Northern Sichuan is a hidden treasure in Southwest China, where you can discover the source of the Yellow River, the homeland of the Tibetan and Qiang people, and the mysterious land of King Gesar. It is a place of stunning scenery, rich culture, and ancient faith.
From the historical allure of Songpan Ancient Town to the natural wonders of Ruoergai Huahu and the vast expanses of Ruoergai Grasslands, this journey encompasses the breathtaking First Bend of the Yellow River, cultural landmarks like Saige Lamasery, Langyi Monastery, Lianbaoyeze Scenic Area, and Ganbao Tibetan Village. Experience the nomadic Tibetan lifestyle, savor local delicacies, and delve into ancient faith, all against a backdrop of stunning scenery, rich cultural tapestry, and the seamless harmony between nature and humanity.
2. Marvel at the natural beauty of Ruoergai Huahu, a wetland lake that is home to various wild birds, including the rare black-necked crane.
3. Witness the spectacular sight of the First Bend of the Yellow River, where the mother river of China makes a huge turn between two mountains and forms a giant S-shape.
4. Explore the Lianbaoyeze Scenic Area, a holy mountain that is revered by the Tibetan people and features stunning peaks, glaciers, snow-capped mountains and lakes. Learn about the legends and folklore associated with the mountain and the epic of King Gesar.
- Day 1: Chengdu - Songpan (B, L)Songpan Ancient Town
Your guide and driver will pick you up from your Chengdu hotel in the morning. A scenic drive awaits, taking you to Songpan, a historic town in northwest Sichuan Province.
En route, marvel at the ever-changing landscapes of mountains, valleys, and rivers. Pass through the Wolong National Nature Reserve, where you might catch a glimpse of giant pandas and other wildlife.
Upon reaching Songpan, check into your hotel for some rest. After that, explore the Tang Dynasty-built Songpan Ancient Town, a vital military and economic hub. Admire the well-preserved city walls, gates, bridges, and temples. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the local Tibetan, Qiang, and Hui communities. Enjoy free time to wander the old streets, shops, and tea houses.
- Day 2: Songpan to Tangke via Ruoergai (B, L)Tangke, Ruoergai Huahu, Roergai Grasslands, First Bend of the Yellow River
After breakfast, set off for Tangke, a small town at the crossroads of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.
Pause at Ruoergai Huahu, or Flower Lake, a picturesque wetland pond on the expansive Ruoergai Grassland. A sightseeing bus will take you to a wooden bridge offering panoramic views of the lake, surrounded by colorful flowers and reeds. Look out for rare black-necked cranes and capture the moment with your camera.
Next, explore the vast Roergai Grasslands, showcasing green meadows, rolling hills, crystal lakes, and nomadic Tibetan lifestyles. Visit a local family to taste butter tea and yak milk, gaining insight into their customs and beliefs.
In the late afternoon, witness the mesmerizing First Bend of the Yellow River, where China's main river takes a massive S-shaped turn between two mountains. Enjoy the sunset and the reflections on the water, with small islands where waterfowl gather.
Continue the journey to Tangke for an overnight stay.
- Day 3: Tangke to A’ba (B, L)Saige Lamasery, Langyi Monastery
Following breakfast, your driver will take you from Tangke to A’ba, a county in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Along the way, visit Saige Lamasery, the largest temple of Bon religion in the Tibetan area. Bon is an ancient indigenous religion of Tibet that predates Buddhism. It has its own scriptures, rituals and deities. Saige Lamasery has a majestic main hall, a white stupa and a sky burial stage. You can admire the statues, murals and sculptures that reflect the history and teachings of Bon.
Continue to Langyi Monastery, another important temple in the Tibetan area boasting a history of over 1000 years. The monastery is known for its exquisite and distinctive sculptures and architecture.
Drive to the A’ba area for an overnight stay.
- Day 4: Exploration of Lianbaoyeze Scenic Area (B, L)Lianbaoyeze Scenic Area
After breakfast, delve into the wonders of the Lianbaoyeze Scenic Area, situated at the convergence of Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai provinces. This region, a southern extension of Bayan Har Mountain, spans over 500 square kilometers and is approximately 39 kilometers from Aba County, earning it a revered status in the Anduo Tibetan area.
Embark on a sightseeing bus journey to Zhagaercuo Lake, nestled at an elevation of 4,200 meters across 3 square kilometers. The lake's environs are adorned with vibrant flowers and reeds, providing a habitat for rare black-necked cranes. Marvel at the picturesque views of the lake and the snow-capped mountains, capturing the essence with your camera.
Following this, undertake a hike to the sacred Lianbaoyeze Holy Mountain, steeped in Tibetan folklore. The mountain, deemed holy, features a front gate and doors on all four sides, each associated with a different god. This sacred site is considered the dwelling place of six divinities and is steeped in the historical battlefield tales of King Gesar. Explore the rich symbols of the Bon religion through statues, murals, sculptures, and butter lamps.
- Day 5: A’ba to Chengdu Departure (B, L)Ganbao Tibetan Village
After breakfast, commence your journey back to Chengdu. En route, pause at Ganbao Tibetan Village, one of Sichuan's largest Tibetan villages. Situated alongside National Highway 317, 192 kilometers from Chengdu and 8 kilometers from Li County, Ganbao translates to "hillside village" in Tibetan. Once a crucial military fortress during the Qing Dynasty, remnants of its historical significance, such as military training grounds and podiums, still endure. Explore the stone buildings, cultural nuances, and scenic vistas that define this village.
Continue your drive to Chengdu airport or train station for your departure.