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“Labrang Monastery”

Labrang Monastery (Labuleng Si)
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Owner description: Considered one of the six great monasteries of the Gelukpa (Yellow Hat) Sect, this complex contains more than 2,000 monks in residence plus eighteen halls, six institutes of learning, a golden stupa and nearly 60,000 sutras.
Reviewed November 9, 2013

I go to the Labrang Monastery with the Tibet Mandala Tours agency. Their guide is really good and showed many of the explanations of the monastery. Very many statues, and great buildings. Much history here. I liked it very much and recomend to others. If you are in the region and like Buddhism, you should really go here.

7  Thank MacArthur114
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 14, 2013

Labrang, or "Xiahe" as it is known in Chinese, has one of the biggest monasteries within the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo (mainly present-day Qinghai). It rose to prominence in the 17th century, and started overtaking the Reb-gong monastery in regional influence, and has been hugely important ever since. Historically, then, the site is highly relevant to both local and wider Tibetan history.

Culturally, too, the area is fascinating. The Labrang monastery grounds itself contain numerous temples and halls, filled to the brim with fascinating and colorful Buddhist statues, teeming with numerous monks, and sometimes overflowing with tourists as well. (Timing is everything: try to avoid going to early in the day, and later in the year the tourist levels are lower than during the Summer months).

The upsides of the compound are as briefly described above: if you're interested in Tibetan Buddhism, this is a place you will not want to skip. For the lived realities of Tibetan Buddhism books and so on do not cut it; Go see a real place with real people. Labrang may well end up ranking high on your final list, and it is definitely more easily accessible than are the Central Tibetan temples and monasteries (the Jokhang, Ganden, Drepung etc.), as Qinghai does not require any additional permits besides your Chinese visa. Labrang's combination of history and cultural abundance make for a great trip.

Other upsides are presented by the surrounding region. Encircling the area are higher elevated grass plains inhabited by nomads. Both can be combined very well, especially when traveling with an agency that has inroads among the nomadic population. I trekked there with Mandala Tibet Tours from Rebgong (Tongren), after a very positive experience in Tongren (the standard first stop when moving south of Xining). The trek there was fabulous.

The only downside of Labrang can be it's excessive attraction to tourists. This has caused the monastery to even go so far as to install turn-stiles, which does not really add to the charm of the place, and also has caused the fees to rise up to some 40 RMB, which is far cheaper than the 80 of Kumbum, but still the price of two good meals in a local restaurant. As described above, however, at least much of the crowds can be circumvented with a tad of clever timing.

A final word to the wise, do not make the mistake of making this a simple day-trip, popping by the monastery and moving on directly afterwards. Try and dig slightly deeper, and you'll find plenty of both natural and cultural gems around here, which unfortunately generally disappear into the shade of the central monastery's fame, and are therefore far less traveled and well-known. This only presents all the more opportunity for you, so go grab it, I'd say.

7  Thank Lozang N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 10, 2013

I think that the Labrang Monastery compares very well with the most important Monasteries in Tibet and it's worth a visit without any doubt .
The Monastery is definitely very beautiful . All the buildings are fascinating and colorful both inside and outside . The pilgrims "kora" is really touching . and the pilgrims seemed the most genuin people in Labrang !
But it would be better if the roads inside the Monastery Complex were forbidden to cars . I have seen a BMW X5 going around the main building ! I have also seen some monks talking on their mobile phones during the general prayers inside the main building ! This is not very "spiritual" !!!
If you want to go inside the buildings you have to book a shared visit guided by an authorized monk . Our group was too big ( and so were the others we have seen ) and therefore , it was very difficult to enter in the smaller buildings . This made the visit very noisy .
Moreover our monk-guide spoke an "obscure" english and we could't understand at least 80% of his speech .
It is forbidden to take picture inside the buidings and the monk's attention seemed totally concentrated on making everyone respect this rule , shouting to anybody who moved in a suspicious way !
I think that such a wonderful place deserves a much better manner in guiding people !
We reach Labrang Monastery driving from Lanzhou in about a 5 hours drive .

1  Thank Massimo R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 9, 2013

this is not only a monastery but a vast area where the monks live & pray.
Great spot to visit & walk around & observe.
24 hours a day, pilgrims, monks or (few) tourists are doing the 4 km praying path around the LABRANG monastery with the praying wheels.
Noz to miss - even with kids a great experience!

1  Thank Rolf S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 5, 2013

very interesting if you cannot afford go to tibet. our first contact with tibetan architecture and temples. this place will become more relevant if the road improves. not overcrowded.

Thank 13LUIS13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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