Kangding, capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, is a fairly big town nestled in a steep river valley at the confluence of the swift Zheduo and Yala Rivers, known as the Dar and Tse in Tibetan. Towering above Kangding is the mighty peak of Gongga Mountain (7556 m).
Setting in a steep valley, Kangding used to be an important trade center between Chinese and Tibetans, lying as it did on the so-called Tea Horse Road: Tibetans from the west used to meet in Kangding to trade horses with tea porters from China. Kangding Today, with its fascinating blend of Chinese and Tibetan culture, still bears evidence of that shared history. In addition to Han Chinese and Tibetans who make up the majority of the population, there are also other minorities living in the town, including Hui, Qiang and Yi people.
What to see in Kangding?
It's worth spending a few days exploring the sights that Kangding and its surrounding area have to offer. If you're planning on heading further west to high-altitude attractions such as Seda, Gongga Shan or Tagong, it's highly advisable to first spend some time acclimatizing in Kangding, which lies at a more manageable 2,500m. Here lists top Kangdin Attractions.
|Gongga Snow Mountain||Mugecuo Scenic Area||Hailuogou Scenic Area|
|Paoma Mountain||Tagong Monastery||Xinduqiao|
When to visit Kangding?
Sitting at 2,500m, Kangding remains relatively cool even in summer (temperatures in July and August average 15°C), with temperatures dropping to below zero during the winter. June, July and August are the wettest months, while winters are cold and dry. The best time to visit is during autumn or spring.
How to get to Kangding?
Kangding is over 300km from Chengdu. It takes around 7 hours to get there by bus, or less than an hour if you choose to fly (there are daily flights, although Kangding Airport sometimes closes when weather is bad during the winter).
Kangding Travel Tips
1. There are a few hotels in the town. Zhilam Hostel, run by a friendly American couple, is by far the cosiest place to stay. The Tibetan Yongzhu Hostel, down the hill from Zhilam, is another affordable choice.
2. There’s an abundance of affordable Chinese noodle places in the town. For authentic Tibetan fare, be sure to visit the Malaya Restaurant on the 6th floor above fast-food chain Dico’s opposite the town square. Zhilam Hostel offers a good range of western options, from pizzas to Tibetan inspired yak burgers. For cakes and coffee, check out Himalayan Coffee in the town.
3. Kangding has been a trade center between the two cultures of centuries with the exchange of yak hides, wool, Tibetan herbs and, especially, bricks of tea from Ya'an wrapped in yak hide. It also served as an important staging post on the road to Lhasa, as indeed it does today. In Dartsendo (Kangding), you'll still see plenty of Khambas down from the hills shopping or selling huge blocks of yak butter in the market, and spot monks wandering around town in crimson robes.