Kham in a week / 8 days
1 Sightseeing in Chengdu. Overnight in Chengdu
2 Chengdu to Ya'An. Visit the pandas. Overnight in Ya'An.
3 To Kangding. Visit the Nanwu monastery. Overnight in Kangding.
4 From Kangding to Danba via Luding. See the stunning watchtowers. Overnight in Danba.
5 From Danba to Tagong. Overnight in Tagong.
6 Drive from Tagong to Litang. Visit Chode Gompa and Baita Gongyuan. Overnight in Litang.
7 From Litang to Xiangcheng. Visit the Sampiling monastery. Overnight in Xiangcheng.
8 Xiangcheng to Shangrila. Visit Songzhanlin monastery. Overnight in Shangrila.
Day 1: We have a whole day to explore Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan province. This metropolis has a very relaxed vibe to it, which makes it a wonderful city to spend the day. We visit a tea house in a wonderful bamboo park and have a cup of Jasmin tea, the tea Chengdu is famous for. We then visit Jinli street, an old area of Chengdu which has been restored but still has many local handicraft shops and it truely is a great place to spend the afternoon.
Day 2: We leave for the mountains today. The drive to Ya'An is a wonderful one, with many beautiful views. After arriving in Ya'An city, we immediately head for Bifengxia Panda Breeding Center where we get to see pandas, China's national animal. The breeding center opened in 2004, and is now home to around 80 giant pandas. It is the largest panda breeding center in the world.
Day 3: We drive to Kangding, the last modern town before Tibet. The views of the neighboring alpine peaks down the river are spectacular. Westwards from Kangding is the pure "Wild West”. 80 % of population in Kangding is Tibetan.
Day 4: Today we drive to Danba, where the Qiang Tibetan ethnic group lives. We will admire the amazing Danba watch towers. These old towers stand on the hill overlooking the river below. The towers were originally used to warn the villagers of invaders and also to pass messages between different villages. The tallest tower measures 60 meters in height.
Day 5: In the afternoon we go to Tagong where we enjoy this nice town and we can see the Golden Pagoda.
Day 6: We head for Litang today. It is a major center of Tibetan culture in Kham and at an elevation of 4000m (13,123 ft) is one of the highest in the world. The town sits at the edge of wide grassland valley, surrounded by tall grassy hills that are often populated by yak and nomadic herders. This topography offers expansive views from many places in town. Several Dalai Lamas where born here and lived in the local monastery located just outside the town on a hillside. Litang is a bustling little place with colorful street life thanks to the nomadic shepherds and Tibetan people coming here to sell and buy their products. The older parts are situated on the hill slopes to the east, while busy construction work is extending the place into the surrounding grassy plains. Many of the new buildings are being constructed in the traditional local style.
Day 7: Xiangcheng is surrounded by gorgeous scenery on all sides. Coming over the mountain passes from either direction, you will at once spot the beautiful villages scattered amongst wheat-field-paddies in the valley ground. The large, cubicle houses look like little castles and with their white-chalked exterior walls give the whole valley a north-african air. Xiangcheng itself consists of an old village paired with a modern Chinese downtown.The highlight of the town is the Sampiling monastery, built in 1654 of the Kagyu sect, but it changed in 1669 to be a monastery of Gelug sect (Yellow sect).
Day 8: A beautiful mountain road takes us in to Yunnan province, to the charming Tibetan town of Shangrila. In early 2014 a large part of the old town tragically burned down but the majestic Songzhanlin monastery is still there for us to admire. A wonderful end to a wonderful tour!