City Guide of Tibet

Tibetan cities are renowned for their superb elevation and enchanting panoramas. Picturesque sights are witnessed all around the region surrounded by lofty Himalayan peaks. Sacred monasteries and holy sites enhance the mystique of the Tibetan province.

Some of the highlights while touring the cities are museums, cultural heritage and historical structures. Tibetan festivities present a fabulous way to understand the prevailing culture.


The customs town of Zhangmu has emerged as a significant trade route between the Tibetan Autonomous region and Nepal. With a humid subtropical climate, the settlement is based 10 Km inland near the friendship bridge. The scenic tourist region is home to some picturesque panorama and pristine waterfalls.


The remote region of Ngari administrative division is situated at the western end of Tibet. Its remoteness has earned it the epithet of the ‘Top of the roof of the world’. Home to vast areas, the region is surrounded by Zhamai Mountains in the east and a section of Indian and Nepalese Himalayas from the west. Furthermore, it also borders the Zongba and Sagar counties along with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The total area covered under this prefecture amounts to 34,500 square kilometers.

The whole administrative region of Ngari consists of seven counties, Burang, Gar, Gegyai, Gerze, Choqen, Zhada and Rutog. Further, these places also involve 30 districts, 106 townships and 359 administrative villages. Agriculture and cattle rearing reign supreme in the counties of Burang, Zhada, Gar and Rutog. On the other hand the remaining counties of Gegyai, Gerze and Choqen practice animal rearing as their sole occupation.

Explore Zhada County, acclaimed for the distinguished ruins of the erstwhile Guge Kingdom. Most of the region is home to dry desert despite large rivers traversing it. The serene clay forests offer an enchanting sight to travelers.

Historical and sacred heritage of the place includes various monasteries, temples and ruins. Some of the well publicized ones are the Toding monastery of Zhada, Burang County’s Kegya monastery, Rutog monastery, Doshang and Shangze ruins.


Filled with sacred Tibetan Buddhist sites, Lhasa has gained the status of one of the highest cities around the globe. One of the most significant cities, it houses major ethnic groups and has developed as an economic, political and cultural center of the region. Enchanting scenery and lofty peaks make it a favorite haunt of travelers. Located near the Lhasa River, the city houses the Potala Palace. The city is an unbridled mix of both modernity and tradition.

Tucked in the lap of the grand Himalayas, the city is located at a height of 3650 meters. Tibet receives a lot of sunlight, nearly 3000 hours annually and has also earned the epithet of “sunlit city”.

The city witnesses beautiful rains especially in the months of July, August and September.

Lhasa has earned the epithet of ‘place of the gods’ as a result of its sacred shrines. The city’s administrative importance has touched new heights as it wields authority over seven counties – Damshung, Tolun Dechen, Chushur, Medro Gongkar, Taktse, Nyemo and Lhundup.


The fourth largest city in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Tsedang is the place of origin of for Tibetans. The scenic region witnesses moderate climate and is based at a height of 3,600 meters.

Some of the pristine tourist spots include the national scenic park, Samye Monastery, Yumbu Lhakhang Palace, Traduk Monastery and a burial site for Tsampos. The serene area is spread nearly over an area of 800,000 square kilometers. Yalong River traverses this region and it’s surrounded by two mountain ranges.

The region is also home to several inaugurations – the inaugural farming land, Tibet’s first king, the inaugural palace (Yhongbulakhang) and first monastery (Samye monastery). It is also home to tombs of various monarchs.

Some sacred places associated with Buddhist religious beliefs are the Chenpu meditation caves and the holy lake Larmulatso.

Shigatse (Xigaze)

The second biggest city of Tibetan Autonomous Region is renowned for its awesome fertility. This sacred land is respected as the traditional seat of the revered Panchen Lama. Explore the famed Tashilhunpo monastery consisting of Sakyamuni’s relics, Maitreya’s hall and an assemblage of statues and frescoes. Visitors would love a trip to the market near Shigatse fortress which specializes in local arts and crafts, turquoise, Tibetan daggers, yak butter and Chinese porcelain amongst others.

The historical city of Xigaze shares its border with Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim in the southern end whereas its western boundaries touch Ngari. Further, the northern segment neighbors with Nagqu while the eastern frontier touches Shannan and Lhasa. The region has a vast total land area of 176,000 kilometers.

Xigaze has functioned as an iconic administrative center since ancient times. The Yarlung Zangbo River traverses this area and Gamba La Mountains and Kangdese mountains surround it through the eastern and western end. As the 13th century descended, the Yuan dynasty decided to segregate Tibet into thirteen 10,000 household units and Xigaze was handed six of them – Qoimai, Xalhu, Jigmei, Lhadoiqain, Lhadoilho and Xangba. Xigaze earned a promotion to the status of gyizong (district) during the last century. Xigaze’s importance increased in the 20th century and with the advent of 1959, the people witnessed the Prefectural Commissioner’s office of the district level being set up here. As the year moved to 1964, the Prefectural Commissioner’s office and branch working committee were mixed as Xigaze Prefectural Commissioner’s office. It earned the tag of Xigaze Administrative Office by 1978.

