Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, is the cultural and religious center of southwest Tibet. At an elevation of over 4000 meters above the sea level, Shigatse is the hometown of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Trekking to the Everest Base Camp is the must-do for all trips to Shigatse to explore the Himalaya regions. Also, Shigatse is the major stop on the way to Mount Kailash in Ngari from Lhasa. Tourists can also take the lifetime overland journey from Tibet to Nepal, or vice versa, along the famous Sino-Nepal friendship highway crossing Shigatse.
Besides the diverse natural landscapes, from the Yarlung Tsangpo River to the Himalayas, you can also explore rich culture relics in Shigatse. The Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, the Gyantse Kumbum with thousands of Buddhist statues, the Sakya Monastery, a great combination of Chinese, Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism…there are so many cultural and religious treasures for you to explore.
To help you arrange your trip to Shigatse and make the most use of your time there, we offer you the top 7 Tibetan experiences in Shigatse, which you will not miss when you visit this land.
Climb Gyantse Kumbum in Palcho Monastery
On the way from Lhasa city to Shigatse, you can spend a half day to the Palcho Monastery in Gyantse County. Being different from other typical Tibetan monasteries, Palcho Monastery shows a good combination of the Gelu, Sakya and Kadam sects of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Kumbum Stupa, also known as Bodhi Stupa, is the highlight of Palcho Monastery. With thousands of paintings, sculptures, and statues of all Buddha inside, Gyantse Kumbum is a marvelous museum, where you can see the essence of both Indian and Nepalese Buddhist art that combines with the traditional Tibetan culture. While walking into the Kumbum in Palcho Monastery, you are just like passing through the Buddhist Kingdom of the Himalaya region.
After visiting the cultural relics of Palcho Monastery, you can also climb to the Gyantse fortress that facing the monastery to enjoy a great panorama view of Gyantse County.
Enjoy the Scenic Trek from Shalu to Nartang
The trekking from Shalu Monastery to Nartang Monastery is one of the shortest trekking routes in Tibet, which only takes about 15 hours. In order to fully enjoy the scenery and explore the local villages along the way, you can divide this trek into 2 or 3 days. The trekking route from Shalu to Nartang is not far away from the Sino-Nepal friendship highway in Shigatse. Shalu Monastery, the starting point of this trek, is the seat of Buton, where you can find some sculptures and treasures of ancient Indian Buddhist. Other monasteries you can visit in this trek include Ngor Monastery and Nartang Monastery. During this leisurely trek in Shigatse, you will not only experience the unique Tibetan culture of mid-south Tibet but also enjoy the scenery of countryside and valleys that less traveled by ordinary tourists.
Visit Prestigious Tashilhunpo Monastery and Enjoy Kora Route
Tashilhunpo Monastery, the home to the Panchen Lama, is the top attraction in all Shigatse tours. As the religious center of central Tibet, this monastery is the largest monastery in this region, which contains the biggest statue of Maitreya Buddha. Walking through the valleys, taking photos of the golden roofs, visiting the sacred halls…besides the ordinary ways to travel, there are more things to do when you visit Tashilhunpo Monastery. One of the most recommended things to do in Tashilhunpo Monastery is to enjoy a Kora around the monastery. While hiking around the monastery, you can have a great view of the whole Shigatse city and surrounding countryside. This trek takes about one hour. When you do the Kora, please remember to walk along the ways clockwise as the local pilgrims do.
Challenge the Trek from Old Tingri to EBC
The best way to explore your destination is by foot. And the best way to experience the essentials of the Himalaya in Tibet is trekking from Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp. The trekking journey covers 70 km from the Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp at 5200 meters. During the journey, you will witness the landscape of the Himalaya regions in Tibet and visit the local villages. As a physical challenge, the trekking from Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp takes about 4 whole days, during which you will hiking from 4400 meters to 5200 meters base camp to fully explore the north-face of Mount Everest.
Tour the Sakya Monastery
Located 160 kilometers southwest of Shigatse, Sakya Monastery is the principal monastery of the Sakyapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. On the road from Shigatse city to Tingri town, Sakya Monastery is a good place to go for a short day trip to explore the ancient Tibetan culture and religions from the historical buildings, temples, sacred statues, and scriptures.
As a treasure house of Tibetan Buddhism, Sakya Monastery contains many ancient Thangka painting and more than 40,000 old books of Tibetan Buddhism. The thousands of volumes of sacred Buddhist scripts on the bookshelves is the highlight of Sakya Monastery. Once you visit Sakya Monastery, don’t miss the chance to see the world’s largest scripture, the Burde Gyaimalung, as well as the thousands of ancient scriptures in the hall.
Photograph Top 4 Highest Mountains of Himalayan Peaks at Gawu La Pass
To see the top of the world is the dream for many travelers to Tibet. But did you ever imagine meeting the top highest mountains of the Himalayans together in one go? From the Gawu La Pass, on the way from Shigatse to the Everest Base Camp, you can witness the top 4 highest mountains together as well as the spectacular Himalayan mountain range. The breathtaking view of the Himalaya will be one of the most unforgettable scenery of your Lhasa Shigatse tour.
The average altitude of Gawu La Pass is 5198 meters above the sea level. The highest mountain peaks that over 8000 meters include Mount Shishapama (8027 meters), Mount Lhotse (8516 meters), Mount Makalu (8485 meters) and Mount Cho Oyu (8188 meters). You can also hang the Tibetan prayer flags at the Gawu la Pass for good luck and give the best wishes to your family and friends from the holy land.
Camping at EBC
If you have the chance to tour Everest Base Camp, why not stay for a night at the highest place where you can go on earth? Staying overnight at the base camp, you may find that the Milky Way and the twinkle stars are so close to you. And you can get up early to see the first sunshine from the mountain peak, the top of the world, which will bring you the hope and a better mood through the day. The best time to have a clear view of the summit of Mount Everest is from April to Late May, and from September to October. So it is highly suggested to arrange your Everest Base Camp trip during this period.
>> Learn more about Best Time for Everest Base Camp Travel and Trek