KEY FACTS ABOUT SHIGATSE
Second largest city in Tibet
Capital of Tsang Province, currently the administrative center of Shigatse prefecture
Altitude: 3900 meters
Population: 870, 700 people
Location: about 250km from Lhasa via Friendship Highway
Another spelling: Xigatse, Xigaze, Rikaze
Shigatse, the capital of the province of Tsang, is 354 km west of Lhasa. It is located 90 km west of Gyantse on the south bank of the Brahmaputra at the point where the Nyang Chu River flows into it. It can be reached by two routes from the capital by the Northern Road, which runs from Golmud and reaches Shigatse via the Daktsuga ferry over the Brahmaputra, of the Southern Road via the town.
Shigatse has long been the commercial and political center of Tsang region. The massive old fort or dzong in Tibetan dominated the city landscape. In the past, during the 16th – 17th centuries, the Kings of Tsang lived there. Unfortunately, it was almost completely destroyed. The new castle built in its place is beautiful but lacks the charm of the original building.
Since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse served as the seat of the Panchen Lama. His monastery, Tashi Lunpo, is the only place of genuine interest left. Recently the Panchen Lama built a new palace, the Dechen Potrang but this is a building with little attraction.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO SHIGATSE
There are 3 main ways to reach Shigatse:
Shigatse is traditionally the stop over point on the way to the Everest Region. The road continues from there to Shegar, Tingri and Mount Everest Base Camp from there, as well as to Gyirong port – the newly opened border between Tibet and Nepal.
WEATHER IN SHIGATSE
Weather in Shigatse is similar to weather in Lhasa. April to October the weather is pleasant with warm days. Even in summer day and night time temperatures are very different. Be prepared to layer your clothes as temperature drops significantly. Because of the strong summer radiation, you should bring sunscreen and sunglasses. You can also wear a long sleeve short even in summer and a baseball hat or wide brim hat for sun protection.
Overall, the climate is dry with some rains during summer, mostly in July and August. Even during the rainy season, it mostly rains at night. During the daytime it can be cloudy in summer. Because of the warm weather, summer is the most popular season for tourists. For landscape photography, it is best to travel outside of the rainy season.
PLACES TO VISIT IN SHIGATSE
TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY
Tashilhunpo Monastery is the center of attraction in Shigatse. It is an official seat of Panchen Lamas, the second most important Lama in Tibet, after the Dalai Lama.
Shalu monastery is located within a short ride from Shigatse. It is a small but important 11th-century monastery. It is famous for its incredible 14th-century murals that we can still see today. The architecture of Shalu is a mix of Tibetan and Chinese style. Here, in the 14th century, the Abbott Buton Rinchendrub translated a large number of manuscripts. This library made Shalu monastery a very influential center of studying Tibetan Buddhism.
Sakya monastery is one of the most impressive attractions in Tibet. It is located about 160 km to the South West from Shigatse on the way to Tingri.
Trum-chu river splits the complex of the monastery into two parts – one part is on the hillside, and another is on the valley below. Sakya monastery belongs to Sakyapa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
TRAVEL TO EVEREST IN TIBET
JOING AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURY AND VISIT LHASA, SHIGATSE AND EVEREST IN 8 DAYS TOUR.
CULTURAL EXPLORATION, INCREDIBLE LANDSCAPES, RELIGIOS PLACES AND MAJESTIC HIMALAYAS.
RECOMMENDED TOURS VISITING SHIGATSE
6 DAYS CENTRAL TIBET HIGHLIGHTS
This private tour starts in Lhasa, where we spend the first three days acclimatizing. While in Lhasa, we visit UNESCO World Heritage sites: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, and two main monasteries in Lhasa: Sera and Drepung. After that, we will drive on the scenic road visiting Yamdrok Lake, Karola glaciers and Gyantse monastery, before reaching Shigatse in the evening.
On the next day we visit Tashi Lhunpo monastery before returning back to Lhasa.
7 DAYS LHASA TO NEPAL BORDER
This tour starts in Lhasa. We will stay there for 2 days to explore the capital and acclimatize. After that, we will head to the center of attraction in Himalayas – Mount Everest. We will spend a night by the highest mountain on a planet and continue driving through majestic mountain ranges, alongside rivers and waterfalls to the border between Tibet and Nepal.
10 DAYS EASY ACCLIMATIZING EVEREST TOUR
This slow-paced private tour takes you from Lhasa to Gyantse and Shigatse, where we spend the first few days acclimatizing. We will visit many of the historical and religious places, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang temple, Gyantse monastery, and Kumbum Stupa.
We will make stops by the most beautiful natural spots: Yamdrok Lake, Karola glaciers and many of the high mountain passes and viewpoints. Finally, we will reach Everest Base Camp, where we stay for the night.