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Tengboche Monastery

Last Updated 09/01/2023.

A few days ago somebody on social media asked me what my favorite, all time, travel memory was. Without hesitation I told the lady-of-travel that it was the time I trekked to Tengboche Monastery with my son, then 11 years old. I added a footnote, that I doubted he would agree. I was curious though so I interrupted his online gaming to ask him his favourite travel memory. He said the same, no hesitation, no prompting, we hadn’t been talking about Nepal or our trek recently and I knew full well he’d had a tough time up there, but that was his answer. It brought silent motherly tears to my eyes. This post is about Tengboche Monastery and the trek to Tengboche Monastery from Lukla via Namche Bazaar.

tengboche

In February-or-was-it-March we look the white-knuckle plane ride to Lukla from Kathmandu to start our little walk in the Himalayas. We hadn’t gone to Nepal to trek, we didn’t bring any gear and it wasn’t in our plan for that month but once we hit the ground in magical Thamel, we just couldn’t help ourselves and had to get up into the mountains.

Adventure travel is what we love, particularly adventures in the Himalayas, trekking or hiking. The mountains called us once more.

Where is Tengboche Monastery

Tengboche Monastery (also called Thyangboche Monastery or Dawa Choling Gompa) is a high altitude Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Tengboche Village, which is in Khumjung, in the country of Nepal. Nepal is in the sub region of Asia, South Asia. It is one of the monasteries trekkers pass on the Everest Base Camp trek.

Mountain view from Tengboche Monastery
A magnificent mountain view from the courtyard of Tengboche Monastery. Everest is visible in the other direction, see below.

The Monastery is inside Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, which is in the Everest Region or Khumbu Region of Nepal for which visitors must purchase a permit. Tengboche is in the Mahalangur Himalayan range sub-range of the Himalayas.

Tengboche Monastery was first bult in 1916 by Lama Gulu, however since then it has been destroyed twice, by earthquake and then by fire in 1834 and 1989 respectively. Tengboche is a working monastery and home to up to 60 monks, but visitors are allowed inside.

Shoes and boots must be removed to enter, there is no admission ticket or entrance fee.

Tengboche Monastery Courtyard
The inner courtyard at Tengboche Monastery.

Just before you enter the monastery at the top of the brick steps and after the curtain in our photo, you will see a large stone footprint relic.

Inside Tengboche monastery rock imprint
The rock relic, just inside Tengboche monastery.
Tengboche Monastery rock inscription
The inscription on the rock inside Tengboche Monastery reads “The footprints and marks left by Lama Sangwa Dorje in solid rock. When he meditated here in the 16th century he predicted a monastery would be built at Tengboche. The rock cracked in the fire.” The last line is illegible.

Inside the monastery there are icons, thanka, murals, very traditional decorations and religious items, plus cushioned rows of seating for the monks. It’s very much worth taking your boots off to go inside.

Many of the monasteries precious prayer books and documents were destroyed in the 1989 electrical fire.

You are quite likely to see monks praying, chanting and playing musical instruments. It’s a very spiritual and moving place. No photography was allowed inside at the time of our last visit.

Interestingly Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was once sent here to join the monks. He was born in this region.

Nepal and Tegboche are entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, at 27.8 degrees north of the equator. It is 86.7 degrees east of the Greenwich Meridian.

Tengboche Monastery is in Nepal, not India, it is in north east Nepal close to China (Tibet).

How To Get To Tengboche Monastery

You can walk to Tengboche (Thyangboche) Monastery, or you can get to Tengboche Monastery by helicoper, the latter is not advisable if you’re unacclimatised. There is a helipad at Tengboche village. You may also be able to arrange a horse or mule to ride to Tengboche.

The normal route for most trekkers is to fly to Lukla then walk for 3-4 days to Tengboche. There are also alternative trekking routes up to Lukla which add 4-7 days to your journey.

There are a few lodges and hotels in Tengboche and a bakery and tea houses. Most people keep going past Tengboche to Dingboche (9.1km or 6 miles as the crow flies) for that night’s lodging. This extra journey should take about an hor and a half and this section is quite easy if I remember correctly.

There are direct flight to Lukla daily (weather allowing) from Kathmandu Airport Nepal.

