining services. These hotels cater to both trekkers and other visitors exploring the region.

Accommodation in Mustang

Permits and Entrance Fees 

As Lower Mustang lies under the Annapurna Conservation Area, you will need the following permits:

  • Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP): $30 per person

Whereas, If you are trekking or wish to extend your visit to Upper Mustang, you will need a:

  • TIMS (in case you are trekking): $10 per person
  • Restricted Area Permit:  $500 for ten days per person. if the expedition lasts longer than 10 days, $50 per day (within the Upper Mustang area proper).

To know more about essential permits in Nepal, visit here.

Flora and Fauna in Mustang

Mustang, Nepal, showcases a diverse range of flora and fauna across its landscapes. Alpine vegetation, wildflowers, and thorny bushes characterize the region's plant life, while domestic animals like yaks and dzos are wildly common. The area is a haven for birdlife, including vultures and eagles. Though large mammals are limited due to the harsh terrain, snow leopards and Himalayan blue sheep are present. Conservation efforts are underway to protect Mustang's unique biodiversity, emphasizing responsible tourism practices. Travelers can enjoy the natural beauty while contributing to the preservation of this remarkable ecosystem.

Foods and Culture in Mustang

Mustang's unique cuisine is deeply influenced by Thakali traditions, and features staples like Dhido (buckwheat dough) and Thakali Dal Bhat. Local specialties include apple brandy and apple pies from Marpha. Tibetan momo dumplings are also popular Mustang. 

The culture of Mustang is deeply rooted by Tibetan traditions and Tibetan Buddhism. Monasteries like Jampa Lhakhang and Thubchen Gompa are cultural landmarks in Mustang. The annual Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang showcases the vibrant religious traditions. 

Tiji Festival

The unique Yak Dance is another traditional dance performed in the Mustang Region of Nepal. The Yak Dance is a significant cultural experience that reflects the local lifestyle and dependence on yaks, which are the integral parts of the economy in Mustang. During the Yak Dance, people dress up in the traditional costumes, disguising as a  yak and mimic the movements and behaviors of yak. Yaks play a vital role in the livelihood of locals in Mustang. So, as a way to show gratitude towards yaks,yak dance is performed on the occasion of Tiji Festival. Whereas it also serves as the  unique cultural attraction for tourists in Nepal.

The unique mud-brick architecture, ancient cave paintings, and traditional farming practices are integral to the cultural fabric. Festivals bring the community together, reflecting the warmth and hospitality of the Mustang.

Why is Mustang one of the Major Tourist Attractions in Nepal?

"Mustang, Nepal has recently been ranked 37th among the 52 must-visit places in 2024 by The New York Times." Here are some significant reasons why mustang is one of the major tourist attractions in Nepal:

  • Until 1992, Mustang was a restricted area, often referred to as the "Forbidden Kingdom." This historical seclusion has added a layer of mystique to the region, attracting adventurous travelers seeking to explore a place that was off-limits to outsiders for many years.
  • Mustang boasts diverse landscapes, ranging from high-altitude deserts to deep river valleys. The stunning backdrop of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, along with the Kali Gandaki Gorge (the world's deepest gorge), creates a visually captivating environment that appeals to nature lovers and trekkers.
  • The Upper Mustang trek is a popular trekking route that takes visitors through picturesque villages, ancient monasteries, and breathtaking landscapes. The trek offers a unique blend of cultural immersion and natural beauty, making it a coveted experience for adventure enthusiasts.

Kageni Mustang

  • The Tiji Festival, celebrated annually in Lo Manthang, is a major attraction. This vibrant and ancient festival features traditional dances, rituals, and ceremonies, providing visitors with an opportunity to witness the rich cultural and religious traditions of the region.
  • Mustang played a crucial role in the ancient Salt Route trade between Tibet and India. The remnants of this historical trade route, along with ancient forts and palaces, contribute to Mustang's historical significance, drawing history enthusiasts and cultural explorers.
  • Muktinath, located in Lower Mustang, is a significant pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. Pilgrims visit Muktinath to seek spiritual solace, adding a religious dimension to the region's attractions.
  • The people of Mustang, known as Mustangis, have worked diligently to preserve their unique Tibetan cultural identity. This commitment to cultural preservation adds authenticity to the visitor experience and fosters an appreciation for the region's distinct heritage.


These key considerations will guide you in planning and enriching your trip in the mesmerizing region of Mustang, Nepal. Throughout your journey, be prepared to witness the vast landscapes, serene valleys, and diverse wildlife, promising an adventure that is both exhilarating and fulfilling. Moreover, the allure of Mustang extends beyond its borders, allowing you the option to seamlessly combine this trek with other renowned routes in the Annapurna region, such as the Upper Mustang Trek or Annapurna Circuit Trek should you wish to extend your exploration.

For those seeking more off-the-beaten-path adventures alongside Mustang, experience the Nar Phu Valley Trek stands as an intriguing alternative. These lesser-known treks promise unique perspectives and cultural encounters, adding depth to your Himalayan escapade.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime for inquiries specific to your next trip to Mustang. We believe that this guide will not only prepare you for the wonders of the Mustang trek but also inspire anticipation for the extraordinary experiences that await.

Ashmita Thapa

Ashmita Thapa

Ashmita is a content writer at Footprint Adventure with a really positive outlook on life. She is dedicated to exploration, and enjoys going on hikes and treks. She is delighted to travel  and explore the beauty of Nepal with Footprint Adventure. She genuinely believes in promoting her native country in whatever manner she can, with the goal of making the biggest possible contribution to the travel and tourism sector.

Ashmita adds that she is extremely appreciative of Footprint Adventure for offering her the opportunity to learn more about travel and tourism. She would also like to grow here with more dedication and effort for the company. She also values the chance to meet new people, explore various regions and cultures, and broaden her knowledge about travel and tourism in Nepal.

"Self-improvement comes through change. Push yourself to the places you've never been before"