Barkam is the prefectural capital of Aba Tibetan & Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. It is also known as Ma'erkang. The population is largely Han Chinese, although there are also Tibetans living in town and passing through.
There are two bus stations in town: the East Bus Station and West Bus Station. Buses for Hongyuan, Jiuzhaigou (12-14 hours, mostly over rough roads), Lanmusi and other destinations in Northern Sichuan depart from the East Bus Station. Bus staff may be concerned about selling tickets to foreignors due to checkpoints along the road. Contact the local police if there is any doubt.
Zhuokeji is a village about ten minutes taxi ride (20-30 Yuan, negotiate before you leave) over rough road east of Maerkang. It features a watchtower fortress once occupied by a local chieftain which has been extensively renovated. Mao Zedong stayed at the watchtower several times during the Long March, and the interpretive signs outline both his involvement and the history of the local Tibetan people. The entry price is steep at 60 Yuan, but there is plenty of atmosphere. Across a small stream is a village featuring traditional Tibetan architecture.
There are lot's of places to eat. Noone speaks English in this town, but restaurants have pictures of dishes on the walls.
Dorms are reserved for Chinese people, and many places are not allowed to rent out to foreigners. Hotel prices are down to 120 for a double, but you have to look for it, and even big hotels don't have wifi.
Note: Foreigners be forewarned. Be aware that you must travel through this town to get from Lanzhou to Danba but a foreigner will be denied a place to sleep!I tried all. It is impossible to stay in the field with the Yaks as it is too messy. You must wait till the next morning to catch the next bus forward, but there is no place to even sit as the bus station closes for the night. Good luck! (Perhaps you can get a "Local" to charge a room for you and you can sneek in. I did so and had the police banging on my door for about 45 minutes shouting, "Open up! We don't need foreigners here!"(In Mandarin)I was warned not to open the door until 20 minutes before my bus came and then race out to the street with out stopping. Which I did and successfully caught the bus. This was all a little scarey. Suggested: Stop in a town before you get to this town.
Yingbin Binguan next to the bus station does not exist anymore.
There's a lot of police in this town, for some reason, and you have to show passport to them.
Bakam is the capital of Aba state, there is easy bus transportation to most of the places in Sichuan, especially local Jinchuan, Xiaojin, Danba, and Chengdu.