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Shigatse Transportation: how to travel easily in Shigatse and beyond

November,29 2018 BY Master Kungga Dundruk 0 COMMENTS

The transportation at Shigatse areas has been greatly improved with the development of Tibet tourism. In the past, animals like yak and horse were the main mode of transportation. At most time, people had to travel on foot. At present, tourists can travel to Shigatse by air, train and road.

How to Get to Shigatse

Get to Shigatse by Flight

Shigatse Peace Airport, the fifth civilian airport of Tibet, is located Jiangdang Township, Shigatse Region, about 43 kilometers (26.7 miles) to the downtown area. Built at an altitude of 3,783 meters, it is also the fifth-highest airport in China. But there are few flights to Shigatse at present.

Tourists can take the flight from Chengdu to Shigatse announced by Tibet Airline. The Chengdu-Shigatse flight operates 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). The flights of Chengdu-Shigatse leaves at 7:10 a.m. from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, and arrives at Shigatse Peace Airport at 9:50 a.m.; while the Shigatse-Chengdu flights will depart at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at 12:40 p.m. in Chengdu.

map of demestic flights to shigatse(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Domestic Flights to Shigatse on Map

There is also one pair of direct flights flying between Chongqing and Shigatse every week, except for Saturday. The Chongqing to Shigatse flight departs from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport at 6:05 a.m. and arrives at Shigatse Peace Airport at 09:20 a.m. The returning flight back to Chongqing departs at 10:00 a.m. and arrives at Chongqing at 12:30 a.m.

Every Monday and Thursday, there is one direct flight from Xian to Shigatse. Flight MU9625 departs from Xian Xianyang International Airport at 10:20 and arrives at Shigatse Peace Airport at 14:30. The flight back to Xian from Shigatse is MU9626, which departs at 15:10 and arrives in Xian at 18:25.

Please notice that wherever you take a flight to Shigatse, you need to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit before you go. And for tours in Shigatse, especially for an Everest Base Camp tour, the Alien's Travel Permit is also required. Since all Tibet permits cannot be applied by travelers individually, you need to contact a local travel agency, like us, to apply Tibet permit and offer the travel service for you in Tibet.

Travel Tips:
1. If it is the first time you visit Tibet, it is not suggested to fly to Shigatse directly from mainland China for it is easily to get the high altitude sickness.
2. Make sure you get the Tibet Travel Permit before you departure. But if you take a flight from Shigatse to mainland China, you don't need to show the travel permit.

Get to Shigatse by Train

The extension of the Qinghai Tibet Railway reaches Shigatse in 2014. The total length of the railway to Shigatse from Lhasa is about 253 km, which takes about 3 hours by train to finish this route. Now, it is convenient for both the local people and tourists to get to Shigatse by train. There are two trains running between Lhasa and Shigatse, and one train running between Xining and Shigatse every day.

Lhasa to Shigatse Train MapLhasa to Shigatse Train Map

Schedule of Trains to Shigatse - Z8801&Z8803&Z6811

Train Number Departure Time Arrival Time Duration Stopover Distance Soft Sleeper Hard Sleeper Hard Seat
Z8801(Lhasa-Shigatse) 11:07 14:00 2h 53min Qushui, Nyemo, and Rinbung 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z8803(Lhasa-Shigatse) 15:05 17:52 2h 47min Non-stop 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z6811(Lhasa-Shigatse) 18:10 20:58 2h 48min Qushui, Nyemo, and Rinbung 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z6811(Xining-Shigatse) 20:30 20:58 24h 28min Delingha, Golmud, Amdo, Nagchu,Damxung, Lhasa, Qushui, Nyemo, and Rinbung 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5

Schedule of Trains from Shigatse - Z8802&Z8804&Z6812

Train Number Departure Time Arrival Time Duration Stopover Distance Soft Sleeper Hard Sleeper Hard Seat
Z8802(Shigatse-Lhasa) 07:50 10:27 2h 37min Rinbung, Nyemo, and Qushui 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z6812(Shigatse-Lhasa) 14:40 17:31 2h 51min Rinbung, Nyemo, and Qushui 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z8804(Shigatse-Lhasa) 18:45 21:34 2h 49min Non-stop 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5
Z6812(Shigatse-Xining) 14:40 14:25 23h 45min Rinbung, Rinbung, Qushui, Lhasa, Damxung, Nagchu, Amdo, Golmud, Delingha 248 km ¥169.5 ¥111.5 ¥40.5

Pros and Cons to Take a Shigatse Train
For those who just want to visit Shigatse, as well the Mount Everest, or other remote areas in west Tibet with limited time, it is the fastest and a more convenient way to get to Shigatse by train than by car, since the train journey from Lhasa to Shigatse only takes around 3 hours.

But for those who are the first-time travelers to Tibet, it is not recommended to take a train to Shigatse, because you will miss the chance to visit stunning sites, like Yamdrok Lake, Pelkor Monastery, etc. If you plan to take a round trip between Lhasa and Shigatse, you can travel from Lhasa to Shigatse by car, and get back to Lhasa by train from Shigatse.

