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Ganzi (prefecture)

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Ganzi (prefecture)

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Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, (甘孜藏族自治州), also known as Garzê in Tibetan, is located in western Sichuan Province, China. It is set amongst the scenic high alpine mountains of the province and it is historically part of the Tibetan region of Kham(ba) making the area interesting for both culture and landscape. Ganzi (Garze) and Kangding (Dardo) are it's largest cities.



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A great many Tibetan dialects are still being used in this region, despite wide spread language discrimination from the Han Chinese dominated government. Bi-lingual signage does exist to an extent and some efforts are being officially made to compensate the majority Tibetan population but the region is still far from being truly autonomous. These dialects differ enough from each other and from Lhasa Tibetan as to be mutually unintelligible. There are also some local languages such as Minyak that are considered separate languages and are only distantly, if at all, related to Tibetan. Some ethnic Tibetans speak Mandarin Chinese and/or only the Sichuan dialect of Chinese. Most can switch back and forth to both. Younger people regardless of their ethnicity will speak Mandarin and may also speak English. As a rule cities are dominated by written Chinese and the futher you venture out the more likely you will hear and see Tibetan. Local people are very happy to hear you attempt to learn a few words of their local language.

Get in

Bus service leaves from Chengdu. Major hubs are Kangding and Garze/Ganzi.

Get around

Most towns have minivan drivers available who will drive you anywhere for the right price. A private van (包车, bāochē) costs something like 100 RMB per hour. Shared vans with strangers (pingche) can often be arranged -- sometimes on the spot, sometimes the day before. A van usually seats seven, and if the remaining strangers cannot be found, you may need to either wait around or pick up the tab. If your driver is waiting around for the last passenger, and you are eager to go, offering to (even partially) pay for the seat may resolve the issue.


Mugecuo lake area Gonga Shan Mountain Litang Horse Festival



See the beautiful stupas at the Kandze Gompa on the outskirts of town.


Try the nice little Chinese restaurants along the river on the opposite side to the supermarket.


Stay safe

Ganzi is quite the hotbed for Tibetan secession activities and you will get noticed very fast by local authorities if you make any visible signs of support. If you are allowed in (if there is no foreigner travel ban in effect) local authorities will most likely not bother you and be quite friendly (as in all of China), provided you follow this advice. You will be putting local people at risk by even discussing Tibetan independence with them in open so best to avoid this topic for their sake.

Get out

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