Most of you have probably never heard of the Langtang Valley or Langtang National Park, right? Or heard anything about this unknown but beautiful trekking circuit in Nepal, only a relative short drive from the chaos of Kathmandu. If you have ever been lucky enough to be walking around the streets of the capital on an exceptionally clear day, the mountains you will be seeing are those of the Langtang National Park.
So what to expect on the Langtang Valley trek? Stunning and often blooming rhododendron forests, Tibetan villages with some of the friendliest people on earth, exceptional hiking and often challenging sections along the Langtang Khola (river), valleys of waterfalls to 360-degree views of snowcapped peaks including that of Langtang Lirung, a 7,200 metre mountain.
Trekking in Langtang Valley is mindblowing! In this Langtang Valley Trek blog I will tell you all the things you need to know: places to see, difficulty, where to stop/sleep, trek cost, itinerary and more tips for an incredible experience.
The Langtang Valley trek has everything that the Everest Basecamp trek and Annapurna Basecamp trek have and the best thing about this Langtang trek is that you’ll pretty much have the whole valley to yourself… apart from a yak or two!
So if you want to get off the beaten path in Nepal travel to Langtang Valley!
Best time to do the Langtang Valley Trek
October and November are the ideal months to put on your hiking boots with little rain, good amounts of sunshine and warmth at lower altitudes. On higher grounds it already starts to get colder so prepared yourself well for the Langtang trekking.
Spring is also perfection from late March to May as Rhododendron’s bloom and wildflowers pop up all over the valley. This time of the year makes the Langtang stand out from other trekking circuits in Nepal.
In summer don’t be put off by the warmer weather below Lama Hotel because the higher you go, the colder it will get especially once you pass Langtang Village (from day 3 onwards). Chances of rain are significantly higher these months.
I did the Langtang Valley trek in the first week of June and temperatures were perfect for trekking. There was a slight chance of rain from day to day, but only one day it actually rained for about 2 hours. We found shelter in a tea house and order a pot of tea. Also magical! Unfortunately our days were mostly clouded, nevertheless it was an absolutely amazing lifetime experience.
Langtang trek difficulty
In general I found the Langtang trekking a bit more challenging than the Annapurna Basecamp trek, especially the first two days were long and tough to get through. From day 3 onwards it flattens out a little more and the trek becomes easier. In terms of altitude the Langtang Valley trek is pretty easy as the last village of the valley, Kyanjin Gompa, lies at only 3,800 / 12,500 foot.
These donkeys are only for transportation of goods. They look sweet and innocent, but one tried to kick me so be careful! You don't want to get injured while trekking in Langtang Valley.
If you scroll down on this blog you will find the Langtang trek itinerary in where I describe every day including the difficulty per day.
Personally, I would not worry about the Langtang Valley Trek difficulty too much. The first two days of any trekking are always hard. Every though start requires a little determination, but once you get through that and you start seeing the beauty of the surrounding mountain peaks then you will only be smiling.
Do you need a porter/guide?
When trekking the Annapurna Basecamp in 2013 I did not have a guide nor a porter. In all honesty I don’t think you need one for the Langtang Trek either, but…
My Langtang valley trek was with a group of 10 people and we had 1 amazing guide and 5 porters. Although you don’t need someone to guide you (there is only one way up) our guide was such an amazing addition to our team it was lovely to have him around. The same counted for the porters!
By hiring a team of porters and a guide you are contributing to local communities by offering these people a job. On top of that Nepali people are some of the friendliest in the world and having their smiling faces around you will surely cheer you up in times that the Langtang trekking is difficult. Also you don’t have to worry about guesthouses, meals, trip planning, etc. They fix it for you!
I hardly brought anything and only had my standard blue little backpack that I am now traveling around the world with for the last couple years. Which one? Click here to check out my Pacsafe.
What to pack for the Langtang Valley trek
For a comprehensive Nepal packing list be sure to visit my article in the link. There you will find everything you need to bring on the Langtang trek. Below in my list of Langtang Valley tips you can already find a couple essential things to bring.
9 Langtang Valley tips
1. Where to sleep in Langtang Valley
The trekking is a so-called tea house trekking. Basically you hike from mountain village to mountain village. Some villages consist of 50 houses, some of only 5. But no worries there are plenty guesthouses everywhere scattered along the trek. Accommodation is very basic but warm and cosy. Staying at the local guesthouses are one of the best things about trekking in Nepal in general.
