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Dege (Tibetan: Dêrgê - Mandarin Chinese: 德格; Dégé), is a city in Ganzi prefecture of Sichuan Province in south-west China. The city is famous for its Tibetan lamasery which hosts an invaluable treasure of wooden printing blocks with Tibetan Buddhist texts. Historically, it belongs to the ancient Tibetan province of Kham and lies at an elevation of 3100 meters, (10,170 ft).


Sharing its destiny with Kangding, Dégé's location in a narrow valley and the resulting lack of space has led to a total demolition of the town's original center and its rebuilding with high, generic Han Chinese-style architecture (April 2016 marked the beginning of major construction all over town). This a public works project to spruce up the town for tourism. Garbage is being cleaned up from the streets and the Sèqū River色曲河 that runs through town. Fresh plaster and paint in Tibetan style is being applied to building exteriors. A cultural center (more like a high end gift shop) has opened near the Printing Press & Monastery. Nevertheless the surrounding quarters on the valley's slopes still preserve the old Tibetan traditions including the temple complex that contains a maze of wonderful old style Tibetan buildings made from rammed earth and logs.

Dege lies as the last town on the provincial border of Sichuan across from the T.A.R. It is a last major town before the wild (Northern) Sichuan-Tibet highway, G317, leaves Western Sichuan and into Tibet西藏. To enter neighboring Chamdo prefecture, Tibet, foreigner travelers (*) will require special permits. But the incredible views from Ganzi over the Trola Pass (5050 m elevation) make the grueling day trip over Trola pass(a 5050 meter pass) worthwhile.

(*): Taiwanese with China ID cards, citizens of Hong Kong, Macau with SAR passports do not require Tibet travel permits

Get in[edit]

The road between Ganzi and Dege is beautifully paved with the exception of the 5050 m high Tro-la Pass which is in disrepair with many potholes. The amazing scenery somewhat pays off for the ordeal as you pray you don't go over the edge!.

Reconstruction work on the Kanding (Dartsedo) to Ganzi highway (G317 / S303) is complete (2014). Dege to Kanding is now a one day journey by bus; depart from Dege at 6 am and arrive in Kangding around 8/9 pm. Chengdu to Dege can be done in one day by 4-wheel drive vehicle but be warned of altitude sickness. Recommended to stop at least one night in Kanding to acclimatised. As of 2014 there is a tunnel being constructed under the Tro-La. Purported to be the worlds highest tunnel and 7 kilometers long. The Tro-la tunnels are expected to be opened to the public by October, 2016.
A new airport = Ganzi Gesar Airport(甘孜格萨尔机场) is about 60 km from Garze; 15 km from Manigango village. Almost done.(April 2016)

By public bus[edit]

The bus to Dege originates from Kangding. There is one bus daily departing at 07:00. The route follows G318 (the southern Sichuan-Tibet highway) west then travels in a northwesterly direction along S215, S303 towards Luhuo where it turns west along G317 (northern Sichuan-Tibet highway) to Dege. Journey times vary depending on road conditions.

Getting on this bus at points in between Kangding and Dege can be tricky. If the bus is full bus agent cannot sell you a ticket and they only know on the day of travel. This could leave you stuck as most minivans tend to depart in the mornings.

From Departure Price (Yuan) kilometers Duration (h) Last update
Manigango ? ¥33-39 112 ? 7 June 2016
Yulong ? ¥39-45 128 ? 7 June 2016
Rongbacha ? ¥50-56 170 ? 7 June 2016
Ganzi 2pm ¥79 204 5h November 2018
Luhuo ? ¥86-104 299 ? 7 June 2016
Dawu ? ¥119-137 370 ? 7 June 2016
Tagong ? ¥137-167 477 ? 7 June 2016
Xinduqiao ? ¥149-179 513 ? 7 June 2016
Kangding 07:00 ¥170-206 589 ? 7 June 2016

+With the upgrade to the roads the Dêgê to Kanding route is now a single days journey(depart 6am; arrive 8pm). No overnight stop (2014;2016).
* bus fare depends on the type of bus being used

By Minivan[edit]

Manigango - Dege; ¥50 to 450 Yuan (one person/off season) 3 hours approx.

Dege - Baiyu 白玉乡; ¥70; 2 hours on a nice paved road (as of 2016).

Dege - Ganzi 甘孜镇; ¥100; 4-5 hours (road is paved all the way from Ganzi to Dege with the exception of Tro-la Pass as of May 2016; trip time will be further reduced by 2 hours once tunnels bypassing the pass open around October 2016).

The bus from Dzongsar arriving in Dege (2010).

The bus station and ticket office are situated in the large new building on the main market street, between the two bridges. It is clearly marked in English. There is one bus daily to Kangding and communities in between via G317 (the northern Sichuan-Tibet highway),S215, G318 (Southern Sichuan-Tibet highway). Departure is around 07:00 and arrives at Kangding in the evening. Journey times depend on road conditions. The driver does not necessary stop at all the towns and villages in the table below so please let the driver know where you want to get off.

