Tongren’s Sacred Festival of the Sixth Month, Qinghai Province | Ready for a ceremony at a temple in Tongren, Qinghai
Ready for a ceremony at a temple in Tongren, Qinghai.

Tongren’s Festival of the Sixth Month, Qinghai Province (5 days)

Visit Tongren to mingle with performers and pilgrims during the festival, seeing ceremonial rituals and dances, crowds of pilgrims and onlookers, and (maybe) skin-piercing with skewers and hooks. We’ll escape the crowds to refresh with hikes in the nearby grasslands before getting back in the middle of things as the festival finishes.

Level 2+
Mostly easy, but includes reasonably difficult hikes at altitudes of 2,500m+. (Can I do it?)
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Bookings close July 10

Booking info

July 20–24, 2024

  • ¥6,950 (standard) / ¥6,600 (members)
  • ¥6,200 (members early price)
  • Payment due before July 10
  • Early price deadline July 1

Important—trip price does not include your transportation to and from Xining. (Read more about that here, and see the meet up details at the end of this page.)

We rate the trip overall as a Level 2+: there’s a lot of walking, but it’s relatively easy apart from the high altitude.

There are two half-day hikes, which Huijie rates as Level 3/3+ on our scale.

Trip overview
Day One main activities Meet up in Xining, private bus to Tongren, visit Longwu Monastery in the afternoon.
Day Two main activities Out for a hike in the morning, visit Siheji Village to see performances.
Day Three main activities Visit Gazedong and Suheri to see performances, out for a hike in the afternoon.
Day Four main activities Out for a hike in the morning, see the big performances at Nianduhu in the afternoon.
Day Five main activities Out to Wutun Monastery in the morning, then private bus back to Xining, reaching the airport around midday.
Piercing the face, in tribute to the Mountain God
Piercing the face, in tribute to the Mountain God. (Click for larger image)

The main part of this trip is seeing the ceremonies and rituals of the ‘Festival of the Sixth Month’.

The festival takes place every year, near the end of the sixth month of the lunar calendar.

During the festival, in the monasteries and villages of the area, local shamans will lead ceremonies and rituals by entering a trance state to channel the spirit of the Mountain God.

When Huijie visited the festival on a scouting trip, she was looking the wrong way while taking photos and didn’t notice that a tranced out shaman was approaching with arms swinging. The shaman’s minder pulled Huijie out of the way just in time! When someone is channelling the Mountain God during a ritual, they aren’t liable for any damage caused to cameras … or to people.

On the trip we’ll mix in with the other pilgrims and sightseers to watch performances led by shamans, plus ceremonial dances, and – if you can handle it – the face-piercing, back-hooking, and face-cutting rituals performed in honour of the Mountain God. We’ll also take a break from the crowds by heading out to nearby hills and grasslands for hikes.


Ceremonies and rituals

Dancers making an entry
Dancers making an entrance. (Click for larger image)

We’ll visit villages and monasteries in the area to absorb the atmosphere of the festival. On some days we’ll have a schedule planned, but we’ll also be open to changing the schedule around slightly if our local contacts have any special recommendations. We’ll be doing a lot of walking around, with breaks while we watch the ceremonies.


Monks at a monastery
Monks at a monastery. (Click for larger image)

We’ll visit Longwu Monastery, which is the main one in the Tongren area. We’ll see more monasteries and temples as we travel around.


Also in the area are high-altitude grasslands and mountain trails. Huijie found some good walks to do while she was scouting, and she’ll make sure you get a chance to stretch your legs.

Huijie thinks the hikes might rate up to a Level 3+.

Getting to Tongren and back home again

You’ll meet your guides at the Xining Caojiabao Airport between 10:30-11:00am on the first day of the trip.

We’ll then drive out to Tongren and get started on the trip.

The itinerary will finish in Xining on the last day of the trip, and we plan to drop you off at Caojiabao Airport around midday.

Please do not purchase your flights until we are able to confirm the departure of the trip.

Kid’s prices

  • Ages 12–17: ¥5,460

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Tongren’s Festival of the Sixth Month, Qinghai Province (5 days)

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