Tengboche Monastery Altitude

Tengboche Monastery is at an elevation of 3861m or 12667feet. At this altitude trekkers experience barometric pressure of 63 KPa. The thin air will be very noticeable for trekkers arriving in Tengboche as the village and monastery are at the top of “Tengboche Hill” one of the most difficult uphill sections on the Everest Base Camp trek.

This hill has an ascent of over 600m in altitude gain from Phungi Tenga, at the lowest point in the valley below. Here you need to cross a suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi river and there are places to eat or get tea. This will be your last chance to eat before reaching Tengboche.

Can You See Everest From Tengboche

See Everest From Tengboche
A good view of Mount Everest from Tengboche. Photo taken (by me) standing outside Tengboche Monastery.

Yes Tengboche has a good view of Everest if there is no cloud and indeed panoramic views of many mountains. As with all views of Everest on the Everest Base Camp trek, you only ever really see the summit of Mount Everest above the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

However, you don’t need to walk as far as Tengboche Monastery to see Everest, there are several view points earlier in the trek, the first being just before Namche Bazaar. There is no “best” place to see mount Everest, it all depends on cloud conditions and time of year. October usually brings the clearest skies and is peak trekking time.

The summit of Mount Everest (on the Nepal/China border) is 23.1 km, 14.3 miles as the crow flies. The distance to walk to Everest Base Camp from Tengboche is 24.5 km, 15.2 miles, a walk that under normal conditions should only take 6 hours or so. But you are still several days from Base Camp yet!

Distance From Namche Bazaar to Tengboche Monastery

Tengboche Monastery Mount Everest Location
Photo of the hiking trail between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche (Thyangboche) showing the location of Mount Everest and Tengboche Monastery relatice to each other. (circled) Lhotse and Ama Dablam are to the left of Everest.

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche Monastery is only 5.9 km as the crow flies, however the walking route is much longer at 8.6km. This is the standard Everest Base Camp Trek route, but there is an alternative route via Kumjung Village and Khumjung Monastery.

Signpost for Tengboche
There are very few signposts on the EBC trek but this one marks the point where you would turn off to Kumjung if you were returning from Tengboche. The trails meet at a crossroads of footpaths at Sanasa. The Gokyo Lakes trek also verges off the main EBC trail here.

This detour adds 3.2 km to Khumjung Monastery (you can make a side trip to the Everest View Hotel, adding more distance) and then from Khumjung Monastery and Khumjung town (where you will find The Hillary School and a Yeti Skull) you descend to Phungi Thenga.

Everest view from Khumjung
Taking the route to Tengboche via Khumjung gives you better Mt Everest views because of the greater elevation. Kumjung monastery is higher than Tengboche, 3790 m and 3861m respectively.

From memory this took about half an hour to rejoin the main trail below. I don’t know the exact distance. It’s certainly an interesting detour and not included on most Everest Base Camp group package tours. These tours normally go to Everest View Hotel from Namche, and back, as an acclimatisation walk.

Namche To Tengboche Trek

You can walk from Namche Bazaar, to Tengboche and on to Dingboche in one day, but this would mean the hard ascent of Tengboche Hill would be in the afternoon and you may be tired.

That said, the first part of this walk is easy, flat, and then downhill to Phungi Tenga, so the morning’s walk shouldn’t be too hard.

The distance from Namche to Tengboche is only 5.9 km as the crow flies, but the walking distance is more at 8.6km. The given walk time is just under 2 hours, but most people will need to stop for breaks and to catch their breath as the steep Tengboche Hill and thin air make the going hard.

There’s an alternative way to walk between Namche and Tengboche, via the town of Khumjung and the Khumjung Monastery, this is an interesting side trek as you can see the Hillary School, the yeti skull at the monastery, and the Everest View Hotel and Hillary chortens. Being at greater elevation, you’ll also have a better view of Everest (photo above).

Walking this way will add distance and time to your walk and should not be attempted without proper acclimatisation hikes from Namche first.

Lukla to Tengboche Trek

Lukla, Start the Lukla to Tengboche Monastery trek here
You can start your trek to Tengboche Monastery at Lukla airport, or you can walk to Lukla. There is no road.

From Lukla (whether you arrive by plane or helicopter at Lukla airport, or walk to Lukla) the classic Everest Base Camp trek normally takes 4 days to get to Tengboche.

