Tibet is a dreamland for many individuals on the Earth, filled with thriller and sweetness. It’s the highest land on our planet. Revealing improbable landscapes – snowy mountains, huge grasslands, lakes, rivers, forests, and valleys. These landscapes are a cradle of the wonderful tradition of the Tibetan folks. You may see it in all places – from their monasteries to the nomadic lifetime of the Tibetan herdsmen. Let’s go on a journey to this area, significantly to its jap half and dive into the world that it reveals to vacationers.
Primary info about Jap Tibet
Everyone is aware of in regards to the area. Individuals see the map, and the province of China known as the “Tibetan Autonomous Area” with Lhasa as a capital, and assume: “That is Tibet”. However what a lot of them don’t know is that that is solely the western a part of the area. In Chinese language, it’s “Xizang” (西藏), which accurately means “Western Tibet”. However then, the place is “Jap Tibet”? There is no such thing as a such factor on the map, solely a number of provinces – Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan. So, “Jap Tibet” should be searched someplace round?
Sure, on the map “Jap half” is hidden, but it surely exists, shared between all of those neighboring provinces. A big a part of these provinces is positioned on the Nice Tibetan Plateau, which is identical because the western area. The folks dwelling on the plateau, with their tradition, historical past, language, and traditions are the identical Tibetans as these dwelling within the Tibetan Autonomous Area.
So, for those who go to the Tibetan a part of Sichuan or Qinghai, you may confidently say “I used to be in Tibet” as a result of this is part of the area. The jap half will not be “much less Tibetan” than the western half. In truth, it even has some benefits. First – foreigners are fully free to journey within the jap area (identical to touring between Shanghai and Beijing, solely with their Chinese language visa). They don’t want an organized tour and journey permits like within the western area. And second – being “hidden” and shared between different provinces, Jap Tibet offers a a lot genuine really feel of the area, with a lot much less crowded locations to go to.
The most effective Jap Tibet itinerary
How one can discover the jap area? The Tibetan Autonomous Area is evident – you go to Lhasa. From there you go to the neighboring locations just like the Everest Base Camp or the farthest one – Kailas. The jap a part of the area is totally different. There are a variety of locations you may go to – a few of them a bit touristy, others – fully wild and tough to entry. Nevertheless, all of those locations are price to go to and discover.
So, after I deliberate my first journey, I designed a route that I discovered the most effective as a result of it contains essentially the most important and consultant locations of this land. We made it by rental automotive for 18 days. If we had extra time, we might do it a lot slower with detours, for a for much longer time.
The route begins from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, and ends in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. On the best way, you may see all the things that the area has to disclose. Just like the limitless grasslands with yaks and Tibetan nomads. Snowcapped mountains with glaciers, beautiful glacial lakes, and rivers, wild coniferous forests. Splendid monasteries with white stupas (Chortens), clear and comfortable Tibetan cities and villages. A whole lot of vastness and remoteness. That is the Nice Tibetan Plateau. However let’s start from Chengdu.
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Chengdu (460 m altitude) – Capital of Sichuan
This is likely one of the largest megacities of China, filled with tradition and historical past. House of the Big Panda, and a few of the most deliciously spicy meals on the planet. I’d advise you to rearrange at the very least at some point to discover this distinctive metropolis earlier than you begin your Tibetan journey. That is what we did (and later did it each time once we visited the area once more). We visited the middle, broad and slim alleys, Jin Li Avenue, Wuhou Temple, the Heart of the Big Panda Breeding (after all!), and plenty of different locations, together with the vigorous ambiance of town. Then we began our journey.
Kangding (2500 m altitude) – Gate of Tibet
From Chengdu, our route began on the well-known G318 freeway, connecting Chengdu with Lhasa, given the title “heavenly highway” by the vacationers. Sadly, now foreigners can’t go to Lhasa from Chengdu. As a result of a part of it (Chamdo Prefecture within the Tibetan Autonomous Area) is at present fully closed for them. However the part of the highway inside Sichuan Province is opened and filled with magnificence. And the primary necessary place on it’s Kangding.
