Garze (Ganzi) Travel Guide, Kham, Sichuan
385km northwest of Kangding, Ganzi(also "Garze") is the county seat of Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture, an important town in the now defunct Tibetan province of Kham, most populated by Tibetans and Khampas.
Resting in a large valley of 3800m sorrounded by the sleeping giant Chola Mt. (Qe'ershan), Ganzi is northeast of the gorgeous snow-peaked mountains of Minya Konka (Mt. Gongga / Gongga Shan) range. Tibetan life is abundant here, it's easy to spend a few days in this friendly place exploring the beautiful sorrouding countryside which is scattered with Tibetan vilalges and monasteries.
- Garze Monastery
a 540 years old lamasery, home to over 500 monks, this is the region's largest monastery, glimmer with blinding quantities of Gold. But it is not as spectacular as other monasteries in Kham, since the greater parts of was rebuilt in Han-chinese-style. Still the views over the valley from its terraces and the gaudy mix of Tibetan and chinese architecture make it worth a visit.
A short walk north along the river dividing the town or the street running parallel to the west leads you to the Tibetan quarter of the town, which lays at the foot of the monastery. Follow the narrow paths between the houses to reach the site. Look out for little chapels containing giant prayer wheels circambulated by devotees on the way. (Entry Tiket: Y10)
- Den Gompa - much smaller but the structures are supposed to be more traditional. It's in the southern part of Ganzi.
- Dontok Gompa and Dingkhor Chorten make up for a nice half hour walk across a suspended bridge over the Yalong Jiang. To reach there, head south from the bus station and follow the right path after crossing the bridge. The complex is currently under construction but has distinctive features to its buildings, including vertical white, grey and crimson stripes on the walls surrounding the houses. The friendly monks will show you around the place.
- There is a new Chorten build on a small hill on the eastern edge of town. The adjacent temple houses a Buddhist library. Although the building itself does not bear that ancient flair you might be looking for, its a nice place to catch views over the valley and the city.
Getting there and away
Buses from Kangding leave for Ganzi at 6:00 a.m. for around Y120, 12-14 hours, depending on the condition of your bus and the number of times it breaks down. Try not to book a seat in the back of the bus, especially on smaller buses, as you'll be thrown around violently through much of the trip.
The Bus Station is in the center of town just south of the main road. Buses to Dege run every 2-3 days. Private minivans to Dege are available for hiring at around Y450. You can also head north to Xining of Qinghai via Serxu. Buses to Serxu originates at kangding every 2-3 days and pass throhth Ganzi around 6am.
The main street in town is Sichuan-Tibet Highway (Chuanzang Gonglu), you can easily visit every corner on foot. Taxis is Y4 to any place in town.
Golden Yak Hotel(Jinmaoniu Jiudian) - inside the Bus station compound. Y15-30/dm, Y120~180/std.
Hotel Himalaya - west from the bus station in the Dongda Jie., it's an authorized hotel for foreigners, built in 2005 with single and double rooms, nice tearoom, mediacal herbal baths and sauna. Y100/std. room w/ attached shower room.
Also, Hongmofang was recommended by a few backpackers.
For eating, plenty of small restaurants are to be found on the road next to the bus station.