5-7 Days: Xining-Qinghai Lake-Repkong-Labrang & Tashikyil Monastery-Lanzhou or Xiling
Xining-Qinghai Blue Lake-Repkong-Riwu Gongchen Monastery-Sangye Shong Thangka Art-Labrang-Labrang Monastery-Lanzhou or Xining.
You can combine this itinerary with Home-Stays.
Lying in the north-eastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, Amdo boasts grasslands, snow peaked mountains of Amnye Machen, Qinghai Blue Lake, the largest lake on the Tibetan Plateau and several important rivers—Yellow River or Ma-chu, Salween River and the Yangtse.
Best visited between April and November, Amdo is a multi-ethnic location that and has developed a culture of its own. In addition to showcasing unchanged nomadic and agricultural life styles, Amdo is traditionally an important center of Buddhist learning that still flourishes today. (The Monasteries of Amdo: A Comprehensive Guide to the Monasteries of the Amdo Region of Tibet)
This itinerary will allow you to explore the capital city of Xining, which developed through trade between China and Persia. With a population just under 1 million, the city is known to Tibetans as Tsongkha. Leaving the city, you'll take a scenic drive to Qinghai Blue Lake and Bird Island.
Your next destination is the region of Repkong to the south. There are many small but ancient monasteries there as well as a thriving center for sacred paintings (thangka) and Tibetan medicine. Repkong is most famous for its sacred art. You will also visit Riwu Gongchen Monastery, one of the largest monasteries in Amdo (Gelug tradition).
Labrang Town (aka Xiahe) is a Muslim and Tibetan mix and has good facilities for tourists. Nearby Tashikyil is another of the largest Gelugpa centers in Tibet. Fortunately, it survived the years of the Cultural Revolution and is relatively intact. Since then, much has been renovated and rebuilt. Just outside the main gate, is the important School of Buddhist Studies where some of the greatest masters continue to teach.
From Labrang Town, you can complete your journey by driving to Lanzhou or returning to Xining. Lanzhou is an industrial city of about 3 million. Many travelers to Amdo, or the Silk Road, will begin or end their journeys there.
Xining-Qinghai Kokonor Blue Lake-Repkong-Riwu Gongchen Monastery-Sanggye Shong Thangka art-Labrang Town-Labrang Monastery-Lanzhou or Xining.