Get to Shigatse by Friendship Highway

Currently, traveling by road is still the main way for tourists to get to Shigatse. Among all the highways passing by Shigatse, including the Sino-Nepal friendship highway, the Shigatse-Yadong Highway and Lhasa-Purang Highway, the Sino-Nepal friendship Highway connecting Lhasa and Kathmandu is the most popular one for the overland journey to Shigatse.

Map of Sino Nepal Highway(Simple click to enlarge the map)
Travel overland to EBC, Shigatse from Lhasa and Kathmandu

No matter where you start your journey, from the holy city Lhasa, or from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, you can easily get to Shigase along the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway.

The total length of Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu is about 1120 kilometers. From Lhasa to Shigatse, it covers 256 kilometers. But tourists usually take a tour to Yamdrok Lake and the Gyantse Pelkor Monastery en route and get back to the main road of the friendship highway to continue the journey to Shigatse. Generally, it takes one day to travel overland from Lhasa to Shigatse via Yamdrok Lake.

And for those who take an overland tour from Kathmandu to Tibet, they usually visit the Everest Base Camp before reaching Shigatse city. It takes about 3 days from Kathmandu to Shigatse since you need to spend one night at Syabrubesi, one day at Gyirong and one day to visit the Everest Base Camp.

How to Travel in Shigatse

Take a Taxi in Shigatse

In the downtown city, it is easy to find a taxi at the major attractions and the railway station to take you traveling around the city. The taxi fare is about 5 RMB in the daytime and 10 RMB after 20:00. You can hire a cab to visit attractions such as Tashilunpo Monastery and the summer palace of Panchen Lama, or Shigatse Dzong. However, for our clients, a designated tour vehicle and professional guide will travel with you. There is no need to worry about the transportation.

Ride Bicycle to Tour Shigatse

A more flexible way to explore Shigatse is traveling by bike. You can rent a bike from us once you arrive in Shigatse or let your travel agency prepare one for you. If your physical condition permits, you can also ride to Everest Base Camp from Shigatse.

Tibet EBC cycling tourOur client is riding to Everest Base Camp, Shigatse from Lhasa

It takes about 5 days to ride a bike from Shigatse to the Everest Base Camp. On the first day, you will ride over two small passes and some small Tibetan villages to get to the Gyachung Monastery. On the second day, you need to keep riding along the highway to get to Lhastse. The third day is a tough day to ride through the canyon to get to Shegar. But the scenery along the way could be great on a clear day for you can get the first view of Mount Everest. To keep challenging yourself, you need to finish another tough ride from Shegar to Rongbuk Valley via Pang Pass on the fourth day. You will ride cross the Pang Pass at 5150m and enjoy a panorama view of the highest mountain peaks of the Himalaya, including Makalu (8463m), Shishapangma (8012m), Cho Oyu (8210m), Lhotse (8516m), and Everest (8850m). After a good rest in Rongbuk Valley, you will reach your destination, the Everest Base Camp on the fifth day. Don't miss a chance to stay one night at the base camp to appreciate the marvelous sunset and sunrise from the top of the world.

Take Bus in Shigatse

Recently, there are 4 bus lines serving in Shigatse. To Sangzhuzi, the old town area, passengers can take bus No.2. And the Bus No.3 stops at the station of Tashilunpo Monastery. But since foreign tourists cannot take the public transfer themselves in Tibet, our local travel guide to go with you.

How to Tour around Shigatse and Surroundings

By Our Tourist Vehicle

Since foreign tourists cannot travel alone in Tibet, the most convenient way to travel around Shigatse is by charted car. When you book your Tibet tour with us, we will arrange the transfer for you. If you want a private tour, you can travel with your own guide and driver. Or you can join in a group tour to Shigatse and surrounding areas, during which you need to share the car with your group members.

As the leading member of Tibet tourism, we offer the most reliable transfer service in Tibet. All of our tourist vehicles are hand-picked and mostly are brand-new, or just being used for less than 2 years. We offer various kinds of vehicles for different group sizes, such as Buick mini-van for a small group under 5 people, Hyundai middle-size van for no more than 7 people, middle-size bus for the group around 9 to 13 tourists and sightseeing bus for a big group of 18 people.

Tourist Vehicle of Tibet VistaTravelling around Shigatse by the safe and clean tourist vehicle provided by Tibet Vista

By Long-distance Bus

If you travel Tibet with Chinese Passport, or you are the Hong Kong / Macau resident who have Home Return Permit, you can take the most budget way to travel around Shigatse - by long-distance bus.

Nowadays, there are three bus stations in Shigatse, offering buses linking Shigatse to Lhasa and other places around Tibet. Every day, there are several buses from Lhasa to Shigatse and back to Lhasa from Shigatse. There are also buses connecting Shigatse city and Yadong, Gyantse, Lhatse, Sakya and other places of Shigatse Area.

Shigatse to Lhasa (250 km, 4 hours, 50 RMB):
Both Lhasa North Passenger Transport Station and Lhasa Bus Station offer the long-distance buses from Lhasa to Shigatse. Every day, from 8:00 to 17:00, there are scheduled buses running from Lhasa to Shigatse. The ticket price is around 50 RMB, and it takes 4 hours to finish the whole journey (about 250 km).