Kangding is called the “Most romantic metropolis in China” as a result of it’s the birthplace of the well-known “Kangding Love Track”. It’s positioned in a deep gorge with a livid mountain river flowing by the middle of town. That is the gate of the cultural lands of Tibet.
We arrived there on the outdated G318 highway, filled with beautiful views all together with it. Now there’s a new velocity freeway, which makes the journey a lot sooner. We each time spent the evening in Zhilam Hostel. For me the lodging properties should not “journey locations”, however only a place to spend the evening. Nevertheless, Zhilam Hostel is totally different. It’s like an adventurous “museum”, with an incredible panoramic view of town.
Tagong (3750 m) – Gorgeous Grasslands with Yaks, Prayer Flags
From Kangding, you may discover the close by Mt. Konka (7556 m), the very best peak within the area. Or you may proceed on the highway G318 to the border of the Tibetan Autonomous Area and discover the areas of Litang, Yading, and Mt. Ge’nyen. However we selected to depart this highway and to show proper to Tagong.
Tagong is a small Tibetan city, identified for its beautiful grasslands. Right here you’ll find the primary giant Tibetan monastery – Lhagang (Tagong) Monastery, within the city’s heart. And on the northeastern facet of the city, you may see a wide ranging view of the grasslands, Muya Temple and the magnificent Zhara (Yala) Snow Mountain over the grasslands.
In Tagong, we slept in one other Tibetan cultural place – Jya Drolma & Gaya’s Guesthouse, a phenomenal Tibetan home, richly embellished in conventional fashion. We didn’t miss the chance to hike the close by hills and benefit from the beautiful views of the grasslands.
Garze (3350 m) – Tibetan tradition beneath snowcapped giants
From Kangding, our route proceeded to the northwest. It handed by cozy Tibetan cities – Bamei, Dawu and Drango (Luhuo), and a variety of stunning Tibetan villages. The grasslands combined with attractive coniferous forests, and once we reached the very best level of this part of the route, we noticed the majestic Kawalori, rising to nearly 6000 m altitude. It was one of many snowcapped giants, surrounding Garze from the south.
We arrived in Garze. It was a pleasant city with a vigorous heart. About 80% of its inhabitants are Tibetans, and we have been seeing their tradition on a regular basis. Monks in purple robes stroll on the streets. Ladies in richly embellished conventional garments promote their merchandise on the road markets, and glad kids play beside the small river, crossing the city. We visited Garze Monastery – a novel Tibetan monastery, which has some Mongol and Han Chinese language affect.
Yilhun Lha Tso (4020 m) – Stunning Pearl of Jap Tibet
Now the route proceeds on one other “heavenly highway” – G317, which, nonetheless, will not be as well-known as G318. So, once we traveled on it, it was a lot emptier, and driving on it was a pleasure. The highway passes by the majestic Mt. Zhuoda and reaches Manigango, a small Tibetan settlement. Solely 11 km away from Manigango is Yilhun Lha Tso – an extremely stunning glacial lake.
Yilhun Lha Tso is positioned on the foot of Mt. Chola, beneath its highest peak Rongme Ngatra (6168 m) – a rugged mountain vary coated by glaciers and wild coniferous forests on its decrease elements. And the lake water is unusually pale in colour, with some Tibetan mani stones on it. Herds of horses have been operating round, and eagles have been flying free.
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We spent the evening there tenting on the lake coast, which was a improbable expertise, having fun with the cosmic view of the Universe within the evening. I’ve by no means seen so many stars and the Milky Approach so clear like right here, on the coast of Yilhun Lha Tso! Should you go on this route, you undoubtedly should strive it!
