Home > Explore China

Book your place

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province

In Brief: See the Labrang Monastery, Tibetan Buddhist temples, and super high mountain scenery on this trip to the largely Tibetan remote area of Gansu Province. A similar feel to Tibet, without the hassle of getting the official permit.

Mountains of Zhagana, Gansu Province

Mountains of Zhagana, Gansu Province. View more photos from the trip »

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province

September 13–17, 2017

* Price deadlines: Make payment before the stated dates to qualify for the prices listed.
August 20Last day for early price*
September 3Last day for standard price

Costs and Registration

Prices based on Beijing departure. Joining from elsewhere? Let us know, and we'll work something out.
Cost 9,400 RMB (early)
9,900 RMB (standard)
Members 8,930 RMB (early)
9,400 RMB (standard)

More

See Tibetan culture, Buddhist monasteries and temples, and stretch the legs with some serious hiking on this 5-day road trip.

Highlights include the famed Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, the temples of Langmusi, and several long hikes into the high mountains in this remote and mountainous part of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.

Detailed information about the trip activities and arrangements can be found below. Please contact us at any time for further details.

Ready to explore? Book your place

Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

On this five-day adventure we’ll make a 900 km road trip through the mountains of the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, visiting Buddhist monasteries and temples, and hiking up into the hills and mountains that surround small villages.

Of the a population of roughly 690,000, around 51% are Tibetan. Our trip will take us through four of the counties of Gannan, including Hezuo, the regional capital, and the lightly populated and mountainous Luqu County.

As well as a being the site of a long history of Tibetan culture, Gannan also featured in more recent history, with the Lazikou Pass and the Zoige Marsh the last two major obstacles faced by the First Red Army on their Long March to Shaanxi.

Novice monks debating

Novice monks in a lively debate.

Trip overview

Day One
Fly to Lanzhou, board SUVs and drive to Xiahe, visit Labrang Monastery.
Day Two
Drive to Langmusi, stopping for a hike on the way; tour Langmusi and Langmu Temple. At altitudes between 3,000-3,800m.
Day Three
Hiking in the Zhagana area, peaking at approx. 3,650m.
Day Four
Second hike in the Zhagana area; drive to Hezuo, stopping for a hike on the way.
Day Five
Drive to Lanzhou, stopping for a hike on the way. Fly back to Beijing.

Highlights

The major sights on the trips are the Buddhist monasteries and temples at Xiahe and Langmusi, inhabited by practicing monks of the Gelupa (Yellow Hat) sect and visited by pilgrims from rural areas of Gannan.

Labrang Monastery, Xiahe

Labrang Monastery, Xiahe

Monks outside the main entrance of the Labrang Monastery.

‘Labrang’ roughly translates as ‘home of a great lama’. Founded in 1709, Labrang Monastery is considered to be Tibetan Buddhism’s most important monastery town outside of Tibet, and currently is home to around 1,500 monks and novices. At its peak in 1957, the monastery housed around 4,000 monks.

Since the early 20th century the town has seen a lot of troubles, with some very gruesome sackings at the hands of the Hui warlords who controlled the area from 1910-1949, and then complete closure of the monastery in 1958 during the Cultural Revolution.

The monastery was reopened for tourism in the 1970s and became a functioning monastery again in the 1980s. The main assembly hall burned down in 1985, and repairs were not finished until 1990.

This active monastery is well worth a visit, with a great chance of spotting monks engaging in prayer or rowdy debate on interpretation of Buddhist scripture.

Monasteries in Langmusi, Luqu County

One of the two monasteries in Langmusi.

One of the two monasteries in Langmusi.

Langmusi is a small town that sits right on the border of Gansu and Sichuan. The temple on the Gansu side is called Setri Gompa, with the Kirti Gompa temple on the Sichuan side.

As with Labrang Monastery, these two temples are active, and in the streets of the town we’ll spot monks and novices, as well as pilgrims from the surrounding countryside.

Hiking in mountains and around villages

Mountains in the Zhagana area

Mountains in the Zhagana area, seen on the big hike on the third day of the trip.

On the trip we’ll have time for quite a bit of hiking, and in such a picturesque and mountainous area we’re going to take the opportunity to do as much hiking as we can!

On the second day of the trip we’ll hike for a few hours in the mountains near Xiahe. In Beijing we’d rate it as somewhere around Level 3, but at around 2,600m above sea level it may feel a little tougher.

The third day of the trip is a big hiking day, with a five-hour walk up a canyon to a broad plateau sited somewhere around 3,000m above sea level - amazing views of mountains and steep crags and cliffs, with the chance of bumping into locals taking their yaks up to graze. This hike is a solid Level 4 on our scale of difficulty.