Bring toilet paper! Western toilets are a rarity on the Langtang Valley trek. Some newer guesthouses in the bigger villages (Langtang Village and Kyanjin Gompa) have western toilets, but for the rest it will be squat toilets. My best tip is to start practicing! :)
First off have no expectations! If you prepare for the worst than all will be fine. Yes there are showers along the Langtang Valley Trek, but hot water is NOT guaranteed or chargeable. Don’t expect a hair dryer or any luxury item! So time your showers right…
On my 7-day trek in Langtang I had 3 hot showers. At the start and end of the Langtang trek in Shyaphru Besi and when we stayed at Langtang Village.
4. No ATMs
Make sure to carry enough cash on you to last the entirety of the trip from Kathmandu to Kyanjin Gompa and back as there are no ATM’s along the way. I will talk about the Langtang trek cost later, but better bring too much cash than a little too less. In the end of the day you are supporting local villages in the Langtang Valley and it feels good to spend money on these amazingly lovely people.
5. Phone signal
One of my favorite things about trekking in Nepal is that I can completely switch off. My first big trekking adventure was at Annapurna Basecamp in 2013 when I hiked through the mountains for 15 days. So when I went on the Langtang trekking I was really looking forward to not being online.
Things have changed and even going off the beaten path in Nepal there is a phone signal on the Langtang trek. In my article about the best sim card for Nepal I already explained that in case you are planning to go trekking in Langtang Valley you have to buy a Nepal Telecom sim card as that is the only signal available. There is only a signal in Langtang Village and Kyanjin Gompa, funny enough the two highest located villages at the end of the valley.
Ncell Nepal has no signal! I had an Ncell sim card and therefore still disconnected and I can tell you it feels amazing! :)
6. Wifi available
Nowadays there is even WiFi! So in case you really want to be connected to the internet you can buy internet access for a couple dollars. It costs about $10 for 1GB and you can use it in several guesthouse around Langtang Village and Kyanjin Gompa. Don’t expect high speed internet but I saw some other people using Instagram and Facebook with the Wifi.
7. Bring powerbanks
Most guesthouses will let you charge your electronic devices for free, others ask less than a dollar. But electricity plugs are limited so it is better to bring a couple strong powerbanks with you.
8. Tipping guides/porters
It is normal to tip your guides and porters. I am not 100% sure anymore but I think we tipped $30 per person with 10 people and dived the tip over the guide and the porters. The smile on their faces was priceless.
9. Langtang Trekking permit
Trekking in the Langtang Valley requires a TIMS card or a ‘Trekkers Information Management System’. These cards cost around 5,000 Nepalese Rupees ($44) and can be purchased enroute to the trailhead of the Langtang Valley or at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu.
A TIMS is a requirement for every major trekking in Nepal. Along with a TIMS, you are going to need to pay an entry fee for Langtang National Park. The Langtang National Park Entry Permit costs 3,000 Nepalese Rupees ($26).
Make sure you carry extra passport photos and a copy of your passport before purchasing a TIMS or National Park Permit as this will help the officers collect information for your TIMS.
Best Langtang trek itinerary
The most common Langtang trek itinerary is 7 days. Including the drive from and back to Kathmandu this Langtang Valley trek itinerary is 9 days.
Day 1: Drive from Kathmandu to Shyaphru Besi
- Distance: 120 kilometers (75 miles).
- Time: 9-11 hours depending on traffic and road conditions.
Getting to the trailhead of any trekking in Nepal is an adventure in itself meaning that nearly all adventures are bound to start in Kathmandu and may take up to half a day or more merely to get to the starting point of your trek.
Day 1 is more of a travel day, a really long one so make sure you are packed and ready to hit the road as early as possible to avoid the chaotic traffic of Kathmandu. Ideally, 05.00 or 06.00 in the morning is the perfect time to leave the city to avoid most of the crazy traffic.
Shyaphru Besi is located some 5 hours from the main road connecting Kathmandu and Pokhara and if you get out of the city before the traffic crawls to a stop, the whole trip either by bus or jeep should not take more than 9 hours.
