Shigatse officially Xigazê; (other spellings: Shikatse, Zhigatsey) is a county-level city and the second largest city in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of the People's Republic of China. In 2008, Shigatse had a population of 92,000, and is located about 250 km (160 mi) southwest of Lhasa and 90 km (56 mi) northwest of Gyantse. It is the administrative centre of the modern Shigatse Prefecture, an administrative district of the TAR.
The city is located at an altitude of 3,840 metres (12,600 ft) at the confluence of the Yarlung Tsangpo (aka Brahmaputra) river and the Nyang River (Nyang Chu or Nyanchue) in west Tibet and was the ancient capital of Ü-Tsang province. Shigatse is also the name of the surrounding county.
Shigatse was previously known as Samdruptse. In the 19th century, the "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (Prefects) appointed from Lhasa. Before military conflict between the PRC's People's Liberation Army and the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan territory was divided into 53 prefecture districts called Dzongs.
There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong—a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters. However, there were only one or two Ambans representing the Chinese emperor residing in Lhasa, directing a little garrison, and their power installed since 1728, progressively declined to end-up as observer at the eve of their expulsion in 1912 by the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1952, shortly after the PRC sent forces to the region, Shigatse had a population of perhaps 12,000 people, making it the second largest city in Tibet.
Geography and climate
Shigatse lies on flat terrain surrounded by high mountains, and the urban area is located just south of the Yarlung Zangbo River, located in the south-central Tibet Autonomous Region. The city itself lies at an elevation of around 3,840 metres (12,600 ft), and within its administrative area there are five peaks higher than 5,500 metres (18,000 ft). The city's administrative area ranges in latitude from 29° 07' to 29° 09' N and in longitude from 88° 03' to 89° 08' E.
Shigatse has a monsoon-influenced, alpine version of a humid continental climate (Köppen Dwb), with frosty, very dry winters and warm, wet summers. Temperatures are relatively moderate for the Tibetan Plateau, as the annual mean temperature is 6.3 °C (43.3 °F). Barely any precipitation falls from November to March, when differences between day and night can frequently exceed 20 °C (36 °F). Nearly two-thirds of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August alone. Sunshine is abundant year-round, totaling 3248 hours annually.
Day 1: Lhasa Arrival
Welcome to the roof of the world! Your Tibet journey starts with a warm Tibetan style greeting from your local tour guide who will present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). You will be picked up at the airport or train station, and then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. During the hour long drive to your hotel in the city, you can enjoy the breathtaking view along the Yarlong Tsangpo River. Tibetan features can be seen along the way, including Big Buddha engravings on the hill near the road, colorful prayer flags and friendly Tibetan people.
Overnight at Lhasa
After you arrive at your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the local area and become acclimatized to this high altitude city at the top of the world.
The altitude in Lhasa is about 3,650m above sea level. Take time out to relax and acclimate to the high altitude after arrival at your hotel. We recommend that you avoid strenuous activity for the first few days. It is advisable that you do not take showers. For first time visitors, it is common to have different degrees of high altitude sickness symptoms. Drink more water, have fresh fruits and plenty of rest will help to prevent the sickness. Have a good rest tonight, and get ready for tomorrow’s journey.
Day 2: Lhasa (B)
Take the challenge of climbing up to Potala Palace (3,650m above sea level) and get a great view of Lhasa’s urban areas. Great photographic opportunities along the way will overwhelm you as great view of the traditional Tibetan architecture is nothing short of spectacular. Hear the story of Dalai Lamas and see chapels where Dalai Lama studied, rested and worked in. Pass former Lama graves which are decorated with beautiful treasures.
Continue your tour to Jokhang Temple, which is within walking distance from Potala Palace. It is considered the spiritual center of Tibet. You will see many pilgrims worshipping within or nearby the temple. Enter the first floor of the temple and absorb the religious atmosphere, you will see pilgrims donating butter oil to keep the lights burning for Lord Buddha. While learning about Buddha and Lamas, more than you can possibly remember, you will acquire a huge respect and knowledge of the vast history of Tibetan Buddhism. You might also hear red-robed Lamas praying. Walk up to the roof of the temple, take some pictures of the golden roof and enjoy the beautiful sunshine of Lhasa while observing pilgrims praying and chanting mantras in front of the temple.
Finally, join the locals in a traditional pilgrimage route by taking a relaxing walk in a large circular path around Jokhang Temple at Barkor Street. The street is filled with pilgrims taking part in religious activities and street vendors selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods and religious items. If you like you can also ask your tour guide take you to visit a Thangka workshop to marvel the fabulous Thangka art work. There are cafes along the street as well where you can lay back and enjoy one lazy afternoon of Lhasa life.
