---A Tibet culture adventure in Kham Tibet region
Want to unveil the mysterious Tibet culture? Want to explore the beautiful Tibetan villages in mountains? Want to visit the monastery which related to three Dalai Lama? Want to visit the paradise of photographers? Want to worship the sacred snow mountains and lakes? Just go with us and you won't regret it.
Tibetan old lady
The southeastern part of China is one of the most mysteries land lying on the peak of the earth with magnificent mountains and the most fascinating ethnics minority of China. No other minority groups could reach the culture achievements as high as the Han Chinese, but the Tibetans made it. Half of the Tibetans live in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture today while the rest of them live in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. According to geographical divisions, it was divided into three traditional provinces: Ü-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.
Kham is a very important branch of Tibetans which covers a large part of Tibetan region as demonstrated in the map above. Kham, in Tibetan, means “frontier”, referring to the region which is not concurred by the central Tibetan culture. Some Chinese linguists and anthropologists refer to Kham as the 'Ethnic Corridor of Southwest China', as its vast and sparsely populated territories are inhabited by over 14 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups. For reasons of simplicity, the Chinese government combines the various ethnic groups of Kham together with the Tibetans to form one big nationality, called the "Tibetan Nationality". There are, however, significant differences in traditions and beliefs —even physical appearance— between the peoples of Kham and Lhasa. We are going to present you this magnificent ethnic canvas in Kham area by crossing throughout from east to the west, discovering the splendid culture varying from history, religion, custom, fine art to architecture, medicine, agriculture, costumes and traditional food with our Tibetan culture ambassador by enjoying lectures from experts while scanning the breath-taking Plateau nature scenery along the way. It will be an absolute Tibetan culture experience immersing into the unknown Kham.
•Integral understanding about Tibetan Religion System
The Tibetan is a religious minority group. Almost all the Tibetans believe in Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism. Lamaism is divided into many different sects, each claiming to be the orthodox. Our Tibetan culture ambassador will explain you the stories behind different religion branches by visiting the largest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world in Sertar and many different Tibetan Buddhist monasteries across the Kham region. You have chance to watch Sky burial, a ritual that has great religious meaning, to learn about the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism or understand their attitude to death.
•Magnificent monastery and featured local folk house
Tibet architecture contains Chinese and Indian influences but has many unique features brought about by its adaptation to the cold, generally arid, high-altitude climate of the Tibetan plateau. Buildings are generally made from locally available construction materials, and are often embellished with symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. In the villages on the plateau, the architectures you would normally see are monastery and folk house. The monasteries are always the most magnificent building among the all. The folk house in Tibet varies from farm sites to pastoral areas. The farming people usually build houses as home bases while people in the pastoral area enjoy a nomad life and camp in tent. You have chance to visit many extraordinary monasteries and many typical local family and even stay with them which would bring you very special but authentic experience.
Nomadic herders in Tibet are known as drokpa. There are estimated 2 million Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas that practice some form of nomadism. For centuries these nomads have ranged across the grasslands of the Tibetan plateau with their grazing herds of sheep, cattle, goats and yaks. Most nomads are only nomads in the summer. In the winter they live in valleys in houses with wooden beams and earthen floors and pens or shelters for their animals. We have chance to learn about the plateau agriculture civilization from the local nomads and visit their nomadic tent on the grassland.
Thangka has been in vogue in Tibet for centuries which serves as an object of worship. In Tibetan, “thang” means "unfolding" or "displaying," and thangka means "silk, satin, or cloth painting scroll." The beautiful Thangka is most often painted on scrolls or embroidered on wall hangings of silk or other cloth. We are visiting the hometown and the center of the Thangka art in the world in Luhuo. We will visit many galleries and watch Thangka artists painting.
Butter sculpture is another Tibetan Buddhist artistic visual impact. The sacred offering is made from mainly butter and other mineral pigments. Monks take great pride to do the religious work. You have chance to see the process of making butter sculpture in some monasteries.
•Tibetan medical system
Traditional Tibetan medicine is a centuries-old traditional medical system that employs a complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as pulse analysis and urinalysis, medicines composed of natural materials (e.g., herbs and minerals) and physical therapies (e.g. Tibetan acupuncture, moxabustion, etc.) to treat illness. It is a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Tibetan philosophy. We are going to visit a Tibetan hospital and have a lecture of Tibetan medicine by a local famous Tibetan doctor to unveil this old traditional medical science.
Tibetan medicine herb
•Experience the authentic Tibetan traditional custom
We will invite local people to introduce the traditional culture and custom in Tibet,learn about their mysteirous 'walking marriage' or participate in some local festival and events along the way. You will enjoy the Tibetan food while staying with the local family. Zamba (tsamba), Yak butter tea, qingko wine will charge your energy well. You will also collect all types of Tibetan costumes and ornaments by your camera.
