Trip Back in Time to Kham

Tibet (U-Tsang) | 11 Days



Protected by high mountain ranges, the region of Dérgé has preserved its cultural heritage and its authenticity. Traveling to these high valleys of Kham is a bit like having a trip back in time where you meet a fascinating people, holders of a great cultural and spiritual heritage. This travel is scheduled during the religious festivals of Dzongsar Monastery, a great opportunity to share the daily life of Khampas (residents of Kham) and their festivities in an atmosphere of communicative joy. 


  • Your Tibetan guide who introduces you to his culture.
  • Visit of Dérgé region main monasteries.
  • Two nights homestay in a lovely village with houses of traditional architecture.
  • The religious festival of Dzongsar Monastery with masked dances.
  • Beautiful landscapes Kham.


Day 1: Chengdu – Dartsédo (2,616 meters above sea level)

  • Distance: 400 km. Approximate travel time: 7 hrs.
  • Drive to Dartsédo (Kanding in Chinese). On your way you will see the tea plantations of Yaan region. The black tea, very appreciated from the Tibetans, comes from this region. Dartsédo, a border city between Chinese and Tibetan regions used to be an important spot for the trade of tea, medicinal herbs and wool.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 2: Dartsédo – Kandzé (3,400m)

  • Distance: 305 km. Approximate travel time: 6-7 hrs.
  • Drive to Lhagang (Tatong in Chinese), a small Tibetan town in a nomads’ region, down three hills that are considered as the three protectors of Tibet (Manjushri, bodhisattva of knowledge and wisdom, Avalokiteshvara, boddhisatva of compassion and Vajrapani, bodhisattva of power of all Buddhas).
  • Visit of Lhagang Monastery. Built during the Qing dynasty (the last Chinese dynasty), it is important for the Tibetans because of its statue of Jowo (representation of the historical Buddha) considered almost as sacred as the one in Lhasa. The Chinese princess Wencheng, who had left to Tibet to marry the king Songtsen Gampo, carried with her a very impressive statue (that is now in Jokhang temple in Lhasa). The statue, thinking Lhagang was an ideal place asked if it could stay there. Then it was decided that another statue was to be built to replace the one that was supposed to go to Lhasa. This monastery is also remarkable because unlike most of the Tibetan temples, it has not been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Visit Gartar Monastery, built during the 18th century by the seventh Dalaï-Lama and funded by the Chinese emperor Qianlong (Qing dynasty).
  • After this visit, you will carry on your journey to Kandzé.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 3: Kandzé – Yachen

  • Distance: 130 km. Approximate travel time: 5 hrs.
  • In the morning you will drive toward remoted, beautiful and wild areas that border the Yangtse River. You will go through the Dzodo pass (4 500 m), then by the Gyaltso pass (4 800 m) and you will arrive to the impressive monastery of Yachen where 13 000 nuns and monks of Nyingma tradition are living.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 4: Yachen – Pelyül (3,260m)

  • Distance: 80 km. Approximate travel time: 1,5 hrs.
  • In the morning, you will enjoy observing the monastic activities of this great monastery.
  • Drive to Pelyül (Baiyu en chinois).
  • Visit Pelyül monastery. Founded in 1665 by Lachen Jampa Phuntsok, king of Dérgé, it became one of the main monasteries of Nyingma tradition in Kham.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 5: Pelyül – Méshö (3,350m)

  • Distance: 95 km. Approximate travel time: 3-4 hrs.
  • Drive to Méshö valley. The road will take you to the Yangtse River, you will drive along it for a few kilometers before following another river in Méshö This valley is called Méshö which means valley of medicinal plants in Tibetan because it is very rich in medicinal plants.
  • You will then go to the small village of Gyalgen situated above Dzongsar Monastery, where a Tibetan family welcomes you. Thanks to your guide who will translate, you can discuss with your host and learn about their daily life.
  • Overnight:


Day 6: Méshö

  • Visit Dzongsar monastery. This Sakya Monastery was founded in 1253 by Drogo Chogyel Pakpa. In the 19th century it became the seat of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, one of the greatest masters of the Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu tradition of the 19th century.
  • You will enjoy, amid the crowd of Tibetan pilgrims, the ritual masked dances of Dzongsar Monastery.
  • Overnight:


Day 7: Méshö Dérgé (3,270m)

  • Distance: 110 km. Approximate travel time: 3-4 hrs.
  • You will drive toward Pelpung Monastery which was the largest center of Kagyu teaching in eastern Tibet. Founded in 1717 by Tai Situ Chokyi Jungne VIII, the assembly hall is particularly impressive and has not suffered of destruction during the cultural revolution. Jamgon Kontrol Lodro Taye has also lived in this monastery.
  • After this visit, you will carry on your journey to Dérgé. This town was once the capital of Dérgé kingdom, one of the most powerful of Kham. The kings of Dérgé played an important role in the preservation and the development of Buddhism and Tibetan arts, especially by establishing a printing house which became the largest and most renowned of the entire Tibet. Even today, the editions of Kangyur and Tengyur (Buddhist canon translated into Tibetan) are among the most requested by the monasteries.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 8: Dérgé – Manigango (3,800m)

