Tibet Metok Travel Guide



Metok ("Motuo"in Chinese), the only Chinese county with no highway connection to the outside world and inaccessible by modern vehicles, is the last county where the Yarlung Tsangpo River crosses over in China before it flows to India. As the remotest county in the southeast Tibet, Motuo is located on the southern slope of the Himalayas, covering an area of 30,550sqkm, the mysterious place is mainly inhabited by the Menba and Luoba ethnic groups with a population of only about 10,000.

According to the Tibetan Buddhist scripture "Bka'gyur", Motuo, or "hidden lotus" in Tibetan, is Tibet's purest and holiest region. As a result, most of the local people, mainly of the Menba minority, are descendants of people who migrated from other places in Tibet more than one hundred years ago.

Although it is hard to imagine that one can enjoy tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples in the snow-capped mountains, this is really the case in Motuo. Situated in the lower reach of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Motuo boasts a typical sub-tropical moist climate, which brings plenty of rainfall and spring-like days all year round. Meanwhile, standing 1,000m above the sea level on average, Motuo remains separated from the outside world with a halo of snow-capped mountains surrounding.

Motuo State Natural Reserve, located in canyons at an average altitude of 750~4,800m, is home to numerous waterfalls and rivers as well as rich flora from tropical to cold-weather plants. As one-tenth of China's plant species can been found in Motuo, it has been dubbed the "Natural Museum of Tibet" or "Tibetan Botanical Garden". Plants from both frigid and subtropical zones are compatible and coexist on this small isolated "island".
While regarded as "Lotus Holy Land" in the eyes of Tibetan Buddhists, Motuo is also a significant symbolic destination for travelers and adventurers. The inaccessibility  makes it one of the most untouched places in the world. The charm of an expedition to Motuo lies in the very challenge of reaching this amazing place on foot.

Once there was a highway linking Motuo to the outsid, but it only existed for two days with four automobiles driving on it altogether. On September 25~26 in 1993, a simple and crude highway penetrated the bumpy mountain roads between the peaks and gullies to reach this secluded island. This was obviously a big event for the local people, who came from various directions to Motuo for a glimpse of the legendary running monster. But just a few days later, this piece of news became history, as autos became legendary again. The only remain was the rusty skeleton of a truck which was never able to get out of the county.

The Chinese central government and Tibet's local government began to build the Motuo highway some 30 years ago. But without any exception, all attempts were doomed to fail. Due to the extremely complex geological structure, volatile climate, frequent landslides, floods, mud-rock flows and avalanches, the workers would usually witness the collapse of what they had built the previous day.

Although the road is only about 140km long, millions of dollars have been wasted with the repetitive collapses of the road in the past 30 years. The only proof of all these efforts was the "Zha-Mo Highway Monument" in Zhamu Village of the neighboring Bomi County, whose site marks the shortest existence of a road in Chinese highway history. Today, things look the way they were 30 years ago and Motuo remains a tranquil county untouched by any modern highways.

The most common way of commercial transportation in Motuo is via labor carriers. As the lifeline of the Motuo people, this special transportation team has carried thousands of tons of materials in and out of Motuo in the past few decades. These people peddle through the snowcaps, canyons and landslides to transport corns, medicines, concrete, steels, and other daily necessities to Motuo, contributing significantly for the life of the people in China's remotest county.

Source: China Culture.Org

Best time to go - October

Getting there and away

Lhasa(or Bomi)--> Bayi-->Pai: by vehicles

Lhasa to Bayi- buses available at east station and long-distance station of Lhasa, starting from 8:00am onward, Y155 /8hrs/470km, along one of the best road in Tibet.

Bomi to Bayi - buses and jeeps available at the Bomi square, Y70/head for bus, Y100/head for jeep

Step 2

Bayi to Pai /派乡- direct daily bus from Bayi to Pai starts from the Post Hotel square in Bayi at about 10am, Y50/130km/5~6hrs. Chartering a jeep to Pai costs around Y800.

There is a checkpoint on the way to Pai. It will be a problem for those who don't have an access permit. For Tibet Permit, pls click Permits( MUST READ )

Step 3
Pai to Songlinkou / 松林口 - hitchhike or charter a truck, or just start your trekking from here!

Bayi - Numerous choices of hotels and restaurant  in Bayi, but most of the guesthouses are without shower.

Pai - small hostels in the village offering beds from Y10 up,without toilet and shower. Brother's Hostel is recommended. Meals are more expensive than that of in Bayi, counting Y10 for vegetable dish, Y18 for meat.

Trekking to Metok

Pai/派乡: a small village on the south bank of Yarlung Tsangpo, is memorized as the springboard of the harsh trek to Metok. Pai is also the Transfer station of supplies to Metok. All supplies are transported to Pai by trucks from Lhasa or Bayi, then carried by manpower to Metok through the harsh road. Pai is the last station for trekkers to restock supplies.

Routes: Pai-> Songlinkou-> Duoxiongla-> Nage-> Hanmi-> Ani Bridge-> Beibeng-> Metok-> Bomi, see more details on Trek to Metok

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