We add more walking about on the fourth and fifth days, exploring villages and hills on the long road back to Lanzhou.

Street scene in Gannan

A street scene from one of the towns passed on the trip.

Weather

Temperatures in the mountains are cool. Expect highs of around 20°C and lows of around 3°C. It could get colder! There’s a small chance of rain, so bring a waterproof jacket just in case.

Accommodation

In Xiahe, Langmusi, and Hezuo we'll stay in nice local hotels. In Zhagana we’ll stay at a comfortable guesthouse..

You’ll be sharing a room with another hiker. If you'd like a guesthouse/hotel room to yourself for the trip, it can be arranged at an extra cost of 600 RMB in total, if rooms are available—usually not a problem!

Further details about room shares and single supplement can be found in the documents we send you as part of the registration.

Flights and transport

We fly to and from Lanzhou for this trip. Land transportation will be via big and comfortable SUVs.

Frequent flyers: Please let us know if you would like to use your frequent flyer miles or if you are a frequent flyer member. If you would like to organise your own flights, we can provide further details.

Food

We will take most of our meals at restaurants in the areas we visit, or at the hotels or guesthouse. On one of the days we include a picnic lunch for you. Bring some spending money for snacks during the trip. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

Things to bring

  • Passport/ID card
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Thermal underwear and other warm clothing (it could get cold!)
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Thick socks
  • Hiking boots
  • A day pack to take on outings, suitcases or bigger bags can be left at the hotel
  • Camera and charger, batteries
  • Suncream
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Mobile phone, charger
A young monk running to class

A young monk running to class.

Full itinerary

  1. Day One
    07:00 – Meet at the Beijing airport
    08:30 – Fly to Lanzhou
    11:00 – Arrive in Lanzhou, board jeeps for the drive to Xiahe
    15:00 – Arrive in Xiahe, visit Labrang Monastery
    17:30 – Check in at hotel
    19:00 – Dinner
    20:00 – Free time

  2. Day Two
    08:00 – Breakfast at hotel
    08:00 – Drive to Langmusi
    09:30 – Stop for a hike in the Tibetan region
    11:30 – Continue driving to Langmusi
    13:30 – Stop for lunch
    14:30 – Tour of Langmusi town and temple
    17:30 – Check in at hotel
    19:00 – Dinner
    20:00 – Free time

  3. Day Three
    08:30 – Breakfast at hotel, check out
    09:00 – Head out for a hike near Zhagana
    09:50 – Start the hike up to the Zhagana Canyon
    11:30 – Arrive at the canyon, keep hiking
    12:30 – Picnic lunch
    13:00 – Hike up to Daylight Cliff
    14:30 – Arrive at Daylight Cliff, rest, photos
    15:30 – Hike down to the meadows for a a view of the valleys
    16:30 – Finish the hike with a look about a small village
    17:30 – Overnight in local guesthouse
    19:00 – Dinner
    20:00 – Free time

  4. Day Four
    08:00 – Breakfast at guesthouse
    08:30 – Take a walk about the village
    12:00 – Lunch
    14:00 – Drive to Hezuo, passing through the mountains
    15:30 – Stop for a short hike
    18:30 – Check-in at hotel at Hezuo
    19:30 – Dinner
    20:30 – Free time

  5. Day Five
    08:30 – Breakfast at hotel
    09:00 – Drive to Lanzhou
    12:00 – Lunch near Lanzhou
    13:00 – Hike near Lanzhou
    16:30 – Drive to Lanzhou airport
    17:20 – Arrive at the airport
    19:05 – Fly to Beijing
    21:30 – Arrive at the Beijing airport
    All times are approximate, and depend on our speed of movement.

More information

Contact us at any time for more information. Payment terms, conditions, and details will be supplied along with a waiver document and travel guidelines after your registration request has been received.

We usually need to get 8–10 people signed up to go ahead with this trip. Beijing Hikers reserves the right to decide who may participate in this trip.

Key trip information

Costs and Registration

Prices based on Beijing departure. Joining from elsewhere? Let us know, and we'll work it out for you.
Cost 9,400 RMB (early)
9,900 RMB (standard)
Members 8,930 RMB (early)
9,400 RMB (standard)

Dates: September 13–17, 2017

* Price deadlines: Make payment before the stated dates to qualify for the prices listed.
August 20Last day for early price*
September 3Last day for standard price

There are risks involved in hiking and travel. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Ready to explore? Book your place

All trips around China

If you're interested in a trip that's not currently open for bookings, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we'll let you know when we've got the itinerary confirmed.