Serxu (4250 m) – Wildest and Distant space of Sichuan
After this wonderful expertise, we return to Manigango and obtained the highway to Serxu – a small Tibetan city. Positioned within the excessive northwestern finish of Sichuan. The route handed by Dzogchen Monastery – a phenomenal advanced. Positioned beneath the glaciers of Mt. Chola, which is usually crowded by pilgrims. Then the highway leaves Mt. Chola and proceeds by an limitless maze of hills, coated by grassland. On the lengthy part between Dzogchen and Serxu, there are just a few small villages, and nothing extra. The one human presence that you could see there’s some scattered Tibetan nomadic tents, with herds of yaks beside them.
Lastly, we reached the distant Serxu. It’s wonderful to see a standard city with malls, markets, vogue retailers, a sq. with fountains, bars, eating places, in an altitude that usually there’s nothing else however glaciers and wilderness.
However essentially the most attention-grabbing place in Serxu space is Serxu Monastery, which isn’t only a non secular web site, however an necessary academic heart. After we visited it, we have been invited to a classroom, the place the scholars (10-11 years outdated boys, no women!) had a Chinese language language class. They have been reciting a narrative in regards to the “Rabbit with lengthy, lengthy ears, and brief, brief tail”.
Yushu (3650 m) – Resurrected metropolis
From Serxu the route leaves Sichuan by one in all its highest points- Anbala Move (4700 m) and enters Qinghai Province. It descends to the primary freeway, connecting Xining with Yushu. Flip left and shortly you’ll be in Yushu. And somewhat earlier than Yushu you may see the well-known Yangtze River, the longest river in China, at 3500 m altitude (on this part the Yangtze known as Tongtian River).
Yushu is likely one of the largest cities in Qinghai Province. It’s an outdated metropolis, though trendy Yushu exists since 2010. The explanation was a devastating earthquake, which occurred in 2010 and killed most of its inhabitants, destroying the entire metropolis. Then it has been rebuilt, resurrected. New Yushu is completely totally different than the outdated one – with splendid Tibetan structure. A big sq. with the legendary Tibetan King Gesar monument. And a thick strong wall, a logo of the brand new resistance towards the seismic powers of nature.
We walked across the metropolis, had dinner in a pleasant Tibetan restaurant, known as “Grandma’s Kitchen”, and loved its new structure. Then, on the following day, we obtained the highway to the wildest areas of the entire Jap Tibet.
Bayankala (4810 m) & Madoi (4250 m) – Huge distant breathtaking vacancy
The route follows the primary freeway to Xining. It progressively ascends by the huge grasslands which turn out to be increasingly more empty. It’s an limitless wilderness with nothing on it. There are solely mountain ridges, giant plains between them and no settlements or different human traces round, with an exception of some lonely nomadic tents and typically a herd of yaks.
We reached the very best level of the entire route- Bayankala Move (4810 m). Then, on its northern facet was the wildest space that one can see between Chengdu and Xining – a complete vacancy beneath the deep blue sky, coated by grass and typically with tons of of mini lakes and swamps.
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Lastly, the panorama begins to “again to the civilization” once more, reaching Madoi – a small Tibetan city, positioned actually “in the midst of nowhere”. Sure, it has its personal native life that we noticed – native Tibetans meet each night on the central sq., dancing on their conventional folklore music. And though Madoi is distant, it nonetheless has some eating places and even just a few small motels, constructed for many who journey on the freeway between Yushu and Xining.
Amnye Machin (6282 m) – Holiest Mountain in Jap Tibet
The freeway to Xining proceeds on the identical panorama to a small settlement, known as Tsogen Rawa. There’s a crossing with one other freeway, and it’s a place for an necessary detour from the primary route in the fitting path. This second freeway travels by the identical limitless hills and grasslands till a excessive snowy mountain quickly seems on the east. That is Amnye Machin- an impressive large, rising considerably over the encircling decrease hills.
