Nagqu city, also known as “Nagchu” or “Naqu” or “Nakchu”, means “Black River” in Tibetan. It is a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of Tibet Autonomous Region, covering an area of 392,300 square kilometers, it is the largest prefecture-level city in China by land area, and it is approximately 360km north from Lhasa City, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region
Nagqu was the name given to the high nomadic terrain of the east Changtang lakes and Salween head waters; It is now an important post when travel from Lhasa to Xining by train
Nagqu is located in the northern Tibet Autonomous Region, within Tanggula Mountains, Nyainqentanglha Mountains and Gangdise Mountains. It is at the eastern end of Qiangtang Plateau and borders Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province. It is adjacent to Chamdo City in the east, Lhasa City, Nyingchi City, and Shigatse City in the south, and the Ngari Prefecture in the west. Most counties of Nagqu City are dominated by animal husbandry, and some counties are semi-agricultural and semi-pastoral counties.
Best time to travel
From May to September
Plateau mountain climate, sub-frigid climate zone
Most popular sites
Northern Tibet Grassland, the average altitude of Northern Tibet Grassland is over 4500 meters. There are many mountains, rivers, and lakes in northern Tibet. The highest mountain in Nagqu is the main peak of Nyainqentangla with an elevation of 7111 meters. There are as many as 31 peaks over 5000 meters in Nagqu region, 11 of which are over 6000 meters;
There are a total of 370 large and small lakes, of which 11 are large lakes with an area of more than 100 square kilometers. The total area of lakes in the whole Nagqu region is 30,000 square kilometers, accounting for 81% of the total lake area of Tibet Autonomous Region. Various lakes are not only rich in fish resources, but also rich in rare mineral resources such as salt, alkali and boron, it is also a natural pasture with abundant water plants and a wildlife paradise. In addition, there are more than 200 steaming geothermal hot springs on the vast land of northern Tibet, most of which contain high mineral elements.
The ancient Zhang Zhung site, built on mountainside, stone building with a grand scale. The site is more than 1600 years old. Zhang Zhung Kingdom was once prominent on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and Bon religion was formed at this time. In the 8th century, Zhang Zhung kingdom was destroyed by Tubo kingdom
Nagqu meadow grassland is mainly composed of Kobresia pygmaea. Its height is only 3-5 cm, but it grows very densely. The Nagqu grassland in the hinterland of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is famous for its vastness and high coldness. Although the natural conditions are harsh, the natural appearance is best preserved due to sparse population and weak human interference.
Nagqu Administrative divisions
Nagqu has 1 municipal district and 10 counties under its jurisdiction.
Recommended hotels in Nagqu
Add: No. 13, Lasa North Road
Contact: +86 896 382-6553
Ming Hao Grand Hotel
Add: No. 43, Zhejiang Mid-Road
Contact: +86 896 339-3333
Kaisidun Grand Hotel
Add: No. 57, Liaoning Bei Road
Contact: +86 896 333-1666
Si Ka La Hotel
Add: No. 1, Tong Zhan Road
Contact: +86 896 333-3331
Yuan Feng Grand Hotel
Add: No. 3, Qiaqing South Road
Contact: +86 896 373-9999
Zang Bei Ying Bin Hotel
Add: No. 56, Liaoning Bei Road
Contact: +86 896 335-8888
Geography and climate
The mountainous areas of Nagqu City are continuously distributed, divided by many lake basins, and lakes are dotted. The average altitude is over 4500 meters. It is the source of Yangtze River, Nu River, Lhasa River, Yigong River and other large rivers.
The central part of Nagqu City is a plateau and hilly terrain, with many mountains, but the slopes are relatively gentle, and most of mountains are perfectly round. Because it is located in the branch of Nyainqentanglha mountain range, there are many peaks, steep terrain, and significant elevation differences. The altitudes are all above 5,500 meters. The highest mountain, Sangding Kangsang Mountain, is about 6,500 meters above sea level.
The northern part of Nagqu City belongs to Tanggula Mountain area, which is a typical plateau mountainous terrain, with an irregular oval shape. Tanggula Mountain Range is ridge-shaped, and its terrain gradually descends from 6,600 meters in the middle to 4,700 meters in north and 4,500 meters in south, with an average elevation of more than 5,200 meters. The mountains in this area extend from east to west
The eastern part of Nagqu City is a plateau and mountainous area with an elevation of 3,800-4,500 meters. The terrain slopes from northwest to southeast, and the elevation gradually decreases. The western part of this area is more than 4,400 meters above sea level, with many low mountains and hills; the eastern part of this area is more than 3,800 meters above sea level, with many mountains and ridges and rivers. Except for a few places where there are some alpine grasslands, the rest are all high mountains and steep slopes. Deep valleys are formed between high mountains. The height difference between valley bottom and mountain top is usually more than 1,000 meters.
The southern part of Nagqu City is located at the intersection of northern Tibet plateau and high mountain valleys in eastern Tibet. Some areas are above 5,000 meters above sea level and belong to plateau hills; In another part of this area, the mountains are abrupt and steep, with long narrow valleys formed between high mountains; In the area adjacent to Nyingchi City, the altitude dropped sharply, only 3,000 meters above sea level, and with large valleys and plains distributed.
The Northern Tibet Plateau is with one of the worst climates in Tibet, and is a typical plateau cold zone climate area.