Bus and jeep days can be long so make sure you charge up your phone or bring a book along to help pass the time. But prepare yourself for an at times horrible trip. Sorry I can’t make it sound better. The roads are really those of your worst nightmares! LOL
Oh and it is dusty! Like really dusty… :) A Langtang trekking tip I would like to tell everyone is to fix a vehicle with AC, like closed windows kind of bus/jeep! The dust is killing, or buy a mouthpiece!
Once at the trailhead, Shyaphru Besi is the last main town you will pass for the next week so be sure to have all the things to bring for the Langtang trek. Another good tip is to stock up on trail-snacks at Shyaphru Besi as the higher you climb into the Langtang Valley, the more expensive things become.
Day 2: From Shyaphru Besi to Lama Hotel
- Difficulty: Hard (long and tiring)
- Time: up to 8 hours
- Altitude: From 1,460 to 2,470 meter, total of 1,010 meters (3,310 ft) ascent.
Hiking out of Shyaphru Besi is a good feeling and knowing that you have officially put on the hiking boots and headed for the Himalaya is an even better feeling. The Langtang Valley trek has started! The first few kilometers of the trek involve swing bridges decorated with colourful flags and a first glimpse of the Langtang Khola which is a mighty river originating from the Langtang Glacier.
The first hour of the trek is quite flat following parts of an unfinished road and a rather mild mule track but that all changes once you arrive in the town of Pahare where a seemingly endless barrage of ups and downs occur over the course of the next 4 or 5 hours.
Fueling up or eating when trekking at altitude is essential so don’t forget to have lunch and plenty of water. Bamboo is an idyllic place to rest before pushing on through the thick native forests.
Me and my guide at Bamboo.
After resting up at Bamboo, you will notice the steep, rocky walls of the Langtang Khola which rise sharply into the sky. If you are lucky enough, Langurs are a species of monkey common to the area and can be seen bounding from tree to tree in search of fruit and new leaf shoots. High on the rocky walls are ginormous hives of honey often 1 to 2 metres in circumference which are extremely difficult to get to and harvest.
For the remainder of day 1, the trek weaves and winds over loose scree while continuing along the Langtang Khola River.
Lama Hotel is the name of the town and not a specific hotel and was our first place to sleep on the Langtang trek. Lama Hotel is based on the raging corner of the Langtang Khola while being tucked away into a beautiful patch of forest where curious monkeys often come down from the trees to pinch food from unsuspecting tourists.
The best place to stay in Lama Hotel is the first guesthouse on the left called Friendly Guest House. Everyone was broken that first day and even before dinner we all laid down to take a nap. Day 1 of the Langtang trek definitely was the most difficult one.
Day 3: Lama Hotel to Langtang Village
- Difficulty: Medium to hard as you will feel the big day from yesterday.
- Time: up to 7 hours.
- Altitude: From 2,470 to 3,400 meter, a total of 970 meters (3,200 feet) ascent.
Lama Hotel to Langtang Village is a big day and a welcome change to the ups and downs of Shyaphru Besi to Lama Hotel. Already after 1 day of hiking, the scenery starts to change within the first 2 hours of hiking.
Once you have hiked past the small village of Thomna, the valleys open right up giving stunning views of the towering cliffs and the odd glimpse of Langshisha Ri, a 6,560 metre snowcapped peak still some incredible distance away.
During the 2015 earthquake, the Langtang Valley was one of the most heavily affected regions in Nepal so you will notice large areas of debris, ruined houses and remnants of the recent earthquake. As the region is now stable, there are times where you will see plumes of dust after loosened rocks gravitate their way to the valley floor.
With towering cliffs all around, waterfalls are a common sight.
Enroute to Langtang village, there are a few good options for a meal and a cup of hot tea my favourite being Chyamki, a tiny village just before Langtang village and a mere 45 minutes hike away. What makes Chyamki so incredible the fact that it just survived from being wiped off the map in the 2015 earthquake.
Today, an area the size of 30 or more football fields divides Chyamki from Langtang Village. This particular landslide was so intense that it dislodged a glacier which slid from high up in the mountains above and to get from one village to another, you have to cross the remnant glacier by foot!
Langtang Village sits at 3,400 meters and is the first place from where you will get to take in the ultimate Himalayan views at a relatively close distance. To the north of the village, the Luri Himal can be seen, a 6,905 meter mountain peak. This particular chain of mountains connect to Langtang Lirung but more on that later!
