Amdo Tibet

The region of Amdo Tibet lies on the North Eastern part of the plateau known today as the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It covers a large part of present day Qinghai Province as well as the adjoining parts of Sichuan and Gansu Provinces. This distinct region of Tibet lies the farthest away from Lhasa and is still primarily characterized as nomadic, especially throughout the prefectures of Golog (Golok), Huangnan, Hainan, Aba, and Gannan. Nomadic communities are spread across this vast area yet, unlike Kham Tibet, maintain a common dialect throughout. Amdo herdsmen fit the stereotypical image many people have of Tibetans as nomads, and the Golog tribe of southern Amdo are renowned as the most wild even by Tibetans themselves.

The Amdo Tibetans are unified by their relatively similar forms of the language, mainly based on archaic nomad dialects that seem to have changed relatively little over the centuries. Today the Amdo claim the highest levels of Tibetan literacy and are proud of their scholars both lay and monastic. Relative to Kham Tibet, this region is less mountainous with vast grasslands that are painted in green throughout the summer months while herds of yak and sheep graze under the care of shepherds. Winter brings an especially desperate environment to this part of the Tibetan plateau with low temperatures mixed with relentless winds.

The Chinese cities of Chengdu, Lanzhou, and Xining are the main gateway cities to Amdo Tibet. From these three cities there is convenient access to much of the region via land or air. Public buses are more comfortable than most people think these days, and if you are traveling in a group it is very economical to hire a private vehicle. Your guesthouse or hotel should be able to assist with arranging your ground transport depending on your needs. Airports are also conveniently located in Jiuzhaigou, Xiahe (Labrang), and Hongyuan.


Mtsho khra khrap (Flower Lake)

Flower Lake

Officially known as Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve, this area is commonly known in Chinese as Hua Hu which literally translates: Mtsho khra khrap (མཚོ་ཁྲ་ཁྲབ།) In Tibetan. We call it Flower Lake in English. The name comes from the flower shape of the lake, not because it holds an abundance of blooming flowers (a common misconception). Regardless, walking the boardwalk …

Erdaohai Lake

Entrance to Erdaohai Lake

Located just outside of Songpan in the Mounigou Gulley Scenic Area is the breathtaking Erdaohai Lake. While this is not the only lake or scenic spot located in the park, it is one of the two most famous places in the Mounigou Gulley, ensuring the park is known by this name (The other park in Mounigou Gulley is Zhaga Waterfall.) …

Lianbaoyeze Holy Mountain

Nice View in Lianbaoyeze Holy Mountain

Driving about an hour and a half north of Aba town, travellers are rewarded with the spectacular views to be found at the Lianbaoyeze Holy Mountain (གཉན་པོ་གཡུ་རྩེ།) Scenic Area. With a mountain range surrounding a large lake, the air here feels clear and pure. The area surrounding the Lianbaoyeze Mountain is a scenic park, meaning there are a couple of …

Ngawa (Aba)

Aha County Town

Located in the Northwest of Sichuan Province at an elevation of 3,200 meters above sea level is the town of Ngawa (རྔ་བ་རྫོང།), also known as Aba (阿坝县) in Chinese. Aba is located on the Tibetan plateau, and the town is the seat of Ngawa (Aba) County. The city holds a population of approximately 20,000 people, with 8,000 of them being monks. …

Datshe Khupa (Yueliangwan)

Moon Bay (Yueliangwan)

Located just outside of Hong Yuan in the Amdo Tibetan region in Sichuan, one can find the scenic area known as Yueliangwan in Chinese, ཟླ་ཚེས་ཁུག་པ། in Tibetan. Moon Bay in English.  The Chinese call this place Yueliangwan, while the Tibetan’s know it as Datsikhepa. Aptly named for the shape the river has formed through the grassland plateau, visitors to this place …

Zoigê (Ruoergai)

Ruoergai

The county town of Zoigê (མཛོད་དགེ་རྫོང་།)is located in the Amdo Tibetan region of Sichuan. Known for its Tibetan Nomads, Flower Lake, the Hequ horse, and more, this is a popular place for travellers wishing to see the Tibetan Plateau.Ruoergai (若尔盖) in Chinese. Things to Visit Around Ruoergai Flower Lake Located a half hour drive north of Ruoergai, one can find the Ruoergai …

Zhuokeji Tusi Official Manor

outside of Zhuokeji Tusi Official Manor

Located 8 kilometers outside of the prefectural capital of Maerkang lies the sleepy Rgyalrong Tibetan town of Zhuokeji. Follow the signs to the Zhuokeji Tusi Official Manor and take a step back in time as you explore this village to get a feel for ancient Tibetan lifestyle, art, and architecture. The History Originally built in 1286, the village was destroyed …

TurJe Chen Po (Guanyin Temple)

entrance to Guanyin Temple (TuJa Chan Po)

Located in the Jinchuan County of the Rgyalrong Tibetan Region, one will find the TurJe Chen Po(ཁྲོ་སྐྱབས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ།). Known in Chinese as Guanyin Temple(观音庙), this is the most pilgrimaged site in Amdo Tibet. The monastery is located at the top of Guanyin Mountain, and overlooks the Checen River as it flows through Guanyin Town. History of the Guanyin Temple In the …