Get around[edit]

You can easily visit the town on foot.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Derge Gonchen monastery was founded in 1446 by Yogis Hang Stong Rgyal Po and the first local king Bo. It doubled as palace for the kings, but is most famous for being one of the cradles of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice. Unfortunately, there are only a few old buildings remaining and the newer ones are particularly ugly. Head farther uphill from the Printing Yard along the river following a Chörten-studded road. The entrance to the main temple is in the big red building on the left.
  • The Dege Buddhist Scriptures Printing House [Tib.: Derge Parkhang] is independent from the monastery and is the first substantial building you'll encounter walking south from the town's center along the stream. The Printing House is in a beautiful traditional temple which was restored in 1991. It is constantly circambulated by townspeople and pilgrims. Admission fee is ¥50/person, and normally photography of the sections with the printing blocks is not allowed, though you can take pictures of the printing process. It is always worth asking your guide if it's allowed to take a particular photograph as the rules change from time to time. The institution was founded in 1729 by Chogyal (dharma king) Denba Tsering. There are more than 140,000 printing blocks, a large collection of national cultural relics and a library comprising 830 books consisting of 10000 volumes. The last surviving copy of an old history of Indian Buddhism is amongst them. As the pamphlet you are handed puts it: "This bright cultural pearl is the crystallization of the wisdom of the Tibetan people living in snow realm.". Inside you can wander the corridor lined with shelves accommodating the printing blocks, their handles protruding. on the 3rd floor there is the workshop. 6 or 7 pairs of workers ink the blocks and press the paper on them with amazing speed. On the next floor, the prints are dried and then assembled to books. In an extra chamber, large format pictures and scripts are printed on cloth. From the roof you have nice views over the surrounding Tibetan neighbourhood and the new town. A tour of the dark temple concludes the visit.
    Parkhang courtyard.
  • From the Printing House head west into the old quarter and follow a path leading down to the river. Hidden within a maze of traditional houses you will find the Tangtang Gyalpo Lhakhang, a tiny temple. Most any time of day you can find monks inside chanting scripture.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Explore the old town on the hillside behind the temple and follow one of the paths leading to the prayer-flag area where you have a great view of the valley.
  • South of Dégé, there are many monasteries in the mountainsides which make for nice 1 to 4 days hikes.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is small food market along the western bank of the river. Jewelery and Tibetan artefacts are sold in small shops.

Dege Market 2014.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Plenty of small restaurants are to be found downtown. Some places offer skewered vegetables and kebabs which are barbecued using lots of spices. There are a couple of bakeries selling Baba-Bread and dumplings on the road leading to the monastery.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Jiang Hong Relay Station coffee house, (near the Bakong Printing Monastery, on the left hand side of Bagong street as you head uphill towards the Bakong Monastery (approx 100 m downhill from the printing monastery)). Free Wi-Fi is available  edit

There is not much nightlife in town. To have a beer, simply visit a restaurant. If you are into Karaoke, there are also some places around.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • 军兰宾馆 Jun Lan Hotel about 300 meters north from the bus station on the main road in and out of town, 茶馆街道上(translates to upper Tea-Horse Street). Clean new hotel with 24 hour hot water with western toilet, free fiber-optic TV, free in room WiFi, no elevator in the five story building but for ¥180 it is a bargain compared to the worn out Golden Yak. There is only Tibetan and Chinese characters on the exterior sign with telephone number: 8228888.
(Information as of 14 May 2016)
  • De Ge Hotel is the low-budget sibling of the Que Er Shan. It offers simple rooms starting at ¥20 per bed in a triple. Toilets are ok, but you'll have to go to the Que Er Shan Hotel just opposite for showers (¥5 extra charge)
(Information as of 21 June 2005)
  • The building separating the “Bus Station yard“ from the road also houses a Golden Yak hotel. Despite the golden pillars adorning the portico, a bed in a seldom filled up triple dorm costs ¥25 and the rooms are tidy. There are also rooms with attached bathroom for ¥120. Prices are negotiable. The shared facilities are clean for Chinese standards, but there is an extra ¥5 for using the hot shower. The hotel has a bar on the 2nd floor.
(Information as of 21 June 2005)

2016 Golden Yak hotel private room with attached bathroom(western style toilet) 180 RMB(off season 150 RMB).

  • Gesan Tibetan Hotel. From the main street, cross the northern bridge and find the place just on your right. No price information available.
(Information as of 21 June 2005)
  • Jiao Tong Guest House - This clean, comfortable and newly refurbished guesthouse is run by a very friendly pair of women. Doubles, 2, 3 ,4 and 5-bed rooms for ¥60/person in winter. Clean toilets and hot shower. From the higher bridge head upstream on the left side of the river on the elevated path. The stairwell is just a 10 metres away and the guesthouse is up one floor. November 2018.


  • Que Er Shan Hotel is a more uplevel accommodation. A sign in the lobby demands proper clothing. Rooms start at ¥280.
(Information as of 21 June 2005)

Stay safe[edit]

Beware of altitude sickness if travelling here straight from the Sichuan Province lowlands/basin. Also beware the numerous stray dogs. Beggars near the bridge and riverside are quite aggressive in comparison to China and its Tibetan regions in general (including trained children); however nothing one yuan won't do. Dege is subject to travel bans to foreigners during times deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, so if you are a foreigner and you are allowed in, you will be safer if you keep any sympathies you may have for the Tibetan independence movement to yourself.


  • Banking - There is an Agricultural Bank of China but with ATM, but it does not accept foreign credit or bank cards (Sep 2013).
  • Internet - For a clean and professional internet bar go to the second floor of the large building next to the lower bridge. The stairwell faces on to the north-side of the bridge road. ¥3/hour. 28 January 2008.
  • Post Office - There is a China Post but it appears to permanently closed. 28 January 2008. Open for business in March 2010.

Get out[edit]

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