Ganzi (དཀར་མཛེས་ Garzê; 甘孜: Gānzī), is the capital of Ganzi county in Sichuan Province in south-west China. It is an important city in what is still seen as the indigenous Tibetan population as the historical region of Kham. Situated in a large valley with grassy hills at an elevation of 3400 meters (11,155 ft), Ganzi lies tucked north-east of the gorgeous snow-peaked mountains of the Gongga Shan range. Tibetan culture is abundant and vibrant here, and the friendly people won't let you go by without offering you the Tibetan greeting 'Tashi Dele'! The town is set along the main road passing from east to west towards Dege or Kangding, (technically south). Visitors are unheard of in the cold winter months making it very cold, but you the guest of the entire town!
Buses from Kangding leave for Ganzi at 6:00 a.m. for around ¥120. The ride takes 12-14 hours, depending on the condition of your bus and or the number of times it breaks down. Currently the road is in various states of disrepair (winter 2011) however it is slated to be paved and is being renovated. Try not to book a seat in the back of the bus, especially on smaller buses, as you'll be thrown around violently do the bumps through much of the trip. Masks are useful for the endlesssmoking and the massive amounts of dust encountered along the way.
There is also a bus going from Chengdu's Xinnanmen Bus Station, leaving it 10.00am. Costs around ¥230. It reaches Kangding at around 6-7pm, where you stay overnight till the bus continues at 6.00am, see above. (Cheap and good accommodation is available even from people on the streets. Ask for pictures or go see the place.)
Update 2016 As the construction of Dege-Kangding road is done, it's 1 day journey. Bus Dege-Kangding pass and stop for lunch at Ganzi around 11 am.
If you are travelling from Tagong to Garzê, a public bus leaves between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. across from the square and costs ¥100 [Mar 2018]. (Just wave it down and ask whether it is going to Garzê.)
The Bus Station is in the center of town just south of the main road. You can hire a private van/car too.
|To||Departure||Price (yuan)||Duration (h)||Last update|
|Dege||??:??||60.00||?||17 June 2005|
|Kangding||06:30||111.00||12||17 June 2005|
|Yushu/Jyekundo||06:00||117.00||9||20 January 2007|
|Luhuo||??:??||??.??||2||17 June 2005|
|Tagong||06:30||100.00||6||04 July 2016|
|Baiyu||06:00||73.00||8||25 January 2008|
|To||Approximate Price (Yuan)||Duration (Hours)||Comments||Last update|
|Manigango||30-40Rmb||2-3||O.K road||May 2011|
|Litang||110.00||8-10||Via Xinlong||May 2011|
|Xinlong||30.00||3||25 January 2008|
The main street is Chuanzang Road (川藏路). You can easily visit the town on foot. For longer distances, you can use taxis. The fare should not exceed ¥6 to any place in town.
- Garze Monastery. A short walk north along the river dividing the town or the street running parallel to the west leads you to the Tibetan quarter of the town, which lays at the foot of the monastery. Follow the narrow paths between the houses to reach the site. Look out for little chapels containing giant prayer wheels circambulated by devotees on the way. Though being the most important of its likes in the Ganzi region and being more than 540 years old, Garze Monastery is not as spectacular as other monasteries in Kham, since the greater parts of its temples had been rebuilt using Han-Chinese-style white-tile facades and plastic-pane windows. Still the views over the valley from its terraces and the maze of the approach through the old Tibetan quarter plus gaudy mix of Tibetan and Chinese architecture make it well worth a visit.
- (Information as of 20 June 2005)
- Den Gompa is much smaller but the structures are supposed to be more traditional. It's in the southern part of Ganzi.
- Dontok Gompa and Dingkhor Chörten make up for a nice half hour walk across a suspended bridge over the Yalong Jiang. To reach there, head south from the bus station and follow the right path after crossing the bridge. The complex is currently under construction but has distinctive features to its buildings, including vertical white, grey and crimson stripes on the walls surrounding the houses. The friendly monks will show you around the place.
- There is a new Chörten built on a small hill on the eastern edge of town. The adjacent temple houses a Buddhist library. Although the building itself does not bear that ancient flair you might be looking for, its a nice place to catch views over the valley and the city.
Small shops downtown provide typical Tibetan clothing and jewelery and accessories bought by the herdsmen and nomads frequenting the town. Look out for stores selling antiques. On the road leading north from the bus station, you'll find several shops catering for monk's outfits and religious artifacts, as well as selling the beautiful curtains adorning windows and doors in that region. There are even shops selling traditional Tibetan hand-carved furniture.
Supermarkets on main-street sell food and toiletries, you can also buy bottles of beer and decent Chinese wine to make up your own nightlife.
Plenty of small restaurants are to be found on the road next to the bus station.
- DzachuSama Hostel & Cafe (甘孜州山泉客栈有限公司), QingKe PuDi 113, ☎ 08367523882, . 8:00-21:00. A great place to eat if you are looking for a bit of western comfort food and coffee. The food is quality you would expect to find in a big city, but with the best views in Ganzi right from the restaurant. Locals also love to go there to hang out. edit
There is not much nightlife in town. To have a beer, simply visit a restaurant. If all you want is a tea or lemon drink, head to a tibetan teahouse. A fantastic one (with WIFI) is located on the first floor on the building of your right, when you are standing on the main road cross with the river, looking towards the direction of the water. You can get in using the carpeted stairs and then first door to the right. A tea is 10/15RMB, with constant hot water refills.
