Top 10 China tours 2024/2025 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more
Lhasa to Shigatse - Fantastic Scenery

Lhasa to Shigatse - Fantastic Scenery

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Aug. 2, 2023

It was a scenic trip, and a concentrated experience of Tibet's natural scenery.   

We started our trip at 9am from Lhasa. It was a great sunny day. The sun spread its light over the highland, but it hardly drove off the morning's coolness.

While the large part of China, especially the south, is dominated by an unbearable heat, it is very cool in Lhasa. You need a coat to cope with the coolness in the morning and evening. I felt a bit chilly in my thin sweater.

Shigatse is located to the west of Lhasa. Driving westward outside Lhasa, vast golden fields came into sights. It was late August, the harvest season, and locals were harvesting their crops in the fields. The golden fields on the banks of the Lhasa River set off the blue sky wonderfully.

Tibetan PeopleTibetan people are working in golden fields

The scenery became more attractive as the road rose with hairpin turns. We were climbing a 5,030-meter mountain pass.

The road wound around high mountains leading to a mountain top. Just a few steps away were deep valleys. The Chinese saying "a mountainous road with 18 turns" fits this stretch of road vividly.

After one hour winding and climbing, we reached the mountain top. Although in my thin sweater, I felt chilly there. I suffered a little headache. Every time when I was in a place above 4,500 meters above sea level, I felt a minor altitude sickness.

The symptoms disappeared as soon as the altitude dropped. The pass commanded a fantastic view of fields at the mountain bottom extending to mountains far away.

There were heaps of prayer flags put up by the Tibetans.  It was quite windy, so a thick overcoat was needed.

prayer flagsPraying flags are everywhere along the road from Lhasa to Shigatse

An amazing sight greeted us. The breathtaking Yamdrok Lake came into sights as we traveled arosss a mountain pass. What a fantastic lake! It din't look like a real lake, but it resembled a turquoise portion of sky embedded among the mountains.

This is, for certain, the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. We marveled at its beauty, regardless of the chill and discomfort brought by the high altitude. The place we were standing was 4,500 meters above sea level.

Mists hung over the lake. The mountains surrounding the lake were carpeted with green grass. Fields on the opposite bank of the lake were covered with yellow flowers, and Tibetan village quietly lay among the flowers. The lake is even more attractive in fine days.

There was a toilet on the roadside beside Lake Yamdrok. It charged 2 yuan per person for entering. Expect the most basic conditions.

Yamdrok Lake Yamdrok Lake

The road continued on the lakeside. The scenery awakens every cell in your body.

After around one hour's drive, we arrived at Nagartse, a town at an elevation of 4,200 meters. Most travelers to Shigatse will stop at this town for lunch.

Lhasa restaurant is the best restaurant there, but the food options were very limited. You can choose a buffet meal or order separately. We had buffet meal.

The time we arrived was late, around 1 pm, so there were only a few dishes left, tofu, curried potato, pumpkin, and onion. Hot water was supplied. The toilet there was acceptable.

Tibetan food - MomoTibetan food - Momo

The road continued westward running between high rocky mountains, so high as to appear to be touching the sky. About one hour's drive brought us to the bottom of a giant glacier, called Khorala Glacier.

The glacier is just several hundreds' meters away from the road. It is chilly. Locals have their thick down coats on. The glacier was just above us, at a elevation of 7,200 meters high.

As soon as our bus stopped, Tibetans rushed to us selling their dairy products. Kids came to ask for gifts or small notes. Tibetan girls and women asked us to take photos with them (10 yuan per time).

There was a toilet there, and a store selling necessities. But batteries were not available.

The altitude declined as we past the glacier, but the scenery was by no means fading away. There came clean rivers, vast highland pastures, herds of yaks and sheep, and flower-covered fields.

Words can hardly convey the beauty. I was impressed, open-mouthed, and pressed the button of the camera as fast as I could so as not to miss any highlights.

Khorala GlacierKhorala Glacier

The landscapes continued until Gyantse. Gyantse is famous for the 14th Gyantse Dzong or fort which perches high above the town on a huge grey brown rock. But it was closed for maintenance the time when we traveled there.

The road from Gyantse to Shigatse is flat. The altitude is around 3,900 meters. Shigatse is 90 kilometers away .

Gyantse DzongGyantse Dzong

We arrived at Shigatse at 7:00 pm. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet, after Lhasa, and it is the administrative center of west Tibet. Mount Everest is 5 hour's drive from Shigatse. 

A Few Reminders for Future Travelers

  • This trip is not suitable for travelers who have motion sickness. Hairpin turns and high elevation can aggravate motion sickness symptoms.
  • It is a long drive, around 9 hours, so bring some food and snacks with you.
  • Do not drink to much water on the way, as the toilet conditions are very basic, to the point that you may not want to enter it until desperate.
  • Take this trip the third or fourth day after you arriving in Tibet. Most of the road runs above 4,500 meters high, which may cause serious mountain sickness for unaccustomed travelers.
  • Bring an overcoat with you even in summer. It is quite windy and chilly at the mountain pass.
Contact us
Recommended Tibet Tours:
  • 5-Days Lhasa Classics and Lake Yamdrok -Tour : See Lhasa's highlights and a lakeside picnic nearby Tibetan holy Lake-Lake Yomdrok.
  • 8-Day Lhasa and Everest Base Camp Tour : This trip includes the iconic landmarks-the Potala Palace, inspiring Mt. Everest, and holy Yamdrok Lake as well as countless opportunities to experience the Buddhist cultural touch. You will also visit Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world, and the Palgor Chorten a pagoda with one hundred thousand Buddhas.

Not interested in the above tour? You can tailor-make your own unique tour by telling us your interests and requirements. We will help you design a perfect trip.

Popular tours
Make the most of your time
Choose the best time to visit
We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

The China Highlights Experience

1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
Featured on