Songpan sits just east of the vast, marshy Aba grasslands, which sprawl over the Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai borders. Resting at around 3500m and draining into the headwaters of the Yellow River, the grasslands are home to nomadic herders and lots of birdlife – including black-necked cranes and golden eagles – and form a corridor between Sichuan and Gansu province. The scruffy village of LANGMUSI (郎木寺, lángmùsì) sits just off the highway to Hezuo, surrounded by forests, mountain scenery and lamaseries which give an easy taster of Tibet. There’s also immense hiking potential up to ridges and peaks beyond, but make sure you’re equipped for dogs and changeable weather.