7. Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, Seda, Sichuan Province (四川省色达县喇荣五明佛学院)|
Holy land for Tibetan Buddhists. Thousands of red wooden dormitories in the lush mountains of rural northeast Sichuan form one of the world’s largest Buddhist monasteries, Larung Gar Buddhist Institute.
Sprawling across approximately four square kilometers at 4,000 meters above sea level, the "Buddhist metropolis" houses more than 10,000 disciples, who practice Nyingma, a major school of Tibetan Buddhism. Most wear traditional red gowns.Located in the Tibetan-inhabited part of Sichuan, the secluded Buddhist campus can be reached only after hours of bumpy riding on mountain roads. Nevertheless, Chan considers it her hands-down favorite destination in mainland China.
Getting there: Seda County is about 600 kilometers northwest of Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan.
The Chengdu Chadianzi Bus Station (成都茶店子客运站) has one bus bound for Seda every day at 8 a.m. The journey costs RMB 144 and takes approximately 14 hours. Larung Gar Buddhist Institute is about 20 kilometers outside Seda town.
International travelers to Seda do not need a Tibet Alien travel/PSB permit, but regulations often change regarding permits to enter this region. It’s advisable to consult a China state-owned travel agency before planning a trip.