Gansu and Gannan (South Gansu)
Gansu is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China. It lies between Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, and the Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang to the west. The Yellow River passes the southern part of the province. Gannan (South Gansu) is the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where Lanzhou & Xiahe are located. The famous attractions are Labrang Monastery and Langmu Monastery.
Xiahe & Labrang Monastery
is a tiny, bustling town nestles in a mountain valley at an elevation of 2,900m in Ganan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest Gansu. The town was divided into two sections, primarily Hui (Muslim) and Han Chinese at its eastern end, changing abruptly to a Tibetan town as you climb westward to the gorgeous gilded roofs of the vast Labrang Monastery. Bent and walnut-visaged Tibetan pilgrims make you welcome on the 3km circuit around the monastery's perimeter.
It is not just the amazing sights of the Labrang Monastery and the Sangke Grassland that will enamour you with Xiahe, but also the vibrant atmosphere. The locals and nomads in the village live a laid-back lifestyle. The population here is made up of 45% Tibetan, 45% Han and 10% Hui, making this a good place to behold monks in bright purple, yellow and red, nomads clad in sheepskins, and the Hui Muslims with skull caps and wispy beards. The town is also a thoroughfare for inbound pilgrims from Qinghai and Tibet.
Located in the southern part of Gansu, part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. It is one of the six major monasteries of the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, and the most important one in Amdo. Built in 1710, it is headed by the Jamyang-zhaypa. It has 6 dratsang (colleges), and houses over sixty thousand religious texts and other works of literature as well as other cultural artifacts.
In Langmu, in the south of Gansu, there is a monastery which is divided into two parts by the Bailongjiang River, one half belonging to Sichuan and the other to Gansu. It has two Tibetan monasteries and two schools. The Tibetans who live in Langmu Monastery share the living habits in daily life and often also the religious activities. Langmu means “fairy” in Tibetan language. The Monastery got its name because inside the cave there is a rock bearing the resemblance of a beautiful young lady which was believed to be a transformation of a fairy. Langmusi is an ideal destination for the backpackers, quiet and picturesque.
Suggested Itinerary for A Private Custom-made tour
- includes extended tour options
Day 1: Fly into Lanzhou / Linxia / Xiahe
Beijing departure: Beijing airport - Lanzhou, around 07:40-10:00
Shanghai departure: Shanghai Hongqiao - Lanzhou, around 08:30-11:00
Other locales: we welcome those to join us from other locales and meet us in Lanzhou.
- Fly into Lanzhou, have lunch.
- Drive to Linxia (Mongolian and Muslim people and scenery) and then Xiahe (Tibetan regions).
- Stay overnight in Xiahe.
Xiahe boasts wonderful landscape and mysterious religion culture. Unique Tibetan customs and beautiful prairies give the place the good names of ‘Chinese Little Tibet' and 'Eastern Vatican'.
Day 2: Xiahe (Labrang Monastery) / Langmu Monastery
- Visit the stunning Labrang Monastery.
Located at the foot of Phoenix Mountain, Labrang Monastery is one of the great six monasteries of Gelukpa sect as well as the location of Gansu Provincial Buddhism College. Unlike many other Chinese temples or monasteries, it has no bounding walls. The locals can enter or exit the monastery very conveniently. Its inside seems a little dark. Lighted butter lamps are put here and there. Lamas sit together and recite the Buddhist scriptures. Observing carefully, you can find that even if the locals pass by the monastery, they will bend the body to worship very piously. From this, you can understand how holy religion is in Tibetans' mind.
- After lunch, we head to Langmu Monastery before the dusk. Stroll in the town and try their yak meat burger and apple pie (optional) in the coffee shop.
- Stay overnight in a 3 star hotel near the Langmu Si. (the best available in the area, not as good as 3-star hotel in Beijing or Shanghai, kind of damp because of the local weather.
Day 3: Langmu Monastery
- Get up in the morning to mount on a hill for sunrise and visit the monastery for the monk's debate.
- In the afternoon, you can take a light hiking in the valley and appreciate the snow mountain in the valley.
- Stay another night.
Day 4: Lanzhou / Fly out
- Drive to Lanzhou. Along the way, stop by a lake and view the birds.
- Arrive in Lanzhou and transfer to the airport. Fly back to Beijing.
Lanzhou - Beijing (arrival around 7-8pm)
Lanzhou - Shanghai Pudong (arrival around 9-10pm)
- Please note that the flights or timing of flights mentioned in the above itinerary may change subject to ticket availability and airline scheduling. Alternative hotels of similar standards will be used if any of the hotels mentioned in the itinerary is unable to provide enough accommodation.