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Deqin (德欽; Déqīn) is a town located in the Hengduanshan Mountains in Yunnan province. 80% of its 55,000 inhabitants are Tibetan. If you can deal with the altitude (3550m) it makes a great place to hike from, and if you can not then just hanging out in town is also very rewarding. A small piece of Tibet, accessible without expensive permits.
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Points of Interest in Deqin
It takes 1 hour and a half to get there and you will be asked to pay ¥80 (June 2011) as a scenic area entrance fee. Make sure you bring your passport as you have to be registered. With a student card you can get a half-price ticket. The 9 km (one way) hike takes about 6-7 hours in total (6.5km uphill and 2.5km downhill) with 1284 meters vertical gain. For those who find the hike difficult there is an option of hiring a horse or mule for ¥185 to the top or ¥255 for the whole way (June 2011). There are 2 tea-houses on the way up where you can buy some water and simple snacks and a tea-house at the top of Yakou pass. The accomodation in Yubeng are very basic and costs about ¥20-25 for a person (June 2011). Food though is very expensive in Yubeng due to the lack of fresh veggies and
Once there, Yubeng is one of the most picturesque villages you could hope to see. Nestled in an alpine valley, surrounded by snow peaks, multicoloured forests, and waterfalls. There are also numerous treks one can make from the village, so plan to spend at least a couple of days there.
- Meilixue Mountain Nature Reserve (梅里雪山景区; Méilǐxuěshān Jǐngqū; also known as Snow Mountain) (You can arrange transport to the reserve entrance for around ¥50 per person in a shared 4x4. Information correct (January 2008)). Hike to the Taizi Temple and Minyong Glacier. Taizi Temple has a guest house but unfortunately most of the rooms are severely damaged by a storm, there is still a few acceptable rooms, available at very low prices ¥20. Only recommended if you absolutely have to stay on the mountain, otherwise go back down to Mingyong Town (July 2009). ¥60.
Popular events in Deqin in the near future
Deqin town itself is a terrible manifestation of the worst kind of modern Chinese architecture: dirty, white-tiled, and soulless. However, if you love hiking Deqin is a superb base. If you are not a hiker you might be disappointed, though a short ride out of town does provide a great view of Meilixue Mountain, which could justify the six-hour bus ride from Zhongdian.
Deqin prefecture is where the big mountains are to be found with impossibly steep valleys, mind-blowing vistas, remote monasteries and class A trekking, for all levels, available all year round. In fact the best time to trek is during the winter months as summer is the rainy season. March is the worst month as the rains start but it's still cold enough so it comes down as snow. This is the month to get snowed in.
So, if Deqin is so great, why is it not better known? The main reason for this is that there is not a lot of information available on the area, so the average traveller is left guessing whether it is worth visiting or not. The fact that most travellers will have to return the way they came also puts them off visiting (Deqin is the last town before Tibet proper in Yunnan province).
Here are ten good reasons to visit Deqin:
- 1. Mt Kawakarpo & Mt. Miantsomo
- 2. Trek up to the Mingyong Glacier
- 3. Trekking to Yubeng
- 4. Trekking along the Mekong River
- 5. Tashi's Mountain Lodge, Reringkha village (closed)
- 6. To organize a road trip to Lhasa (the land route to Tibet is closed for foreigners)
- 7. The spectacular drive up from Shangri-la
- 8. Deqin's Tibetan Disco (most are closed)
- 9. Sleeping in remote Tibetan villages
- 10. Special ginger, lemon tea
Most of the small restaurants on the main street have good food. Tibetan cured pork is worthwhile trying. All the dishes with yak meat are considered to be local and might cost 25-35 yuan.
Butter Tea (Pinyin: sū yóu chá; Tibetan: bod ja) - This is a main staple of the Tibetan diet made of yak butter, black tea, and salt. Mix it with barley flour and you have a meal known as tsampa.
- Migratory Bird Cafe (at Feilai Temple), ☎ +86 887 6895030. They have great maps for ¥10 and other information.
Saffron is a choice when you go to Deqin because this is kind of quite valuable herb.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Deqin on Wikivoyage.