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Danba, Sichuan

Danba is supposedly the richest Tibetan town in Sichuan. It has a mild weather and the Tibetan houses here are relatively new and huge. It is well-known for both its watchtowers 古碉楼 and pretty Tibetan ladies.

Attractions: Click here to view Daba Photos

Tibetan Villages: claimed as the “most beautiful ethnic villages in China” by Chinese National Geography, and popular with tourists, principally Zhonglu 中路, Jiaju 甲居 and Sopo 梭坡 for their watchtowers and beautiful traditional tibetan fortress-like houses. There are entrance fees to each of these places: 20 RMB, 30 RMB and 10 RMB respectively. Of the three, Sopo 梭坡 has the most watchtowers, both singly and in groups.

Watchtowers: They are built with stones. These watchtowers are designed with different number of sides and at different heights. They are either built in clusters or alone along the hills. Apparently there are different types of watchtowers, each built for different purposes and at different locations:

  • Yao’ai 要隘(Strategic Pass) was built at places of strategic importance such as mountain passes as a choking point during wars.
  • Fenghuo 烽火(Beacon-Fire) are normally located at hilltops for the purposes of transmitting messages via flames/fires
  • Zhai 寨 (Village) are built at entrance to villages to protect the villages.
  • Jia 家 (Dwelling) are built within villages. These tend to be connected to dwellings and are used for storage as well as defence

Valley of Beauties: Danba is also well-known as the “Valley of Beauties” as the Tibetan ladies here are of fairer complexion with nice features. During our stay we did noticed some of the ladies to be exceptionally pretty.

Dangling 党岭: is reputed to be very scenic, set in a higher altitude and has a few lakes. It is about 60 km from Danba town with dirt road access. Chartering a vehicle to visit will cost about 600 RMB. More about Dangling: click here.

Maoniugou 牦牛沟: We felt the most beautiful parts of the Danba region is, in fact, a shallow valley outside of town. The valley is named Maoniugou and is at the southwest of Danba on the way to Bamei 八美乡 and Tagong 塔公 . The most beautiful section is a 40km stretch south from a small town, TungKu东谷, which is about 20km from Danba. This area is beautiful in autumn with leaves of green, yellow and red, all along the length of the Maoniu River 牦牛河, combining in various patches to present a beautiful autumn vista.

There are no entrance fees whatsoever- the beautiful scenery is on one side of the road along the banks of the river. The valley is relatively shallow and so there are ample of sunlight illuminating the trees and leaves. As the stretch is fairly long, walking is probably not a good option.

We met some travelers who have been to another well-known spot in Sichuan for autumn (red leaves) scenery, Miyaluo, 米亚罗; they claimed that Miyaluo, 米亚罗 is incomparable to the beauty of this valley.

Getting around:

Most of the villages of interest are within a 10 km radius from town. There are vans that transport passengers to/fro each of these villages for 10 RMB each way. However these vans do infrequent trips- they leave only when they are relatively full. A better option is to charter a vehicle to cover a few villages together. We chartered a van to go to three villages at 100 RMB.

Getting there and away:

Danba is located 345km away from Chengdu. See its location on the map. Take the early morning bus at Chadianzi Bus Station (also called Ximen Bus Station) in Chengdu. The journey takes 9 to 10 hours. There are buses from Kangding. There are also plenty of connections to the various towns in the region.


There are ample hotels in Danba towns with doubles averaging 100 RMB. There is also accommodation in the villages (such as Zhonglu and Jiaju). At villages such as Jiaju, there are pretty Tibetan guides at the entrance who will provide guiding services to the village for 20-30 RMB. They also offer accommodation and meals (dinner and breakfast) at their homes for 50 RMB each.

There are a few hot springs within Maoniugou 牦牛沟. There is accommodation close to these hot springs.

Danba was named by some Chinese magazines as containing the “most beautiful ethnic villages in China”. I failed to see how this honour can be bestowed, except for packaged tourists. The saving grace is the beautiful Maoniugou.


Other Destinations in the region: Siguniang, Maerkang, Dangling.

Last Visit: in October 2006
Written by CBP in November 2006

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