After arrival in Lukla the first day of the trek is an easy one, you descent to Phakding where you spend the night. There are suspension bridges along the way.

The next day is hard, not only do you cross the Hillary Bridge, you have to tackle Namche Hill, one of the EBCs harder ascents (along with Tengboche Hill). On arrival in Namche Bazaar you will be tired and feeling the effects of lack of oxygen as you just gained several hundred metres.

bridge before namche bazaar
As you climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, you will have to cross the worst, highest, bridge on the Mt Everest Trek. Unfortunately you have to cross it if you are only going as far as Tengboche, plus several others. It’s the top one here and Namche Hill is steep and a hard climb as you gain a lot of altitude.

You need to spend at least 2 night in Namche and take acclimatisation treks before walking on to Tengboche. There is plenty to see and do in Namche, including an Everest lookout, small museum, historical mountaineering sites, a monument to Tenzing Norgay and Namche monastery. There is also the highest Irish bar in the world and the German Bakery. Namche is a good place to hang out, as an independent trekker allow yourself some extra time here if you can.

The distance from Lukla (2860m) to Tengboche (3860m) is 17.1 km or 10.6 miles as the crow flies, the trekking trail is 27.1 km (16.8 miles). The entire Everest Base Camp Trek is not very long, only a 130 km (80 miles) round trip. It’s not the distance, it’s the altitude and the conditions.

Tengboche Monastery Trek (Blog)

Everest Lukla to Tengboche Family With Kids
Trekking in the Everest region with your kids, is tough but incredible.

What follows is our personal Tengboche Monastery trek blog. I hiked (walked) to Tengboche Monastery with my 11 year old. On this occasion we only walked as far as Tengboche and this is a great trek without going all the way to Everest Base Camp. A year or two later, we completed the trek to Base Camp, passing through Tengboche again. Tengboche is a great destination in itself with incredible views of Everest (weather allowing) so if you’re short of time or doubt you could make it to Base Camp, maybe just complete this shoter hike, either from Lukla airport or up from Phaplu. Read our post about the difficulties of the Everest Base Camp Trek. They are the same for Tengboche, but the altitude isn’t as severe.

Chef and I had trekked in Nepal before, we’d completed the 3 week Annapurna circuit in blizzards and waist deep snow in our days before kids, so we knew what to expect up there.

We knew some things were difficult, like the altitude, but that walking is actually no big deal and the kids could probably cope with that easily. My biggest concern after altitude was keeping the boys safe and close at hand on narrow, sometimes crumbling paths etched into steep mountain slopes.

Convoys of yaks, donkeys and mules can be a real hazard in The Himalayas and a stumble into the melt waters of the Khumbu Ice Fall thundering below, was a vaguely terrifying possibility.

My personal demon in the Himalayas, scary bridges, is something I overcome, I thought the boys would handle those better than their mum.

To help with the child wrangling, we hired a Sherpa guide, you don’t really need one, but we felt a larger adult:child ratio would be a good idea. He was gold, it was really helpful to have somebody extra keeping them safe.

By sheer good luck we bumped into Nima our guide a couple of years later on the full Everest Base Camp trek. It was wonderful to see him again.

packing for Everest trek kathmandu
Chef and I packing for the trek at Stupa Guest House, Kathmandu. Trek packing is a little stressful, but it was so exciting to be returning to the mountains.

So we set off from Lukla in a motley assortment of jeans, running shoes and leggings, to just see how far we would get. Chef and I carried the gear, we didn’t want to make the boys’ lives harder with backpacks. (We have a post on gear for Nepal here).

We wanted to see Everest of course and Namche Bazaar was looking like a probable destination, but we weren’t planning on walking all the way to Everest Base Camp (5362m) with a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. We didn’t think it would be fair on them.

Our first day of walking went well, we descended from Lukla at 2860m and entered the Everest National Park, spending a comfortable night in a huge lodge at Phakding with a room for 4 people. That was the last time we saw rooms for 4, from here on in it was all twin cubicles.

