Central Tibet Towns

Central Tibet towns offer a great experience of Tibet particularly for those who appreciate history. There is good reason for why Lhasa qualified to have three different heritage sites preserved by UNESCO. Each of the these three sites – Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, and Norbulingka Park – could easily occupy a full day if you had a good guide to introduce you to their rich and complex histories. The same holds true for Shigatse‘s Tashi Lhunpo monastery and Dzong (fort) and the fascinating history of the British invasion just over a hundred years ago (who knew?), and much more. The beautiful and fertile Yarlung Tsampo river valley near Tsetang is held to be the birthplace of the Tibetan civilization and is home to Samye Monastery, the oldest Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Nearby is also the Yumbu Lagang Palace, the first building in Tibet according to legend and the palace of Tibet’s first king during the second century, Nyatri Tsenpo.

Planning to travel to Central Tibet? Check out our Tibetan Business Highlights in Central Tibet.

Beyond history

Much adventure is available beyond the towns of Central Tibet. These are all gateway cities to the vast and rugged Tibetan Plateau and the unparalleled natural beauty that awaits there. Interested in visiting Everest Base Camp? Or Mt. Kailash in far western Tibet? Or traveling overland to Kathmandu? All of these options and more are available during a visit to Central Tibet.

For a helpful introduction to the geography of Tibet’s three regions relative to each other and the rest of China, be sure to visit our page on Tibet Travel Essentials.


Jokhang Temple from Lhasa's Barkhor Square

Lhasa (ལྷ་ས་) has been considered the capital of the Tibetan peoples since as early as the 7th century. After conquering several surrounding kingdoms and two significant political marriages with Chinese and Nepali princesses, Songtsan Gampo became the first leader of a unified Tibetan Empire. He began construction on a palace which …

Shigatse (Rikaze)


Also known as Rikaze (日喀则), Shigatse (གཞིས་ཀ་རྩེ་ས་) is the second largest city in Central Tibet. It is a prefectural capital city with a population of over 700,000, and is most famously known for Tashilhunpo Monastery. This monastery is home to the Panchen Lama, the second highest lama in the Gelug …

Tsetang ( Zedang)

Zedang Yubulangkang

Nestled in one of the most fertile regions of the Yarlung Tsampo River basin, Tsetang (རྩེད་ཐང་།) was the perfect place to start a new civilization. Referred to as Zedang in Chinese (泽当), Tibetans consider this quaint city the birthplace of their people. According to legend, the union of an ogress …