  • Distance: 120 km. Approximate travel time: 3-4 hrs.
  • Visit the printing house (“Parkhang” in Tibetan), and observe the traditional method of printing from engraved wood blocks.
  • Drive to Manigango.
  • Along the way, you will stop at the “Kham Dérgé Buddha stupa” built by a Tibetan lifesaving Association. This association is taking care, among other things, of animals, purchased by Tibetans, to allow them to escape from slaughtering and live a peaceful life.
  • Your road continues to an impressive mountain range. The road climbs up to Tro-la pass at 5,050m where you can enjoy a beautiful landscape.
  • Before reaching Manigango, you will picnic next to Yilhung Lha-tso sacred lake, one of the most beautiful in Tibet. It is said that people with a pure vision perceive it as the divine manifestation of the mandala of Cakrasamvara.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 9: Manigango – Tawu (2 980 m)

  • Distance: 260 km. Approximate travel time: 5 hrs.
  • Drive to Tawu (Daofu in Chinese) famous for its traditional architecture and its big stupa.
  • On the way, visit a Nyingma retreat center.
  • Overnight:


Day 10: Tawu – Rongdrak (2 100 m)

  • Distance: 216 km. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs.
  • You will drive to Rongdrak (Danba in Chinese) in the central part of the Gyelrong’s gorges area. The Tibetan people of Gyelrong, who speak an archaic Qiangtiques dialect, are renowned for their military prowess and the bravery of their men. This area is now best known for its beautiful valleys and traditional architecture.
  • You will spend the afternoon and the night in Tralung (Zhonglu in Chinese), a nice little village surrounded by fields, with pretty houses and of course its famous stone towers which origin and function remains an intriguing mystery.
  • Overnight: Guesthouse.


Day 11: Rongdrak – Chengdu

  • Distance: 350 km. Approximate travel time: 7 hrs.
  • Drive back to Chengdu.


Please note that the transportation time is an estimation and doesn’t include stops to go to toilets, take pictures… The travel time might also be longer related to weather, road constructions or local traffic police policies.

Departure from From To Price
Chengdu 28 July 2019 7 August 2019 US$ 1496

Price for a group of 6 to 7 persons:

US$ 1,496 per person in dual occupancy

US$ 1,676 per person in single occupancy*


This price includes

  • The transfers mentioned in the program, by private vehicle with driver
  • Accommodation, breakfasts included
  • Lunches and dinners (drink included: tea or mineral water)
  • Entrance tickets for sites included in the program
  • Services of an English-speaking Tibetan guide


This price excludes

  • Your Chinese visa fee
  • Health and accident insurance
  • Medical or repatriation costs
  • Domestic and international airfares and/or trains tickets
  • Extra expenses due to circumstances beyond our control
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Tips for guide and driver
  • Fees in Chengdu


* For homestay and in some guesthouses, it is not possible to have an individual room.



Following hotels or similar:

Dartsédo :           Kamba Jiari Hotel (3*)

Kandzé :                Norbuling Hotel (2*)

Yachen :                Yachen Hotel (1*)

Pelyül :                  Huangting Hotel (2*)

Dérgé :                    Derge Hotel (2*+)

Manigango :        Manigango Pani Hotel (2*)

Tawu :                   Guesthouse

Rongdrak:           Guesthouse – Padmo’s house

Chengdu:              Holly’s Hostel (2*)


Please note accommodations listed are rated and assessed by Global Nomad

1* = Basic accommodation

2* = Simple and clean

3* = Nice, very comfortable


Homestays – Very limited comfort. There are no bathrooms, a basin and hot water will be provided for washing (hands, face, teeth, etc.). There are very basic Tibetan style toilets outside.


Due to the high altitude of the places visited, it is essential to be in good physical condition to register to this trip. If your health is not so good, you should check with a doctor before taking the decision of coming to Tibet.

During the trip, it is important to drink a lot of water (at least 2 liters per day).

We reserve the right to modify the itinerary should circumstances beyond our control, namely those related to the specific situation of Tibetan areas, require us to do so.

It is strictly forbidden to talk about political matters with guides and Tibetans in general. This could have extremely serious consequences for them, the driver, the local agency and all agencies’ employees. Likewise, it’s forbidden to bring anything that could make local authorities unhappy.

During the trip, clients must follow the instructions of the guide and of the local agency.

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Trip Back in Time to Kham

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