Tinle Gonbo was borned in a Tibetan village in Kham Drago. He speaks three languages and two dialects of Tibetan, including “Kham” dialect which is his mother tongue and “Amdo” dialect. Chinese mandarin and English are his second and third language. Gonbo is an excellent tour guide in Tibetan region. He loves Tibet and he is more than happy to show people around his beautiful hometown. Anyone found interest in Tibetan community, he could be one of the best choices of leading you to study or experience the authentic Tibet directly.Read more>>
As a co-founder of AbsolutePanda and wife of a Kham Tibetan, Lily loves Tibetan culture ever since she lived with a Tibetan family. She takes her responsibilities in planning trips very seriously, always coming up with innovative ideas reflecting the needs and desires of her clients. From the day she started working in the travel field, Lily has demonstrated her tremendous talents in managing tours. Read more>>
What make AbsolutePanda’s culture tour excellent?
•Professional local culture ambassador
You will travel with people who were born, grew up in the destination and love their minority culture. They will show you the most essential Tibetan culture treasure a the traditional culture and take you experience the most authentic local life.
•We care about all the stakeholders in the wildlife habitat
AbsolutePanda focus on wildlife and their habitat. People who live in the habitat is a vital element to wildlife conservation. There is colorful minority ethnic culture in those wildlife habitat which is worth to discover and unveil. We would like to help out to improve the life of people who live in the deep mountainous area in the panda habitat through running responsible trips.
•Exclusive Quality & Value Guarantee
We define our quality by unique itineraries, stunning destinations, creative interactions, small group and professional guides. If you can find any other travel company who is able to offer tours of same quality with better price, we are willing to reimburse you with the difference.
•Explore China in comfort and your own style
Beyond luxury accommodations, meals and vehicles, we would like to show you the real China by an absolutely authentic experience with incredible wildlife, amazing minority culture and lovely locals.
Om mani padme hum
Map of the trip
Day 1 Arrive Chengdu
Upon your arrival in Chengdu, our local guide will meet you at the airport and help you with hotel check-in. If you arrive before 2 pm, we will show you some old parts of Chengdu. There are so many options of the sightseeing in Chengdu. We could visit the historical streets and sites of Chengdu---the capital of Ancient Shu for thousands of years. Sichuan cuisine is among the top four cuisines in China, so a food tour will be definitely a highlight. Sichuan opera and the face changing show is also a must see that you don’t want to miss. The itinerary of the city tour will be arranged according to your arriving time and interest. In the evening, we will have a welcoming dinner in the local popular typical Sichuan restaurant.
Day 2 Chengdu-Wolong: Into the panda habitat
We are driving to the well known hometown of giant panda---Wolong national nature reserve. Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains is principally renowned for its importance for the conservation of the giant panda and was listed among the UNESCO sites in 2010. Wolong National Nature Reserve is the most famous one among the 13 giant panda reserve centers established by the Chinese government with the help of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Wolong National Nature Reserve is also the first one of its kind to set up a research center for giant pandas. We are going to visit the panda base in Wolong to visit giant pandas and drive to Balang Mountain to view gorgeous nature scenery and maybe search for some endemic birds and flora species.
Overnight: Rilong (by the foot of Mt. Siguniang)
Day 3 Wolong-Danba: Architecture & Costume of Jiarong Tibetan
Mt. Siguniang is know as the “Oriental Alps” for its magnificent snow mountain and stunning forest scenery. Mount Siguniang is well-known for its grandness, straightness and forcefulness. It is a natural forest area with abundant forest, thick green grass, and clear flowing rivers. In the afternoon, we are driving to Jiaju Tibetan village in Danba which is one of the most beautiful ancient villages, voted by the Chinese National Geographic in 2005. This village is inhabited by a branch of Tibetan called Jiarong Tibetan. This ethnic group is famous for its architecture and costume. We are going to visit and stay with local family and experience the authentic local lifestyle. Our culture ambassador will give a small lecture about the “Tibetan folk house architecture and costume &ornaments”.
Overnight: Danba local guest house
Day 4 Folk house art & Old matriarchal society in Daofu
After exploring Danba in the morning, we are heading west to Daofu. It will be a four-hour drive and we are passing by the beautiful yak valley and magnificent Huiyuan monetary in Bamei. Daofu at 3040m is laid out along the Jianshui River and it is a prosperous farming community with fine houses. Locals are known throughout Kham for their expertise at woodworking, and Daofu is a great place to come and see some fine examples of high-quality Tibetan architecture.
