Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa (Tips, Photos & Map)

August 11th, 2022
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Plan your Lhasa Tour? In addition to including such stereotyped visits covering Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Temple, Norbulingka and so on, don’t forget to add an excursion to Drak Yerpa Monastery, which is located about 30km northeast to the city center of Lhasa.

There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet‘s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims.

I’ve done a little research about Drak Yerpa’s origin. The Drak Yerpa Monastery was first built as one of the meditation temples by Songtsen Gampo for his Nepalese Princess, Bhrikuti. The monastery was named after the valley where it was situated. Later many buddhist masters came here for meditation including the masters from India. Now Drak Yerpa has become one of the four meditation areas in Tibet.

Drak Yerpa Monastery is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditation left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.

Drak Yerpa located about 30km northeast of Potala Palace

This morning we set off eastward at 9:30am from Lhasa city center along Nachan Road. It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our left side. Lhasa River is one of the important tributaries of Yalu Tsangpo, the mother river of Lhasa.

It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our right side

Since Drak Yerpa is located at the sea level of 4885 meters while the city of Lhasa at the altitude of 3600 meters, the big altitude difference means that we have to drive upward along the zigzag mountains.

About half hour later we drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters. The pass is decorated with numerous prayer flags.

Drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters

Crossing the pass, we drive down to the Yerpa Village where we are going to turn to the northeast and drive in the Yerpa Valley up towards to Drak Yerpa Monastery.

So at the Yerpa Village, we have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east to Lhasa.

We have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east

This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village, which is located along the Yerpa Valley.

Later we are told that many monks are from Yerpa Village. The monks are fed by their families down in the village.

This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village

At the main road forks in the Yerpa Village, we branch off the main road leading to Lindrup County, we turn left into the Yerpa Valley for another 15km mountain road drive to our destination – Drak Yerpa.

There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa with distance and altitude information.

There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa

The 15km mountain road is divided into two sections – the first 5 km road built with asphalt while the rest 10km road is poorly paved with gravels and crushed stones, the macadam pavement. 

The 15km drive is accompanied by the stunning views on the both sides. We still see some village houses located in the valley sparsely.

The first 5 km road built with asphalt

The Drak Yerpa is in sight! It is located on the hillside of the mountain in the northeast side of the Yerpa Valley with the peaks covere by white clouds accompanied by huge number of prayer flags to its west.

The Drak Yerpa is in sight!

We are closing in on the Drak Yerpa and high on the winding mountain road.

I turn my head and catch a beautiful view of the valley we have just passed and the distant Lhasa River. The barley fields are formed in the beautiful terraces.

Catch a beautiful view of the valley

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.

We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa. A signboard standing by the parking lot tells we are near our destination.

We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa

People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.

People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.

I stand on the parking lot and take this picture. High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves. Also we find lots of collapsed houses.

People can imagine that in its prime period, there would be more caves and temples accommodating more monks in Drak Yerpa.  

High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves

The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

More temple houses clung to the hillside.

More temple houses clung to the hillside

A close look at a hillside temple

A close look at a hillside temple

Due to high altitue and limted travel time, we decide to climb up to visit only one nearest temple. The entrance fee for Drak Yerpa is RMB30 per person.

We start to climb the steps up to the temple, a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags to be hung high up on the prayer area to the west of the dotted temple houses.

They charge RMB 25 for a dozen of prayer flags. They will have the prayer flags hung people have just bought to the prayer flag area.

a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags

We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple clung to the hillside. People have to walk slowly because of the high altitude.

We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple

People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise and walking toward the unknown temple.

People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise

People are entering the red and white temple house.

People are entering the red and white temple house

The visit to the unknown temple turns out to be a very good experience.

The monk in charge of the small cave temple allows us to take photos inside and have a nice talk with all the people visiting his temple.

People are having a nice talk with the monk
We are allowed to take pictures insde the cave temple
Rock carving statue inside the cave temple

After finishing the visit to the temple, we start to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains – Alpine meadows.

