Few Popular Cities in Tibet

Cities in Tibet

Hey there! Today's article is all about some of the most fantastic cities in Tibet. We'll be sharing some fun facts and interesting information. Have you heard of Lhasa? Previously, we wrote a complete article about Lhasa. It's one of the most well-known cities in the area and definitely worth a visit! Another great spot to check out is Shigatse. And if you're looking for a unique travel experience, Ngari Ali Shiquanhe City is a popular destination, too!

The above are the few popular travel destination cities; the other two cities are Nakchu and Chamdo.

1. Shigatse

Shigatse, situated in the China Tibet Autonomous Region, is the second-largest city following Lhasa. The altitude of Shigatse is 3900 M, which is approximately 300M higher than Lhasa. Shigatse is positioned towards the south of Lhasa and is around 280km away, while it is around 90km from Gyantse. There are three available options to reach Shigatse. When it comes to tourism, Shigatse is considered one of the most prosperous cities in Tibet, featuring numerous significant tourist attractions in the Shigatse Region.

To reach Shigatse, there are three different routes available.

  1. It takes less than an hour to fly from Lhasa.
  2. It takes two hours to travel by train from Lhasa.
  3. It takes 4 hours to travel overland from Lhasa or 8 hours to travel overland from the Nepal border at Kyirong.

A few of the sights located in Shigatse Region are:

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery is a stunning addition to the charming town of Shigatse. The highlight of this beautiful Gelug school monastery is the enormous statue of future Buddha Maitreya, which serves as the main shrine. It's definitely one of the must-see attractions in Shigatse.

Gyantse Palkor Chode, Kumbum Stupa, and Dzong or fort

Located in Tibet, Gyantse is a town renowned for its stunning beauty. Positioned in the center of the town are the Kumbum Stupa and Palkor chode monastery. With nine floors and 100 thousand images of Buddhas, the Kumbum Stupa is an architectural marvel. Unlike other Stupas, the walls inside the Kumbum Stupa are adorned with paintings. Several years ago, the Dzong, which was originally built for the King of Gyantse, underwent reconstruction.

Mount Everest North and East Face Base Camp

Tingri County is home to Mount Everest Base Camp, which is a popular destination for travelers in Tibet. The base camp is situated on the East and North Face of Mount Everest and is approximately 340km from Shigatse and 620km from Lhasa. At an elevation of 5200M, Tibet Travelers offers various tours to Mount Everest Base Camp. Rongbuk monastery, located at the base camp of Mount Everest, is one of the highest monasteries in the world, with an elevation of 5100M. We have written an informative article on Mount Everest and Tingri. Kindly click on the provided link to check it out.

Mount Everest North Face from Tibet

Tingri ( New Tingri and Old Tingri ) 

There exist two Tingris, namely old Tingri and new Tingri. Old Tingri bears resemblance to the setting of American western films. One can witness a breathtaking sight of Mount Everest and Mount Cho Ou Yo from old Tingri.

Yamdrok Lake and Karo la Glacier

Yamdrok Lake, with a color resembling that of turquoise, can be found about 90km away from Lhasa. For those interested, a brief trek is possible at Karo La Glacier, which is located approximately 2 hours from Yamdrok Lake.

Sakya Monastery and Phuntsokling Monastery

The monasteries of Sakya and Phuntsoling can be found approximately 150km away from Shigatse. The Sakyapa school in Tibetan Buddhism holds Sakya as its main monastery, which is abundant in spiritual richness. Phuntsokling, another stunning monastery, is situated near Thokmon town.

Kyirong Tibet Nepal Border and Phikutso Lake 

Travelers can now take advantage of the opening of the Kyirong Border in August 2017 for those who want to travel to Nepal by land. During the journey towards Kyirong, one can see Phikutso Lake, where the Great Yogi Milarepa meditated during the 11th Century. Check out more information on Kyirong by clicking here.

Lhatse Hot Spring and Sheger Lolo Hot Spring

In the Shigatse area, there are numerous hot springs, among them being Lhatse Hot Spring and Lolo Hot Spring which are well-known. Lhatse Hot Spring can be found approximately 10km from Lhatse town, while Lolo Hot Spring is situated about 5km from New Tingri (Pelber). These hot springs are typically not frequented by tourists, as they are more frequently visited by locals.

Ralung Monastery and Samding Nunnery

The Ralung monastery, belonging to the Drukpa Kagyu school, is one of the largest monasteries in existence. It can be found approximately 20km away from the Karo la Glacier and is known to have produced numerous Tibetan Yogis. The Samding Nunnery, which is located around 15km from Nagartse, is an essential nunnery in Tibet. It is said that Samding Guru Dorje Phakmo, who originally hailed from this nunnery, is capable of meditating without ever sleeping, even throughout the night.

