Tsetang is capital town of Shannan City, known as the source and cradle of Tibetan civilization. It is located on the south bank of Yarlung Tsanpo river, some 170 km south from Lhasa. It is the 4th largest city of Tibet.
Tsetang was the capital of Yarlung Kingdom since the period before the Middle Ages, and was the seat of the ancient emperors of Tibet. In 19th century, it is said to have comprised over 1,000 houses, a bazaar, a monastery and a fort.
Its elevation is of 3,100 meters above sea level and has a population of approximately 60,000 people. Samye monastery, the first monastery of Tibet, is located 30 km north from Tsetang, which was founded in 779 AD by King Trisong Detsen.
The valleys offer a number of side trips that illustrate Tibet’s early history. Among of which, the Valley of the Kings offers a major sites of Yongbu Lakhang Palace that was built for the first Yarlung king of Tibet kingdom, and also Tandruk Monastery, one of the three Royal Buddhist temples.
Best time to travel
From May to October
Most popular sites
Yongbu Lakang is about 11 kilometers away from Tsetang Town. “Yongbu” means “female deer“, “Lakang” means “shrine“. It is the first palace in Tibet, was built in the second century BC. When Princess Wencheng first came to Tibet, she came to live here with Songtsan Gampo every summer. By the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama whom built a four-cornered golden dome on the basis of the original Diaolou-style building and converted it to be a Gelug pa monastery.
Samye monastery was built during Tubo Dynasty in 8th century and was the first monastery in Tibet where an ordained people became a monk. The buildings of this monastery are laid out according to the Buddhism cosmology. The assembly hall has three styles: Tibetan, Han, and Indian. There are more than 50 monks in Samye Monastery nowadays
How to get to Tsetang
Lhasa Gonggar airport is about 95 kilometers west from Tsetang town, it usually takes 1.5 hours to cover this distance. There are international flight between Kathmandu and Lhasa, which you can use for international transfer;
Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Address: Jia Zu Lin Town, Gongga Xian
Contact: +86 891 6216465 / 6827727
Altitude: 3,600 meters
IATA Code: LXA
Shannan Bus Station
Address: No.12, Anhui Road
Contact: +86 893 7820159
Altitude: 3,550 meters
Working hours: 08:00 am – 20:00 pm
Distance from Tsetang to
- Nyingchi City: 410 kilometers, about 8 hours drive
- Lhozhag County : 240 kilometers, about 6 – 7 hours drive
- Lhasa City: 160 kilometers, about 13 hours drive
- Gyantse County: 310 kilometers, about 5 – 6 hours drive
- Shigatse City: 325 kilometers, about 5 – 6 hours drive
- Lhasa Gongga Airport: 95 kilometers, about 1.5 hours drive