Lying on a historic trade route between India and Tibet, Gyantse (རྒྱལ་རྩེ་; 江孜; Jiāngzī) has long been a crucial link for traders and pilgrims journeying across the Himalaya. It was once considered Tibet’s third city, behind Lhasa and Shigatse, but in recent decades has been eclipsed by fast-growing towns such as Bayi and Tsetang. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as Gyantse has managed to hang onto its small-town charm and laid-back atmosphere.
Gyantse’s greatest sight is Gyantse Kumbum, the largest chörten remaining in Tibet and one of its architectural wonders, but there's plenty more to see. With good hotels and restaurants, Gyantse is the town in Tibet that most warrants an extra day to explore little-visited nearby monasteries or wander the town's charming back streets.