Alpine meadow on the mountain opposite the mountain where Drak Yerpa is located.
Alpine meadow on the mountain

Before we walk down to the parking lot and finish our Drak Yerpa tour, we have a final look at the valley viewed from high on the hillside.

we have a final look at the valley high on the hillside

Drak Yerpa Travel Tips

During tourism peak season in Lhasa, there are public buses going to Drak Yerpa with the bus terminal near the square of Jokhang Temple. If you visit Drak Yerpa in winter, you are able to enjoy the snow view on the mountains.

Hassle-free Lhasa Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Lhasa:

Lhasa Tour
Lhasa Tibet Group Tour
Lhasa Tibet Private Tour
Beijing Lhasa Tour
Lhasa China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Lhasa
Top 10 Attractions in Lhasa
Lhasa Tourist Traps, Tourist Scams Lhasa
Where to stay in Lhasa
Makye Ame Lhasa Restaurant – Your Kitchen in Lhasa
Lhasa Airport, Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Xian Lhasa Flight Experience, Xian Lhasa Flight
Lhasa Railway Station Transportation, Taxi, Public Bus
Get around in Lhasa with Pedicab or Trishaw
lhasa Taxi
Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa

4-Wheel Drive Trip from Lhasa to Ranwu
Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa Monastery
The Pilgrim Kora in Lhasa, Lhasa Pilgrim circuits
Monks at Sera Je College at Sera Monastery in Lhasa
Beijing Road in Lhasa
A Fun to Walk along Lhasa River in the City of Lhasa
Lhasa Great Mosque, the Mosques in Lhasa
Lhasa Yamdrok-Tso Lake Road Trip

Qushui Bridge in Qushui County, Tibet (Tips, Photos & Map)
Nagarzê County and Scenic Road Trip to Gyantse
Gyantse County and Road Trip to Shigatse
Shigatse Trip (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Road Trip
Drive from Tingri to Mt.Everest Base Camp
Gangkar Town ( Gangga Town ), Tingri County
Tingri County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Nyalam Town & Nyalam County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Zhangmu Port & Zhangmu Town (Tips, Photos & Maps)

Any questions, just drop a line.

How to Visit Nanjing Road in Shanghai (Tips, Photos & Map)

August 10th, 2022
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Champs-élysées to Paris and Oxford street in London are what Nanjing Road to Shanghai. Nanjing Road, billed as “China’s First Commercial Street”, is the most well known shopping and leisure street in Shanghai. The east-west Nanjing Road is generally sectioned into  Nanjing East Road and Nanjing West Road. Nanjing East Road is now a traffic-free street, leading up to the Bund on its east.

The location of Nanjing Road in Shanghai ( Google Map)

For a first-time visitor to  Shanghai, a leisure stroll along the 1-km pedestrian only street and ending at the Bund is an interesting experience,  people watching, shopping,  drinking and eating.

1. How to get to Nanjing Road in Shanghai

With Metro Line 1, Champs-élysées is linked to Concorde Square while Nanjing Road is connected to Shanghai People’s Square by Metro Line 1, 2 and 8.  So Shanghai People’s Square is a metro hub easily accessible from all corners of Shanghai.

East Nanjing Road

Of all the 20 exits, you may ext from Exit 7 or 19 for a nice walk from people’s square to the Bund passing through Nanjing Road. Alternatively, you can take the subway line 2 and get off at the Station of East Nanjing Road and exit 1 or 4 for the walk along the shopping street.

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes for a one-hour Walk

Be prepared to do a lot of walking with your casual shoes, especially you are going to walk from People’s Square to the Bund, a nice one hour walk.

3. Lots of Shops but no Bargaining

Any brand you can think of,  Forever 21, H&M, Swatch, Gap, Marks, Old Navy, and Spense and the list is much longer. Suggest you first wisely window shop for sometime untill you strike an idea of what to shop.

Shopping at Nanjing Road
Shopping at Nanjing Road

There a full spectrum of stores here ranging from high fashion and technology to small souvenir shops. You can shop for the cheapest of things and the expensive branded items alike.

4. Dining and Drinking

East Nanjing Road is not just for window shopping and big buyers, but also a leisure place to rewind yourself. There are several side streets offering coffee shops,  local food, you may take a break and relax.

These side streets gives you a different vibe, as if you were in a different city. It is worth your adventure where the locals eat.

5.Night walk along Nanjing Road

A night stroll along the pedestrian street is much more impressing, and you are rewarded with its sparkling and eye-popping neon lights, watching the Neon-Colored Nanjing Road.

