Tsetang, literally translates ‘Play Ground’, is the fourth largest city in Tibet and the capital city of Lhoka Prefecture, it is located in Yarlung Valley (aka the Cradle of Tibetan Civilisation) about 183 km south-east of Lhasa. At an altitude of 3,100 m, Tsetang is like most of the places on Tibetan Plateau thinly populated, though the city centre is now a boom-town with lots of high western buildings and even more Han Chinese population.
Tsetang was historically the seat of ancient Tibetan kings before the first Tibetan Emperor, Songtsen Gampo, moved the capital to Lhasa. Most travellers use Tsetang as a junction to visit the attractions in the region; Samye Monastery (the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet), Chongye Valley (the tombs of Tibetan kings and emperors), Yumbulakang (the first building in Tibet and the palace built by the first king of Tibet, Nyatri Tsetang) etc. The Tibetan area of the city is nestled at the base of Gongpo-ri hill, the hill is believed to be the cradle of Tibetan Civilisation, where Chenrezig (or Avalokiteshvara) descended in the form of a red monkey and mated with a mountain ogress (an emanation of ‘Dolma’ or Tara) to produce the first six members of the Tibetan tribes.
Tsetang has one of the most favourable climate condition in Tibet, it was originally well-forested and suitable for agriculture due to its proximity to the Yarlung river to the north.
The elevation of Tsedang is little lower than Lhasa city. Normally it is also little warmer than you are in Lhasa. It is excellent idea to start the trip from Tsedang. Though it is highly recommended to acclimatize the altitude before you step further to Mt. Everest Base camp or do a trekking or hiking around the area.