Xigaze Administrative Office has significant clout in the region and administers Xigaze along with 17 counties of Gyangze, Bainang, Kangma, Yadong, Rinbung, Namling, Xitongmoin, Larze, Sagya, Kamba, Dinggye, Tingri, Nyalam, Gyilung, Ngamring, Saga, Zongba and Zham. Further, the district is home to a whooping 218 townships, 1,752 village committees and 28 urban residents committees. Average height of this diverse land easily exceeds 4,000 meters.

Southern Xigaze hosts some of the highest Himalayan peaks such as Mount Qomolangma (8,848.13 meters), Mount Lhoze (8,516 meters), Mount Kab (8,463 meters), Mount Qowowuyag (8,201 meters) and Mount Xixabangma (8012 meters). Activities such as mountaineering, sightseeing, hiking and scientific explorations can be carried out here.

Xigaze’s upper southern basin is a highly fertile area. Situated near the Yarlung Zangbo and Nyang Qu rivers, it has earned the status of the biggest grain production region of Xigaze prefecture.


Located at the base of the highest summit (the legendary Mount Everest) in the world is a matter of pride for Xegar. A lot of expeditions choose this town as their starting point for conquering the Everest. Also known as Shelkar Dzong, the town has earned fame for Shelkar Chode Monastery.


Situated in the Nyang Chu Valley, this little town offers an enchanting sight. Famous structures here include the Dzong, the Kimbum and the Pelkor Chode monastery. The city is located nearby the route of the Friendship Highway. Visitors can explore the legendary Dzong fort, built atop a hill.

One can also tour the Kumbum building to witness numerous statues. The Pelkur Chode monastery witnesses regular visits through Gelugpa monks.


Surrounded by lofty peaks and nestled in the northern end of Tibet, the beautiful region has established itself as a significant economic and political hub. Its nearby areas include Ngari from the western end and Qamdo from the eastern part. Further, it’s also encompassed by Nyingchi, Lhasa and Xigaze from the southern end whereas the northern parts touch the Xinxiang Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province.

Vast lands of nearly 400,000 square kilometers form a part of this territory and it is enveloped by Tanggula, Nyainqentanglha, Kangdese and Dargo mountains in the western end. The eastern side is overlapped by the awesome Burgyi Mountain. River valleys, hills and various lakes enhance the serenity of this place.

Nagqu is known for extreme temperatures, esp. in relation to the cold season. The city is known for low temperatures and the annual average temperature is at the jaw dropping range of -0.9 degree Celsius to -3.3 degree Celsius. As all high altitude regions, scarcity of oxygen and dry air is prevalent here also. The time from November to March witnesses the cold season and violent sandstorms are a rule. However, the weather turns warm during the period of May to September.

Nagqu town is also home to the CPC Nagqu Prefectural Committee and the Nagqu Prefectural Administration. The region has also developed as a transport hub. Along with time, it has been catapulted to the status of reshipment and collection center regarding diverse products like mineral ores, agricultural, forestry and animal commodities. Furthermore, Nagpu’s various districts can be easily reached by various highways.

Different counties falling under the Nagqu Prefecture involve Nagqu, Amdo, Nyainrong, Biru, Jiali, Baqen, Sog, Pangkog, Xainza and Nyima. The Shanghu Special Administrative Group is also a part of it.


Located in the southeast of Tibetan Autonomous Region, Nyingchi has earned the epithet of 'throne of the sun.' The place is surrounded by gigantic Himalayas, Nyainqentanglha and Hengduan Mountains. Further, the pristine region's neighborhood includes Yunan and Qamdo in the eastern and northeastern ends, Lhasa in the western segment and Shannan to the southwestern segment. Further, international boundaries involve links to India and Myanmar as it shares a long border of 1,006.5 km. Prominent tourist spots are the Namcha Barwa Peak and Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon of Medog County.

This vast area stretches over 117,000 sq. km and involves 7 counties in its administration: Nyingchi, Mainling, Gongbogyamda, Medog, Bome, Zaya and Nang. The grand mountains, snow-capped peaks, and pristine rivers offer the feel of paradise at this enchanting place.


The third largest city in Tibet, Qamdo is known for its high elevation, pristine scenery and rich cultural heritage. The place remains in limelight also due to its rich products.

The prefecture level city supervises 11 counties: Chamdo, Gyamda, Gongjo, Riwoqe, Dingqen, Chagyab, Baxoi, Zogang, Mangkang, Lhorong and Palbar, 13 districts, 9 towns, 168 townships and 1,622 administrative villages. Along with a vast Tibetan majority, other ethnic groups which stay here include the Han Chinese, Hui, Zhuang, Naxi, Lhoba, Monba and Bai.

Shannan (Lhoka)

Shannan Prefecture known in Tibetan as Lhoka. The strategically situated prefecture serves as China's south western border and is surrounded by Lhasa at the northern segment, Xigase at the western end and Nyingchi at the eastern front. International boundary is shared at the southern frontier with Bhutan and India. The Yarlung Zangbo River flows through it.

Nearly 12 counties are part of Shannan - Cona, Lhongzi, Nanggarze and Lhozha. The prefecture also involves nearly 144 township-level towns, 05 neighborhood committees and 719 village communities.

Highly mountainous, Shanna witnesses average heights of nearly 3,700 meters. Nearly 41 rivers, 88 lakes and numerous peaks enhance the beauty of this region. Some of the famed ones are Yamzhog Yumco, Namco, Chigo and Purmo Yumco.

List of Tibet Journeys