The verdant, mountainous area to the south and southwest of Lanzhou, bordering Qinghai to the west and Sichuan to the south, is one of enormous scenic beauty, relatively untouched by the scars of industry and overpopulation. The people who live in the so-called Xiahe loop are few in number, but diverse in culture and ethnicity, with a very strong Hui and Tibetan presence in the towns of Linxia and Xiahe, respectively. Xiahe, in particular, is a delightful place to visit, housing one of the major Lamaist temples in China, and attracting monks and pilgrims from the whole Tibetan world. From Xiahe, you can loop back to Lanzhou via Tongren – itself home to a large Tibetan population – and Xining, both in Qinghai province, or even follow an adventurous route south into Sichuan province.
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