With the Langtang Village being affected by the 2015 earthquake, many guesthouses are still being built but there are plenty to choose from. The good thing about all these new guesthouses is that they mostly have a western toilet and a proper hot shower.
Langtang Village was the only place on the trekking where I took a hot shower. Don’t judge me, it is normal to take only 1 shower a week when trekking in Nepal. By the way I tried washing myself in the Langtang Khola River but damn you need a thick skin for that: COLD!!!!
Day 4: Langtang Village to Kyanjin Gompa
- Difficulty: fairly easy as it is mostly flat/very slowly ascending.
- Time: up to 4 hours.
- Altitude: From 3,400 to 3,800 meter, a total of 400 meters (1,300 feet) ascent.
Langtang Village to Kyanjin Gompa is a slow going day despite its short distance. As the trail progresses, the valley opens right up and reveals stunning peaks in all directions.
As soon as you put Langtang Village behind there is a short steep climb for about 20 minutes, but then the trail flattens and follows Mani walls which are long rock walls with hand carved Buddhist writings imbedded into slabs of rock. Walking past Mani walls requires you to walk on the left-hand side which is a sign of respect for Buddhism and Hinduism which are prevalent in Nepal.
With only a few ups and downs, the hike is straightforward giving you time to take in the sights of a stupa at Yamphu which can be entered. In the middle of the stupa is a prayer wheel of gigantic proportions that spins as it is pushed while butter lamps flicker with the entering breeze.
From the Yamphu stupa, it is a matter of 30 minutes uphill hike to Kyanjin Gompa.There are several ways to reach Kyanjin Gompa, I recommend to take the high route over the big hanging bridge from where you have amazing views over one of the glaciers in the Langtang Valley.
Once you arrive in the small but charming town of Kyanjin Gompa, be prepared to be blown away by the closeness of Himalayan giants. Every direction you set your eyes upon, mountains pierce the sky while glaciers, seracs and chutes of snow bound the imposing mountain faces.
For now, take the rest of the afternoon off to acclimatize so sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the views! Chilling out in Kyanjin Gompa taking in these views with a hot tea was one of my highlights of the Langtang Valley trekking.
Day 5: Rest/acclimatisation day at Kyanjin Gompa
There’s nothing more important than having a rest day or even two when hiking at altitude. Acclimatization allows your body to adapt to the change in atmospheric pressure. The higher in altitude you are, the less oxygen is available so there are a few key things to do to help your body adjust.
Drink More Water! Dehydration at altitude is common. When conditions are colder you may not want to consume water or fluids, but you’ll need to drink as much as possible until you become hydrated.
Drink Less Alcohol! Look who’s talking! But seriously guys, alcohol and altitude DO NOT go hand in hand. Wait until you are at a reasonable level, preferably when descending before consuming alcohol. Or just when you know you are going down.
In all honesty we got freaking drunk on day 6 in Kyanjin Gompa after we climbed to Kyanjin Ri. :)
Go High, Sleep Low! Possibly one of the best techniques for adapting to higher altitudes. A simple method of hiking to a higher altitude than to where you are going to sleep that night. Hiking to an altitude of already 200 meters higher than your accommodation and turning around will drastically help you sleep at night.
Don’t Forget to Eat! At altitude, your body consumes a lot of energy so make sure you have had an adequate meal before going to bed.
Take naps! Sleeping is by far the most important thing to do while at altitude. Sleeping at altitude can be strange with lucid, real life dreams occurring almost nightly to restless nights where you might not get any shut eye at all. Nights in the Himalaya and guesthouses can be long as they are very different to that of a western house so bring a book to read or music to listen to and that might help you sleep.
I usually sleep bad in the mountains. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, because of my aching body. I seriously felt like I was suffering insomnia the first days on the Langtang Valley trek.
Now for exploring the village of Kyanjin Gompa!
With a rest day at hand, make sure to get out of the guesthouse to stretch your legs. Without doing anything too extravagant, you can walk to the nearby Yak Cheese Factory and sample a rather tasty delicacy of the high Himalaya.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, I recommend going for a short walk to a lone stupa looking out to the incredible 7,227 meter Langtang Lirung peak which takes around 1 hour return.
Day 6: Summit Kyanjin Ri and back to Kyanjin Gompa
- Difficulty: Hard! This day involves some serious climbing, don't underestimate it.
- Time: up to 6 hours.