2. Tsetang

Tsetang, located approximately 190km to the East South of Lhasa, is the fourth largest city in the China Tibet Autonomous Region. It holds great significance in Tibet as it is considered the birthplace of Tibetan forefathers. The region is home to the first monastery, Samye Monastery, the first temple, Tradruk Temple, and the first palace, Yumbulakang Palace. Tsetang is said to be the origin of the first Tibetans and kings. Additionally, the first field in Tibet is located in Tsetang, contributing to the beauty of Tibet. One can reach Tsetang from Lhasa by fast train in approximately one hour and continue on to Nyingchi for a total of three and a half hours.

1. Yumbulakang Palace 

Located approximately 15 kilometers from Tsetang City is the Yumbulakang Palace, which dates back to around 400 BC and was constructed by the first Yarlung King Nyatri Tsenpo, making it the oldest Palace in Tibet.

Samye monastery

Photo: Samye Monastery

2. Samye Monastery

Situated roughly 50km from Tsetang and approximately 150km from Lhasa, Samye Monastery was constructed in the 8th Century by King Trisong Detsen and Maha Guru Rinpoche from India. This monastery is a significant institution of the Nyingmapa sect school of Tibetan Buddhism. A four-day trek from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery is considered one of the finest treks in Tibet.

3. Chimpuk meditation caves

Located towards the eastern mountain, approximately 20km away from Samye town, are the meditation caves of the first Tibetan Yogis from the late 8th century. These caves were once cozy abodes and even today, many meditators continue to meditate in this sacred place.

4. Tradruk Temple

Located in the heart of Tsetang is Tradruk. This temple, named Tradruk Drolma, was constructed in just seven days during the 7th Century by the 33rd King Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng. It holds the distinction of being the first temple to be built in Tibet, even predating the Jhokang Temple.

5. Lhamo Lhatso Lake

My preferred lake in Tibet is Lhamo Lhatso Lake, which is approximately 120km away from Tsetang. This sacred lake allows us to glimpse into our future and witness some of our forthcoming actions. It has been reported that numerous individuals have witnessed these future deeds at this location.

6. Drak Yangzong and Dzong Kumbum meditation cave

Tibetan Yogis have been using the meditation caves of Drak Yangzong and Dzong Kumbum since the 8th Century and continue to do so today. These caves are situated approximately 30-40km away from Samye and roughly 110km from Lhasa.

7. Kings Tomb and First Field in Tibet

Nedong town is situated approximately 50km away from Tsetang. The Yarlung Valley has been ruled by many kings since the reign of Tibetan Yarlung King Nyatri Tsenpo. It is possible to explore the impressive tombs of several of these renowned kings nowadays. Yumbulakang Palace, which is located nearby, is home to the first field in Tibet.

3. Ngari

Have you heard of Ngari? It's also known as Ali in Chinese and Western Tibet in English. This beautiful place is located at an altitude of 4500M and is 1550km away from Lhasa. If you're planning to visit, there are two ways to get there - you can travel overland from Lhasa and Nepal Border or take a flight from Lhasa Gongkar Airport to Ngari Kunsa Airport.

Mount Kailash

Photo: Mount Kailash Gang Rinpoche

Sightseeing options are available in Ngari's vicinity.

1. Mount Kailash

Gang Rinpoche, also known as Mount Kailash, is a significant attraction in the Niagara region, renowned for its natural beauty. It is situated approximately 270km away from Ngari City and is often referred to as Precious Snow. Every year, over 1000 adventurers and pilgrims journey to Mount Kailash seeking blessings and thrills. The mountain is the most coveted destination in Tibet. A comprehensive article about Mount Kailash is available for your perusal. Simply click on the link here.

2. Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar, one of the sacred lakes in Tibet, is situated approximately 30km away from Mount Kailash Darchin Town. Pilgrims frequently visit this location to receive blessings. The Lake is surrounded by four monasteries in each direction, and the Chiu (Bird) Monastery area is an excellent place to spend the night. Check out more information on lakes in Tibet here.

3. The Guge Kingdom and Toling Monastery

The Guge Kingdom is situated approximately 18km from Tsanda or Tada town, which is around 260km from Darchin Town and about 280km from Ngari. The Toling Monastery is situated in the center of Tsanda or Tada town. The Stupa found in close proximity to the Toling monastery, as well as the scenery of Tsanda town and the views of the Guge Kingdom, are exceptional and distinctive. Check out more information on Guge Kingdom here.