Amnye Machin is taken into account as one of many holiest mountains within the area. There’s a dust highway across the mountain, which is recurrently utilized by pilgrims for kora – a spiritual circumnavigation, which takes 7 days (lately it’s typically traveled by trekkers too).
After we reached Amnye Machin for the primary time, the brand new freeway was nonetheless in building. So we needed to drive on the outdated dust highway, from the Yushu-Xining freeway to the northern slopes of the mountain. However now you may shortcut a lot of the outdated highway by the brand new freeway. And exit from it at Tawo Zholma – a small village simply earlier than Amnye Machin. From there you may attain Drakde La Move (4610 m). And luxuriate in essentially the most magnificent view of the snowy mountain with its largest glacier – Damxung Glacier, which flows close to the mountain go. You may even go to stroll on the glacier (as we did). Though I’ve heard that it is going to be forbidden sooner or later for security causes.
Qinghai Lake (3205 m) – Largest Lake of Tibet and China
After Amnye Machin, the route again to the Yushi-Xining freeway and proceeds additional to northeast path. Lastly, it begins descending from the primary a part of the Nice Tibetan Plateau to its decrease areas. The panorama turns into extra “civilized”, and at last, you attain a small city, the place you flip left to the most important lake of the area and the entire of China- Qinghai Lake.
Qinghai Lake is a closed physique of water, with out connection to the ocean. 4 civilizations meet there- Tibetans, Mongols, Hui Muslims, and Han Chinese language. Its coasts are coated by grasslands and small sand deserts on its northern facet. The distant mountains of Tibet mirror on its blue waters.
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Now its southern coast is kind of touristy, with a variety of motels and yurts for lodging, in addition to many eating places. Actually, after the huge wilderness of the excessive area, we felt Qinghai Lake too “civilized”. However for those who ignore this, the lake, the encircling nature, and the native tradition stay impressing.
Xining (2150 m) – Capital of Qinghai
Lastly, that is the top of this route. Xining is the capital of Qinghai and is a big metropolis with largely Hui Muslim and Han Chinese language populations. And it’s actually price to strive what its native tradition presents- its colourful markets, its non secular websites, and its ambiance.
How one can make the journey on this route
As I already talked about, we traveled on this route by rental automotive. We did it as a result of I’ve a Chinese language driving license. Should you don’t have it, you may’t drive a automotive in China. Then the one strategy to do it by automotive is for those who discover one other driver with such a doc. It isn’t a straightforward job, however in case you are a bigger group of individuals, you may rent a van or minibus, which might be not very costly.
One attainable method is to contact your lodging property in Chengdu (which you’d reserve prematurely) and inform them to rearrange such a van. A lot of the motels wouldn’t have the ability to do it, however some hostels which frequently settle for foreigners touring to this area in all probability would prepare it.
An alternative choice is by shared vans, from metropolis to metropolis. It’s simpler, however normally, you wouldn’t have this freedom to cease wherever you need and luxuriate in what you see so long as you need. And the most affordable (however worst) choice is by bus. There are buses touring on nearly the entire route. However once more, you’ll miss a variety of the sweetness alongside the highway.
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Summer season Journey
We traveled on this route in summer time. Throughout this a part of the 12 months, the climate is warmest, and the grasslands are most inexperienced, typically filled with flowers. It’s attainable to rain typically. A lot of the remainder of the 12 months is chilly, sunny and dry, however the grasslands are yellow. There’s not a lot snow in winter, however the temperature might drop decrease than – 30 C.
There are numerous different locations that you could go to. Amongst them I’d point out Shangri La and Deqin in Yunnan Province, Litang, Yading and Ge’nyen on G318 (as I discussed above), Derge on the different facet of Mt. Chola, well-known for its Tibetan guide printing traditions, Larung Gar with its tons of of monk’s purple homes (nonetheless, at present closed for foreigners), Mt. Nyenbo Yurtse, Zoige (Ruoergai) Grasslands, and plenty of extra. However this route is extra consultant, for many who wish to discover the Jap half.
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