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Heart of Amdo


  • Days: 10
  • Price: $2,280 ¹
  • Single Supplement: $480 ²
  • Key Destinations: Jiuzhaigou, Langmusi, Labrang, Rebkong, Qinghai Lake
  • Begins: Chengdu
  • Ends: Chengdu (incl. return airfare from Xining)
  • Transportation: Private 7 seat mini-van
  • Driving Distance: 1,500km
  • ¹ per person, based on group size of four
  • ² surcharge for solo travellers who prefer a private room

This ten day overland journey pierces through the geographical center of Amdo Tibet, while also majoring on the cultural and religious significance of this timeless land as well.

Beginning in Chengdu (or Xining, if you prefer), this tour is designed for maximum diversity. It is a 1200km odyssey that traces from the lowland, subtropical climate of Sichuan with bamboo forests, up through the great canyons and valleys that once guarded the approach to an ancient Tibetan kingdom, to the highland plateau where nomadic herders still roam with their animals even today.

The route passes through three provinces, ten counties, two national parks, and includes all the cultural highlights along the way. You’ll visit the most important monastery in Amdo: Labrang, as well as the renowned artistic center of Thangka painting in all of Tibet: Rebkong.

Your overland journey concludes in Xining with an opportunity to visit the largest lake in China: Qinghai Lake, before returning to Chengdu via flight the following morning.