Day 5 Daofu-Sertar: Thangka art
Today we are driving to Sertar for a religion journey. On the way to Sertar, we will drive by Luhuo---the hometown and center of Thanka, to learn about this amazing art. We will visit some Thangka gallery and some Thangka artists watching the process of painting. We will drive to Sertar in the afternoon.
Day 6 Sertar-Ganzi: Tibetan Buddhism
Sertar is home to the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, the largest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world. The institute, which was founded by lama jiame Phuntsok in 1980 and started off just a few monks, now houses tens of thousands of monks and pilgrims from around the world. We will visit the monestray and discover the life of the monks. You will learn more about Tibetan Buddhism from the lecture of our culture ambassador or communicating with the monks or even from chanting with live Buddha.
You have chance to watch the special burial ceremony---sky burial. However, the process is quite bloody even bit cruel. If you feel uncomfortable watching it, it is totally an optional activity. We will drive to Ganzi in the afternoon.
We will drive by Jinma grassland. The 150km road takes about 4 fours for the bad road condition. But you will definitely be rewarded by the stunning nature scenery along the way.
Day 7 Ganzi-Deger: Into the “East Tibet”
Early in the morning, we are driving to Derge-the center of East Tibet and Home town of King Gesar. As a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, the well known Epic of King Gesar is an epic cycle, believed to date from the 12th century, that relates the heroic deeds of the culture hero Gesar, the fearless lord of the legendary kingdom of Ling. It is recorded variously in poetry and prose, chantefable or shuochang being the style of traditional performance and is sung widely throughout Central Asia. People in Derge are very proud of their hero. It will be very exciting to meet some epic performer along the way.
Day 8 Visit the center of East Tibet---Derge
Derge is a town was once the center of the Derge Kingdom of Kham or Eastern Tibet. Derge also means “lands of mercy” was one of the three ancient centers of Tibetan culture, along with Lhasa and Xiahe. The town of Derge is famous for its three-story printing house, or parkhang, built in 1729, where the Kangyur, a collection of Buddhist scriptures, and the Tengyur, a collection of commentaries, are still printed from wooden blocks. It has been estimated that the 217,000 blocks stored at Derge comprise 70% of the Tibetan literary heritage. The Derge editions are considered especially high quality, with few typographical errors. In Derge, we provide a close encounter with this amazing treasury of Tibetan Buddhism and unveil the mysterious printing skill.
We will visit the printing house in the morning and drive to Batang in the afternoon.
Day 9 Tibetan Agriculture
The name Batang is a transliteration from Tibetan meaning a vast grassland where sheep can be heard everywhere. It is warmer here than most of Tibet region because of the lower altitude. Batang is fertile place abundant in grain and fruits. From the mountain slope in the east to the river valley in the west, you can experience different type of Tibetan agriculture varying from farming to nomadism. We are driving to the high city “Litang” in the late afternoon.
Day 10 Carnival underneath the holly mountain
You might feel some the altitude difference from Batang to Litang. Litang (over 4000m), the highest town in the world. Situated high on a grassy plateau, Litang has the feel of a rough and tumble 'Wild West' town. Known as "the Buddhist Shrine in South Kham", Litang Temple is the oldest and largest monastery of the Gelukpa sect (yellow sect) of Tibetan Buddhists in Kham Area.
One of the highlight of this trip is the “Litang horse festival” in August. Steeped in tradition, the horse festivals are an event where nomadic Tibetan families gather for a bit of friendly competition and bonding. This festival takes advantage of the warm weather, so though the elevation is very high, the glassy area is suitable long-distance horse races and tent camping. There will be many singing and dancing at night around the tents. It will be very exciting to have chance to join the Tibetans in the dance. We will drive to Yading in the afternoon via the scenery road which boast as the most beautiful road in Kham.
Day 11 Visit the holly mountain--Yading
With its pure and amazing plateau scenery, Yading is called "the last pure land on earth", "the last Shangri-La", "Western China adventure hub" and "the holy land in the sun". Today we will explore the core of the Grand Shangri-La zone. We will hike in the valley of the snow mountain, walking around the holy lakes and grassland. There are some nomadic tents in the valley where we have chance to meet up with some local farmers.
Day 12 scenic drive back to the west
We are driving back toward the center of Kham Tibetan---Kangding. It will be a long drive toward Kangding so we will stop by Yajiang for overnight. It will still be very beautiful on the road back.
Day 13 History & Medicine
Today we are driving to the capital of Kham world & the bridge between Han Chinese and Tibetan world---Kangding. Kangding had been historical border between Tibet and China, from Kangding to the west lies Tibetan civilization where as to the east Chinese cultural centre. Kangding was for many centuries an important trading city along the Tea-Horse road where Chinese brick tea, slat and silk were carried by porters from Chengdu and other centres to trade for Tibetan horses, medicine and wool. Our culture ambassador will give you a lecture about history of Kham Tibetan. And we will visit a Tibetan hospital and learn more about the traditional Tibetan medicine.
