Along with U-Tsang and Amdo areas, Kham is one of the 3 main traditional regions of Tibet. Kham region mainly refers to the eastern and southeastern part of the Tibetan plateau. Covering an area of 924,000 sq km, Kham is really a large area that occupy approximately third of the whole Tibetan Plateau. Kham is really an amazing and beautiful place with a lot of amazing sceneries (nomadic grasslands, glaciated peaks, alpine lakes, evergreen forests and deep river valleys) and equally amazing culture. Some of the best preserved Tibetan cultural areas are situated in Kham. In the past when the transportation is poor, it is very difficult for people to reach Kham area. However, along with the development of economy, the transportation naturally improves a lot. At present, it gets very easy to reach this mysterious area. By the way, there is a great advantage for Kham tour - some of the places (Kham in Qinghai, western Sichuan and northwest Yunnan) in Kham region do not require organized tours, permits and tour guides. Thus, you can enjoy its beauty by yourself without disturbing. Now, you can learn about some of the important information of Kham area by reading this post.
Beautiful Scenery in Kham Region
1. Where Is Kham?
Kham is an area that covers most eastern region of Tibet. The area covers most of the west part of Sichuan Province, as well as part of Northern Yunnan. To the north is Amdo, to the west is U-Tsang, to the east is Sichuan, and to the south is India and Myanmar.
2. History of Kham?
From the 10th century on, Kham was never under the authority of Lhasa for an extended period of time or under direct Chinese authority until the communist party of China takes over it in the 1950’s. Kham was also never governed by a single leader, but it was split up into over 2 dozen separate kingdoms, each of which has its own king. In recent centuries the most powerful kingdoms in Kham were those of Muli (modern day Muli Tibetan Autonomous County in southwest Sichuan), Chakla (modern day Dartsendo/Kangding county in western Sichuan), Dege (modern day far western Sichuan), Lingtsang (modern day northwestern Sichuan) and Nangchen (modern day Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southern Qinghai). The reason why Kham never was under the authority of Lhasa was because of the sect of Buddhism followed in Kham.
In 1939, the government of the Republic of China created Xikang province with Kangding as its capital. Xikang covered the far eastern region of Kham. After the Communist People’s Republic of China took control of the region from the Republic of China (Kuomintang) in 1950, Xikang was divided with everything west of the Yangtze River becoming Chamdo Territory and everything east of the Yangtze remaining Xikang province. In 1955, Xikang province was merged into Sichuan province and renamed Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In 1965, Chamdo Territory became part of the newly formed Tibet Autonomous Region and was renamed Chamdo Prefecture.
The nearest largest city to Kham is Chengdu, which has the largest airport (Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport) in the southwestern region of China. Chengdu Shuangliu international airport operates over 100 international flights from other countries. Travelers can go to Chendgu from their countries, and then go to the Kham by air. Kham region is made up of four big towns (Chamdo, Kangding, Shangri La and Yushu), each of them has an airport. It is very convenient for visitors to get there by air.
Besides, road trip is also a nice choice. Travelers can get to Chamdo along the G318 Sichuan Tibet Highway from Lhasa. The whole journey is about 1,112km. It takes about 3-4 days to complete. There are many advantages for road trip. For example, you can take breaks on your term and save money on flights and many other benefits.
Actually, Kham can be visited all year round, but the best time of year is from May to the middle of October, when the weather is warm and favorable for travel. The monsoon period in Kham is from June to August, with July being the wettest month with around 100mm of rain falls throughout the month. But most rain falls at night, so you can do some outside activities during the day.
1. Minya Konka (Mount Gongga)
On the eastern edges of the Tibetan plateau, in the Kham region south of Kangding and Xinduqiao, lies Mount Gongga, the third largest peak outside of the Himalayas. Traveling to Mt. Gongga is easy, but catching an unhindered view of Mt. Gongga’s peak is not very easy as it has its own weather system. Clouds and frogs shroud Gongga almost all year round and the steep valleys surround Gongga, all of these make it difficult to see it’s peak. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. There are a few common vantage point available for viewing Gongga. The first point is Kangding Airport, from where you can see a clear, though distance view of Gongga and the surrounding mountains. The second point is at the pass above Zimei village. The best time for Gongga tour is during late spring and early summer, when is also the best time for trekking. Trekkers often start their trek journey from Kangding and end in Zimei village. The whole journey is about 70-kilometer, which takes 5-8 days to complete.
2. Nyiden (Yading Nature Reserve)
Famed as the last Shangri-la, the last pure land on earth and the holy land in the sun, Yading Nature Reserve is characterized by snow-capped mountains, vast green meadows, crystal clear rivers, alpine lakes, and dense forests. It covers an area of 1,344 square kilometers and has an average altitude of over 4,000 meters. This mountain sanctuary consists of the three holy mountains - Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje, all of them have an altitude of around 6,000 meters. The Yading Nature Reserve is also an important Tibetan pilgrimage location as the Fifth Dalai Lama sanctified the three mountain peaks. If you step on this land, you will feel the force of nature and faith. Anyway, don’t miss the beautiful Yading Nature Reserve.
Yading Nature Reserve
3. Sertar Larung Gar (school & monastery)
Known as the largest school for Tibetan Buddhism, Setar Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institute and Monastery has caused great increase in the population of its surrounding town. Located in a remote and treeless valley of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Region, in Sichuan Province, this school houses over 10,000 monks from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism including Gelug, Kagyu, Sakya, and Nyingma.
Sertar Larung Gar
The areas of Kham in Qinghai, western Sichuan and northwest Yunnan do not require organized tours and permits. But other places that are in the Tibet Autonomous Region, such as Nagchu and Chamdo prefectures, require a complete organized tour including travel permits, tour guide, a private vehicle and a driver. Usually, your tour guide will help you arrange this permit with copies of your passport and Chinese Entry Visa.
Additionally, you will also need to provide the Alien’s Travel Permit, which is required for both domestic and international tourists who want to travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet, such as Shigatse, Chamdo, etc. For visitors who want to drive to Chamdo, they need to apply for the Restricted Areas Permit.
The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.
Hello, we are considering to travel in Tibet in summer. We are a family of 5, two adults and three kids, age 13(then), 10, 8. We are interested in the 10 days Mt. EBC & Namtso Lake Group tour. We are US citizens with valid 10-year Chinese multiple entry visa, which we have applied when we went to Beijing in 2019. We are currently living in South Korea.
1. Are kids suitable (or even allowed) for this tour?
2. If kids can join, are there any discount deals for kids?
Dear Ms. Ho***,
Greetings from Helen at Budget Tibet Tour and welcome you to join our 10 days Mt. Everest & Namtso Lake group tour. For your questions: 1. Your kids are suitable for this tour. Travelling in Tibet is as safe for kids as it is for their parents. While the high Tibetan plateau may be the highest place on the planet, very often, the kids that visit this region are more adaptable and have fewer problems than their parents. We also have arranged wonderful Tibet tours for many families with kids such as a tour to EBC for a family with a 3-year-old son, a 9-year-old girl and a 11-year-old boy, they did have fun in Tibet and there is no problem for them. Or you can take some medicine under the guidance of doctor to prevent high altitude before enter Tibet. 2. If kids travel with you, we'll offer some discount for them, please check your email and find more detailed information. Thanks & Regards
Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side