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Pai, Tibet

Pe/Pai Village is the starting point of a long trek to Metok 墨脱 (the last county in China which can't be accessed by car.) along the primitive Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge which is claimed by Chinese scientists as the deepest gorge in the world. Due to its toughness and isolation, this trek is ranked by Chinese adventurers as China's Number One trek. Every year from June to November, hikers follow the porters who transport provisions from Pe to Metok. During the other seasons, only helicopters dispatch limited supplies to Metok.

Things to See:

There are two Pe- Pe township and Pe village. The township is reached first from Bayi and the village is at the end of the bus ride. Pe is a small village on the south bank of Yarlung Tsangpo. The road to Pe winds along the Yarlung Tsangpo. The river is flat and calm here; so calm that a few sandy islands are formed at a number of its bends. There are also wide sand dunes along a few segments of the river; one of the sand dunes is about 150m high! The sand dunes are formed by the strong wind that blows along this stretch of the river. A few of the sand dunes are actually �Water Burial� sites used by the local Tibetans to �bury� their loved ones. Water Burial is quite similar to the better-known Sky Burial practice of the Tibetans; instead of leaving the corpse to the vultures, in this practice the corpse is left in the river.

There are majestic views of Mount Namchak Bawa (7756m) from Pe village. Namchak Bawa was the world's highest unclimbed peak until 1992. The river narrows to only 100m at Pe Village and there are ferry boats crossing to the villages on the opposite bank.

From Pe one dirt road winds its way along the river passing three smaller villages. These are pretty villages set against the spectacular snow peaks of the Eastern Himalaya on one side and the Yarlung Tsangpo river on the other. The last village of TziPai 直白 is set in a deep gorge with the river making a huge bending. The distance between Pe and TziPai is about 20km with the dirt road going up and down a few hundred meters. It takes nearly a day to trek between the villages. However TziPai can be reached by hiring a farm tractor in one of the villages for about Y80 to Y100. (round trip). In TziPai we were lucky to see the magnificent triangle peak of Namchak Bawa unveiled from clouds for less than a minutes.

The dirt road ends in TziPai. Hikers can follow a narrow donkey trail along the river , walk another 20km to Gyala, a Tibetan village hidden in the deep of the gorge. A more demanding trek is to climb the foothill to the base camp of Namchak Bawa.

From Pe, another dirt road extends 18km east to Songlinkou. All provisions have to be discharged from trucks and transported further to Motek by porters in four or five days via the southeast trail. From Motek, most hikers take the north trail and walk another 3 days to a place 80km from Pome.



Pe Village is fast developing with many new Tibetan style buildings being built. There are a few small hostels in the village offering beds from Y10 up. None of them has toilet neither shower. We stayed at the friendly Yuzhou Fandian 渝州饭店 . Meals are more expensive than that of in Bayi, counting Y10 for vegetable dish, Y18 for meat.

The village is anticipating major influx of tourists as efforts are in place to promote and publicize the sceneries and its proximity to the big bends of Yarlung Tsangpo. There are also plans to collect entrance fees to the area soon.


Getting there and away :

There is only one direct daily bus service between Bayi and Pe. One bus leaves for Pe from the square in front of the Post Hotel in Bayi at about 10am and another leaves Pe for Bayi at 9am every day. (The driver we met was a very nice guy from Sichuan, his mobile number is 13989048811) The journey takes about 5 hours for 130km. This means that one will have to spend at least one night in Pe to explore the sceneries. There is a checkpoint on the way to Pe. It will be a problem for those foreigners who don't have any necessary permit.


Written by CBP in September 2005

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