Xiangcheng County, also known as “Chaktreng County“, is a county under jurisdiction of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is located in the middle section of the tourist route of Dali-Lijiang-Shangri La-Xiangcheng-Kangding, and its natural scenery is very beautiful.
Xiangcheng County was called “Dingxiang County” for a short time in Qing Dynasty (1636 AD – 1912 AD). Xiangcheng is Chinese transliteration of Tibetan “Chaktreng“, and its meaning is “Buddha beads in hand“. Because Shuoqu River in Xiangcheng county runs through the whole territory from north to south, which is like a silk thread that ties the white villages on both sides of the river connected together, like a string of Buddhist beads, hence, Xiangcheng got its name from this.
The county seat of Xiangcheng County is Sangpi (Sampe) Town which has been renamed as “Shambhala Town“. It is 2856 meters above sea level, 488 kilometers away from prefecture’s capital Kangding, 860 kilometers away from provincial capital Chengdu, and 222 kilometers away from Shangri-La City.
“Shambhala” is a transliteration of Sanskrit, and Shambhala is the ideal holy land in Tibetan Buddhism. It is another expression of “Shangri-La“
Xiangcheng County borders Daocheng County to east, Shangri-La City of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture to south, Batang County and Derong County to west, and Litang County to north.
Best time to travel
Throughout the year
High plateau monsoon climate
Most popular sites
Bam Mountain has become almost a symbol of Xiangcheng. In Tibetan, “Bam” means “Alokitesvara who ride tiger”. The grand Bam Mountain Festival is held in every summer.
Bam Seven Lake Scenic Area is located in the mountains east of the township of Xiangcheng County. The main landscape is composed of alpine ice bucket lakes, waterfalls, streams, hot springs, virgin forests, meadows, snow mountains, pastures, ancient ruins of “Tea Horse Trading Road“, monasteries, Tibetan villages, rocks, etc. The area of the scenic spot is 17,865 hectares, including 432 hectares of mountain lakes, 1,961 hectares of woodland, 12,000 hectares of alpine meadows, 3,270 hectares of meadows and 202 hectares of other areas. Rich in Cordyceps, Fritillaria, Tricholoma matsutake and others. The altitude of this Scenic area is in between 2,860 ~ 5,122 meters above sea level
Brown Bear valley is located in Sha-gong Township of Xiangcheng County. It is a place that you “must” pass through when travel from Shangri-La City to Daocheng County. It is said that there are many Brown Bears in the valley that often meet with local farmers. The natural scenery of Ma Xiong valley is characterized by its heroic, extraordinary, dangerous and beautiful appearance.
Ranwu Town Hot Spring has the most hotsprings of Xiangcheng within an area of 0.5 square kilometers, there are 108 hot-springs with water temperature up to 85 °C, and the lowest is 17 °C.
Sao bu You Scenic Area It is located at junction of Qingde Township, Ranwu Township and Daocheng County, with distance of 50 kilometers away from Xiangcheng . “Sao bu You” in Tibetan means the “Bull Valley“, its name is due to the shape of the mountain like a running bull. The scenic area’s altitude is from 2,000 meters to 5,168 meters above sea level, the vertical relatively altitude difference is more than 3,000 meters, Forms a complete vertical natural landscape from subtropical to alpine humphus.
In the valley of 2,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level, the climate is mild and it is a beautiful pastoral scenery. From 3500 meters above sea level to 4000 meters above sea level, it is the original coniferous forest and mixed forest. At an altitude of 4500 meters and above, there are many high-plateau lakes that are surrounded by snowy peaks, forests, and meadows.
Sampeling monastery, also known as “Chaktreng Sampeling monastery“. Its full name is Ganden Sampe Norbuling Monastery.
“Ganden” means inheritance of the name of Ganden Monastery in Lhasa built by Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelug pa. It also shows historical origin of Sampeling Monastery from Gadan Monastery.
“Sampe” means wishful and prosperous,
“Norbu” means treasure
“ling” means monastery, and Ganden Sampe Norbuling Monastery means “a befitting prosperous treasure monastery”
It was built in 1669 AD on the site of Kagyu pa monastery of Gyazawei Gompa. It covers an area of more than 20,000 square meters, and being well-known for its superb architectural art, sculptures, and art of painting
The custom of respecting cat Most people raise cats to eradicate rats. However, behind this, there are some intriguing customs about cats, which cat in Xiangcheng county has a special religious status. People espouse the cat as the incarnation of reincarnation of high-ranking Lama. If anyone kills a cat, he will be punished as for killing monks and nuns. What’s more peculiar is that the local tibetan also molded cats into the totem of kitchen god.
Clothing Traditional clothing of Xiangcheng County is traditional Tibetan style. It is characterized by a round neck, wide waist, long sleeves, large left-handedness and small right-handedness, mostly used colors are white, red and yellow.
Food and Drink The daily food of local people in Xiangcheng County is mainly glutinous rice flour, cornmeal, sweet noodles, ghee, milk cakes, cattle, sheep and pork. Its beverages are mainly butter tea and barley wine, while butter tea is an essential daily drink.
Geography and climate
Xiangcheng County is located on southeastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in southwestern of Garze Prefecture, in north-central section of Hengduan Mountains, at the southern end of Shalu Mountains, and the transition zone from Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau to Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Its terrain is high in northeast and low in southwest. It is 69 kilometers from east to west and 121 kilometers from north to south covering an area of 5,016 square kilometers.
