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Tibet Cities and Villages

With an average altitude of above 4000m, Tibet takes the lead as the highest and second-largest region in China. Covering a total area of 1,228,400 square km, Tibet shares the border with Nepal, India, and Bhutan, and Myanmar. Inside its massive area, Tibet has one capital city, i.e. Lhasa, another 6 prefectures, and 76 counties. 90% of the population are Tibetans with Tibetan Buddhism as their sole religious belief. The massiveness of Tibet makes it virtually impossible to grasp the geographical and cultural diversity of Tibet in just one or two tours. However, by following our travel guide, you may easily pinpoint the Tibetan cities or prefectures that interest you most.

What are the administrative divisions of Tibet Autonomous Region?

There are six prefecture-level cities and one prefecture in Tibet, namely Lhasa city, Shigatse City, Chamdo City, Nyingchi City, Shannan City, Nagqu City, and Ngari Prefecture.

In terms of the administrative regions, there are only two big cities in Tibet: one is Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet; the other is Shigatse city, the second-largest and gateway city to Mt. Everest (8844.43m) in Shigatse Prefecture.

In the rest of the 5 prefectures, each one contains an administrative center. Small as they are, these cities make up the cultural and political center of different regions of Tibet. 

What is the biggest city in Tibet?

The largest city in Tibet is Lhasa with a total area of 23,518 square kilometers, followed by Shigatse as the second-largest city.

As the spiritual, political, and economic center of Tibet, Lhasa leaves world-wide visitors in awe with its plenty of prestigious Tibetan monasteries, a multitude of legendary Buddhist stories, cultural relics, fervent Tibetan pilgrims, and intriguing Tibetan cuisines.

The top attractions in Lhasa include the holy Potala Palace, the Jokhang Tempel, Barkhor Street, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, etc.

Generally, a 4-day Lhasa city tour is essential for you to experience the best of this holy city. If you have enough time, you can slow down to explore every hidden corner of Lhasa, such as take a hike on the outskirts of Lhasa and have a cup of sweet tea in a local Tibetan teahouse.

What are the must-see cities in Tibet?

Tibet is a vast region, full of mystery. For tourists who travel to Tibet for the first time, the following cities are the ones you can't miss.

Lhasa, the capital city of TAR, is always on the top of the must-see in Tibet. Here, you can visit the world-famous Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street and have a general mind of what Tibet is like by visiting the museums and join in the local Tibetans in a Teahouse or local restaurants.

Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet, is the most important city in central Tibet. The most popular attraction in Shigatse city is the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the residence of Panchen Lama. Shigatse is also the gateway to the Everest Base Camp. After one night’s rest in Shigatse, you can go to Everest Base Camp for around 6 hours.

On the way from Lhasa to Shigatse, there is a historic city that worth visiting, namely Gyangtse. The must-see attraction in Gyantse is Palcho Monastery, where you can not only see the popular Nepalese-style Gyantse Kumbum, but also enjoy kinds of cultural relics since it is a monastery that houses Sakyapa, Kadampa, and Gelugpa together.

Going to the south of Tibet, there is the birthplace of Tibetan Civilization, Tsedang. Located 87 kilometers away from Lhasa Gongga Airport, Tsedang is the home of Samye Monastery and Yungbulakang.

Nyingchi is famous for its beautiful natural scenery. Nyingchi is at a low altitude and has 60% of Tibet's forest resources. It has a high oxygen content and beautiful scenery. The annual Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival in spring attracts a large number of tourists to enjoy the stunning view of the pink world.

Whether you’re a religious and cultural fanatic or a nature lover, you can find a destination for your first trip to Tibet in one of these must-sees in Tibet that are recommended by our former customers and local travel experts.

Are there any off-the-beaten-path cities and villages to visit in Tibet?

As the major overland gateway bridging China with south Asian countries, Tibet has dozens of little-known enchanting towns and villages, scattered across boundless Tibet. Scarcely will you come across these attractions placed in the classic itineraries of Tibet tours. Just as a famous saying in China goes that the extraordinary scenery often hides in remotes areas. It’s a great idea to have basic ideas of these off the beaten Tibetan villages.

