Kora around Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet
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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

ABOUT SHIGATSE

Shigatse and Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet

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 centre of Tsang region. Formerly it was dominated by a massive castle built on the hillock above the old town. Only the basses of the ramparts are visible today, suggesting non etheless the grandeur of the building. This is where the powerful kings of Tsang lived, during their rule in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the town has been 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:

  • By air. There is an airport in Shigatse. In currently connects the city with Xian and Chengdu in China with non-stop flights and with a number of large Chinese cities with a stopover flight.
  • By train. There is a new railway station in Shigatse opened in 2016. Currently, the train connects Shigatse with Lhasa, and trains run twice a day. The duration of the train ride is 4 hours. Since the Tibet-Qinghai railway connects Lhasa with large cities in China, you can transfer from any of those trains to the train to Shigatse.
  • By road. Most of the travelers arrive in Lhasa first. From Lhasa, you can reach Shigatse by car. The distance between the two largest cities in Tibet is about 250km.

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

Shigatse Annual weather graph

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.

Shigatse Precipitation graph

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

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Copy of Potala Palace in Shigatse, Tibet

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