||WARNING: As of June 2016, Seda region is officially closed for foreign travelers. Police checkpoint is in the town/village of Wengda, on the crossroad towards towns of Ganzi and Luhuo, and access is forbidden to all foreign travelers for the time being.
Seda or "Sertar 色达县 is a remote county of Ganzi prefecture, Sichuan Province, China. It is one of the 18 counties under the administration of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, covering some 9340 square kilometres.
Sêrtar, which means "golden horse" in Tibetan, lies in the southeast of the Tibetan Plateau and in the historical region of Kham. It is home to the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, the largest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world. The institute, which was founded by lama Jigme Phuntsok in 1980 and started off with just a few monks, now houses tens of thousands of monks and pilgrims from around the world.
Bus from Chengdu Chadianzi bus station; 1 daily,depart around 6 am and arrive in Seda town around 8 pm; 208 RMB. From Ma Er Kang(马尔康 ; tib. Barkam) 1 daily, depart at 6 am. The driving time is about 14 hours. In summer, the bus will arrive in the Seda county around 21:00, but if in winter the bus will stop at Maerkang for one night and arrive in the Seda county at noon.
Also shared minivan from Ganzi, Luhuo, Kangding, Ma Er Kang
Shared SUV (4WD; Toyota Prado/Pajero or Landcruiser). In front of Kangding Hotel, Wu Hou Ci District (Tibetan area in Chengdu) 300-500 RMB/seat - depending on seat position, next to the drivers is 500 RMB). Depart from Wuhouci around 4 am. arrive in Seda town 5 pm.
It is also possible to take a 4WD from Jiuzhaigou direct to Seda for 1800 RMB. It takes around 14 hours.
As Seda and Larung Gar sit at around 4000 metres above sea level make sure you are acclimatized before going there.
Shared minivan to Larung Gar. Daihatsu Y7 each. Rent a car from Third Pole Tour .
From Seda to Ganzi County
It is possible to reach Seda directly from Ganzi, or from Kanding via Luhuo. Ganzi/Seda minivans(via Luhuo route) are relatively frequent, especially in the early morning before 9h, at 50-55RMB fair price, ride takes 5.30h (driver will try to get 70RMB). From LuHuo, frequent minivans run for 40RMB, aprox 3.3h.
update April 2016 price of Seda-Ganzi shared van rise to 100-120 RMB. Negotiate hardly, but cars is not Daihatsu as previously. A bigger and newer.
From Seda to Kangding
There are daily buses at Seda Bus Station to Kangding. The driving time is about 10 hours.
- Larung Gar Buddhist Institute ((喇荣五明佛学院)). the largest Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world 15 km from Seda town.
- Dongga Gompa Monastery on a hill along Ganzi-Seda road. Marked by a big pagoda, 5 km before get to the town.
- Personally Experience Tianzang Funeral/Sky burial ((天葬)). For the Tibetans, Tianzang is the most solemn funeral. All Tibetans hope to be practiced Tianzang when they die because it is the largest wish in their lifetime. In most Tibetan areas, Tianzang' process is not open to the visitors. But Seda Tianzang Site is located at the mountainside (over 4000m) near to the Academy. Under normal condition, the funeral is holden at 13:00 and up to 16:00 each day.
- Night Scene of Buddhist Academy ((夜景)). For visitors back from the 3rd Pole, the night scene of highland is beautiful with shining stars of the sky. However, around the Buddhist Academy, it is lights scattering on the mountains and valley. Although the lights are not as gorgeous as that of city's neon, the faint lights fly from thousands of Buddhist's dormitories and gather together, which seems that soundless power gather together here, making visitors feel more shock in the silent night.
- Red Dormitories of Lamas and Juemu ((红房子)). Visitors will be shocked by the thousands of red Buddhist's dormitories scattering the whole valley. Standing on the top of mountain in the daytime, you will overlook the whole red house areas. Although they are distributed in random way, they encircle the center of Wuming Academy, which symbolizes the power of Buddhism.
Larong Wuming Buddhist Academy is the world's largest active Tibetan Buddhist Academy/ School. It is located at in Seda County, Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture, Sichuan Province, and about 780km away from Chengdu. Visiting there, visitors can spending a half day to explore the academy. And then to experience Tianzang Funeral personally at 13:00 and up to 16:00. In the evening, climb to the top flatform, near to Larong Hotel, you can look down at the whole valley and enjoy the silent and dazzling night.
In the county, it is easy to buy some necessaties of life.
- Tsam ba (糌粑). Zanba is a nutritious dollop of roaster barley paste. Most Zanbas are white and boast of fragrance. There are two ways to eat it: one is to mix Zanba with little buttered tea and milk, stir them together and knead it to be a mass for eating; the other is to mix Zanba with buttered tea, and then pour a cup of green tea, tasting tea while licking Zanba.
- Beef and mutton (牛羊肉). The dishes of beef and mutton are the common dish in Seda Tibetan. The yaks and sheep grow up by eating natural grass and drinking inartificial water. Their meat is tender and tasty. Usually, the locals cut it into blocks and stew meat in boiling water. This is called "tuotuorou".
- Buttered tea (酥油茶). The buttered tea is one kind of daily beverage in Seda Tibetan. At most of time, it is drunk together with Tsamba. It is made from butter and strong tea by mixing. When firstly visiting Seda, drinking a cup of buttered tea is good to replenish energy and overcome highland sickness.
- Yak Milk (牦牛奶). On the Seda grassland, yak milk yogurt is an ideal healthy drink with the effect of helping digestion and promoting appetite. Under a layer of yellow milk skin is the tender and ropy yogurt like the pure white tofu jelly.
- Seda Larong Hotel (喇荣宾馆). Larong Hotel is the highest hotel in Seda county and the best place to see the night scene of the academy. Until now, it accepts online booking. Private room : 180 Yuan / Dormitory : 45 Yuan. even private room, tap water is unlikely running. So, enjoy monastery toilet.
- Seda Shengyu Hotel (色达县圣域宾馆). Add: Luoruo Township, Seda County, Ganzi Prefecture Tel: 13980694500
"Accommodation for foreigner" *"Xidu International Youth Hostel" 色达西渡国际青年旅舍 No.9 Jiefang Road. Sertar town. Tel. 18030908551(Li Xing "Zebra" the reception's no.) Boy and girl dorm with shared bathroom. 65 RMB/night. Private room 198 RMB.
- "Golden Horse hotel" Jin Ma avenue. 280 RMB.(off season 240)
From Seda to Chengdu
There are two ways back to Chengdu from the Seda county. One is to buy direct regular bus departing at 6:30 from the Seda Bus Station. And the station starts to sell tickets at 8:30, so please buy your bus ticket one day in advance. The bus will arrive at Chengdu Chadianzi Bus Station at about 20:00. The other is to buy bus ticket to Maerkang first and then change the next day bus back to Chengdu(6 hr). It takes two days, but there are several buses from morning to 4 pm.