The town is home to two major Geluk monasteries, Sertri Gompa (¥16) and Kirti Gompa (¥15), situated in Gansu and Sichuan respectively. Both were razed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt during the early 1980s. Together, they house about 1,000 monks. True to the factional traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, they refer to each other as "that place in the other province." While the buildings are of recent construction, both are lively centers of worship, and the sound of monks chanting the scriptures may be heard throughout the day. A magnificent view of the surrounding countryside may be had from Sertri Gompa.

There are some delightful rambles around Langmu Si. If you head southwest beyond Kirti Gompa, a succession of narrow ravines and moraine valleys crowded with wildflowers, birds, and bubbling springs show the way to an abrupt pass. Continuing over the pass, you eventually connect with the Langmu Si-Maqu road, but this is a strenuous tramp through wild nomad country and should only be attempted by well-equipped parties. Another stiff hike is to the top of the distinctively shaped Hua Gai Shan (Flower Cap Mountain); this is best done as a horse trek (¥120-¥150 per day), camping overnight on the peak. Traditionally, only men are allowed to sleep on the mountain, but this taboo is relaxed for foreigners. On a clear morning, you can see the holy mountain of Amnye Machen in Qinghai. On the 15th day of the 6th month of the lunar calendar, a magnificent "sunning of the Buddha" festival takes place on a broad plateau just below the peak, the consecration of the thangka heralded by lamas trumpeting from the summit. A nearby hot spring is also a popular destination for horse treks.

Langmu Si is a popular spot to attend a sky burial or chadur (¥16 admission to Sertri Gompa). To reach the spot, head past the gate of Sertri Gompa and veer toward the left, walking about 1km (2/3 mile). In this arid, treeless land, an alternative to cremation or burial had to be found for the people of the Tibetan plateau. The remains of the deceased (whose soul is thought to have already left the body) are dismembered and offered to huge vultures. Nothing is wasted; even the bones are ground up by attendants. If attending the funeral of a stranger doesn't put you off, be aware that Langmu Si is a small town, so you may have to wait a few days for someone to die. This is not a tourist show and you should keep a respectful distance. A large breakfast beforehand is not advised.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.