Amdo—Far Eastern Tibet—highlights
Langmusi, also known as Taktsang Lhamo, is a small town with two large monasteries— Kirti Gompa and Serta Monastery and Nunnery. Located on the border between Gansu and Sichuan provinces, the town sits at 3345 m/10,974 ft in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountain ranges, green meadows and alpine forest. A short hike to the gorge behind Kirti Gonpa leads to Taktsang which means "Tiger Cave" in Tibetan, the ancient meditation caves the town is named after. An excellent destination for hiking and trekking by horse, Langmusi has good accommodations for visitors and travelers.
Every summer, the Repkong Shaman Festival is held in Amdo. On the 16th day of the 6th lunar month, the week-long festival that honors the local mountain god begins. Rituals are performed; the mountain god is invoked and asked to bestow the gifts of good health and a successful harvest. With the shaman acting as a medium that embodies its powerful spirit, the mountain god is invited to join the ceremony and celebration. Full of color and life, the women of the community dance, the men beat drums, the boys perform dramas, and the girls show off their ornate, traditional attire.
Qinghai Lake is the largest saltwater lake in all of Tibet and China. Located in Amdo, its teal blue waters cover an area of 4,317 square kilometers. Surrounded by vast summer grasslands, Tibetan nomads graze their herds of yak and sheep along its shores. In July, the lake meadows bloom into a gleaming carpet of yellow rape flowers. Located at the crossroads of numerous migratory paths in Asia, the lake is a sanctuary for many species of rare birds. Quinghai Lake is sacred to the Tibetan people and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural landscapes near Xining.
At Mura (between Golog and Machu), you can go on a three-day trek—by horseback or walking. The route passes through Kongsar Kamdo, an immense grassland filled with wild flowers! Travelers are advised to wear sunglasses because without them, by the end of the day, you'll have flower-blindness (similar to snow blindness). And don't forget—be on the lookout for happy marmots! Exclusive Road to Tibet trip for an intimate experience of nomadic life and culture.
Labrang town is well developed for tourism and offers both Muslim and Tibetan culture. Labrang Monastery is one of six great Gelukpa monasteries in Tibet and is among the few that survived the Cultural Revolution. A complex of temples and colleges built in the 18th century, recent renovations now accommodate about 1,000 monks—a small number compared to the past when there were 3,000 monks and hundreds of scholars. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a gilded stupa and houses nearly 60,000 Buddhist texts. Labrang is 3-4 hours away is the town of Lanzhou, the hub of the Amdo region.