The climate in Nagqu City is severely cold and arid. Its oxygen content is only half of the sea level. The temperature difference between day and night is large, and the weather is windy. The average annual temperature is -0.9℃ to -3.3℃, and the average annual rainfall is only 100-200 mm,
The annual sunshine hours are 2,852-2,881 hours, the climate is dry and cold throughout the year, and there is no absolute frost-free period. From November to March of the following year, it is a dry and windy period in northern Tibet. Once it snows, it is easy to become a snow disaster. From May to September, it is relatively warm, which is a golden season of grassland. Rainfall accounts for 80% of the whole year. The growth period of green plants is about 100 days a year, and all of which are in this season.
Nagqu City can be divided into dry season (October-April of the following year, with an average temperature of about 0°C) and warm season (May-September, with an average temperature of about 10°C).
Sunglasses, sunscreen, scarves, sun hats, etc. are essential for travel.
How to get to there
The closest airport is Lhasa airport. The road was not good before 2010, after nearly 3-4 years rebuilding , the well-paved road has been completed, and the driving hours is now just 5 hours, which is about 4 hours shorter than it was;
Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Address: Jia Zu Lin Town, Gongga Xian
IATA Code: LXA
Altitude: 3,600 meters
Contact: +86 891 6216465 / 6827727(airport bus)
Nagqu Long Distance Bus Station
Add: No, 17, Liao Ning Middle Road
Contact: +86 896 3829868 / 382215
Altitude: 4,500 meters
Working hours: 07:00 am – 17:30 pm
Distance from Nagqu to
- To Damxung County : 170 kilometers, about 4 hours drive
- To Lhasa : 330 kilometers, about 7 hours drive
- To Tsetang : 460 kilometers, about 9 hours drive
- To Shigatse : 490 kilometers, about 10.5 hours drive
- To Gyantse : 560 kilometers, about 11 hours drive
Population and ethnicity
The population in 2010 was 460,000, of which 97% were Tibetans, 2.8% were Han, and 0.43% were other ethnic minorities. In addition to Tibetans and Hans, the resident population in Nagqu also includes Hui, Kazak, Manchu, Dongxiang, Dong, Bai, Salar, Mongolian, Yi, Tu, Uygur, Miao, Tujia, Yao, Qiang, Monba, Buyi Clan, Zhuang, Wa, Nu, Dulong, Korean, Hani, Dai, Naxi, Kirgiz, Li, She, Gaoshan, Shui, Bulang, Xibe, Uzbek, Jino, a total of 36 ethnic groups
Nagqu Horse-racing Festival is also called “Qiangtang Horse Racing Festival”, it is “Daqiong” in Tibetan. It is a grand traditional festival in the grasslands of northern Tibet. According to legend, the Northern Tibet Horse-racing Festival has lasted from the period of Tubo king Trisong Detsen (AD 742–AD 797) to present. Now Nagqu horse racing festival has been fixed to be started on August 10th in Gregorian calendar each year; August is the golden season of northern Tibet. Nagqu (Qiangtang) grassland is full of green grass and wildflowers, and the climate is mild and pleasant.
Around the 7th century, the eastern part of the Nagqu region was ruled by the Subi tribe. Later, the Tubo tribe gradually became stronger, unified the whole Tibet, established a powerful Tubo dynasty, and northern Tibet was also brought under its rule.
After the Song Dynasty (960-AD 1279), Nagqu and Yangbajing, Bangcang (in the area of Dangya Lake and Angze Lake), and Langru (in the area of Bangor County today) were called “The Four Northern Tribes”
In 1269 AD, the Yuan Dynasty set up a post here and sent Mongolian troops to station, which later formed the Mongols in northern Tibet of the 39 tribe of “Hor”.
From the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century, the area of Nagqu belonged to the Heshuote Mongolian regime,
In the 16th year of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty(1751 AD), Qing Dynasty carried out major reforms of local administrative system in Tibet. Established Kannang Zong in Nagqu, and having it under the jurisdiction of the newly built Kashag regime of Tibet. Kannang Zong was managed jointly by the religious leader (Khenpo) and the tribal chief (Nangzong). It can be said that this is the first “Zong” on the plateau in northern Tibet, and it is a way of governance that combines politics and religion. In the meantime, some areas of Nagqu were under the jurisdiction of the Panchen Lama.
In the 33rd year of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (1907), Kashag regime took over the jurisdiction of Panchen Lama. So far, for the first time since the collapse of Tubo dynasty, northern Tibet had been placed under direct jurisdiction of local authority.
In 1953, Black River (Nagqu) Division of Tibet Work Committee was established.
In 1956, Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee established Black River (Nagqu) Jiqiao Office. Nagqu Zong was under the jurisdiction of Naqu Jiqiao Office.
In 1959, Black River (Nagqu) Prefecture Administrative Office was established
In 1960, “Black River area” in Tibet was officially renamed as “Nagqu area”.
In 1965, it was renamed Nagqu Administrative Office.
In 1985, the State Council approved the establishment of Nyima County.
In 2012, the State Council approved the establishment of Shuanghu County. So far, Nagqu region has jurisdiction over 11 counties.
In 2017, Nagqu Prefecture and Nagqu County were abolished, and the prefecture-level Nagqu City was established; Seni District was established as urban area of Nagqu City, the administrative area of Nagqu County was the administrative area of Seni District.
In 2018, Nagqu City held a ceremony to celebrate that Nagqu City became the 6th prefecture-level city in Tibet.