Dege is the cultural heart of Kham and a great place to experience traditional Tibetan culture and a centuries-old way of life. It is most famous for the Dege Parkang, an ancient printing house devoted to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, texts and literature. Founded in 1729, the institution is estimated to hold nearly 70% of all the hand-engraved print blocks in Tibet. Considered a holy place and national treasure, pilgrims travel to Dege to circumambulate the publishing house and its invaluable contents.
Serta Larung Gar is the heart of Tibetan Buddhist scholarship and the largest Buddhist academy in Tibet. Founded in 1980 by the late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, there are 40,000 to 50,000 resident monks, nuns and lay students undertaking religious education at the institute. Located in the Larung Valley, 15 kilometers away from the town of Serta, the enormous campus sits at an altitude of 4,000 m/13,123 ft. With a myriad of temples, meeting halls and thousands of dormitory huts, Larung Gar attracts students and pilgrims from all over China and Tibet.
Yarchen Gar, also known as Yarchen Orgyen Samten Choling, is located on a peninsula in the Dzin Chu River, in Pelyul County, Kham. Established in 1985, the encampment is home to 10,000 nuns and monks, making it one of the largest gatherings of Tibetan Buddhist monastics in the world. Living according to tradition, the majority of nuns reside in the peninsula village while the monks live across the river in a separate, hillside encampment. Yarchen Gar is associated with the Nyingma tradition, the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Yilhun Latso is one of the most beautiful lakes in Kham. Cradled by the Chola Mountains, the crystal clear latso ("life force lake") sits between glacial peaks that tower as high as 6,100 m/20,000 ft. Painted and carved prayer stones dot the shoreline, offsetting the water's distinct green hue. The forest and meadows encircling the lake are home to more than 150 species of wild animals; including black necked cranes, red deer and snow leopards. Set in an unsullied and truly picturesque landscape, Yilhun Latso is an excellent place for hiking, camping and relaxation.
Lhagang is a great place to experience the authentic nomadic culture of Tibet. Famous for its grasslands that are excellent for hiking, camping and the summer horse festivals, its rich green pastures are home to many Tibetan nomads and their ranging herds of yak. You can trek by foot or horseback under the snow peaks of Mount Zhara Latse or visit the historic Lhagang Monastery. The first monastery to be built in Kham, it houses a Jowo Shakyamuni statue believed to have the same blessings as the Jowo statue in the Jokhang in Lhasa.