Asia > East Asia > China > Southwest China > Sichuan > Ganzi (prefecture) > Garzê
It is an important city in what is still seen by the indigenous Tibetan population as the historical region of Kham. Ganzi is in a large valley with grassy hills at an elevation of 3,400 m (11,155 ft), tucked north-east of the gorgeous snow-peaked mountains of the Gongga Shan range. Tibetan culture is abundant and vibrant here, and the friendly people won't let you go by without offering you the Tibetan greeting 'Tashi Dele'! The town is set along the main road passing from east to west towards Dege or Kangding (which is to the south). Visitors are unheard-of in the cold winter months, but if you come then, you would be the guest of the entire town!
Buses from Kangding leave for Ganzi at 06:00 for around ¥120. The ride takes 12-14 hours, depending on the condition of your bus and or the number of times it breaks down. The road is relatively good: it's bumpy, but it's 95% sealed (spring 2017). Try not to book a seat in the back of the bus, especially on smaller buses, as you'll be thrown around violently by the bumps through much of the trip. Masks may be advisable if people are smoking on the bus; but this seems less common than has been reported.
The bus station is in the center of town just south of the main road. You can hire a private van/car too.
|To||Departure||Price (yuan)||Duration (hr)||Last update|
|Dege||??:??||¥60||?||17 June 2005|
|Kangding||06:30||¥139||12||17 June 2005|
|Yushu/Jyekundo||06:00||¥117||9||20 January 2007|
|Luhuo||??:??||??.??||2||17 June 2005|
|Tagong||??:??||??.??||9||17 June 2005|
|Baiyu||06:00||¥73||8||25 January 2008|
|To||Approximate Price (Yuan)||Duration (Hours)||Comments||Last update|
|Manigango||¥30-40||2-3||O.K road||May 2011|
|Litang||¥110||8-10||Via Xinlong||May 2011|
|Xinlong||¥30||3||25 January 2008|
The main street is Chuanzang Road (川藏路). You can easily visit the town on foot. For longer distances, you can use taxis. The fare should not exceed ¥6 to any place in town.
- Garze Monastery. 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. Though being the most important of its likes in the Ganzi region and being more than 540 years old, Garze Monastery is not as spectacular as other monasteries in Kham, since the greater parts of its temples had been rebuilt using Han-Chinese-style white-tile facades and plastic-pane windows. Still the views over the valley from its terraces and the maze of the approach through the old Tibetan quarter plus gaudy mix of Tibetan and Chinese architecture make it well worth a visit.
- (Information as of 20 June 2005)
- Den Gompa is much smaller but the structures are supposed to be more traditional. It's in the southern part of Ganzi.
- Dontok Gompa and Dingkhor Chörten 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 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 Chörten built 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.
There is a vegetable market in the center of the newer part of town, some bazaar style shopping (but prices are generally higher than for the same goods in chengdu)
Locals will take a great interest in western travelers and monks near the monastery might invite you in for tea
Small shops downtown provide typical Tibetan clothing and jewelry and accessories bought by the herdsmen and nomads frequenting the town. Look out for stores selling antiques. On the road leading north from the bus station, you'll find several shops catering for monk's outfits and religious artifacts, as well as selling the beautiful curtains adorning windows and doors in that region, there are also stores selling decorative pots and kettles. There are even shops selling traditional Tibetan hand-carved furniture which is made locally.
Supermarkets on main-street sell food and toiletries, you can also buy bottles of beer and decent Chinese wine to make up your own nightlife.
Plenty of small restaurants are to be found on the road next to the bus station.
- Kangpa Cuisine (Kams-pa Bod Zas-Kang), Chuanzang Lu (close to intersection of Chuanzang Lu with Dongda & Hongjun Road). Cozy and slightly fancy tea house on the 2nd floor (beneath a Cyber Café, which has a round sign on street level). A good place to hang out, watch the street live drink tea and eat delicious veg momos (not the fluffy ones!)
There is not much nightlife in town. To have a beer, visit a restaurant.
- Hong Fu Guest House, No.49 Chuanzang Road (from the bus station go to Chuanzang Rd, and take left turn towards the west - you will see it after 100 m on the right side), ☎ . Called "guest house", but is really a home-stay. The family is really nice and friendly. There is a big room with 4 beds, clean bathroom and hot shower in the house. It's just next to another guest house, where you can find a bed without shower but with Wi-Fi for ¥20. (March 2016) ¥30 for a bed.