Hong Yuan (Krhongche)

Hong Yuan County Town

The city of Hong Yuan(红原) is located on the Tibetan Plateau in the Amdo region of Sichuan, and is also known in Tibetan as Krhongche (ཁྱུང་མཆུ།). Hong Yuan sits at an altitude of 3,400m (11,000ft.), and has a population of about 50,000 people. The town was named in 1960 by the Chinese Prime Minister Zhouenlai in memory of the Long …

Tsongon Po (Qinghai Lake)

Qinghai Lake

Known as Qinghai Lake in Chinese (meaning Green Lake), Kokonor in Mongolian (meaning Blue Lake) and Tsongon Po (མཚོ་སྔོན་པོ།) in Tibetan (meaning Teal Sea), this largest inland saltwater lake in China is found in the Qinghai Province. Amidst the lofty mountains of Xiangpi, Datong, Riyue, and the South Mountain, Qinghai Lake is spread over an area of 4,500 square kilometers …

Rebkong (Tongren)

Tongren 2

The town of Rebkong (རེབ་གོང་།) in the Huangnan Prefecture has much to offer travelers. Known throughout the years for its art, monasteries, agricultural and mining community, and even for its cultural revolution, visitors can spend days taking in all this historic town has to offer. While the town of Tongren is known as such in Mandarin (同仁). Its Humble Beginnings …

Sungchu (Songpan )

Amdo-Tibet-Songpan2

Located in the North of Sichuan Province, with a population over 68,000, is Sungchu (ཟུང་ཆུ). Until recently it was an agriculturally dominated community, but with an influx of foreign students and travelers to and from Huanglong, Sungchu, known in Chinese Songpan County (松潘), has added tourism to being one of its top sectors. Songpan’s Strategic Location Built during the Tang Dynasty …

Rongwu Monastery

Rongwu Monastery

History of Rongwu Monastery Named for the Rongwu River, which it is located alongside, the Rongwu Monastery (རོང་པོ་དགོན་པ།)rests in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is less than 200 km from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. The Monastery first began as a site for three temples in 1341. Initially established by Rongwu Samten Rinpoche, his younger brother was …

Barkham (Maerkang)

maerkang 5

The prefectural capital of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, sometimes known as Barkham (འབར་ཁམས), Maerkang (马尔康) holds a mostly Han Chinese population of around 50,000, with some Tibetans as well. Because of its elevation, Maerkang has a unique climate resting somewhere between subtropical and humid continental, where monsoons are not uncommon. Sightseeing In the Area Maerkang, which in Tibetan …

Lhamo Gompa (Langmusi)

Langmusi in Winter

Different Faiths in Langmusi Two Gelugpa monasteries are located in the unique town of Lhamo(ལྷ་མོ།). The provincial border runs through the center splitting the town between both Gansu Province and Sichuan Province. Here, Islamic and Buddhist faiths live quietly together in this monastic village. There are two Tibetan Buddhist monasteries located in town as well as an Islamic Mosque, offering …

Lhamo Gompa (Langmusi)

Langmusi

Borders and Temples Lhamo Gompa (ལྷ་མོ་དགོན་པ།) in Tibetan,or Langmusi (郎木寺) in Chinese, is very unique with a provincial border running directly through the middle of town. The area’s population is mostly filled with Amdo Tibetans and Hui Muslims, with the town split into two halves, each with its own Gompa. Kirti Gompa is located on the Sichuan side (south) and …

Bsang chu rdzong (xiahe xian )

Overlooking Labrang Monastery in Xiahe

Located in Gansu Province, bsang chu rdzong (བསང་ཆུ་རྫོང་།), known as Xiahe’s (夏河)in Chinese.The main road runs parallel along the Daxia River. While some areas outside of town may have difficulties with running water or electricity, the well-worn tourist travelled areas does not experience any of these issues.  Within a short distance of the town there are many historic and natural sites …

Labrang Monastery

Rooftops of Labrang Monastery

In the Tibetan area of Amdo, the Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, the Labrang Monastery(བླ་བྲང་དགོན་པ།) houses the largest population of monks outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The site is a popular tourist destination and only a four-hour drive from the provincial capital of Lanzhou. History To Tibetan Buddhists this is one of the most important monasteries today …

Trochu (Heishui)

Stuppas at Heishui

Trochu (ཁྲོ་ཆུ་རྫོང་།), under the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, is part of Sichuan Province. Most of the Tibetans found here are not Amdo speaking, in fact, they are part of sub-group known as Gyarong, who are Qiangic speaking Tibetans. Known in Chinese as Heishui County (黑水), Heishui County has something to offer for every visitor from the modern luxuries and …

Chabcha (Gonghe)

Panchen Lama Memorial Stupa Gonghe

Among the grasslands of Qinghai province, sitting in its own valley, lies the ever growing town of Chabcha (ཆབ་ཆ།). Known in Mandarin as Gonghe (共和县), this prefectural capital of Hainan has everything from crowded markets to beautiful landscapes and over the years has become a center point for transportation and goods due to its geographical proximity to many other attractive …