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Visit Sichuan Tibetan Inhabited Area

October,22 2015 BY Catherine Go 0 COMMENTS

There are two Tibetan regions in Sichuan Province: Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. With rich Tibetan culture and exquisite scenery, the two are among the best regions of the Tibetan Plateau to visit.

Map of Sichuan Tibetan Inhabited Area

Map of Sichuan Tibetan Inhabited Area


Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture 

This region is located in western Sichuan, covering a total area of 151,078 square kilometers. The population sums up to 900,000, 78.4% of which are Tibetans. Garzê is covered with snow-capped mountains, forests and running rivers. You can also find nomads wandering with their herds cozily on the grassland, singing pastoral songs. 

The capital of Garzê Prefecture is Kangding, the largest town locally. Nomads nearby often come into town to buy and sell goods. There are several buses departing from Chengdu to Kangding every day. Flying to Kangding is also an option. The Kangding Airport is currently the second highest airport in the world, 4,280 meters above sea level. However, it may close during cold winters.

There are two main highways running through Garzê Prefecture. One is China National Highway 317, also called the Northern Tibet-Sichuan Highway. The other is China National Highway 318, or the Southern Tibet-Sichuan Highway. Yet, due to some political reasons, foreigners can’t enter Tibet Autonomous Region via these two routes. You have to go by train or by air.

Lithang County of Garzê is famous for its annual horse festival. This is an amazing opportunity for you to know nomadic culture. In summer, nomads live in traditional yak yurts.

The highest mountain of Garzê is Hengduan Mountain, whose peak reaches 7,556 meters above sea level. There are many other mountains that rise above 6000 meters. If you happen to be a hiker, Garzê is a place you will love with heart and soul.

Garzê Prefecture may close from time to time because of unexpected unrests, but generally speaking, it is stable and safe. Foreign travelers won’t be required to apply for any permits.

Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Aba is located in northern Sichuan. The population reached 847,000 in 2003. Roughly half of them were Tibetans. When traveling in Aba, you gather the idea that God created Aba first, and then made a copy which he called “Heaven”.  

Because of its special landscape and climate, many endangered animals like pandas, regard it as a paradise to live in. Jiuzhai Valley, Huanglong Scenic Area, etc. of Aba Prefecture are listed as World Natural Heritage by UNESCO. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself into a silent and tranquil world, Aba is absolutely your best choice. 

This region is sometimes open and sometime closed. Local government may temporarily shut it down to foreign travelers and then reopen it at short notice. The best way to know is to go there and figure it out yourself.

Read More

Visit Qinghai Tibetan Inhabited Area 

Catherine Go

About the Author - Catherine Go

Catherine is the director of Tibet Vista Tour

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