Night walk along Nanjing Road

Come here at night and see the amazing old buildings all lit up. It’s  like the Times Square in New York. You get a glimpse of all the LEDs on the buildings, creative and attractive.

6. Small Shuttle Trams

If you don’t have strong legs, you may take the little trams going up and down along the street,  5 RMB.  The train is slow, also a good opportunity for photography.

Trams on East nanjing Road
Trams on East nanjing Road

7. Beware of the Street Touts

You may be pestered by some persistent people trying to sell you things from tours to goods. Just ignore them! Avoid striking a conversation with an approaching student who may sell you an art piece in the name of practising English with you.

8. Beware of Sex/Massage Offers

Also beware of all the sex/massage offers on the street. They are all scams. Just say no and keep moving.

9. Beware of Pickpockets.

Though there is quite some police patrolling, you still need to take care of your belongings due to the in huge crowds .

10. A Combo of People’ Square, Nanjing Road and the Bund

The Nanjing East road stretches from the People’s Square to close to the Bund, so it is worthwhile to consider combining visiting these three places.

Add-on

The Neon-Colored Nanjing Road
How to Visit the Bund in Shanghai
Evening View of the Bund and Pudong Skyline Shanghai
Huangpu River Cruise Ticket Booking
How to Visit Lujiazui in Pudong
Night walk along Nanjing Road in Shanghai


Hassle-free Shanghai Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself bus route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Shanghai:

Shanghai Tour
Shanghai Day Tour
Shanghai Multi-Day Tour
Shanghai Evening Tour
Shanghai Cruise Port ( Transfer& Excursions )
Shanghai Beijing Tour
Shanghai Xian Tour
Shanghai Car Rental with Driver

Further Readings


Top 10 Attraction in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Top 10 Iconic Landmarks
Top 10 Markets in Shanghai
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Shanghai
Top 10 Things to Do at night in Shanghai
Best Places for Autumn Leaves in Shanghai
Top 10 Things to Do in Winter in Shanghai
Top 10 Souvenirs in Shanghai
Top 10 Photo Spots in Shanghai
10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai

Any questions, just drop a line.

Meidaizhao Temple (Tips, Photos & Map)

August 9th, 2022
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The Location of Meidaizhao Temple (美岱召)

If you are planning Inner Mongolia tour, a side trip to Meidaizhao either from Baotou or Hohhot is highly recommended. Meidaizhao Monastery ( (美岱召) is located in Meidaizhao Village below the massive Daqing Mountain of the Yinshan Range, Tumd Right Banner, Dong He District, Baotou, Inner Mongolia.

Meidaizhao Monastery located between Baotou and Hohhot

Meidaizhao Temple ( (美岱召) lies between Baotou ( 98km east of Baotou) and Hohhot ( 99km west of Hohhot), just on the north of Jingzang Expressway No.6 (or National Highway 110) , a historical site conveniently accessible either from Hohhot or Baotou.

Add: Meidaizhao Village, Meidaizhao Town, Tumd Right Banner, Baotou City, Inner Mongolia
内蒙古自治区包头市土默特右旗美岱召镇美岱召村
Tel: 0472-8850012

How to Get to Meidaizhao Monastery & Tickets

You can take train either from Hohhot or Baotou to Salaqi Railway Station (萨拉齐站) . Salaqi Station is located in Salaqi Town, Tumed Right Banner, Baotou City and it is on Jibao Railway Line, a third class station under the jurisdiction of Hohhot Railway Bureau, built in 1922.

Salaqi Railway Station 22km away from Meidaizhao Temple ( Google)

Arriving a Salaqi Train Station out, go west, to the intersection of the overpass, and wait on the road for Minibus No.6 ( 5 yuan ) for Meidai Zhao Village. Alight at Meidaizhao Village, you will see a memorial arch in front of the village, after the memorial arch go straight ahead, a few minutes later you can see Meidai Zhao Monastery.

Alternatively you also can take the long-distance buses either from Baotou or Hohhot.

