The Cradle of Tibet Civilization

Explore the ancient Tibet Civilization

Shannan, also named Lhoka in Tibetan, is a long-standing prefecture-city located in southeast Tibet. Literally meaning the south of mountains, it lies in the southern side of Gangdise Mountains and Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains. As the western border area of China and owning a boundary line of over 600km, Shannan holds a very important strategic position. Adjacent to Lhasa and with Lhasa Gonggar Airport in its geographic scope, Shannan is developed to a popular tourist destination featuring in both the natural landscape and cultural relics. Regarded as the gathering place of Tibetan culture, it is said to enjoy about 10 Firsts in Tibet, including the first palace, the first King, the first monastery the first slavery regime, the first farmland, the first village, etc. Apart from the historical sites, you will embrace the magnificent ranges, spectacular lakes, peaceful valleys, Buddhist monasteries as well as the grand palace. 

Top Shannan Attractions 

With plenty of natural scenery and cultural sites, Shannan never disappoints every tourist by its great charm. If you love the lakes and want to take some nice shots, Yamdrok Lake is the best choice. For those tourists who are interested in Buddhist culture or history, you can pay a visit to Yumbulakang Palace and Samye Monastery. Besides, seeing view of Yarlung Tsangpo River is also a visual treat on your journey. Take a glance of the most popular attractions:

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake about 4,441meters (14,570ft) above sea level is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, together with Namtso Lake and Lake Manasarovar. Situated at the south of Yarlong Tsangpo River in Shannan Region of Tibet, this jaspideous lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains. Without an outlet, it seems like a natural reservoir with a perfect balance between the melted snow water and the evaporated lake water. By standing the hilltop around, you can have a far view of the fresh water under the sunshine reflected different colors of blue and the diverse lakeside grass and plants with yaks and birds dotted with. When comes to winters, there are a large numbers of birds migrate here. What’s more, the World’s highest hydroelectric power is also located nearby Yamdrok Lake. As a holy lake, it is more like a natural reserve with the best ecological environment kept.

Samye Monastery

Samye Monastery was built in 762 when the great Tibetan emperor Trisong Detsen ruled Tibet. With the basic terms of Buddhism – Buddha, scriptures and monks, it is the first official Buddhist monastery in Tibet. For over 1,200 years of history, it is one of most influential monastery in Tibet. In this monastery, there was a famous debating about Buddhism between the ancient Indian Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism. Sitting on the north facing southward, and covers more than 25,000 square meters with a shape of a big oval, this monastery was built according to the description of universe in Buddhism scriptures. Being famous for its featured architectural structure which combines features of Tibetan, Chinese and Indian, Samye Monastery symbolizes the center of the universe for tourists to explore the ancient heart of Tibetan Buddhist world.

Yumbulakang Palace

Yumbulagang Palace is the first palace in Tibet built by the first Tibetan King, Nyatri Tsanpo, in the 2nd Century BC. Situated in the hilltop of the southeast of Tsedang, Shannan Area, it was changed into a temple during the Songtsen Gampo times, and become one of the Gelugpa temples in the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The name “Yumbu” means female deer named after the shape of the Jormo Zhaxi Ceri Mountain which looks like a female deer and “Lagang” means sacred palace. Hence the name of Yumbulagang is translated as ” the sacred palace of mother and son ” in Tibetan. As one of the first buildings in Tibet, the palace has a watchtower styled building with many historical relics kept inside. It is a must see for tourists who are interested about Tibet history. 

Useful Shannan Travel Notes

1. How to Plan Shannan Travel
Being reached conveniently, Shannan can be listed in your itinerary as your first destination in Tibet. It is common to have a 6 days tour combining Shannan and Lhasa. After the arrival on day 1, you can visit Yumbulakang Palace, Samye Monastery and Yamdork Lake on day 2 and then drive to Lhasa for accommodation. In the next two days, just immerse yourself in the strong Buddhist atmosphere by visiting the landmarks of Lhasa. The last day is for departure. Some other travelers take Lhasa as the starting point and then transfer to Shannan instead.
2. Packing and Wearing
What you can’t forget is to bring your passport, Chinese Visa and all needed permits, without them you are unable to have a Tibet tour. Then it is recommended to pack your stuffs in two bags – a bigger backpack and a smaller carry-on bag. The smaller one can be used for daily activities and be put into the large backpack when necessary. It is also important to bring the necessary medicine and sunscreens.Because of the special geography and climate, you have to wear properly to keep warm.
3. High Altitude Sickness Tips
The average altitude of Shannan is about 3,700m (12,139ft), really low compared with some other regions in Tibet. While visiting the landmarks in/around Tsedang, like Yumbulakang Palace, Samye Monastery and Trandruk Monastery, tourists seldom get a serious High Altitude Sickness. If you want to drive to Yamdrok Lake, you need to pass Kambala Pass with a high altitude of 5,030 meters. Remember to drink more water, keep warm and avoid strong activities. Your tour operator will also prepare oxygen supply for emergency use.
4. Necessary Permits for Visiting Shannan
Traveling to Shannan or other areas in Tibet, Tibet Travel Permit is a must. It is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau only and can be applied by travel agencies on behalf of you only. It must be obtained before you getting to Tibet, because you are not permitted to board your flight or train without it. Besides, Aliens’ Travel Permit is necessary to Shannan Prefecture. It is applied after you entering Tibet. Your tour guide will apply it with your Tibet Travel Permit and passport. In some places of Shannan, you need a Border Pass as well.

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