Heart of Amdo – Route & Itinerary

Heart of Amdo Tibet


  • DAY 1 Arrive in Chengdu. The heart of Western China welcomes you as your driver navigates the throngs of cyclists which mix with the rhythm of a modern city. After a rest at your guesthouse, you’ll enjoy a walk through the Tibetan quarter of Chengdu before heading to dinner and a visit at China's historical Three Kingdoms era Zhuge Liang Memorial Temple and Jin Li Ancient Street.
  • DAY 2 Chengdu - Songpan (Muni Valley). After only one hour's drive out of Chengdu you will enter the mountains that begin the approach to the Tibetan Plateau. Your route follows a mountain canyon through the towns of Wenchuan and Maoxian where you will still see evidence of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake if you look carefully. Lunch will be enjoyed in the highland town of Songpan which still has a Tibetan style feel not unlike the wild west of America. Following lunch, you'll have a 30 min drive to neighbouring Muni Valley where you'll settle in to the comfort of Tibetan hospitality. The afternoon is ahead of you to enjoy the remote beauty and explore the paths around the village and ridges above. Distance: 290km.
  • DAY 3 Songpan - Jiuzhaigou National Park. First thing in the morning is a short two hour drive to Jiuzhaigou to check in at your hotel and enjoy some refreshments before embarking on an exploratory walk around the village to acclimatize and become familiar with your surroundings. After lunch, you'll enjoy spending a half day in the park by heading to the furthest end of the park to begin your exploration of Zechawa Valley, beginning with stunning views of Jiuzhaigou's highest, largest, and deepest lake: Long Lake (3150m). The Seasonal Lakes and surrounding ridges will be viewed on the way back down to the intersection of the three valleys where you'll enjoy a snack in the hospitality of a Tibetan home. Distance: 100km.
  • DAY 4 Jiuzhaigou National Park. Exploring the remainder of the park today, you'll ride the bus to the most secluded point: the head of Rize Valley. From here you'll enjoy a magical stroll through an old growth forest surrounded by stunning cliffs, including the blade-shaped Sword Rock. On the descent from the forest back down toward the convergence of the valleys, the walk follows a meandering boardwalk with rushing creeks, turquoise lakes, and quiet pools. The surrounding beauty invites you to take your time, making it easy to spend the whole morning on this valley alone. Exploring the Shuzheng valley following lunch will give you a sense of the overwhelming grandeur of these ancient valleys, before returning to the village for dinner.
  • DAY 5 Jiuzhaigou - Ruoergai - Langmusi. Today you'll continue further up and further in to the Tibetan Plateau and the grasslands of Ruoergai that support Tibet's ancient nomadic cuture. You'll see herds of sheep, goats, and yak spread out over miles of grassland spotted by the black tents of nomadic herders. Lunch will be enjoyed at the grassland outpost of Ruoergai, before continuing on across the vast plateau to reach the Sichuan/Gansu border town of Langmusi with the opportunity to visit Kirti monastery before dinner. Distance: 335km.
  • DAY 6 Langmusi - Labrang. The Bailong River splits the town of Langmusi in half and forms the border between Sichuan (South) and Gansu (North). The Buddhist monasteries on each side of the valley offer beautiful views of surrounding mountains with alpine meadows and forests. There is also a muslim community in town which means Langmusi is a diverse mix of three cultures: Han Chinese, Tibetan, and Hui. After visiting Sertri monastery in the morning and enjoying the scenery, you'll enjoy some Muslim noodles for lunch before driving to Xiahe (Labrang) in the afternoon. Distance: 220km.
  • DAY 7 Labrang. Up until the early part of the 20th century Labrang was the largest and most influential monastery in the traditional region of Amdo, housing as many as 4,000 monks at its peak. In addition to the obvious Tibetan roots of the town, Labrang is also a point of historical convergence for three more regional cultures: Han, Mongolian, and Hui. It is still a pilgrimage destination for Tibetans across Amdo and a gathering point for annual religious festivals as well. There are numerous trails on the slopes and ridges around the valley from which to appreciate both the size of this monastic community and its structures, as well as the beauty of its natural setting. It is well worth it to spend a full day here.
  • DAY 8 Labrang - Rebkong - Xining. Though you will cross from Gansu into Qinghai province shortly after leaving Labrang, you remain well within the historic heartland of Amdo as you travel to another source of pride not only for the local Amdo, but for Tibetans everywhere: Rebkong (Tongren). Here lies the artistic center for Thangka paintings. Thangkas typically have a religious theme due to the fact that historically they date back to even before the time of the Buddha and have traditionally served as important teaching tools for depicting the life of the Buddha, the Wheel of Life, and other religious subjects. A visit to a local Thangka painting school and an opportunity to view the students learning their craft will be enjoyed before continuing on to Xining in the evening. Distance: 260km.
  • DAY 9 Qinghai Lake . Literally meaning "Blue Sea Lake", the blue waters of China's largest lake strike a beautiful contrast with the equally expansive green carpet of grasslands in the summer months. The surrounding area is spotted with grazing animals and also has an abundant population of bird life due to it sitting at the crossroads of several migration routes across Asia. This natural wonderland also serves as a pilgrimage destination for Tibetans who come to circumambulate around the lake (up to 20 days by foot!) for karmic benefit. A picnic on the grasslands next to the lake is an ideal way to relax before your return to Chengdu the next day. Distance: 260km.
  • DAY 10 Xining - Chengdu (flight). A morning flight back to Chengdu today will ensure you arrive before mid-day. Either catch your connector flight onward to your next destination, or allow your guide to accompany you to your hotel in the city so you can settle in and prepare for your plans ahead.

What’s Included:

  • all transport, including airport pick-up and transfers
  • private vehicle and driver with an excellent English speaking local guide
  • Return airfare from Xining (or Chengdu, per the itinerary)
  • all meals with wine included at dinner (as selected by Extravagant Yak)
  • complimentary use of a cell phone with local number for the duration of the trip
  • all accommodation based on double occupancy
  • all activities and entrance fees enroute (per the itinerary)

Not Included:

  • international airfare
  • medical, travel, and trip interruption insurance
  • passport and visa fees
  • activities not included on the trip itinerary
  • souvenirs, laundry, items of a personal nature



For those who prefer a customized trip to Amdo Tibet, we can arrange that too. Begin the conversation here.

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  • Aug. 2 - 11, 2018
  • Sep. 8 - 17, 2018
  • Private tour? Tell us your dates!
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  • Days: 10
  • Price: $2,280 ¹
  • Single Supplement: $480 ²
  • Key Destinations: Jiuzhaigou, Langmusi, Labrang, Rebkong, Qinghai Lake
  • Begins: Chengdu
  • Ends: Chengdu (incl. return airfare from Xining)
  • Transportation: Private 7 seat mini-van
  • Driving Distance: 1,500km
  • ¹ per person, based on group size of four
  • ² surcharge for solo travellers who prefer a private room
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