Utsang, the cultural heartland of Tibet, occupying the upper reaches of the Brahamputra River, and its sheltered lateral valleys, is home to traditional agricultural communities, medieval monasteries of historic importance, and several modern towns and cities: Lhasa, capital of Tibet, stands on the Kyichu, Gyantse and Zhigatse are on the Nyang-chu, Tsetang on the Yarlung-chu, and Bayi on the Gyamda Nyang-chu. The highland ( lato ) region to the southwest of Utsang is divided from Nepal by the Great Himalayan barrier range, which includes Mt Everest, the world's highest peak.
The only airports are at Gongkar which has international flights to Kathmandu and domestic flights to several Chinese cities; Bayi in Kongpo, which is serviced by domestic flights to and from Chengdu, and the newly opening airport at Zhigatse. They are direct trains from major ciites ; Xining, Lanzhou,Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu but the most favorable train is from Xining. See the railway Map
Utsang's prestige derives from the great cultural sites associated with the ancient Tibetan monarchy: Yumbu Lagang-- the oldest castle, Tradruk-- the oldest Buddhist temple, Samye-the oldest Buddhist monastery, Chongye - the burial ground of the kings, and Jokhang & Ramoche-the original royal temples of Lhasa.
All the main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism established their mother monasteries here during medieval times: the Nyingmapa at Mindroling and Dorje Drak, the Kagyupa at Tsurphu, Drigung, Taklung and Ralung, the Sakyapa at Sakya and Ngor, and the Gelukpa at Ganden, Sera, Drepung and Tashilhunpo. Even the Bon tradition established its principal centres at Yungdrungling and Menri in Tsang and at Bonri in Kongpo.
Lhasa's skyline is dominated by the Potala Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is the winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas.
Sacred and secular festivals held throughout the year, according to the Tibetan lunar calendar. One of the most popular events is the Zhodun "yoghurt" festival, held at Lhasa during the summer, when performances of Tibetan opera are staged in the gardens of Norbulingka, summer palace of the Dalai Lamas.
For trekkers there are excellent trails in Utsang-from Dingri to Everest Base Camp, from Ganden to Samye, Tsurphu to Yangpachen, in the vicinity of Mt Namchak Barwa, and through the low-lying subtropical forested zone of Pemako.