Plan your Gansu tour? A side trip from Lanzhou to Langmusi is worth your time going deeper in the southern Gansu. “Langmusi” in Chinese literally “Langmu Temple”. But actually it is the name of the small town bordering Gansu in the north and Sichuan in the south. “Langmu” in Tibetan means “Fairy”. The legend has it that once a fairy was discovered in a cave near the village.
With a population of over 3,000, the town is now mainly inhabited by Tibetans, Han and Hui people. The town of Langmusi is only composed of one main street with a stream known as “White Dragon River” passing along the street. The area of north of the stream belongs to Gansu Province while the south to Sichuan.
The rural town is nestled in a valley between the north and south hills along steep grassy meadows, evergreen forests and snow-capped peaks. Langmusi has two Tibetan Temples and one Muslim Mosque. They are:
Sertri Gompa – The temple is located on northern hill ( on Gansu side ).
Kirti Gompa – The temple is on the southern hill (Sichuan side)
Hui Mosque – located close to the Sichuan side temple near the entrance gate to Kirti Temple.
It is easy to spend a few days here exploring the numerous red and white monastery buildings and hiking around the green mountains. The surrounding mountains reminds people of the rural Austria or Bavaria and ideal for hiking and horsetrek.
We took the chartered coach and drove 230km directly from Xiahe, to Langmusi. We only had a few hours exploring the town of Langmusi. Because Langmusi is very close to the fringe of Rouergau Grasslands, we kindly requested our driver to pass by Langmusi itself and went to further to the grassland first. So we drove another 20km via Langmusi to the edge of Ruoergai Grassland.
Ruoergai Grassland is located in the north of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, and borders Maqu, Luqu of Gansu Province. It is on the east edge of Tibet-Qinghai Plateau with an altitude between 3000 and 3600 meters.
Ruoergai Grassland is said to be the fourth largest grasslands in China after Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia, Yili Grassland in Xinjiang and Xilinguole Grassland in Inner Mongolia. Ruoergai Grassland belongs to the kind of alpine meadow, also one of the China’s three largest wetlands, covering 10436.58 square kilometers.
Ruoergai Grassland, a field of wildflowers
I’de been to some mesmerizing grasslands elsewhere in China, like Hulunbuir Grasslands, Narat Grassland, Gegentala Grassland, Mulan Weichang Grassland. In comparison, Ruoergai Grassland is neither the greenest nor a fertile grassland, but what catches my eyes and makes my excited is its numerous wild flowers.
I felt quite shamed to be unable to name most of the flowers, which I had to call them wildflowers of grassland. Then we drove back to the Town of Langmusi for lunch. Our lunch was arranged at the Chinese restaurant of Langmusi Binguan (Langmusi Hotel), the best hotel in the town (0941 – 6671086). The hotel is located in the middle section of the area between Gansu side and Sichuan side.
After lunch, I went out of the courtyard of Langmusi Binguan, and saw three monks sitting by the gate leisurely. I approached them with a sudden idea of taking a photo with them, they were pleased to agree to my request, hence the only photo with my own image during the day trip.
Posed with three monks by the gate to Langmusi Binguan
Just outside Langmusi Hotel, on my right side is the main street in the town teemed with restaurants, shops and crowds of tourists.
On my left side is the bumpy road leading up to the Kirti Gompa – the temple is on the southern hill (Sichuan side). Opposite Langmusi Hotel is the ticket office selling the tickets for the entry to the temple on Sichuan side.
Not far from the ticket office is the only Muslim mosque in the town. The ticket office at the crossroad, a little bit shabby. People inside the house would shout at the visitors and stop them for ticket buying since almost nobody would recognize it was a ticket office!
We had to skip Sertri Gompa – the temple is located on northern hill ( on Gansu side ) due to our limited time in Langmusi.
We decided first to visit Kirti Temple, then have a look at the mosque, lastly have a walk around the main street in the town.
By the side of the road, a row of prayer wheels housed for people to spin for peace and prosperity. On the southern mountain, we saw a few people standing high on the hill with the backdrop of white clouds, green alpine meadows.
This scene reminded me of the debating at Sera Temple in Lhasa, Debates are practiced by the lamas in the monastery every day. In a battle of words, they further their efforts by using a variety of gestures including clapping their hands, pushing their partners for an answer and more gestures.
A group of monks debating in front of the main temple in the monastery.
In a battle of words, they further their efforts by using a variety of gestures.
Inside the hall, we also found a group of monks sitting on the ground and debating. It is not easy to be a monk!
There are more temples of various sizes in the Kirti monastery.
One temple in Kirti Gompa
Standing on the high place in the compound of the Kirti Gompa, we had a clear view of the Sertri Gompa in the northern hill on Gansu side.
It was a pity that this time we had no time visiting the Gansu side temple in Langmusi. Sertri Gompa – the temple is located on northern hill ( on Gansu side ).
From Kirti Gompa here on the southern hill, we overlooked the narrow town bound by the hills in the north and south.
Langmusi Town is bound by the mountains in the north and south.
The green hills are a perfect place for hiking treks and horse riding. All these activities would be my next trip.
Below the monastery was the living quarters of Tibetans with simple and shabby houses.
the living quarters of Tibetans 1
the living quarters of Tibetans 2
A young monk
A monk and his car
The White Dragon River coming from the south hill and passing through the Tibetan living area down to the street in the town.
The White Dragon River coming from the south hill
I walked along the White Dragon River on the bumpy road back to the main street in the town.
At the ticket office, I turned right for a glimpse of the only mosque in the town.
The mosque was built 1943 by the descendants of ethic groups of Hui, Dongxiang who came here on business. The mosque was built 1943
The street of Langmusi Town was dusty. The narrow street was riddled with stores, restaurants and inns.
This was the famous Amdo Coffee on the main road in Langmusi.
Leisha’s Reasturant ( 0941 – 6671179) is a wonderful place offering fresh apple pies, yak burgers and Yunnanese coffee.
Tip: Hassle-free Guansu 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 Gansu Guided Tours:
Top 10 Places in Gansu
Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Gansu
How to Visit Labrang Monastery
Dunhuang Trip, My Trip to Dunhuang
How to Visit Maijishan Grottoes from Xian by Train
Top 10 Attractions in Lanzhou
Langmusi Trip, My Trip to Langmusi
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland
Any questions, just drop a line.