Worldly Wanderlust - Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, China

Three public service officers share their tales of holidays off the beaten track, and reaffirm that the road less travelled usually comes packed with adventures of a lifetime.

Janelle Woo

Centre Director (Qingdao)
International Operations Group (Northern China),
International Enterprise Singapore

Having recently made her way almost five kilometres up to the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Ms Woo can testify that the Roof of the World is as close to heaven as you can get, blessed with a natural splendour that is pristine and majestic.

Thanks to an acquaintance’s introduction, she had the exclusive opportunity to visit these secluded highlands and enjoy the warm hospitality of 400 nuns in Gebchak Gonpa, Tibet’s largest nunnery. Travelling almost a day from Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province to her final destination, acclimatisation was the major hardship – being out of breath was very common. During her stay, she shared simple meals of tsampa (roasted flour), boiled vegetables and barbecued yak me at with the nuns, and witnessed their unwavering religious devotion as they chanted in their prayer rooms. So blissful and stress-free was Ms Woo’s escape to higher ground that she described her experience as being nothing short of spiritual.

Getting there and around: China Eastern Airlines flies to Yushu, with a transit in Xi’an. From there, it’s a half day’s drive to Nanqian county, en route to the highlands where the nunnery is located. Alternatively, several airlines fly to various nearby Chinese cities where you can make land connections to Yushu.


  • To aid acclimatisation, travel by land in Qinghai and make overnight pit-stops instead of flying directly to Yushu. Also, take altitude-sickness pills a week before travel.
  • It is customary for Tibetans and visitors to present each other the hada – a traditional ceremonial silk scarf – as a sign of purity and respect.
  • Bring enough warm clothes since most remote mountain villages have no heaters and electricity supply.
Read about other public officers' experience in Iran and Pakistan
    Nov 21, 2013
    Randall Lim
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