Entrance ticket:
30 yuan/person

Open time:
09:00-17:00
09:00-16:00 (ticket collection Time) (Monday – Sunday, January 1st – December 31st)

ABCs of Meidaizhao Monastery

“Meidaizhao” literally means “Maitreya Temple” in Mongolian ( Zhao means “temple”). Meidaizhao Monastery was originally built in 1565 as a fortified capital city of the Daming Golden Kingdom (大明金国) in Ming Dynasty, also known as Altan Khan Kingdom (阿勒坦汗国), (a vassal of Ming Dynasty) established by Altan Khan (1507 – 1582) .

Altan Khan (阿勒坦汗) was a descendant of Kublai Khan (1215–1294). He managed to unite the Mongols in the north and the south. His name means “Golden Khan” in the Mongolian language, hence the kingdom’s name.

In 1571, Altan Khan was granted the title Shunyi Wang (顺义王) from the Longqing Emperor (March 4, 1537- July 5, 1572), the 12th emperor of China (Ming dynasty). With the assistance of his wife known as Sannianzi (三娘子) (Grand Queen), the Daming Golden Kingdom kept peace peace with the Ming Dynasty for over 40 years.

With a new city known as Hohhot(“Green City) built by Altan Khan and the Grand Queen in the current old town in Hohhot, the political center of Altan Khan Kingdom was move on to Hohhot.

In 1606, the Meidaizhao fortress was transformed into a lamasery. So Altan Khan was the founder of the original city of Hohhot which literally means “green city” in Mongolian.

The Layout of Meidaizhao Temple

The present temple occupies an area of 4000 square meters encompassing the over 200 Ming and Qing era buildings including Sakyamuni Hall (Hall of Great Hero), Glazed Hall, Dalai Temple, Sannianzi Hall.

The temple is surrounded by a 5-meter high stone wall in a rectangular shape with a perimeter of 681 meters. The big draw is the 1650-square-meter murals in Ming and Qing Dynasties preserved in the Hall of Great Hero.

Virtual Tour of Meidaizhao Temple

If you are planning Inner Mongolia tour, a side trip to Meidaizhao either from Baotou or Hohhot is highly recommended.

Follow me to have a virtual tour of the ancient city of Meidaizhao Temple.

The Entrance to Meidaizhao Temple

The south gate to the fortress temple and Daqingshan Mountain lies behind the temple.

The south gate to the fortress temple

Listening to Buddhist Scripture” Pine Trees

The two old pine trees in front of the Great Hero Hall ( Sakyamuni Hall ) are known as “Listening to Buddhist Scripture” pine trees, west is female and east male, over 400 years old when the temple was originally started being built.

Listening to Buddhist Scripture” pine trees

Sakyamuni Hall 大雄宝殿

Sakyamuni Hall has three connected halls with two floors and 3 double eaves. The roofs of the three halls are in the gable style. The east, west and south sides of the hall are surrounded by white Tibetan brick walls, forming an architectural body combining Han and Tibet. The lower part of the west wall of the Temple is a group of Mongolian nobles worshipping Buddha.

Sakyamuni Hall
The entrance to Sakymuni Hall

Sakyamuni Hall has the priceless mural in the main hall starting from the waist line to the ceiling. The mural scene is grand. You need to look up to see it. In the middle of the north wall is painted the giant statue of Sakyamuni, and the background is painted with sakyamuni’s story of Buddha. Under the wall of the four Kings and Fu Hu Arhat, the cloth bag monk.

One of the murals in Sakyamuni Hall ( Image Credit: Internet) (Camera Forbidden )

Many of the Mongolian costumes on these mural paintings can be found in the Book of Yi Custom written by Xiao Daheng in Ming Dynasty. It is a valuable material for studying Mongolian history, folk customs and costumes in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The Nai Qiong Temple 乃琼殿

The Nai Qiong Temple is the former dwelling place for Mal Da Li living Buddha (四世达赖的代表人麦达里活佛在此坐床传佛) in Qing Dynasty. The original statue of Mal Da Li is not available. Instead, it shrines the statue of Guardian of God.

The Nai Qiong Temple

The Glazed Hall (Liuli Hall) 琉璃殿

Built in 1566, the Glazed Hall (Liuli Hall) was formerly the meeting hall of Altan Khan Kingdom. Now it is devoted to Three Buddhas, a typical Ming architecture.

the Glazed Hal

The Dalai Temple 达赖庙

The Dalai Temple is given to the Third Dalai Lama – Sonam Gyatso who came here in 1582 for practicing Buddhism and held a new funeral ceremony for Altan Khan. The title of Dalai Lama was given by Altan Khan.