- Chengxin Binguan - Just across the street and south from the bus station at No. 27. With friendly and tidy doubles or triples. Room rates are negotiable but are listed as ranging from ¥70-150. Some rooms have en suite bathrooms, while the condition of the shared bathrooms varies. Using the shared showers is an extra ¥10. In winter, there is no running water in this hotel.
- Snowland Hotel - Just when you enter Garze from the east, you will cross two petrol stations (on your left and right). Turn right afterwards and 50 m up the street and you will see the hotel on the right. Doubles with bathroom (hot shower, squat) are ¥100, without bathroom ¥50. Internet via ethernet-cable. (March 2017)
For those looking to avoid the high foreigner charges mentioned below, walk one street east of the bus station on Chuangzang Rd to the corner on the south (right) side of the street. There are a bunch of locals hanging out there (as of May 2017) who will approach you for an unofficial bed or room in the nearby buildings (usually by making the hands-pressed-together-to-head 'sleeping sign'). Beds offered at ¥30, or bare-bones rooms with attached bathroom (hot water) but no Wi-Fi for ¥60.
- Golden Yak Hotel is inside the bus station compound. A bed in a dorm, and doubles with bathroom, that has low water pressure, go for ¥150. More luxurious accommodation offering en suite bathrooms and western style toilets is also available. The hotel also has a restaurant and tea room. Power and water is iffy in winter months. Bring a flashlight and sleeping bag. No heat. This seems to be a citywide policy as the few hotels licensed for foreigners in the town all rent at the same rate. Customer service at the Golden Yak was dour and unfriendly and the showers did not work, even in summer.
- 1 DzachuSama Hostel & Cafe (山泉客栈), QingKe PuDi 133, ☎ , ✉ email@example.com. Hotel owned by foreigners in a traditional Tibetan house that has been renovated. Dorm rooms, rooms with private bathrooms, or luxury suites with spectacular views. Clean rooms, clean sheets, hot showers, and comfortable accommodations.
- Himalaya Hotel (West of the bus station in Dongda Jie). This hotel was built in 2005 with single and double rooms, a nice tea room, medicinal herbal baths and a sauna. The hotel manager is German-speaking.
Beware of altitude sickness if traveling here straight from the Sichuan lowlands. As in most of West Sichuan and other Tibetan regions stray dogs are common and totally unpredictable. Throwing rocks is your best bet, if you have to time to react. Wearing study boots and thick pants and socks are another way to protect yourself from injures. The area gets a lot of sunshine due to its high location in a long broad valley and temperatures change a lot during the day. Sunglasses and sunblock are a must.
There have been isolated protests against Chinese rule calling for the return of the Dali Lama including violence towards locals on behalf of the authorities and vice versa. There is a very large Chinese military and police presence in the city. Being sympathetic to the local cause is one thing but bear in mind you are putting locals and not yourself at risk. Best to stay neutral and change the topic.
There is an Internet place with decent connection speed (though no printer). It may rank as the biggest smoke den in all of China. Walk to the road bridge crossing the river in the middle of town and follow the stream north (away from the big river towards the monastery). After 300 m, you will pass a pedestrian bridge on your right hand side. Shortly after that, there is a small concrete 'picnic' sitting area on the right. The entrance to the second floor Internet cafe is up the private looking staircase just opposite that place. There are no signs advertising the service, so if in doubt just ask the neighborhood.
It appears there may be restrictions on using the internet, though I'm not sure.
Although some online discussions suggest otherwise, as of 27 May 2011, it is not possible to extend a Chinese visa in Ganzi. Reportedly, the nearest locations for visas are Kangding and Xinning.
The Agricultural Bank of China has an ATM that accepts foreign bank and credit cards.
There are small laundry shops located at numbers 223, 239 and 239 on the main strip, Changzang Road, that will wash clothes. They are easily identified by the clothes hanging from the ceiling. It generally costs ¥2-5 per article/pair of clothing and you can pick up your clothes the next day. If you're in a hurry the clothes can be dropped off in the afternoon and picked up in the evening, but they will still be moist.