Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)

Often regarded as where Tibet really begins, Kangding (康定) is the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China.

Location of Kangding

Kangding ( also known in Tibet as Dartsendo or Dardo ) is set in a deep valley at the confluence of the raging Zheduo River ( 折多河 ) and Yala River (雅拉河).

It is located about 133 km to the northwest of Moxi Town, 49km west of Luding County and 360 km west of Chengdu. Kangding was once the hub for horse and tea trading along the Tea and Horse Route between Sichuan and Lhasa. 

ABC of Kangding

For centuries, Kangding has been the exchange center of Han and Tibetan cultures. It is also a gateway to Tibet in the west from Chengdu.

Kangding is upgraded from a county level to a prefecture city, which encompasses 6 towns and 15 townships and over 200 villages. Lucheng Town (炉城镇) is the city proper ( the downtown area ) of Kangding. Lucheng Town is the seat of both Kangding City and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture .

For many Chinese, Kangding’ popularity comes from the themed love song “Kangding Love Song”. Travelers would be attracted by its alluring vicinity covering snow mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, sweeping grasslands and monasteries. Of course, the biggest draw is its unique Khampa cultures such as Guozhuang (康巴锅庄文化).

Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

Well,  back to our self-drive trip, on October 08, we leave Moxi Town at 3:30 pm for Kangding where we are going to stay overnight. At 5:00pm, we pass by the downtown of Luding County. We stop for about 10 minutes for a glimpse of the legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge (泸定桥) that spans the Dadu River in Luding County.

Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

The bridge dates back to Qing Dynasty, originally built 1705 and completed in 1706. In 1935, the soldiers of the Fourth Regiment of Red Army seized the bridge as a river crossing vital to the Red Army’s retreat during the Long March.  The bridge is 103.67 meters long, and 3 meters wide. 13 heavy iron chains are stretched across the river and lashed with thick boards.

The legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge

Downtown Kangding

Further driving from Luding along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway known as G318, we get to the downtown of Kangding at about 7:00pm. The bright lit streets and modern buildings really gives us a shock!

The bright lit streets and modern buildings in Kangding

Is this Kangding? It looks so developed and prosperous! A world difference from the Kangding in our minds! Below is the picture I snap of the street using my iphone sitting in our vehicle while looking for a hotel for tonight.

The torrential Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) runs through the downtown of Kangding from the southwest to the northeast and enters Dadu River eventually.

The torrential Zheduo River River runs through the downtown of Kangding

It is not a tourist high season. We soon find a very nice hotel on the busy street in Kangding with quite reasonable roomrates. After dinner, I urge Mr.Chen to take our cameras and shoot the night views of Kangding City. It is drizzling outside and this doesn’t deter us from going onto the streets for enjoying the beautiful night of Kangding.

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings – banks, office buildings, department stores…

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings

A  collection of modern concrete buildings in Tibetan style by the raging river.

A  collection of modern concrete buildings in Tibetan style by the raging river.

A huge commercial building (like SOHO) packed with numerous offices, stores, restaurants and more.

A huge commercial building (like SOHO) 

Tonight’s rain prettifies the city with the reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Tonight’s rain prettifies the city

The wide street roads flank the raging Zheduo River with the charming reflection and refraction of the street lights. A bridge spans over the Zheduo River cutting through the street.

A bridge spans over the Zheduo River cutting through the street.


Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan 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 Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to visit the tomb of Wang Jian in Chengdu
How to Visit Wangjiang Pavilion Park in Chengdu
How to visit Qingyang Palace in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
Qintai Road, Qintai Gujing Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shaoling Road Bar Street Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Jiuyanqiao Bar Street in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Any questions,  just drop a line.

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