Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Southern Gansu Province Along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau - A Beijing Discovery Tours EXCLUSIVE Tour!
Tibetan and Chinese Muslim cultures have peacefully coexisted for centuries in this historical and beautiful region of China that is rarely visited by foreigners. Beautiful and important temples, majestic mountains, sweeping grasslands and friendly people make this a unique tour off of the beaten path in China that will show you a completely different facet of China that you will not see in the major cities. Be sure to visit these places before they become “touristy” while they still retain their original charm and beauty.
Southern Gansu Province and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are gorgeous yet mysterious Tibetan cultural areas with clear water, green hills, snowy mountains and countless holy temples. This area is located at the juncture of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau, with an average altitude of 9,200 feet (2800 meters) above sea level. This was an important trading center in ancient times that connected the Teahorse Road and the Tang Dynasty-Tibet Road. The Fairy Yellow River, running eastward out of Qinghai, curves along beautifully for about 270 miles (433 kilometers) and is known as the “Wonder of the Nine-Curve River”, surrounded by the green highlands of the Southern Gansu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Our Recommended Tour:
(If by train): Travel from Beijing to Lanzhou, Gansu Province on an overnight train (an interesting 20-hour overnight trip). You may also choose to travel one way by airplane and the other by train (tour prices will be adjusted accordingly).
If traveling by airplane, leave in the morning and arrive in the afternoon (also an afternoon arrival for the overnight train from Beijing. Excellent photo opportunities of the Yellow River with a ride on a boat made of sheep’s leather, and a visit to an ethnic Hui (Chinese Muslim) temple. Visiting various sites around the area along will provide you with opportunities to try a wide variety of local ethnic cuisines throughout the day. We will spend the night again in Lanzhou to rest up for tomorrow’s trip to the village of Xiahe and the magnificent Summer River Labuleng (Labrang) Temple.
Travel through Linxia to the Summer River Labuleng Temple. Passing through the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, which is known as China’s Mecca for the Hui minority, you will see hundreds of Islamic temples. By noon, we will arrive in the Tibetan area to visit the grand Summer River Labuleng Temple (also known as the Labrang Temple) in the town of Xiahe. This is one of the six great temples in the “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism, of which the Dalai Lama is a member. It is one of the most important of the Tibetan Buddhist temples and second in size only to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. This enormous temple is famous for its Medical Academy, the largest such institution in Tibetan Buddhism. It also contains the world’s longest curving corridor, which usually takes visitors around two hours to navigate. The day will conclude with a campfire and dance with the friendly local Tibetan people, who are happy to welcome visitors to their unique culture. We will spend the night in Xiahe, the town where the temple is located.
Day 4: Summer River – Langmu Temple
The town of Langmu is charmingly composed of bars and restaurants in the Tibetan style. Langmu Temple is known as “the little Switzerland of the East”. The temple’s location atop a hill offers a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the entire town. Off to the east, the mesa landscape is reminiscent of America’s Grand Canyon; to the north, layers of independent temples are set against a backdrop of green pine trees and are known as the Sichuan Ghale Bottom Temple. We will stay the night in the small village of Langmu.
Day 5: Nine Curves of the Yellow River – WaiXi'ang Temple – Maqu
This day’s travels will take us across the highest point of the Gansu highway, elevation 13,451 feet (4100 meters) with the imposing Animac Snow Mountain looming in the distance. The day will include a visit to the Six-word Apothegm of the sutra stamped into natural stone at the WaiXi'ang Temple. We will stay the night in the village of Maqu.
Day 6: Gahai Lake – Milariba Buddha Pavilion
Gahai Lake is a pristine, sky-blue lake located at an altitude of 11,155 feet (3400 meters) and situated on a natural plateau of grasslands. China has designated Gahai Lake as a National Bird Reserve and it is an ideal spot for nature lovers and photographers. The impressive and beautiful Milariba Buddha Pavilion is the only building of its kind in the region. It is surrounded by formidable guardian walls on the outside, which feature white towers displaying the classic Buddhist style. The day concludes with the trip back to Lanzhou City and a night’s rest in the Lanzhou Hotel.
Before boarding the overnight train back to Beijing (or catching the afternoon flight), you can choose to relax in Lanzhou City or ride a bike to visit nearby sites, such as the rock caves near the Binging Temple, etc.
Day 8 (if by train): Arrive in Beijing by train in the afternoon.
Approximately 7000 CNY / US$1171 per person with a group of 10 people (a bit higher with fewer people in the peak season of August or September, which includes all site entrance tickets and train tickets (airplane tickets will be moderately more expensive). Food is not included but should cost no more than 75 CNY / US$13 per person per day. For a more accurate quote and any questions, please contact us or e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Gannan County Tour Information:
This tour’s main attractions are the area’s beautiful scenery and landscapes, the Hui (Chinese Muslim) and Tibetan Buddhism cultures, and the fascinating history of the region.
Geographical Location: Located at the edge of the Qinghai-Tibet ridge, which is the dividing point of the Yangzte River and the Yellow River. It is also somewhat of a border between the majority Han people of China and the Chinese ethnic minorities.
History: Of tremendous historical importance not only for China but also for the rest of the world, Gannan County is the crossing point of the Ancient Teahorse Route, the Silk Road and the Ancient Tang Dynasty – Tibet Route. This was a major meeting point for different races, different types of trades and a major flashpoint for the inevitable conflicts that arose. It was once one of the world’s most prosperous areas, but it takes a great deal of imagination to envision such long ago wealth and prosperity compared to the way it stands today.
Culture: A profound Tibetan Buddhism cultural influence is found in the area as well as concentrated areas of the Hui minority.
Weather: As a mountainous area along with sweeping grasslands, it can get very cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Temperatures average from 50 – 68° Fahrenheit (10 – 20° Celsius) during the day and 32° (0° Celsius) at night. During the winter, it can get down to 14° F. (-10° C.) during the daytime and much colder than that at night.
Food: Staple foods of the Tibetan region are beef and lamb with vegetables often hard to find. Other Tibetan foods include yak meat, barley wine, roasted barley flour, and Tibetan steamed buns, with more exotic foods such as “blood intestine” available for those with more adventurous appetites. Vegetarian options are difficult to find.