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Shigatse beckons travelers with its rich cultural heritage, ancient monasteries, and breathtaking landscapes. As the second-largest city in Tibet and an important center of Tibetan Buddhism, Shigatse offers a gateway to the mystical wonders of the Himalayas and a glimpse into the vibrant tapestry of Tibetan culture and tradition.

Tashi Lhunpo monastery
Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse

Whether you’re a devout pilgrim seeking spiritual enlightenment or an adventurous traveler in search of new horizons, embarking on a journey to Shigatse promises to be an unforgettable experience. Here’s everything you need to know about how to travel to Shigatse and immerse yourself in the timeless beauty and serenity of the Tibetan Plateau.

Choosing Your Route

There are several routes for traveling to Shigatse, each offering its own unique experiences and attractions. The most popular route is by road, with the journey starting from Lhasa—the capital of Tibet—and winding its way through the breathtaking landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau. Along the way, you’ll pass through remote villages, ancient monasteries, and scenic alpine valleys, offering glimpses of Tibetan culture and tradition amidst the rugged beauty of the Himalayas. Alternatively, you can travel to Shigatse by air, with flights available from major cities in China to the nearby town of Lhasa, followed by a scenic drive to Shigatse.

Travel to Tibet in summer
Travel to Tibet in summer

Obtaining Permits

Before traveling to Shigatse, it’s important to obtain the necessary permits and travel documents required for visiting Tibet. This typically includes a Tibet Travel Permit, which allows you to enter Tibet, as well as any additional permits required for traveling to certain areas outside of Lhasa, including Shigatse. Permits are issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and can only be obtained through a registered travel agency in Tibet. Be sure to apply for permits well in advance of your intended travel dates, as processing can take several weeks.

Preparing for Altitude

Shigatse is situated at a high altitude, with elevations exceeding 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level. As such, it’s important to acclimatize properly to the altitude to avoid altitude sickness and other health risks. Plan to spend a few days in Lhasa or another lower-altitude destination upon arrival in Tibet, allowing your body to adjust gradually to the thin air. During your stay in Shigatse, stay hydrated, avoid strenuous activity, and listen to your body’s signals to prevent altitude-related symptoms.

Exploring Shigatse

Once you’ve arrived in Shigatse, you’ll find yourself immersed in a vibrant tapestry of Tibetan culture, tradition, and spirituality. From the iconic Tashilhunpo Monastery—the seat of the Panchen Lama—to the bustling markets and ancient streets of the old town, Shigatse offers a wealth of attractions to explore and discover. Take the time to wander the cobblestone streets, mingle with pilgrims and monks, and immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of the Tibetan people.

Respecting Local Customs

As you explore Shigatse and its surrounding areas, it’s important to respect the customs, traditions, and beliefs of the local Tibetan people. Dress modestly when visiting monasteries and religious sites, covering your shoulders and knees out of respect for the monks and religious practitioners. Remove your shoes before entering temple halls or prayer rooms, and refrain from taking photographs or using flash photography inside sacred spaces unless permitted to do so. Be mindful of local customs and etiquette, such as walking in a clockwise direction around stupas and prayer wheels, and avoid pointing your feet towards religious objects or people.

Shigatse City
Shigatse City


Traveling to Shigatse is a journey of discovery, enlightenment, and profound connection with the rich cultural heritage and spiritual traditions of Tibet. With proper planning, preparation, and an open heart, your journey to Shigatse promises to be an unforgettable adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime. So, pack your bags, set your intentions, and prepare to embark on a transformative journey to the mystical heart of the Tibetan Plateau—the enchanting city of Shigatse.

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