Xiangcheng

Xiangcheng (乡城; Xiāng chéng - Tibetan: Chaktreng), is in Sichuan Province in south-west China. It also belongs to the ancient Tibetan province of Kham. Being a necessary overnight-stop on the 'Backdoor'-route to Yunnan, the town is a pleasant place to linger or to serve as starting point for excursions into the surrounding mountain areas. Coming over the mountain passes from either direction, you will at once spot the beautiful villages scattered amongst wheat-field-paddies in the valley ground. The large, cubicle houses look like little castles and with their white-chalked exterior walls give the whole valley a north-african air. Xiangcheng itself consists of an old village paired with a modern Chinese downtown.

Get in

Roads to the north are sealed, while the southern part to Shangrila is rubble and dirt, currently under reconstruction.

By bus

The Bus Station is at the southern end of town. The ticket-office is through the side-entrance of the building on your right hand side when facing uphill. Be sure to buy your advance-ticket on arrival, because buses can get crowded in summer. In low season it's ok to buy your ticket just before you leave, but the ticket office opens very shirt time before the bus leaves, especially in the morning. Buses arrive from Shangrila (6-9 hours, 85 yuan, departs daily at 8:00), Kangding (12-14 hours, ~160 yuan, departs daily at 6:00).

Departure times are as of November 2007 and both buses tend to leave earlier and fill up quickly! It is not possible to buy tickets to Litang currently (though the Kangding bus will pass through). If you want to go to Litang you have to share a minivan or taxi for about 400 yuan per vehicle. It's a scenic 4-5 hour ride. You'll find them near the central square on the main road through town. Alternatively position yourself at the main road near the bus station, you should be able to find a car to join. Locals travel early though, be around when the buses are leaving - 6am!

Update 04/04/2012: Shangri-la bus station is currently not selling tickets to foreigners for Xiangcheng, due to a ban on foreigners in the region. Apparently there are road blocks where police will turn away foreigners trying to get in to Ganzi province.

Get around

You can easily visit the town on foot.

See

Do

Buy

Small shops downtown provide typical Tibetan clothing and jewelery.

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.

Eat

Plenty of small restaurants are to be found on the main road. Look out for Muslim-specialties where the restaurant sign bears Arabic writing, green color and dried meat and yak carcasses are displayed in front of the shop.

Drink

There is not much nightlife in town. To have a beer, simply visit a restaurant.

Sleep

Budget

Stay safe

People around Xiangcheng supposedly still own firearms left over from the guerrilla war against the Chinese invasion in the 1950s. In July 2007 a dispute about mushroom-collecting grounds between two villages in the district turned into a gunfight with more than 10 persons killed (story read on South China Morning Post).

Go next

Going south to Yunnan and Shangri La, if you are on your own (car, bike) try the S217, a rough piste through the mountains. Nearly no traffic but fantastic landscape. This road is sometimes closed few kilometers after Xiangchang at the end of the asphalt portion. If so you'll have to take the main road.

Public Buses

Buses for Shangri La depart daily from 6am at the Bus Station. The ticket office is open in the morning before the bus leaves but in Summer it is probably better to buy your ticket the day before (after 2pm). Don't expect any help from the ticket ladies!

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 24, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.