- Altitude: From 3,800 to 4,770 meter, a total of 970 meters (3,200 feet) ascent and back down.
Kyanjin Ri a peak adjacent to Kyanjin Gompa and a good challenge providing exceptional views of Langtang Lirung, Yala Peak and the Dorje/ Kangjala Himal.
The hike to Kyanjin Ri can be divided into two parts with the first being a rocky outcrop perched at 4,300 meters. As the hike is quite a jump in altitude, be sure to spend 30 to 45 minutes here before pressing on to the summit of Kyanjin Ri.
Kyanjin Ri is further away than it appears and is a lot steeper than you would imagine. A beautiful ridgeline precariously fades into the distant with the Kinshung and Yubra peak dominating the view. Depending on your level of fitness, the summit of Kyanjin Ri can be reached within 1 hour, preferably take your time to avoid altitude sickness related problems.
The views from the top of Kyanjin Ri are outstanding with enhanced views of Langtang Lirung as well as the gnarly ridgeline and summit of Kinshung Peak. When you are lucky you can even see the Shishapangma mountain just across the border in Tibet/China. This is the 14th highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8,027 meters (26,335 ft).
When I was climbing to the top of Kyanjin Ri it started raining and I almost aborted my mission. Luckily I decided a little while later to continue and I’m extremely happy I did. Reaching the top of a mountain probably is one of the most rewarding feeling there is!
A long time ago in 2008 I did my first mountaineering trip in Bolivia to the summit of a mountain 6,088 meters (19,980 ft) above sea level. Until today it is one of my best travel adventures from around the world.
Descending from the summit can take 2 hours at the most but be careful as there are lots of loose, rocky sections.
Day 7: From Kyanjin Gompa back down to Lama Hotel
- Difficulty: Easy! From this day onwards it is all downhill.
- Time: 6 to 8 hours.
- Altitude: 1,440 meters (4725 ft) descent.
The Langtang Valley Trek as you might have noticed is a return trek unless you are thinking of combining the Panch Pokhari Trek which can be done by taking a high route just past Kyanjin Gompa.
As for the return part of the trek, you can do it in a few different ways depending on the time you have allowed yourself in Langtang Valley. If you are thinking of changing up the trek on the way back down, you could possibly stay at a different guesthouse in a different town or village.
Nearly 95% of the trek is downhill and the elevation that you will lose is guaranteed to give you a good night’s rest.
Due to our time restraints, we chose to hike back to Lama Hotel which took 8 hours and stayed at the same guesthouse due to the awesome hospitality provided. The party already started in Kyanjin Gompa, but when we got our hands on a couple more bottles of Nepali rum we got completely hammered at Lama Hotel.
Day 8: Lama Hotel to Shyaphru Besi
- Difficulty: easy/medium. It just drags along and you want to get back to civilisation!
- Time: 6 hours
- Altitude: 1,010 meters (3,310 feet) descent.
Once again, due to time restraints we were unable to extend our time in the Langtang Valley however if you have sufficient time towns like Bamboo and Hotspring provide all your needs for an overnight stay off the beaten path in Nepal. Both Bamboo and Hotspring are meters away from the Langtang Khola giving you a soothing soundtrack to your relaxation after a day on the trail.
When doing the Annapurna Basecamp trekking in 2013 I loved it so much that I was probably the slowest trekker on the mountain. If you have time, take your time! You won’t regret being an extra day close to nature and it cuts the long walk down into two as well.
If you decide to press on for Shyaphru Besi, today is much like the first day with a decent amount of ups and downs, swing bridges and warm temperatures.
After a week or more in the Langtang Valley, Shyaphru Besi is a welcoming site with a hot shower very much on the cards.
Day 9: Back to Kathmandu!
I hope all the above Langtang Valley trek tips were helpful and it got you excited to go off the beaten path in Nepal. May you have any questions please hit me up on my Instagram @traveltomtom. Here you will also find some more stories and videos of my Langtang trekking. Curious what to bring to Nepal then click on my packing list article and read what to put in your suitcase. Also inspiring to read is one of my first ever articles about the Poonhill trekking. A short but great trekking in the Annapurna region to one of the most amazing viewpoints in the Himalayas.
Curious how to be able to travel the world full time? Click on the link to read my story or see here how to make money from travel blogging.
Enjoy your trip to Langtang Valley!