Day two was always going to be the hard one. The path follows the Dudh Koshi River valley over tumbled rocks and through pine forest before the first steep ascent to the bridge from hell. Yes, the top one, the one you see in the opening of the movie “Everest”.

bridge namche bazaar everest trek
The bridge. The top one. Namche is up and to the left about 4 hours further. The Dudh Koshi river and those incredible blue melt waters below.

I’m not good with bridges. D, 11, doesn’t bat an eyelid, Boo and I sing and curse our way across, me doing our best to hide my absolute, almost paralysing terror. The terror is intensified by my children being there but what to do? You just have to get across.

As the bridge came into view it started to snow. It started to snow sideways. So we crossed that bridge in high winds, slippery conditions and poor visibility.

trek pakding to namche bazaar everest nepal
Trekking from Pakding towards the bridge and Namche Bazaar as the storm draws in.

On the other side of the abyss the road snakes up a pine-clad mountain side, thankfully sheltered from the worst of the snow. This is the hard part, 1000m of almost straight up and this is where things got hard. Boo wasn’t feeling too good, the kids were plagued by tummy bugs since we arrived in Kathmandu and the altitude started to get to us all. We plodded on all afternoon, ultra slowly, walk a little, wait a little, leaning heavily on trekking poles.

Towards the top of the slope trekkers reach a view-point. Our promised first sighting of Everest wasn’t to be as the snow clouds refused to co-operate. We kept pushing forwards, past the next check point and permit purchase, into Namche Bazaar. The snow obliterated the view, we really had no idea what was around us as we entered Namche at 3440m, we were exhausted. The altitude had kicked in and it was a massive struggle to get up the steps to our guest house that night.

Next morning the clouds had cleared and we woke to this. Wow!

Namche Bazaar Nepal
Waking in Namche Bazaar after the storm. We didn’t even know that mountain was there.

We spent 2 nights in Namche Bazaar exploring and acclimatising. Just above the town there is another Everest view-point and this statue of Tenzing Norgay, the “tiger of the Mountains”. I can’t express how incredibly moving it was to be there, in this place full of climbing history. Just behind the statue there is a cool little museum which we explored with the boys.

Tenzing Norgay Statue Namche Bazar
Tenzing Norgay, one of my heroes. Above Namche Bazaar.

I hiked the 40 minutes up to the view-point 3 times, sitting on the hill waiting for the clouds to part. They never did, I got little more than an impression of my mountain.

We needed to keep going so day 4 took us on  short, easy fairly level hike to our 3rd trekking lodge. The views of Nuptse, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam were magnificent, but still no Everest. We could see Tengboche Monastery perched high on the next mountain ridge, it was calling me.

tengboche and everest trail
Everest is centre left, in cloud, next to it, Lhotse. Tengboche Monastery is on the central ridge, the trail we followed that day is visible on the left. Ama Dablam is to the right.

My little Boo and his dad weren’t doing too well, both had tummy problems, so it was decided that the next morning D, I and Nema would carry on to Tengboche.

This day hike is a tough one, there’s wasn’t a huge difference in height between our stop and Tengboche at 3870m, but the path drops right down to river level, 3250m, before climbing steeply to the ridge.

What can I say? We did it, it was beautiful and it was hard. It was wonderful to do it with my son. We crawled up that last section, Nema walking ahead of us. He reached the top first.

“You can see Everest!”

You never saw such a transformation, I sprinted up those last 100 m before throwing myself down in the dirt just to sit, look and watch. That mountain has an incredible hold on me. I was so busy looking I missed the best views with my camera.

everest-view-from-tengboche-monstery
Finally we get to see Everest, just!
tengboche monastery trek everest view
Within minutes the mountains are obscured by cloud again.

D was impressed, but more excited by his promised Snickers, so he shot off with Nema to find a tea shop.

at tengboche 11 years old
11 years old and at almost 4,000m. a well deserved tea break.

It was magnificent, magical, stunning and so worth it.

We explored the monastery as yak caravans and monks wandered around the Tengboche plateau.

I ached to keep going higher, but we had to turn back.

9 year old trekking everest
Reunited with my 9 year old back at the lodge.

We took a slightly different route back to Lukla enjoying more spectacular views and no cloud while visiting the Hillary School and an ancient, locked Khumjung monastery housing a yeti skull. That is in Everest Trek, Part 2.

