The Yunnan part of Kham

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Shangri La Sumtsenling

17 thoughts on “The Yunnan part of Kham

  1. Kelli

    Hi there,
    First of all, thanks for creating such a great website with descriptions and beautiful pictures.

    I was wondering if you had any information on the Yunnan part of Kham. I am planning a trip in which we have about 10 days in that area of China working our way south to Northern Vietnam through Yunnan. Any tips or advice on places would be greatly appreciated!


    1. Losang བློ་བཟང་ Post author


      The Yunnan part of Kham is very small and only covers 3 small counties in very far NW Yunnan. The Tibetans in this region only make up about 1/3 of the total population, so the Tibetan culture there is not nearly as pure as other regions of the Tibetan Plateau. They speak a dialect of Tibetan that is not understood by Tibetans from other regions. The area is very beautiful and definitely worth going to! It is open and rarely closes, though some roads in the area are quite rough. Definitely go to some Tibetan villages outside of the town of Shangri La (formerly known as Zhongdian) and also try and make it to the holy mountain of Karwa Karpo, located in Dechen (Diqing) county. In Shangri La, be sure to have at least one meal at the excellent foreign-owned restaurant called “The Compass”.


  2. sandy bringas

    Losang, I love your web site and have a question.
    I plan to travel to Lijiang next year and want to go north into Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La, etc.
    If I have 14 or so days will that permit me to go to southern Kahm as well and if so what are the highlights I should be considering there
    Please feel free to email me

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Sandy…Hope you are doing well! In that region, here is what I recommended seeing and doing:

      Lijiang Old Town
      The 2 day trek of the Tiger Leaping Gorge
      Town of Dali
      Shangri La town (rebuilt “old town”)
      Kawa Karpo Mountain
      Yading Nature Reserve
      Kangding (from here continue on to Chengdu)

      1. Ly

        Hi Lobsang,
        Thank you so much for all the great info (and photos)! Can you comment on trekking around Kawa Karpo and in Yading in the winter (late Dec/Jan)? How’s the trail condition, how much does it usually snow, enough to close passes, etc? Thanks again!

        1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

          In general, I do NOT recommend trekking in winter on the Tibetan Plateau unless you are well experienced with cold winter climbing/trekking and you are with a small team. I suggest sticking to the trekking season, which is from mid/late April through mid/late October. Be smart in the high mountains!


  3. vistet

    Great info , as always. Seeing your last post here , is the “new” Shangri La a good experience , having seen it before the fire ? I get mixed emotions from seeing the rebuilt Compass ( the good eats and people running it would be the same ) and have seen little else.

    Hopefully I’ll arrive in Kham in end-November , and will be grateful for any suggestions . I’ll send a email with more specific questions shortly.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Vistet….Julley! I hope you are doing well.

      I have not been to Shangri La since the fire. I was going to go there this past summer, but opted not to when I was at Yading. Let me know your Kham plans and I would be happy to give you some great sugestions!


  4. Desiré Urzúa

    Hi:) Thank you very much for all of the information, it’s great:)
    We are planning on going from Jiuzhaigou and Chengdu to the Tiger Leaping Gorge this December but I want to go to somewhere else in the Tibetan plateau on our way. We don’t have too many days but I would love to see part of that culture and beautiful landscapes. What would you recommend?

  5. Krasen Jelyazkov

    I was in Shangri La, Deqen and Feilai temple at August’2015. It was a great time, but it was rainy. We wanted to see Kawa Karpo, but it was covered in clouds all the time, so we could only see the low part of the glaciers a little.
    From Feilai temple we decided to go deep down to Mekong river, beyond which is Kawa Karpo. We found a dirt road, which goes left down from the main road, it ends in a small abandoned village, then we proceeded down to the river on a small path. The path ends to the bridge Rongzong over Mekong river. We crossed it and back to Feilai temple by hitchiking.
    It was about 3-4 hours walk down from 3400 m (at Feilai temple) to Mekong river at Rongzong- about 2050 m. All the time we enjoyed a magnificent view to the mighty Kawa Karpo (even its upper part was hidden in clouds). However, I do NOT recommend walking on this small path down to the river. In some places it was VERY dangerous (the path was partly destroyed), and the risk to fall down in the deep abyss was extremely high!
    Anyway, wish everybody enjoying a nice trip to Shangri La county and its magnificent Three gorges area 🙂

  6. Wil Hendriks

    Hi Lobsang,
    Fantastis that we may ask you all kind of questions about hiking-trips.Thanks a lot.
    About 15 years ago I did a lot of hiking with my son in the Alps. This year we want to make a one week trek in Yunan/Sichuan. I would like to walk without tent and sleepingbag. Are there enough places to stay overnight in Yading Nature Reserve. And what are the general weather conditions in the second half of June, what clothes should we bring with us.
    Since i passed my sixties I don’t want to be in a too heavy hiking-tour.
    What could you recommend us.
    Thanks again.

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello, Yading is located in Sichuan province and not in Yunnan. If you plan to trek around the mountain(s) in Yading, you will need to bring all camping and trekking gear with you. If you just wish to visit the main area of the park on a day trip, you do not need any trekking gear. There are numerous hotels and guesthouses in the town of Riwa (also known as Shangri La Town…not to be confused with the Shangri La located in Yunnan). For more info on Yading, please read the following link of mine:


  7. Sichuan traveler

    Hi Lobsang,

    Following some advices here i just did a wonderful 5 days trip in western Sichuan (kangding tagong luhuo sertar guanyinqiao chengdu). I will go to Shangri La next august, and i was wondering if there are some place around so culturally immersive.

    In the last trip I was really astonished by all the pretty villages in the mountain along the road between sertar and guanyinqiao. All with a specific tibetan architecture with no mass tourism ! Yunnan have that kind of cultural beauty around Shangri La ?

  8. Cillian

    Hey Lobsang,
    I am a student planning a fairly extensive trip around China next year, and want to get a taste of Tibet but don’t want to spend the resources in research, historical reading and not least money in visiting Tibet proper (although it’s on the bucket list somewhere). Do you think Shangri La in Yunnan would be a good place to visit with this purpose in mind? Is there a lot to do there? I am not a particularly experienced trekker, but I’m not unfit and have some experience camping, I would be interested in doing some moderate trails while I’m there (if I’m there) but don’t really want to cart around trekking gear with me. It would probably be June or August when I plan to travel. Any information you could give me would be great!
    Thanks, and kudos on the creation of an excellent resource.

      1. Cillian

        OK, I plan on traveling in Sichuan as well so I will look into both areas, again thank you for this site full of useful information!

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