In Shigatse, there are also two bus stations offering shuttle buses back to Lhasa. From the Bus Station on Shanghai Road, the buses to Lhasa are available from 8:30 to 17:00, every hour. According to different bus types, the fare is 55 RMB, 60 RMB, and 65 RMB. Most of the luxury buses (65 RMB per person) are offered in the morning. From the Bus Station on Renbu Road, the buses depart from 8:00 to 17:00 every day. The luxury bus from Shigatse to Lhasa is 60 RMB and the ordinary bus is 50 RMB. All Lhasa-Shigatse buses are following the National Highway G318 along the bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River. However, if you want to visit the Yamdrok Lake en route, you can only take a private car for the public tourist buses do not pass by the lake.

Shigatse to Gyantse (77km, 2 hours, 25 RMB):
There is a minibus to Gyantse outside the bus station of Liberation Middle Road in Shigatse. It won't start until with capacity crowd. With a total length of 77 kilometers, the journey from Shigatse to Gyantse takes about 2 hours and the fare is 25 RMB.

Shigatse to Saga (449 km, 5 hours, 27 RMB):
There are shuttle buses from Shigatse to Lhasa every day from Shigatse Bus Station. The journey from Shigatse to Saga, covering 449 km, takes about 5 hours and the fare is about 27 RMB. The bus back to Shigatse from Saga departs from the front door of the Sakya Town Guest House on the next day.

Shigatse to Everest Base Camp (343 km):
The distance between Shigatse and the Everest Base Camp is about 343 km. There is no travel bus running from Shigatse to the Base Camp. Tourists need to rent a car to get to the Everest Base Camp from Shigatse. You will first pass Lhatse and then drive to Tingri. From Tingri, you can keep driving to Rongbuk Monastery, or you can take a trekking from Tingri to EBC, which takes about 4 days in total.

Shigatse to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar (947km):
The distance between Shigatse and Darchen is around 947 km. There is no bus from Shigatse to Mount Kailash area, but you can take the bus to Shiquanhe and get off the bus at Darchen at the southern foot of Mount Kailash. If you want to go further to Lake Manasarovar, you can just rent a local car at Darchen or Shigatse to the holy lake. However, the bus to Darchen is not scheduled, so it is highly recommended to go by charted car from Lhasa.

Shigatse to Gyirong (479km, 8 hours, 171 RMB):
There is one bus from Shigatse to Gyirong town every day. It departs at 8:30 and the ticket price is 171 RMB. Please notice that the Gyirong border is still 23 km from the town. You can rent a local car with a driver to transfer from Gyirong town to the Gyirong Border. If you get to Gyirong from Shigatse by bus, you need to stay for one night in the town and get to the border on the next day.

Shigatse to Kathmandu (710km):
There is no direct bus from Shigatse to Kathmandu. As international tourists in Tibet, you need to travel with a local guide and driver from a local travel agency and take a private car or a group vehicle. Once you arrive at Gyirong port and cross the border, you can take a public bus from Rasuwa Gadhi to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Being the most cost-effective way to get to Kathmandu from the border, it costs around 2000 rupees and takes about 6 hours to finish the 140 kilometers’ journey.

Please Note:
Honestly, it is not very convenient for foreigners to take buses at Shigatse since foreign travelers are required to travel in Tibet under the company of local tour guide. So it is best for you to hire a jeep or taxi or other cross-area vehicles which is the easiest and most popular way. The fare depends on the car and your bargaining skills.

Conclusion

1. The fastest way to get to Shigatse is by air. However, to avoid the high altitude sickness, it is NOT suggested to take a flight directly to Shigatse. If you want to take a flight from Shigatse to mainland China after your trip in Tibet, without going back to Lhasa, you can take a flight from Shigatse to Chengdu, Chongqing and Xian.
2. Tourists and the local Tibetans can take a train to Shigatse. There are three pairs of trains running between Lhasa and Shigatse daily. And even a long distance train from Xining to Shigatse directly.
3. It is NOT suggested to take a train to Shigatse if it is your first time to Tibet, because you will miss the trip to Yamdrok Lake and the visit to historic Gyantse County.
4. The most popular way to travel to Shigatse is to drive along the Sino-Nepal friendship highway, either from Lhasa or from Kathmandu, to fully explore the best parts of the Mount Everest.
5. To travel in and around Shigatse, foreign tourists can only book a private tour with charted car from us or join in one of our Tibet small group tours in Shigatse.
6. For those domestic tourists who can visit Tibet without the travel permit, they can choose a cheaper way to travel around Shigatse by long-distance bus.

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

The Lhasa-born prodigy used to study business overseas, and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland.With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

Responsible, considerate and humorous, he devoted his entire life guiding and serving international tourists travelling in Tibet.As a legendary Tibetan travel guru with 20-year pro guide experience , he once had an exclusive interview with the US media. Currently he is working in Tibet Vista as the Tour Operating Director. Whenever our clients run into troubles, he is your first call and will offer prompt support.

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