Shigatse Travel Guide
Shigatse is the traditional capital of Tsang Province, second largest city in Tibet and home to the traditional seat of Panchen Lamas (based in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery), it’s the junction city between most of Tibet tours including southern Tibet or western Tibet, the small city also has the nickname ‘Gateway to Everest’. Shigatse has its history going back over 600 years when Tashi Lhunpo, the prime jewel of the city, was built, it is also the first town in Tibet to be visited by foreigner for its privilege of proximity to India. Back then, Shigatse was known by the name ‘Samdup-Tse’ which mainly covers the old town Tibetan Market only now.
The small city, at an altitude of 3,782 m, is to west of Lhasa, and there are two roads to Shigatse from Lhasa (both under Friendship Highway); the first goes along the northern bank of Yarlung River for 280 km and the other runs on the southern bank through Gyantse for 380 km. These days, Shigatse has a worn interest among Tibet travellers, mainly owing to the simple fact of boomed up modernisation and immensely dominating population of Han Chinese and Hui Chinese (Muslims from Xinjiang), despite its many features of fine old Tibetan settlements and the old town Tibetan Market at foothill of the Dzong Fort.
About 260 km west of Lhasa is the small ancient town of Gyantse, it was once considered the 3rd city of Tibet after Lhasa and Shigatse. The town is located on a historic trade route between India and Tibet, one thing you can admire about Gyantse is that unlike other small towns, like Tsetang and Bayi, transformed into city with unfitting modern buildings, Gyantse hasn’t lost the touch of the authentic Tibet yet.
Info before Travel
There are so much remote areas to visit in Shigatse prefecture. Shigatse is the main route to go to the Mt. Everest Base camp or Mt. Kailash area. The average elevation is around 4300m height and therefore, warmer cloth or a wind-prof jacket is highly recommended even during the day. Also the sun is very harsh during the day, therefore we Yarlung Expedition Team recommends travelers to take care of their health.