Litang

High up on the Tibetean Plateau

The town of Litang is located on the southern Sichuan-Tibet Highway on the Tibetan Plateau of the Western Sichuan Province at 4060m above sea level. The town itself has a population of about 60’000 people. Most inhabitants of Litang are Tibetans, even though most shops are run by Han Chinese. Litang is the birthplace of the 7rd Dalai Lama (Kelzang Gyatso, 1708-1757) and the 10th Dalai Lama (Tsultrim Gyatso 1816-1837). The prominent Litang Monastery is located north of town and was built in 1580 in honour of the 3rd Dalai Lama (Sonam Gyatso 1543-1588). Destroyed in  1956 by the red guards, most buildings of the Litang Monastery have only recently been rebuilt. When you are on a bike you can ride out to the other Tibetan Monastery (Dalha Monastery) located about 12km south of town on the road to Xiangcheng. On week-ends during the summer months, many local families from Litang come up here for a day trip or for a family pick nick.

In comparison to other places in China, the cost of living is quite expensive in Litang. Most food has to be trucked in from Chengdu as it is impossible to grow vegetables at this altitude. The boiling point of water at this altitude is around 85 degrees Celsius, which makes simple things like boiling an egg or cooking rice a challenging endeavour.

Accommodation in Litang (Sichuan) is very basic. There are a handful of so called “3 Star” Hotels but they are mostly run down and not well maintained. Most foreigners choose to stay at either the Crane Hotel or the Potala Inn. The staffs at the Potala Inn are friendlier. However, both hotels are quite overpriced for what they offer.

Litang (Sichuan Province) was also famous for its annual, traditional horse riding festival, which usually took place around August 1st. Since 2007, when some activists took the Litang horse riding festival as a stage for a political manifestation, the local government does not allow the festival to take place in Litang anymore.  However, there is still various horse riding festivals taking place in the villages around Litang in July and August. Horses still play an important role for many Tibetans and horse back riding has a long tradition. During the horse riding festivals Kham Tibetans gather to dance, drink and show off their horses and riding skills. Today, young Tibetans prefer riding their motorbikes than horses. To visit one of the colourful Tibetan Horse Festival around Litang is an absolutely unique and fascinating experience! Ask us for details! The climate in Litang is quite rough. The winters (November-March) are very cold but with mostly blue skies and sunshine. The roads leading to and from Litang may sometimes be closed during the winter month due to snow. During July and August the temperatures are quite pleasant, but there is a good chance of rain, and thunderstorms are quite frequent.