Reliving these memories is incredible, so thanks for letting me share them with you. Nothing, no travel experience in the world, comes close to being high in the Himalayas in sight of Everest.

 

Further Resources For Your Nepal Trek

Stupa Guest House, Kathmandu

Gear for Trekking and Nepal

Nepali Food – What Food to Expect in Nepal and on your Trek

Main Nepal Travel Page

Insurance for Trekking

for Pinterest

 Namche Bazaar in snow, Nepal. The trek from Lukla to Tengboche Monastery, with kids! Family travel in Nepal

 

Will We Return to Everest Base Camp?

Yes, it will happen, (it did happen) D is keen and so am I. Little Boo doesn’t want to go back up there again (he went, with bribery, and did great) so we two will be going solo. There are a number of side treks up there too, which we hope to complete, some requiring crampons for ice walking. It will almost certainly be this year, it could be next month. Nepal, we’re coming back! Update: We completed the full Everest Base Camp trek 2 years later, visiting the Monastery at Tengboche again, twice, and being lucky enough to catch the monks chanting.

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Brigitte

Friday 12th of July 2019

I'm in absolute awe with your blog. I never really gave too much though about going to Everest, or Nepal for that matter. I've been reading your blogs and getting more and more intrigued. I'm not an avid hiker to this extent, even though I love a good scenic hike, but you've put the bug in my ear that maybe one day I'll make it to Nepal and catch a glimpse of Everest. Thank you and keep being a Mom that shows her kids the world in real life!

Alyson Long

Friday 12th of July 2019

Thank you Brigitte. And... DO IT! Go to the front page and find the post a Lukla that my elder one wrote today, it's not really finished yet, we have to tidy it up and make a video. But this is why. His words, his appreciation.

Alan Sargeant

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

Pleased to come across your blog. It is amazing how resiliant children can be. We lived with two under the age of four travelling Europe in a Camper Van for almost nine months. To put it mildly it was very memorable. Later we travelled with three under the age of 10 for just over two months in the western US/Canada.

I have trekked in the Elbrus region of Russia, the Tien Shan of Kygyzstan and Kazakhstan, been to Kilimanjaro and it took three attempts to get to Everest Base Camp: the first was illness related - a problem I had brought with me to Nepal and I had turned around in sight of base camp - maybe four hundred metres from it; the second was weather - an unseasonal blizzard meant a turn around at 4,500 m; the third and so far final trip there was succssful - Base Camp, Kalar Patar, Cho La and Gokyo Ri. Very good weather and very enjoyable.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

My boys went to Base Camp last year Alan and this year we're taking on K2. The elder one, he's 14 now, fairly raced up to Base Camp, my 11-12 year old with shorter legs held back with me, I'm 52, not so fit. But for all of us it was fabulous. I'd love to see the Central Asian countries you mention, but this year Pakistan is on and maybe a return to Tibet.

anon

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

I am so glad I found this post, this is the kind of stuff I enjoy reading. Stories with personal experience, full of emotions and heart. I can fully relate to the feeling of just sitting and looking at Mt Everest in awe. It was an extremely emotional moment for us. We trekked to the base camp-Gokyo in December with 10 and 14 years old, and I am confident this experience will stay with them forever. Tummy-bug and high altitude probably is not a good combination, must have been painful for your husband and Boo. Enough said I got to read part 2 now. All the very best to you and Chef on your next Nepal adventure. Hopefully, we will also go there someday for more trekking.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Tuesday 6th of February 2018

Yep, sometimes I just have to write them. But writing stories will never pay the bills, for that you need to give people information. We make a very good living from this site and writing is not one tiny part of that, it's a technical skill.

Brenda Froyen

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Hi Alyson

I just bumped into your blog, looking for a new summer destination to go to with the kids. We've just returned from Nepal as well, and did like you guys the Lukla - Namche trek. It is like you said an amazing place. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

Hannah

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

I just got quite teary reading this Alyson. I love not just that you will try these huge feats with your kids, but also that you listen to them when they are not up for it. The more I read of your blog the more I am convinced that my family needs a bit of this type of life before the kids are all too big and leaving home. Keep the posts coming, I am slowly making my way through them and I think they may well change my life. x.

Alyson Long World Travel Family Blog

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

That comment made me tear up. THANK YOU XXXX

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