Explore China calendar

See the Explore China schedule in our calendar

A person walks through the sandy dunes of the Tengger Desert
Trip dates: April 28–May 1, 2017

Tengger Desert Lakes, Inner Mongolia

In Brief: Travel by foot and jeep through the desert, visit desert lakes, ride camels, camp in the desert, and more.

Book trip
More info »
Huts below the Gangshika Snow Mountain
Trip dates: May 26–30, 2017

Qinghai Lake, Kumbum Monastery, and the Gangshika Snow Mountain, Qinghai Province

In Brief: Take a hike near the shores of Qinghai Lake; join the pilgrims visiting Kumbum Monastery; camp out at high altitude on Gangshika Mountain and hike up to a glacier.

Book trip
More info »
Clouds over the green rolling hills of the Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Trip dates: June 16–18, 2017

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province

In Brief: Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Book trip
More info »
Mountains and rivers in Xinjiang
Trip dates: June 20–25, 2017

Bayinbuluke Grasslands, Xinjiang Province (6 days)

In Brief: Camp out overnight in the beautiful high-altitude scenery of the Bayinbuluke Grasslands in northwestern Xinjiang; see Silk Road sights, big mountains, and desert while on the road to and from the grasslands.

Book trip
More info »
Hiking the ridgelines at the Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Trip dates: July 14–16, 2017

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province

In Brief: Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Book trip
More info »
The exterior of the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang
Trip dates: July 20–23, 2017

Dunhuang and Mogao Grottoes, Gansu Province

In Brief: Explore the Silk Road sights around Dunhuang, including the amazing Mogao Grottoes and Crescent Lake.

Book trip
More info »
The green rolling hills of the Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Trip dates: August 11–13, 2017

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province

In Brief: Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Book trip
More info »
A desert lake, seen from the peak of a tall dune in the Badain Jaran Desert, Inner Mongolia
Trip dates: August 16–20, 2017

Badain Jaran Desert and Zhangye Danxia Landform (5 days)

In Brief: Two days in the Badain Jaran desert with an overnight camp, peaking with an ascent of one of the world’s tallest dunes; three days looking about nearby scenic and historical highlights including the Zhangye Danxia Landform.

Book trip
More info »
Mountains of Zhagana, Gansu Province
Trip dates: September 13–17, 2017

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province

In Brief: See the Labrang Monastery, Tibetan Buddhist temples, and super high mountain scenery on this trip to the largely Tibetan remote area of Gansu Province. A similar feel to Tibet, without the hassle of getting the official permit.

Book trip
More info »
Baicheng Landform
Trip dates: October 1–7, 2017

Silk Road: Korla to Kashgar (7 days)

In Brief: Spend seven days on the Silk Road, heading west to Kashgar and travelling by jeep instead of camel through the vast empty areas of Xinjiang Province.

Book trip
More info »
Dunes in the Alashan Desert
Trip dates: October 2–5, 2017

Alashan Desert Lakes and Temple, Inner Mongolia

In Brief: Travel by foot, camel, and jeep through the Alashan Desert to reach a beautiful Buddhist temple deep in the dunes. Includes a night camping in the desert, plus a visit to the Western Xia Imperial Tombs.

Book trip
More info »
The coloured hills of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
Trip dates: October 8–12, 2017

Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province

In Brief: See the fantastically-coloured mountains and cliffs in an all-but unexplored area of Gansu; visit Horse Hoofprint Temple, Jiayuguan Fortress, and more.

Book trip
More info »
A mossy tree trunk, Five Flowers Lake, Jiuzhaigou National Park
Trip dates: October 18–22, 2017

Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, Sichuan Province

In Brief: Visit the deservedly famous Jiuzhaigou National Park and then head on to nearby Huanglong, an equally scenic but less well-known area of still ponds and coloured rocks.

Book trip
More info »
A cluster of three tulou buildings, deep in the hills of Fujian
Trip dates: November 9–12, 2017

Hakka Tulou Clusters and Xiamen, Fujian Province

In Brief: Head deep into the mountains of Fujian to see the tulou buildings of the Hakka, visiting those both well-known and obscure, and staying overnight in a tulou building in one of the smaller, less-visited clusters. Trip includes sights around Xiamen, including Gulangyu Island.

Book trip
More info »
Bridges and pagodas in Lijiang’s Black Dragon Pool park
Trip dates: November 22–26, 2017

Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan Province

In Brief: See the highlights of Lijiang and Shangri-La: cobbled streets and watercourses of ancient towns, Naxi and Tibetan culture, plus amazing views of snow-capped mountains. Cultural focus, nothing too strenuous.

Book trip
More info »