Shigatse Overview

Shigatse overview can help you have a more comprehensive understanding of Shigatse city from the basic information, geographical location, climate, culture, economy, natural resources and so on.

Basic Information


Located in the southwest of Tibet, Shigatse is the southwestern border of China that borders Nepal, Bhutan and India to its south. And it connects Ngari to the west, Nagqu to the north, Lhasa and Shannan to the east. Shigatse covers an area of 182,000 square kilometers, 800 kilometers in length from east to west, 220 kilometers in width from north to south, and 1753 kilometers in border line. 

Shigatse lies roughly between the middle part of the Himalaya range and the middle part of the Gangdis-Nyenqing Tanggula mountains. It has a higher terrain in the north and south, and the south Tibetan plateau and Yarlung Zangbo river basin are in it. Terrain of Shigatse is a complex and diverse consisting of basically mountains, broad valleys and lake basins, with an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters.

Stretching across the southern part of Shigatse, the Himalayas are the world's youngest and highest mountain range, with an average altitude of more than 6,000 meters. There are 5 peaks over 8,000 meters in Shigatse, namely Mount Everest, Lhotse peak(8,516 meters), Makalu peak(8,463 meters), Qowowuyag peak(8,201 meters) and Shisha Pangma peak(8,012 meters). Among them, Mount Everest, located on the border of Shigatse and Nepal, is the highest peak in the world, with the altitude of 8848.13 meters. There are also 14 peaks more than 7000 meters. 

Shigatse Climate  

The annual sunshine duration of Shigatse is up to 3300 hours. The climate of western part is cold and its average temperature is 0℃. As for the eastern part, the weather is not so hot in summer and cold in winter with a average temperature of 6.3℃. Every October to next April, Shigatse is dry, cold and windy, belonging to dry season. The precipitation of the period during May to September occupies more than 90% of the total. At that time, especially in July and August, Shigatse often rains at night.

Best Time to Visit Shigatse

Shigatse is a ideal travel destination with moderate climates and rich sunshine so that tourists can appreciate beautiful landscapes all year round. Every July and August are the rainy season of Shigatse and it always rains at night. The best time to visit Shigatse is April to October. If you would like to explore Mount Everest, it's recommended to travel from April to June because the severe cold weather from November to April in the following year is not suitable to do climbing. And the rainy season in July and August make it difficult to see Mount Everest.

Best Places to Visit in Shigatse

Shigatse is a charming place with beautiful natural landscapes and rich cutural sights. From towering Mount Everest, magnificent old-growth forest, mysterious famous monasteries and characteristic cultural customs of Tsang, tourists can interpretate the development process of Tibetan society and will be thrilled at the colorful historical relics.

  • Mount QomolangmaAs the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest stands at the altitude of  8844.43 meters(2005), which is the dream of mountaineering enthusiasts.
  • Tashilhumpo Monastery: It is the largest monastery of Gelu sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Tsang area and the major activity place for Panchen Lama.
  • Sakya MonasteryThe main monastery of Sakya sector with splendid artistic treasures, such as frescoes and Thangka.
  • Palcho Monastery: The only monastery enjoying special position that coexists three sectors of Tibetan Buddhism, Sakya, Ganden and Gelu.
  • Rongbuk Monastery: Rongbuk Monastery is a monastery of Nyingma sect, and a monastery that has both monks and nuns in it. Located at the foot of Mount Everest, the south of Basong Township, Tingri County, Shigatse, Tibet, 90 kilometers from the county seat, about 5100 meters above sea level. With high, steep and cold terrain, Rongbuk monastery is the highest temple in the world, and the landscape is wonderful as well.

Administrative Divisions

By the end of 2016, Shigatse has jurisdiction over 1 district and 17 counties, namely, Samzhubze District(桑珠孜区), Gyangze County(江孜县), Bainang County(白朗县), Lhaze County(拉孜县), Sagya County(萨迦县), Gamba County(岗巴县), Dinggye County(定结县), Tingri County(定日县), Nyalam County(聂拉木县), Kangmar County(康马县), Yadong County(亚东县), Rinbung County(仁布县), Namling County(南木林县), Xaitongmoin County(谢通门县), Gyirong County(吉隆县), Ngamring County(昂仁县), Saga County(萨嘎县) and Zhongba County(仲巴县). The seat of government of Shigatse City is in Samzhubze District.

Shigatse Culture

Shigatse covers an area of nearly 182,000 square kilometers with a population of about 845,300 in 2017. There are more than 10 ethnic groups in Shigatse, including Tibetan, Han, Hui, Mongol, Tu, Man, Miao, Zhuang and the like, of which Tibetan is the main ethnic group, accounting for more than 90% of the total population. And people in Shigatse will celebrate Tibetan New Year, Linka Festival, Tashilhunpo Festival, Gyantse Damar Festival and other festivals. Shigatse is famous as 'the hometown of song and dance', the enthusiastic and happy dances, like Sgor-gzhas song and dance and Qiangmu dance, are distinctive.

Shigatse Dining

There are many restaurants in decoration of Tibetan style of different levels in Shigatse and the Tibetan food are served, such as highland barley wine, buttered tea, mutton and roast sausage, etc. Night market near the bus station is popular. And Tibetan restaurants and Sichuan restaurants are clustered around North Jiefang Road and Qomolangma Road.

Shigatse Transportation

Shigatse is the transportation center of Tibet because of its extending in all directions. Currently, the main modes of transportation to Shigatse include plane, train, coach and road trip.

