A sleepy village in a remote breathtaking location inhabited by a colorful mix of Han Chinese, Hui and Amdo Tibetans. It is said that the provincial borderline runs through the middle of town with Sertri Gompa in Gansu and Kirti Gompa located in Sichuan. The power struggles between the two Gompa may have been the reason for the border location. Each temple has a distinct style making both well worth the visit alone. The surrounding mountains give off a very much alpine flair reminiscent of rural Austria or Bavaria and perfect for hiking and horsetreking.
There is only one bus every day from Xiahe direct to Langmusi leaving at around 7AM from the Xiahe Bus Station.
If you miss this bus, or if you can't get tickets, you can take any early morning bus to Hezuo (1 hour from Xiahe) and then take one of the Hezuo (合作) buses to Langmusi. There are a couple of buses from Hezuo to Langmusi each day. There definitely is one leaving at 10:20.
When you get to Hezuo, you will need to take a taxi across town to the South Bus Station (Nan Zhan – 南站) where the buses leave for Langmusi.
If you were thinking of hiring a car to take you directly from Xiahe to Langmusi, be ready to pay a lot of money. It will cost you at least ¥350 to hire a car for the trip. The bus is only ¥30-40 per person. If you do end up taking a taxi, be sure to ask to take the "scenic route." The road is a little bumpier than the new highway, and a takes a little longer, but you pass beautiful grasslands, mountains, and tibetan villages along the way.
There are also direct buses to Zoige (Ruo'ergai) in northern Sichuan.
You can also catch a bus in Jiuzhaigou to Langmusi. There are buses leaving every morning between 07:00 and 08:00. The bus will let you off on the main road outside of Langmusi, not actually driving into town, leaving you with a more than 1 km walk, or there will be cars around to get you into town (for a few yuan).
To get out of town up towards Xiahe, there is only one afternoon direct bus a day. You can get morning buses to Hezuo, then a cab to the West Bus Station, then catch a bus to Xiahe. There are many buses to Xiahe each day.
Your own two feet, a bicycle or maybe a pony.
- Sertri Gompa (Dacanglangmu Saichisi) - temple where traditional Tibetan sky-burials are still practiced (last rites are private), located on northern hill.
- Kirti Gompa (Dacangnama Ge'erdisi) - temple on the southern hill
- Hui Mosque - located close to the Sichuan side temple near the entrance gate
- Wind Horse Trekking (next to Nomads Youth Hostel on the main street), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Offers guided horse treks from one to three days into the beautiful surrounding grasslands, hills, and valleys. On the overnight treks, you will have the opportunity to stay in a tent with Tibetan nomads and learn about how they live. Sonam, the owner, is an experienced local guide who speaks English, and he will give you a great introduction to traditional nomad life.
- Langmusi Tibetan Horse Trekking (across the street from Black Tent Cafe, or ask inside Black Tent Cafe), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Langmusi Horse Trekking also offers anything from 1 to 3 day horse treks where you can stay with Tibetan nomads. The lady at the horse trekking place speaks excellent English. They also sell a useful map of Langmusi and surroundings for ¥10; can be bought at their shop or at guesthouses around town.
- Bicycle Rental (across the street from Black Tent Cafe, or ask inside Black Tent Cafe), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Langmusi Horse Trekking also offers mountain bikes to rent. You can bike to a few destinations on the roads (Flower Lake is 36km, Zhagana about 97 km) or take some of the trekking trails. The White Dragon River trail is bikeable, and if you're strong and adventurous you can ride past the nomad camps all the way to the Ocean of Flowers and then take the road back into town. Challenging ride, at least 5-6 hours. Don't try to bike the Lhamo/Namo Gorge; too rocky. They also have 2-day guided bike tours to Zhagana; check their website for details.
It's worth hiring an English speaking guide to explain the monasteries, sky burial ground and the gorge to you. Ask around in Leisha's restaurant.
The end of the village closest to the main road is more Westernised, and closer to the monastery it becomes less so. The Sichuan side of town has just put in a brand new road so one hopes the Gansu side will follow suit. Passing through the monastery takes you up into the surrounding mountains, and there are various possible routes available to reach the summits and highs tablelands (4200 m), though take care not to stray too far from a used trail or else you may have to retrace your steps to rejoin a viable route. Wild dogs live in the area and you may spot some while walking, grab a rock if need be. A school can be found near to the monastery, with private housing and a small playground.
If walking in the other direction from the village - towards the main road - one encounters Red Stone Mountain, an interesting sandstone formation or mesa whose top is accessible. It takes about an hour to get to the top, and the trail vanishes at a point, so just keep climbing up. Prayer flags are present here, and on the aforementioned higher peaks providing a great view of the Gansu monastery side.
"Local artificial stuff", or craft items, are available from a number of shops, though as with many places in China, many are not particularly 'authentic' and you can find the same products over a very wide region. One or two shops towards the monastery end of town sell knives and you can watch the craftsman producing them.
AmdoCraft Cafe, link amdocraft on the main road to the Sichuan Monastery, has a good selection of locally made Tibetan Handicrafts, mainly made from yak- and sheep wool. You can also get here a good cup of coffee, Tibetan yoghurt and milk tea. Local Monks have visited and thoroughly enjoyed the cafe, saying that it "feels like home." It is closed in the winter months.
- Lesha's Restaurant has been open for more than a decade here and has a great, lively atmosphere. Run by a Muslim family that speak basic English, but are very friendly. The food is very good (try the apple-pie) and quite cheap and their couch is the best place in town for meeting other travelers.
- Dacanglangmu Saichi Monastery's hotel on the road to Maqu. Owned by Saichi Lamasery, it is very clean. Shared bathrooms, hot water in the evening or on request.
- Langmusi Binguan faces the main street but is in a courtyard.
- Sana Hotel on the main street. Owned by a Muslim family. Very clean doubles cost ¥50. Shared toilets and showers, hot water in the evenings or on demand.
- Zhaxi Guesthouse (Along the road up to Namo Gorge (on the way to one of the monasteries)). Zhaxi's Guesthouse was simple and clean, with good shared hot water showers. Zhaxi (the owner) barely speaks any English, but loves to practice with his guests. He also arranges a fantastic tour to his hometown in Diebu, overnight including accommodation, transportation (2hrs), hiking guide with horse, and food. ¥25/person/night.
- Nomad Youth Hostel. a YHA near Lisha restaurant
- Tibetan Barley Youth Hostel (Behind the main road near the water mill). Friendly people, great English, nice lobby and deck to hang out and meet travelers. Rooms are fine, no major annoyances. Good hot water if you remember to turn the water heater on first. Wifi is pretty good. about ¥40/person/night for dorms, ¥160 for a double room.