The Nyingchi region in eastern Tibet is a place worth exploring in depth. In addition to downtown Nyingchi, Bomi and Mainling are also worth a visit. In Bome, you can visit Midui Glacier, one of the top 6 beautiful glaciers in China. And in Mainling, you can enjoy the stunning view of the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon and Mount Namcha Barwa.

Another place that is easily overlooked is Gyirong town. Although many tourists enter or leave Tibet through the Gyirong port every year, few visit the town of Gyirong. The town of Gyirong, 24 kilometers from the port, is actually a little-known attraction. There are not only historical monasteries but also beautiful Himalayan villages scenery.

Of course, if you have your own point of interest, you can also contact us. Our experienced local travel experts will recommend the right sights and travel itineraries for you based on what you are interested in.

What are the elevations of the main cities in Tibet?

With an average altitude of 4,000 meters, Tibet is known as the third pole of the world. The elevations of major cities and towns in Tibet are as follows.

Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, is 3,659 meters above sea level. Shigatse is 3,800 meters above sea level. The city with the lowest elevation in Tibet is Nyingchi, at 3,100 meters above sea level.

The more you go to the northwest of Tibet the higher the altitude, like Darchen town, at the foot of Mount Kailash, reaches 4,575 meters above sea level.

Since Lhasa is always the gateway city for tourists entering Tibet, it is highly suggested to stay in Lhasa for a few days so that you can better adapt to the high altitude of the Tibet Plateau.

Most Read Articles about Tibet Cities

Here are the top 4 articles about cities and villages in Tibet, which provide you general ideas about places to visit in Tibet. Whether you are a first-time traveler to Tibet or want an in-depth travel experience for your second or third trip to Tibet, you can find some interesting places to visit.

More Travel Guide to by Regions in Tibet

There are 7 regions in Tibet and 6 of them are open to foreign travelers. You can learn more about your destinations, such as the top attractions, transportation, as well as popular travel routes. Just take a look.

Lhasa Travel Guide

Located 3650 meters above sea level, Lhasa is always the first place to visit in Tibet. Here are the detailed travel tips for your trip to the holy city.

Learn More about Lhasa Travel Guide

Shigatse Travel Guide

Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet, is also a popular tourist destination for travelers to experience Tibet culture, religion, and natural beauty. The Everest Base Camp tour is also a highlight of a trip to Shigatse.

View More about Shigatse Travel Guide

Nagchu Travel Guide

Located in northern Tibet, Nagqu is one of the largest prefectures of Tibet. It is home to the vast Qiangtang grasslands and the uninhabited area of Hoh Xil Nature Reserve. The famous Namtso Lake is also located in Nagchu.

View More about Nagchu Travel Guide

Nyingchi Travel Guide

Located in eastern Tibet, Nyingchi is the region with the lowest altitude in Tibet. Praised as the Switzerland of Tibet, Nyingchi is a wonderful destination for tourists to enjoy the nature and landscape of Tibetan forests and valleys.

View More about Nyingchi Travel Guide

Ngari Travel Guide

Ngari region is the most distant region from Lhasa, which has sacred Mount Kailash and holy Lake Manasarovar. It is the destination for many pilgrims. The trip to Ngari is also considered to be the most difficult trip in Tibet due to the long road distance and bad road conditions.

View More about Ngari Travel Guide

Shannan (Lhoka) Travel Guide

Shannan, also known as Lhoka, is the cradle of Tibetan Civilization. There are many off-the-beaten-path attractions, such as Yumbulagang, the oldest building in Tibet, and Trandruk Monastery, one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. The sacred Yamdrok Lake and the famous Samye Monastery are also located in Shannan.

View More about Shannan (Lhoka) Travel Guide

Most Popular Tibet Small Group Tour Packages

No matter you are a solo traveler or will travel with your friends or relatives to Tibet, the small group tour is the most affordable and exhilarating way to enjoy the adventure with like-minded global travels in Tibet. We present you with the top 14 popular Tibet small groups for you. From the most classic 4-day tour in Lhasa to epic Lhasa to EBC or Mt.Kailash tour and overland journey to Nepal and beyond, you will have a journey of a lifetime in Tibet, with our expert team’s support and attentive one-stop services.

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