Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area | Hiking in the mountains near Zhagana, Gansu Province
Hiking in the mountains near Zhagana, Gansu Province.

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province (5 days)

See 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.

Level 3+
Some hikes at high altitude. (Can I do it?)
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Bookings close August 30

Booking info

September 11–15, 2024

  • ¥8,320 (standard) / ¥7,900 (members)
  • ¥7,500 (members early price)
  • Payment due before August 30
  • Early price deadline August 23

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

Trip overview
Day One main activities Meet up in Lanzhou, drive to Xiahe, visit Labrang Monastery.
Day Two main activities Drive to Langmusi, stopping for a hike on the way; tour Langmusi and Langmu Temple. (Altitudes between 3,000-3,800m)
Day Three main activities Hiking in the Zhagana area, peaking at approx. 3,650m.
Day Four main activities Second hike in the Zhagana area; drive to Hezuo, stopping for a hike on the way.
Day Five main activities Drive to Lanzhou, stopping for a hike on the way.
Young monks crowding for a look at a photo
Young monks crowding for a look at a photo. (Click for larger image)

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 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.


The major sights on the trip 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

The assembly hall of Labrang Monastery
The assembly hall of Labrang Monastery. (Click for larger image)

‘Labrang’ roughly translates as ‘home of a great lama’. Founded in 1709, Labrang Monastery is considered to be Tibetan Buddhism’s most important monastery 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.

Gongtang Pagoda
Gongtang Pagoda, in Xiahe. (Click for larger image)

Monasteries in Langmusi, Luqu County

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

Hiking through high-altitude meadows in the mountains near Zhagana
Hiking through high-altitude meadows in the mountains near Zhagana. (Click for larger image)

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. The hike offers 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.

Getting to Lanzhou and back home again

You’ll meet your guides at the Lanzhou Airport between 12-1pm on the first day of the trip.

The itinerary will finish in Lanzhou on the last day of the trip, and we plan to drop you off at the airport around 5pm.

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

Kid’s prices

  • Ages 7–11:   ¥6,380
  • Ages 12–17: ¥6,600

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province (5 days)

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