Travel Guidebook Lists Semiforbidden Kingdom as Top Tourist Destination


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The traditionally remote region of Upper Mustang, which borders the Tibetan Plateau, is preparing for an influx of visitors. A tourism guidebook listing it as a top world destination of 2013 put the former Kingdom of Lo back on the map. New roads will soon also link the region to China and the rest of Nepal.

LO MANTHANG, NEPAL – Once known as the Kingdom of Lo, Upper Mustang is one of the most remote regions in Nepal. Forbidden to tourists until 1992, the area is preparing for an influx in tourism.

The world-renowned travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet listed the Upper Mustang region of Nepal among its picks for top travel destination of 2013. The guidebook calls the region a “forbidden kingdom” and cites a soon-to-be completed road that will connect the region to China and the rest of Nepal as the reason the area will no longer be exclusive.

Despite the hubbub from the listing, life in Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang, remains as it has for centuries. The area is still largely inaccessible by vehicle.  Extreme weather – including strong winds, severe winters and intense sunlight – make growing crops here difficult. Most depend on animal husbandry and seasonal migration to larger cities to make a living.

The government of Nepal is in the process of nominating Lo Manthang as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here, GPI photojournalist Shilu Manandhar reveals the still-remote region.