- Hong Fu Guest House, No.49 Chuanzang Road (From the Bus Station Go to Chuanzang Rd, and take left turn towards West - you will see it after 100m on the right side.), ☎ 0836-7525330. Called G.H but is really a Home stay. The family is really nice and friendly. There is a Big room with 4 beds,Clean Bathroom and Hot shower Are in the house. (Last Update - May 2011) 30¥ For a Bed. edit
- Chengxin Binguan - Just across the street and south from the bus station at No. 27. With friendly and tidy doubles or triples. Room rates are negotiable but are listed as ranging from ¥70-150. some rooms have en suite bathrooms, while the condition of the shared bathrooms are varying according to the patrons currently staying in the place. Using the shared showers is an extra ¥10. Beware in winter, there is no running water in this hotel.</sleep>
- Snowland Hotel - Just when you enter Garze from East you will cross two Petrolstations (on your left and right). Turn right afterwards and 50m up the street on the right there is the hotel. Doubles with bathroom (hot shower, squat) are 80 juan, without bathroom 50 juan. Internet via ethernet-cable.</sleep>
For those looking to avoid the high foreigner charges mentioned below, walk one street east of the bus station on Chuangzang Rd to the corner on the south (right) side of the street. There are a bunch of locals hanging out there (as of May 2017) who will approach you for a not-totally-official bed or room in the nearby buildings (usually by making the hands-pressed-together-to-head 'sleeping sign'). Beds offered at 30Y, or bare-bones rooms with attached bathroom (hot water) but no wifi for 60Y.
- Golden Yak Hotel is inside the bus station compound. A bed in a dorm ¥15 and doubles with bathroom, that has low water pressure, go for ¥80. More luxurious accommodation offering en suite bathrooms and western style toilets is also available. The hotel also has a restaurant and tea room. Power and water is iffy in winter months. Bring a flashlight and sleeping bag. No heat.
Update: As of August 2011, rooms in the Golden Yak Hotel were renting at 150 RMB/night. This seems to be a citywide policy as the few hotels licensed for foreigners in the town all rent at the same rate. Customer service at the Golden Yak is dour and unfriendly and the showers do not work, even in summer.
- Himalaya Hotel  is west from the bus station in the Dongda Jie road. The hotel is built in 2005 with single and double rooms, nice tea room, medicinal herbal baths and sauna. The hotel manager is German-speaking.
Update: Himalay Hotel seems closed (July 2016). Sign is still there but no entrance, at least not on the street side. Tried to call but person picking up did not seem to speak English. However, there is other (Chinese-speaking) hotels on the same road. All around ¥150/night, which confirms the speculations above.
Beware of altitude sickness if traveling here straight from the Sichuan lowlands. As in most of West Sichuan and other Tibetan regions stray dogs are everywhere and totally unpredictable. Throwing Rocks are your best bet, if you have to time to react. Wearing study boots and thick pants and socks are another way to protect yourself from injures. The area gets a lot of sunshine due to its high location in a long broad valley. Sunglasses and sunblock are a must.
There have been isolated protests against Chinese rule calling for the return of the Dali Lama including violence towards locals on behalf of the authorities and vice versa. There is a very large Chinese military and police presence in the city. Being sympathic to the local cause is one thing but bear in mind you are putting locals and not yourself at risk. Best to stay neutral and change the topic.
There is an Internet place with decent connection speed (though no printer). It may rank as the biggest smoke den in all of China. Walk to the road bridge crossing the river in the middle of town and follow the stream north (away from the big river towards the monastery). After 300m, you will pass a pedestrian bridge on your right hand side. Shortly after that, there is a small concrete 'picnic' sitting area on the right. The entrance to the second floor Internet cafe is up the private looking staircase just opposite that place. There are no signs advertising the service, so if in doubt just ask the neighborhood.
As of last visit in July 2012, Internet for Westeners is no longer allowed. You will be greeted with a tough note written in (almost) English stating that the local authorities have forbidden use of the internet for visiting westeners. If you can find a helpful local, they will log on using their ID. Be very quick and extremely mindful of the sites you visit as they are tracked to the ID. Remember that you are putting people in serious risk if you even mention the Tibetan independence movement on or offline. Try other ways to help if you are sympathetic to their cause when you are outside Tibet and its accompanying areas.
As of July 2018, many small restaurants and hotels are equipped with Wifi. DzachuSama Hostel & Cafe has reliable, fast, internet.
Although some online discussions suggest otherwise, as of 27 May, 2011, it is NOT POSSIBLE to extend a Chinese visa in Ganzi. Reportedly, the nearest locations for visas are Kangding and Xinning.
The Agricultural Bank of China has an ATM that accepts foreign bank and credit cards. From the bus stop, take it first left, cross thus the main road, and then after passing ABC offices on the left, take the first to the right on a narrower street. Follow it, cross the river, and reach a square with a strange stage. Then just climb up the only big obvious stairs, and when you reach the first road cross, the ABC office will be on your immediate right.
As of July 2018 there are numerous banks and ATMs that accept foreign bank and credit cards as well as money exchange.
There are small laundry shops located at at numbers 223, 239 and 239 on the main strip, Changzang Road, that will wash clothes. They are easily identified by the clothes hanging from the ceiling. It generally costs ¥2-5 per article/pair of clothing and you can pick up your clothes the next day. If you're in a hurry the clothes can be dropped off in the afternoon and picked up in the evening, but they will still be moist.
- Miyaluo and Bipenggou which are very beautiful in the autumn due to the colourful fall foliage around the lake with a mountain backdrop.
- Dege, a small town populated by Tibetans, near the Sichuan-Tibet border. Tibetan Printing house.
- Yaqing Si Yarchen Gar. Another buddhism academy. mid-way between Ganzi and Baiyu. Shared van 7 pp. 45 each. 4 hr. It was established in 1985.
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