Among the draws of many towns in western Sichuan are their Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, most of which belong to the yellow-hat Gelugpa sect. Monasteries form huge medieval-looking complexes sprawling over hillsides, with a central core of large, red-walled, gold-roofed temples surrounded by a maze of smaller buildings housing monks and staff. Monasteries are usually free to enter; if there are no signs to the contrary, assume that photography is forbidden inside temples. Monks are generally friendly, encouraging you to explore, steering you firmly away from closed areas, and sometimes offering food and accommodation – though don’t take these for granted. Most importantly, remember to orbit clockwise around both individual temples and the complex as a whole (the only exception to this rule being at the region’s few Bon temples).

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

Shanghai has to be a contender for the buzziest city in Asia, a thriving business hub that's brashly modern yet wears its history on its sleeve. Dense with glit…

23 Oct 2017 • Simon Lewis insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right