  • Shigatse Peace Airport is located in Jangdam Township of Samzhubze District, Shigatse, about 43 kilometers to downtown area. It was officially put into use on October 30, 2010. Currently, flights from Shigatse airport are relatively limited. Tourists can fly to Shigatse from ChengduXi'anShanghai(transit in Xi'an), Chongqing, etc. 
  • The trains between Lhasa and Shigatse take about 3 hours, which is shorter than by bus(4-5 hours on the road). At present, there are 3 daily trains both from Lhasa to Shigatse and from Shigatse to Lhasa.
  • Highways in Shigatse extend in all directions, including national highway 318, Riya(Shigatse-Yadong) highway, Lapu(Lhasa-Purang) highway and China-Nepal highway. Most travelers have chosen to go to Shigatse from Lhasa because Lhasa is usually the starting destination of a Tibet tour. There are buses departing from Lhasa Bus Station to Shigatse Bus Station. 
  • Currently, driving is popular with travelers because there are many beautiful attractions they can visit on the way, such as Yamdrok LakeKarola GlacierPalcho Monastery, etc.

History of Shigatse

Shigatse has a history of more than 900 years. According to legend, in the 8th century, a famous Indian monk named Padmasambhava came to this place and saw the shape of mountains and rivers. He stopped to practice and preach, and predicted that this place would become second only to Lhasa in Tibet. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Pazhu dynasty(帕竹王朝) built the city here, and built Rikazezong(日喀则宗) on the hill to the north side of Shigatse old town, and gradually built some houses around the government of Rikazezong, starting the initial construction of Shigatse city. On June 26, 2014, the state council approved the abolition of Shigatse prefecture and the establishment of prefecture-level Shigatse city.

More History of Shigatse

Necessary Permits for Shigatse Tour

Traveling to Shigatse requires several specific permits.

  • If you just explore Shigatse City, Gyantse Town, Sakya Town, you only need two permits - Tibet Travel Permit and Alien's Travel Permit;
  • If you travel beyond Lhatse to Mount Everest or Kathmandu, besides Tibet Travel Permit and Alien's Travel Permit, you also need Border Permit. You must always have valid passport and Chinese visa.


In 2017, the regional GDP of Shigatse reached 21.63 billion yuan, an increase of 10.0% over that of 2016 at comparable prices. The added value of the primary industry reached 3.682 billion yuan, up 4.2%; The added value of the secondary industry reached 7.987 billion yuan, up 12.3%; The added value of the tertiary industry reached 9.961 billion yuan, up 10.2%. The annual per capita GDP reached 27,006 yuan, up 8.2%. By the end of 2017, the per capita disposable income of urban residents in Shigatse was 30,126 yuan, an increase of 10.2% over 2016. The per capita disposable income of rural residents was 9,225 yuan, up 13.4%.

Natural Resources

Water Resources

There are more than 100 rivers in Shigatse. The Yarlung Zangbo River, the largest river in Tibet, originated from Jiema Yangzong Glacier, Zhongba County, Shigatse City. It flows from west to east through 10 counties, such as Zhongba, Saga, GyirongNgamring, Lhatse, Sakya, Xaitongmoin, Samzhubze, Namling, Rinbung, etc., with a length of 700 km and a drainage area of more than 100,000 square kilometers within the territory. Nianchu River is another important river, originated in Kangmar County, flowing through Gyantse and Bailang, then entering the Yarlung Zangbo River. Others are Pengqu River(朋曲河), DogxungZangbo(多雄藏布), Zhongqu River(仲曲河), Ronghe River(绒河), Yeru River(叶如河), Kangbu River(康布河), Jilong River(吉隆河) and so on. Except for a few interior rivers, they belong to the Indian Ocean water system. The river water source is recharged by groundwater, Rain Water and ice and snow melt water, the water temperature is on the low side, the sediment content is small, and the water quality is good. The seasonal distribution of runoff is uneven and the variation of annual season is small.

Land Resources

Shigatse has a land area of 17.6 million hectares, with a cultivated area of 79,500 hectares and a perennial planting area of about 75,000 hectares, mainly concentrated in the river valleys along the Yarlung Zangbo river, Nianchu river and Pengqu river. There are 33,000 hectares of unreclaimed land. The total area of grassland is 12.7581 million hectares, and the available area is 10.9316 million hectares. The grasslands are sporadic, mostly alpine meadow pasture. The forests are mainly distributed in some parts of the southern slopes of the Himalayas. In Shigatse, there are 5 forest counties with forest area of 1228,000 hectares, with a living wood storage volume of 32,567,600 cubic meters, water conservation forests of 5220,397.5 cubic meters and a forest coverage rate of 6.81%.

Plant Resources 

Common forest species in Shigatse are alpine pine, Himalayan fir, Himalayan spruce, birch, Tibetan larch, etc., among which Himalayan spruce, hemlock, long leaf pine, Himalayan yew and cedar are unique rare species. Shigatse is rich in medicinal materials. There are more than 300 kinds of medicinal materials commonly used, such as cordyceps, fritillary bulb, codonopsis pilosula, gastrodia elata, snow lotus, rhodiola, angelica sinensis, rhubarb, radix aconiti, ephedra, plantain seed, etc.

Animal Resources

Shigatse is also rich in animal resources. Major domestic animals are yak, cattle, pien niu, horse, donkey, goat, sheep, pig, chicken, etc. Wild animals, living in the forests of the Himalayas, include red panda, longtail langur, bison, brown bear, black bear, leopard, macaque, wild boar, wild cat, snow leopard, blue sheep, wild yak, wild donkey and so on. Among them, wild yak, wild donkey, Tibetan antelope, blue sheep, snow leopard and black-necked crane are the national first class protected animals.