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Travel Tibet China offers Ultimate Shigatse travel guide tells you how to plan your Lhasa Gyangtse Shigatse Kathmandu tour, including best time to Shigatse, Tibet travel permit...

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Shigatse (or Xigatse) means "the fertile land" in Tibetan for it sits in the plain at the confluence of the Yarlung Tsangpo and Nyainchu River.

Explore Shigatse holidays and discover the best time and places to visit. | Tibet’s second-largest city and the traditional capital of Tsang province, Shigatse (གཞི་ཀ་རྩེ་; 日喀则; Rìkāzé) is a modern, sprawling city, with wide boulevards humming with traffic. As you drive in across the plains, the sight of the Potala-lookalike Shigatse Dzong, high on a hilltop overlooking the town, will probably fire your imagination, but the fort is empty and most of what you see dates from a 2007 reconstruction. It is Tashilhunpo Monastery that is the real draw here. Since the Mongol sponsorship of the Gelugpa order in the 17th century, Tashilhunpo has been the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama.

Best Time to Visit Shigatse

The climate in Shigatse is a little different than that of Lhasa, as it is higher in altitude and further west into the colder regions of Tibet. Air is thinner, UV rays are stronger, and with lower air pressure, the oxygen content of the air is less than in the Tibetan capital. Shigatse has very defined wet and dry seasons, with the dry season running from October until the end of April and the wet season from May until September. May to October is the normal popular period for travel in Shigatse, as the weather is not cold and the sun is strong yet comfortable. While the rainy season runs from May to September, July and August are the wettest months of the year, and it can sometimes rain nightly throughout July and August.

Summer, from June to September, is the busy season in Shigatse, though it is also the rainy season. However, while it does rain a lot, it is normally at night or in the evenings, so it leaves the days warm and bright for touring. Temperatures are also warmer, with night time temperatures only getting down to around 2-3 degrees. Day times can get as warm as around 29 degrees, and have even been seen as high as 35 degrees in the hottest summers.

Spring and autumn are the shoulder seasons, and the best times for trekking, especially from Tingri to Mount Everest Base Camp. The weather in spring and autumn is warm enough to be comfortable, but drier than summer, with very little rain at all. Skies are clear and bright, and it is the best time to get good views of the high Himalayan mountains.

How to Get to Shigatse

There are two directions from which you can get to Shigatse, from either Kathmandu across the border or from Lhasa. If you are traveling from Lhasa, you have a variety of options for getting to Shigatse, including bus, train, and car. Most international traveler take their tour to Shigatse using the tour car provided as part of the tour package.

However, travel by train is also possible, and if you are not really into driving along the long road to Tibet’s second city, then there is always the Lhasa to Shigatse train. Connecting Shigatse to Lhasa, the railway line opened in 2014 as an extension of the Qinghai Tibet Railway, and will soon also be an extension of the Sichuan Tibet Railway, which is currently under construction. Trains run three times a day each way, and are a great way of traveling the distance from Lhasa to Shigatse, taking half of the time of a car.

If you are traveling from Kathmandu in Nepal, then aside from needing a lot more permits to cross the border, you will also only have the option of driving (or being driven!) from the border at Gyirong Port to Shigatse. There are no public buses from Gyirong Town to Shigatse, although international tourists cannot use public transport. There is also no railway link from Shigatse to Kathmandu, yet. This is planned for the future, but for now, a long drive along the G318 Friendship Highway is the only option.

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