4.The Shangshung Kingdom Ruins and Tadapuri Hotspring

After traveling approximately 60km from Darchin town, we will arrive at the Tadapuri hot spring area, which includes a small monastery and offers a picturesque view of the nearby valley. Continuing for another 50km within the valley, we will eventually come across the ruins of the Shangshung Kingdom.

5. Purang Town

Purang is situated in the west, approximately 150km from Lake Manasarovar. This town shares borders with India and Nepal. Near Purang is an important monastery called Kachu Gompa.

6. Pangong Tso Lake

4. Nyingchi

The Ngari region is embellished by Pangong Tso Lake, which can be found near Rutok town, roughly 260km away from Ngari. This lake is situated amidst the India, Pakistan, and China Tibet Autonomous Region.

Kongpo is another name for Nyingchi in the Tibetan language. Found in the east of Tibet, it is located at a distance of roughly 450 km from Lhasa. Nyingchi is famous for its picturesque landscapes and is frequently likened to a smaller version of Switzerland in Tibet. Its elevation is approximately 2600 meters, which is 900 meters lower than that of Lhasa.

They are three ways to get to Nyingchi

  1. Flights from Lhasa & Chengdu.
  2. Fast Train from Lhasa & Tsetang.
  3. Overland from Lhasa & Tsetang. 

There are some key attractions to visit in Nyingchi.

1. Draksum Lake 

Draksum is situated amidst lush forests and mountains, approximately 400km away from Lhasa and 130km from Nyingchi Bayi city. The name Draksum signifies three mountains. In the midst of Tashi Dor Island, there is an exquisite ancient Tibetan Nyingmapa sect monastery.

Photo: Beauties of Nyingchi.

2. Rawok Lake

Rawok Lake's unchanging color is adored by those who travel there. The journey to Rawok Lake involves staying in Bayi and Pomi for three days before reaching the final destination of the lake.

3. Mitu Glacier

The Mitu and Laiho Glaciers in Tibet provide a stunning sight. To reach the Mitu Glacier, one must travel along a route between Pomi town and Rawok Lake.

4. Lamaling Monastery

Lamaling Monastery, an essential site for the Nyingmapa sect, is situated approximately 60km from Nyingchi Bayi city in Tibet. Also recognized as Sangdok Palri, which means the land of Maha Guru Rinpoche, this monastery holds great significance. On the route from Nyingchi Airport to Bayi City, we will come across Lamaling Monastery.

5. Mount Namchak Barwa 

The name of Mount Namchak Barwa in English is Mount Thunderbolt, and it ranks as the 15th tallest mountain globally. One can catch a glimpse of Mount Namchak Barwa from Bonri Mountain, which holds significant spiritual significance for adherents of the ancient Tibetan Bon religion.

6. Lulang Green Region

Located 40km away from Nyingchi Bayi city is Lulang, a beloved destination for numerous travelers in Nyingchi. The area is encompassed by lush forests, pristine white mountains, and crystal-clear rivers, adding to the allure of the region.

5. Gyantse

One of the most well-preserved Dzongs or Forts in Tibet is Gyantse Dzong, which was constructed in approximately 1390. Even today, we can still appreciate the splendor of these remaining Palaces, Dzongs, and Forts. The primary monastery in Gyantse town is Palkor Chode, also known as Palcho Monastery. Its origins date back to the 9th century, and the main chapel of the Monastery was erected during the 14th century by the second Prince of Gyantse, named Rabten Kunzang Pak.

7 Days week in Tibet travel

Photo: Kumbum Stupa

In the 14th Century, the Kumbum stupa was constructed by the Prince of Gyantse. This stupa has nine levels and contains one hundred thousand Buddha images. The wall paintings of these Buddhas found in the Kumbum Stupa are scarce.

Gyantse town has some 2-star hotels, such as Gyantse Hotel and Yeti Hotel. Many local Tibetan and Chinese restaurants offer delicious food.

6. Conclusion

The province of Tibet Autonomous is the second largest in China and consists of six prefectures and one major city named Lhasa. Lhasa is the biggest city in the province, and we have published a complete article about it, which you can read here.

Shigatse and Ngari are the top cities that people like to visit. Shigatse is the second largest city and is known for Mount Everest and other tall mountains. Ngari is famous for Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, and the Guge Kingdom.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read our article! We would love to hear any suggestions you have to make it even better, so please don't hesitate to leave a comment below. And if you're thinking of traveling to Tibet, we're here to help! Just shoot us an email at info@tibettravelers.com, and we'll be more than happy to assist you in any way we can. Thanks again for your support!


Written By :Tenzin

Feb 17, 2024


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