Tips: As you climb up to the Potala Palace, you might experience slight shortness of breath due to the exertion. Take your time and rest whenever needed. Please try not to bother pilgrims; you can take pictures from a distance. In Barkor Street, you will have a chance to pick a few unique souvenirs for your friends and do remember to bargain and compare the price in different shops. If you still want to go out in the evening, you may go to the square on your own in front of the Potala Palace around 8:30 p.m. to enjoy the 2-hours music fountain for free. Or else, simple take pleasure by looking at all the beautiful pictures you took during the day and get good sleep! On this day, you will be mainly outside, therefore you are required to bring plenty of water, a hat, sun cream, and sun glasses.
Day 3: Lhasa (B)
After breakfast, you are driven to visit the Norbulingka Park, the former summer palace of Dalai Lama. Explore the beautiful gardens and experience one of the most holy sites in Tibetan Buddhism while soaking up the rich history. Next, come to Drepung Monastery, which were once the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery housing 10,000 monks in its heyday. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks.
Your tour ends at Sera Monastery, where you will get the chance to experience “Buddhism Scriptures Debating”. These debates are unique to Sera and are quite famous. Enjoy the debates!
Tips: This day, you will be driven to the outskirts of Lhasa City and will spend less than an hour driving in total. The road condition is good. A little walking or climbing is involved. You are required to pack plenty of water with you along with your sun glasses and sun cream.
Day 3: Lhasa – Gyantse - Shigatse (B)
En route, you’ll stop to see Yamdrok Lake, one of three most famous holy lakes in Tibet. For Tibetans, it is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet and the home of the “wrathful deities”. The scenery of turquoise blue water in the lake with the reflection of surrounding snow-capped mountains is awesome. After arrival in Gyantse, you will tour Pelkor Monastery to admire fancy frescoes, statues and sculptures.
Overnight at Shigatse.
Tips: The road condition from Lhasa to Gyantse via Yamdrok Lake is rough road around mountains. Feel free to ask your driver to stop and have a rest on the road.
Day 4 Shigatse – Tingri – Rongphu Monastery – E.B.C (B)
After breakfast, you will be driven to visit the Tashilumpo Monastery, the oldest and largest Gelugpa Monastery in Tibet. Here you will see a giant statue of Future Buddha, the largest one of its kind on earth, decorated with precious pearls, turquoises, corals and ambers.
The drive to the Everest Base Camp (5,200m), it takes about 4 hours since the cracked winding roads demand much caution. But the views are stupendous on a clear day, and feature a huge sweep of the Himalaya range including peaks over 8,000, Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, Gyachung and Cho Oyu. When you finally get to Base Camp, the first sight of the mighty Everest simply leaves you speechless. All the hardship you bear along the way makes sense at this while. The best moments to watch Mt. Everest's are early morning and late evening when Everest is shining like a Goddess in the sunglow.
Rongbuk Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Everest, and has earned the title of the world's highest monastery standing at 4,980 meters high.
Overnight in Rongbuk
Tips: If you stay overnight near Rongphu Monastery either in a tent or guesthouse, it takes about a 2 hour trek from the monastery to the first base camp. Obviously, it can be quite cold there, so pack warm clothes. If you take a shuttle bus from Rongphu monastery to the Everest base camp (8km) it should take about 15 mins. At night, visitors can get up to take photos of Mt. Everest surrounded by the moon and stars. Be sure to get up early to see the sunrise over Mt. Everest. April is probably the best time to visit Everest as the sky is clear and the weather is relatively better.
Day 5: Mt. Everest Base – Tingri (Shegar) - Lhatse (B)
After viewing the sunrise over Mt. Everest, drive about 3 hours (100km) on a fairly rough road back to Tingri (Shegar). Have lunch there, then drive to Lhaste. That night, you will stay in Lhaste. You can have an interesting night there soaking in the local culture and relaxing after visiting the stunningly beautiful and the almighty Mt. Everest. Stay overnight in Lhatse.
Day 6: Lhatse – Lhasa (B)
While heading back to Lhasa (roughly a 400km trip) today, the surrounding scenery is spectacular. You will be able to see the Yarlung Zangbu river along the way. Please feel free to ask the driver to stop any time you'd like to get out and stretch your legs or take pictures. You may even be able to see pilgrims praying along the way.
Tips: The altitude is over 4,000m in some places, so while you should feel free to get out stretching your legs and taking a break, try to keep exercise to a minimum. The road is a wide paved road, so the condition is relatively better.
Day 7: Lhasa Departure (B)
The seventh day will be free for you to be transferred to the airport in time for your flight.
Tips: Please pack your luggage carefully, especially for things like tooth brush, camera, mobile phone, phone charger, towel, wallet. If your flight is arranged in the afternoon, make sure you check out the hotel before 12pm.
Cost does not include:
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