This Dalai Temple is given to the Third Dalai Lama

The Grand Queen Hall 太后庙

The Grand Queen Hall, a burial place for the third wife ( also known as Sannianzi) of Altan Khan. She assisted her husband managing the kingdom and keeping good relationship with the Ming Dynasty for over 40 years.

The Grand Queen Hall

The Grand Queen Hall is surrounded by columns of the funeral hall style building, the funeral hall of the third wife ( also known as Sannianzi) of Altan Khan. The original 1-meter-high sandalwood tower covered with a pot was removed in 1966. When it was removed, it was discovered that there was an underground palace under the tower. In the palace, there was a bag of ashes, three combs, six rosaries, a triangular silver-plated medicine box and two pairs of diamond ears.

In the Grand Queen Temple, there are murals painted in the Ming Dynasty, Mongolian costume figures in the picture,. The legend goes that there are the portraits of Alta Khan and the Grand Queen in the murals.

The statues of Alta Khan and the Grand Queen ( Sannianzi – third wife).

The statues of Alta Khan and the Grand Queen

An ancient city 古城

Meidaizhao Temple was originally an ancient city in an irregular square shape. The south gate is the main gate.

The fortified temple stands facing the south below Daqing Mountain on the north, surrounded by a 681-meter long stone wall, 5 meters high. Ascending the wall, you are able to have a clear picture of the ancient city, a former capital of Altan Khan Kingdom.

Ascending the wall, you are able to have a clear picture of the ancient city

The northern wall of the temple below the Daqing Mountain (大青山).

The northern wall

One of the corner towers ( Turrets) on the wall

One of the corner towers ( Turrets) on the wall

Standing on the wall, you are able to have a clear picture of the Sakymuni Hall and Glazed Hall.

a clear picture of the Sakymuni Hall and Glazed Hall.

Tip:  Hassle-free Hohhot & Inner Mongolia  Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Inner Mongolia:

Inner Mongolia Tour
Mid-Inner Mongolia Tour (Hohhot, Baotou, Ordos)
East Inner Mongolia Tour (Xanadu,Wulan Butong, Xilinhot, Chifeng)
Northeast Inner Mongolia Tour (Hulunbuir)
West Inner Mongolia Tour (Alashan “Alxa” League)
Hohhot Tour
Hohhot Highlights & Grassland 3 Day Tour
Hohhot Highlights & Grassland 2 Day Tour

Further Readings


Top Places to Visit in Inner Mongolia
Top 10 Attractions in Hohhot
Best Time to Visit Hohhot
Meidaizhao Temple
How to go to Hohhot from Beijing
Top Souvenirs in Hohhot
Hohhot Taxi: Hohhot Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Baotou Taxi: Baotou Taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
Ordos Taxi: Ordos taxi Fares, Tips and Phones
What to see in Hohhot, what to do in Hohhot

Top 10 Attractions in Alxa League
Heicheng Historic Site in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Guai Shu Lin in Ejin Banner, Inner Mongolia (Tips, Photos & Map)
Populus Forest in Ejin Banner (Tips, Photos & Map)
Badain Jaran Desert (Tips, Photos & Map)

The Quiet Wusu Langzi Lake
Dujuan Lake in Aershan National Forest Park
Beihu Park Skyline at Night in Manzhouli
Architecture of Manzhouli

Sunrise Glow over Hulunbuir Grasslands.
Top 10 Places for Photography in Hulunbuir
Top 10 Attractions in Hulunbuir.
Road Trip from Ergun to Linjiang Village
Hulun Lake Travel Tips
World Anti-fascist War Hailar Memorial Park
Architecture of Manzhouli
Ergun Travel Guide
Aoluguya Travel Guide
Moerdaoga Travel Guide
Shiwei Travel Tips
How to visit Hulunbuir Grassland

Top 10 Attractions in Chifeng
Xanadu Sites Museum
Jinlianchuan Grassland
Wulan Butong Grassland
Asihatu Stone Forest
Gong Geer Grassland
Duolun Travel Guide
Xanadu Travel Guide – Shangdu Travel
How to visit Asihatu Stone Forest
Xi Wuzhumuqin Grassland

Any questions, just drop a line.