Along the ancient Tea-Horse road, we continue heading west to Litang, en route we will visit Xinduqiao, the paradise of photographer. This picturesque small town is famous for plateau pastoral scenery, with spectacular snow-capped mountains, vivid green grassland, tall and straight poplars, crystal streams and dotted Tibetan houses.
Day 14 Farewell
Driving back to Chengdu and visit the Tibetan corner in Chengdu to experience a mixture of Tibetan and Chinese culture. We have a farewell dinner in a popular local restaurant and finish our trip.
Day 15 Fly back home
July 22 – August 5 2018,2019
Date & Price notes
1. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars. Fees may be different due to different seasons.
2. The hotel and vehicle could be customized.
3. Dates may change and could also be customized.
1. How is the weather along the way in summer?
Chengdu is located in the Chengdu plain in the subtropical humid monsoon climate zone. Summer in Chengdu is hot and humid, average 30℃.
Wolong, Danba, Daofu: the climate in the mountainous area is very comfortable in summer, average 22.4℃. It is the best season to visit. However, the sun is also strong and the temperature difference from day and night is bit high. Please take sunscreen some layers with you.
Sertar: there is no summer in Sertar because of the high elevation, average above 4000m. The temperature is around 10℃.
Derge: the climate is quite extreme here. The temperature difference from day and night is very high up to 30 degree.
Batang: summer is the raining season in Batang. It is bit warm here.
Litang: Litang is known as high city with elevation of 4014m, strong light, the temperature difference from day and night could be high up to 25.6 degree.
Kangding: with average elevation of 2560m, the summer in Kangding is very cool and sun is very strong as well.
2. What type of vehicle will be used in the trip?
We will use 19-23 seats coaster for 8-10 people or 30-seats bus for 10-16 people.
3. What kind of food will be provided?
One of the principle of AbsolutePanda is dine at local and stay with local. We want to share the benefit with local people and enjoy the authentic local gourmet. We will choose popular local restaurant and try as much as different flavor as you want. We will prepare western breakfast for you or you can certainly choose to try the Chinese style. All we desire is that you can enjoy the food along the trip.
4. What kind of lodging will we stay at?
We will choose featured local guest houses or four-star hotels run by local people. It is a great chance to experience local hospitality and their culture by staying with the lovely people.
"We lucked out!"
When we located Philip of ABSOLUTE PANDA!
As many who visit Chengdu, we were interested in the panda experience. Philip is very knowledgable and well connected, so we were able to have the best exposure to the pandas possible.
Additionally, he personalized our 3 day experience, focusing on additional goals, especially viewing local art.
He thoughtfully provided snacks.. attentive to our preferences, and went above and beyond to create for us a wonderful, memorable experience!
(Unlike a recent review, we had no problems paying directly in RMB.. No issues at all.)
His English skills are excellent and learning about his life was most interesting!
We cannot recommend Philip and ABSOLUTE PANDA enough!
---Joan S. from US
"Only Good Travel Agency We've Ever Worked With. Phenomenal!”
All of my previous experiences with travel agents/tour planners have been unmitigated disasters at one end and massive disappointments with added inconvenience on the other. Absolute Panda was the first exception and thank all the travel the gods for that.
We contacted them on short notice (just under 3 weeks) and during a busy time, with most of the guides already committed to other travelers. The team still managed to get something put together in time for us to get our expedited visas and locked up a great guy named "Leo" to be our guide.
Leo may have not known all the names of the birds we saw, but he knew the sights and their history well, freely providing detailed historical anecdotes with precise dates and other added insights. At one point, my DSLR camera body had an error that I couldn't clear and he was able to find an authorized Nikon repair shop that was open and, with just a 90 minute detour, we were able to get it fixed and not miss out on any of our planned activities.
Another thing we greatly appreciated (and it was one of the most grievous failings of the previous companies) was that they really listened to what we asked for, which was to fill our days from early start to late finish. When things ran short, Leo was always able to find another interesting stop or location to check out.
Even though Philllip was with another group during our visit, he still found time to check in with us and make sure we had everything we needed and that we were happy with the service. Our driver was a little quiet, but always polite and professional.
The only negative point is the whole payment by direct bank transfer thing, which is sadly standard practice across all the Asian countries we have visited, so it can't and shouldn't be held against them.
I unreservedly and enthusiastically recommend Absolute Panda and Phillip's team to anyone considering a trip to the shockingly beautiful country of the Sichuan Province. It was worth every cent and then some. I find it highly improbable that there is a better company to work with in the entire region.
——by Ian H