The highest elevation is 5336 meters of Sago Peak in its southeast, and the lowest elevation is 2560 in Zhongda Village of Dongsong in south, the relative height difference is 2776 meters, which forms a slope-like inclined surface that is high in the northeast and low in the southwest.
The three rivers of Shuo-chu, Ding-chu, and Mayi-chu, which flow in the direction of the mountains in Xiangcheng County, have a total length of about 300 kilometers in the county, and those rivers run side by side through the whole territory from north to south, cutting the lands into three river valleys, four mountains, and six hillsides.
“chu” means river in Kham
The vast area to west of Ding-chu River and its upper reaches, the upper reaches of Mayi-chu River, and the east of Shuo-chu River are mountain plains, accounting for about 68% of total area of Xiangcheng county. The central and southern parts are mainly high mountains and valleys with scattered flat grasslands
The climate of Xiangcheng County is very obvious regional differences and vertical changes. Rainfall is less and concentrated, dry and wet seasons are distinct, sunshine is sufficient, long winters, no summers.
With annual average temperature 10.8℃, average temperature of the hottest month is 17.7℃, average temperature of coldest month is 1.9℃, the extreme maximum temperature is 32.3℃, and the extreme minimum temperature is ﹣11℃. Annual average precipitation is 500 mm, annual average evaporation is 2178 mm, annual average sunshine hours are 2,137 hours, and average annual frost-free period is 147 days.
Population and ethnicity
As of 2011, the total population of Xiangcheng County was 31,000 people, of which Tibetans accounted for 94% of total population. Other ethnic groups include Han, Yi, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, Manchu, Yao, and Dong. , Naxi, Buyi, Bai, Zhuang, Dai, etc.
Bam Mountain Grand Hotel
Add : No. 95, Xiangbala South Road
Contact : +86 836 582-5999
Add : Deng Zhong Street
Contact : +86 836 582-6999
Dele Grand Hotel
Add : No. 2, Sang Pi Street
Contact : +86 836 582-2222
Mei Duo Business Hotel
Add : Near Bus Station
Contact : +86 836 582-2444
Nan Suo Hotel
Add : Deng Zhong Street
Contact : +86 836 582-9888
Add : No. 88, Xiangbala North Road
Contact : +86 836 582-6111
How to get to Xiangcheng
Xiangcheng county is the first big town when enter Kham from South, it is almost the “must” town that you have to spend overnight here. By far, the overland journey is the only option for reaching this hidden county which is in the southeastern Edge of Tibetan plateau;
There are in general two ways of getting into this towm:
Drive in from the east
Starting from Daocheng, the overland journey is about 110 kilometers, which takes approximately 2.5 hours
Drive in from the south
Starting from Shangri La, the overland journey is about 200 kilometers, which takes approximately 6 hours,
There are two airports near this Tibetan county that are listed below
Di Qing Airport
Address: No. 1, Shen-Ying Road, Shangri La city
IATA Code: DIG
Altitude: 3,280 meters
Contact: +86 887 822 9916
Daocheng Yading Airport
Address: Sang Dui (Samdo) Village of Daocheng County
IATA code: DCY
Altitude: 4,411 meters
Contact: +86 836 572 3333
Distance from Xiangcheng county to
- Benzilan: 225 kilometers, about 6.5 hours’ drive
- Deqin : 320 kilometers, about 8.5 hours’ drive
- Derong County: 155 kilometers, about 4.5 hours’ drive
- Daocheng: 110 kilometers, about 2.5 hours’ drive
- Litang: 210 kilometers, about 4.2 hours’ drive
- Batang: 375 kilometers, about 8 hours’ drive
During Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), Xiangcheng area belonged to “Qiang”
During Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD), it was land of Tubo kingdom
In Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-AD 1368), it was under jurisdiction of Tubo High Pacification Commissioner’s Office
In Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-AD 1644), Xiangcheng area was under control of Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commandery
In 33rd year of Emperor Jiajing of Qing Dynasty (AD 1554), it was under jurisdiction of Mu clan of Lijiang, Yunnan.
In 33rd year of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (1907), it was called “Dingxiang County” in 1908 after implementation of “Gaitu Guiliu“.
Gaitu Guiliu, also known as “conversion of chieftain system” or “conversion of abandoning chieftain system”, refers to abolition of chieftain who originally ruled ethnic minorities. Instead, officials appointed by the central government. It began in Emperor Yongle’s period at the beginning of Ming Dynasty and was implemented on a large scale during Emperor Yongzheng’s period of Qing Dynasty.
In 3rd year of Emperor Xuantong of the Qing Dynasty (1911), “Dingxiang County” was formally established.
In 2nd year of Republic of China (1913), it belonged to Chuanbian Dao (“Dao” means “Area or county”);
In 28th year of Republic of China (1939), it belonged to the 5th administrative inspectorate of Xikang Province.
In 1950, it was ruled by Tibetan Autonomous Region of Xikang Province.
In 1951, it was renamed as “Xiangcheng County”
In 1955, Xikang Tibetan Autonomous Region was renamed as Xikang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture; in October of the same year, Xikang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was abolished, Garze Tibetan Autonomous
Prefecture was established, since then Xiangcheng County has been under its jurisdiction
On April 6th, 2005, Sangpi(Sampe) Town of Xiangcheng County to Shambhala Town.