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Be enchanted by China’s lesser-known Tibetan regions of Qinghai and Gansu, where elderly monks create intricate thangka artworks to the flicker of yak-butter candles, and locals herd livestock across pristine grasslands. “Glamping” among nomads, you’ll enjoy a magical blend of cultural immersion and off-the-beaten-track adventure.
Experience how Tibetan Buddhism has manifested itself outside of Tibet on this adventure to the remote provinces of Qinghai and Gansu. Fairly unknown to the outside world, these provinces are rich in Tibetan Buddhist culture and tradition. Qinghai was the hiding place for many of Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred scripts and artifacts when Buddhism was under threat in China during the 12th century. Gansu’s Xiahe Country is home to the famous Labrang Monastery, which hosts the largest number of monks outside of Tibet. The hidden monasteries and colorful murals in these regions offer an opportunity to experience Tibetan Buddhism in some of its purest and most original forms.
Arrive in Xining, capital of Qinghai province and home to over 35 nationalities • Admire the frescoes, multicolored thangka paintings, and figurines carved out of yak butter in Kumbum Monastery • Explore the sights and sounds of Xining’s night market.
Explore the Dalai Lama’s former home in Dangcai village • Drop by Xunhua town to get to know the local Muslim community and see the former home of the Panchen Lama • Visit Longwu Temple, founded in the 12th century • Visit the intricately decorated Upper and Lower Wudun monasteries, whose monks are highly skilled at the art of thangka painting • Explore the art of Nianduhu and Guomari monasteries.
Drive from Tongren to Labrang • En route visit Garter Gompa Monastery • Enter the vast Gyenjia grasslands, a rolling landscape of endless green during the summer months dotted by nomadic campsites • Do as the nomads and spend two nights in a local Tibetan campsite • Explore the Norlha textile workshop and hike at your leisure through the surrounding area • Admire Labrang Monastery’s red walls and elaborate gold and copper colored roofs • Follow the pilgrimage trail around Labrang Monastery.
En route to Lanzhou, visit Linxia, which has been dubbed the “little Mecca of China” for its numerous mosques and minarets • Arrive in Lanzhou for a traditional lamian (“pulled noodle”) dinner.
Norden Camp, situated outside of Labrang in verdant surroundings, offers the opportunity to experience Tibetan culture and the outdoors in style and comfort.