The main Geluk monastery of the region, Rongpo Gompa (Longwu Si; ¥18), is to the south of town. But the most popular outing for those interested in Tibetan art is a visit to the villages of Shang Wutun (Upper Wutun) and Xia Wutun (Lower Wutun), 6.4km (4 miles) north of Tongren. The villages are filled with monks and laypeople turning out masses of Buddhist art for temples as far away as western Tibet; each village charges a ¥10 admission. The monks from Sengeshong Yagotsang (tel. 0973/872-9227; ¥10) in the upper village are exceptionally friendly, and happy to show their work. Thangkas can be purchased for ¥200 to ¥3,000, depending on the size of the piece, how intricately drawn the artwork is, and how much gold paint is used. Don't be afraid to bargain, even if you are buying from a monk!
Minivans charging ¥2 depart when full for Shang Wutun and Xia Wutun from the roundabout near the Tongren bus station, or hail a three-wheeler for ¥8. You can hire a taxi to make the round-trip for around ¥20. Directly across the river (Longwu He) is Gomar Gompa (Guomari Si; ¥10), marked by a spectacular five-tiered chorten (stupa). The climb to the top of the 38m (125-ft.) structure is a nervy one, as the ledges get narrower closer to the apex. The reward is a spectacular view down the valley. The monks are Tu, not Tibetan -- even those fluent in the Amdo dialect won't understand a word they say.
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.