Qamdo Overview

Qamdo Overview will help you have a more comprehensive understanding of Qamdo city from the basic information, geographical location, climate, transportation, culture, shopping, economy, natural resources and so on.

Basic Information


Connecting Sichuan Province to the east, Deqin County to the southeast, Nyingchi area to the southwest and Nagqu to the northwest, Qamdo covers an area of 110,000 square kilometers, accounting for 8.9% of the total Tibet. Qamdo is located in the key link of the boundary among TibetSichuanQinghai and Yunnan and the place that Sichuan-Tibet Railway and Yunnan-Tibet Railway must pass through. In ancient time, Qamdo is the important stop of Tea Horse Route and famed as the 'Pearl of Tibet' due to its pivot position on Tibetan commerce and trade.

Qamdo History

Qamdo was called “Kang” or “Kemu(客木)” in ancient times. In the Tang Dynasty, Qamdo was part of the Tubo Kingdom. After the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was called the khams-gter region. The former Tibetan government called it the “Dokangmu(朵康木)” region, and now it is a prefecture-level city belonging to the Tibet Autonomous region. Located in the east of Tibet, Qamdo is located at the throat of the border between Tibet and SichuanQinghai and Yunnan. It is also the necessary place for the Sichuan-Tibet highway and the Yunnan-Tibet highway. In ancient time, Qamdo was the important stop of Tea Horse Route and famed as the ‘Pearl of Tibet’ due to its pivot position on Tibetan commerce and trade.

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Qamdo enjoys a plateau subtemperate subhumid climate. The summer climate is mild and humid, while the winter climate is dry and cold; The annual temperature difference is small, and the daily temperature difference is large.  In Qamdo, the summers are long, comfortable, and mostly cloudy and the winters are freezing, dry, and partly cloudy. 

Best Time to Visit  Qamdo

In Qamdo, the summers are long, comfortable, and mostly cloudy and the winters are freezing, dry, and partly cloudy.  Due to special geographical and weather conditions, the best travel time for Qamdo is from April to June and September to October. In these months, the weather is not as cold as winter and spring, as well as not as wet as the rainy season. In early summer, the grass was green and wild flowers are blooming on the plateau. Tibetan families usually dress up to visit friends and have a good time. Plateau in late autumn is a magnificent picture of the colorful and beautiful scenery, blue sky and clean water, mountains and rivers. In other seasons, road traffic may be disrupted by the rainy season and heavy snow.

Administrative Divisions

As of November 2014, Qamdo has jurisdiction over 1 district and 10 counties. It is further divided into 24 towns and 118 townships. The seat of government of Qamdo is Karub District.

Qamdo Transportation

Generally, Tourist can get to Qamdo by two main ways: take a flight or drive to Qamdo from other Tibetan cities.

Flight: Taking a direct flight to Qamdo is the fastest and most convenient way. Qamdo offers several lines connected with cities including LhasaChengduChongqingTianjin and Xi 'an.

Driving: Qamdo is situated in the east Tibet area. It's remote and less visited than Lhasa, Shigatse and Everest. The long journey for over 20 hours driving from Lhasa, Shigatse and other palaces in Tibet to Qamdo probably is tedious but you will enjoy the picturesque landscape on the way.

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Qamdo Culture

Qamdo ethnic culture is diverse and colorful, featuring the folk culture of the Tibetan ethnic group. Qamdo area is the cradle of Kang-pa culture and the Tibetan people here is called 'Kang-pa people'. Due to territorial and social communication reason, Qamdo received Yellow River culture from Qinghai and Gansu Province, Ba-Shu culture from Sichuan and Chongqing, and the multi-ethnic-minority culture from Yunnan and gradually affects its own culture. Featured ethnic cultures in Qamdo include religion culture, Kang-pa culture, traditional costume, housing style, folk culture such as, Reba art, Guozhuang Dance, paintings and carving art, etc. as well as funeral customs and etiquettes. Traveling to the traditional ethnic villages, you can explore the most authentic ethnic traditions which can't be seen anywhere else. Furthermore, you can also learn about the intangible cultural heritages from the inheritors in Qamdo. 

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Qamdo Shopping

Benefiting from its deep valleys and steep mountains, Qamdo enjoys rich zoological and botanical resources. Qamdo is abundant with good agricultural products which are worth buying, such as Cordyceps sinensis, snow lotus, rhodiola and saffron crocus. Moreover, the drunk pear of Baxoi County is famous. The famous local specialties in Qamdo mainly include Cordyceps sinensis, Fritillaria, Saussurea/snow lotus, Walnut, Tibetan knife and livestock products. In addition, the ethnic handicrafts in Qamdo are also very distinctive and worth buying.

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Things to Do in Qamdo

Qamdo attractions will feast your eyes with beautiful scenery of lakes, magnificent mountains and amazing glaciers, which will be the highlight of your Tibet travel. Qamdo is the third largest city after Lhasa and Shigatse. You may find both brilliant historic sites and fabulous sights there. Lots of spectacular sightseeing in Qamdo wait for your further discovery. For foreign travelers, it is available to visit beautiful Midui Glacier, Lhegu Glacier and Rawok Lake.

  • Natural Scenery: Qamdo landscape will feast your eyes with beautiful scenery of lakes, magnificent mountains and amazing glaciers, such as Rawu LakeLhegu Glacier and Bangda Grassland, etc.  You will be shocked by the first glimpse of bluish water of Rawu lake, with surrounding snow-capped mountains and green grass carpet. In the north side of Rawu Lake, lies the famous Lhegu Glacier, whose snow water will pour into the lake to keep it clear and rich.
  • Monastery: Galden Jampaling Monastery is the most famous one among the monasteries in Qamdo.  It is also known as Qambaling Monastery, Changbalin Monastery, or Qiangbalin Monastery. The top of things to see in Chamdo is the god dance in Jampaling Monastery. Each year, during the Butter Sculpture Festival, there is god dance performance. 
  • Historical Relics: Karub Ruins is recommended for you to know more about the earlier history and culture of Qamdo. Qamdo was once an important post on the Ancient Tea-horse Road, therefore, it is necessary to visit the Ancient Tea Horse Caravan in Riwoqe if you are interested in tea culture. Cliff paintings in Qamdo are also worth visiting, such as Renda Cliff Carving
  • Mountain Hiking: Besides the hiking experience, mountains in Qamdo also offer you magnificent and impressive scenery. Dongda Mountain is the must-visit one among those. It is lawn green and attractive in summer with yak group and extremely beautiful scenery.

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Qamdo Economy

Qamdo before 1959 was a feudal serfdom society ruled by secular monks and aristocratic autocracy. People led a hard life at that time,  the serfs had no personal freedom and were treated as private property by serf owners. In this productive situation, coupled with the excessive plunder by the serf owners, the serfs led a hard and poor life. Great changes have taken place in all walks of life in Qamdo since 1959, especially since China's reform and opening up in 1978. Qamdo has leapt from a feudal serfdom society to a modern civilized society. Its economy has developed from a single primitive agriculture and animal husbandry to a diversified economic structure, featuring modern industry, agriculture and animal husbandry and the tertiary industry go hand in hand. 

Major Economic Indicators 2016 2017
Gross Domestic Product (RMB bn) 14.8 17.0
Real GDP Growth 10.0% 10.0%
GDP Composition
     Primary industry 15.7% 15.6%
     Secondary industry 40.0% 43.1%
     Tertiary industry 44.3% 41.3%
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB bn) 22.1 28.3
Retail Sales (RMB bn) 4.15 4.77

Natural Resources

Climatic Resources

Qamdo enjoys a sub-temperate and sub-humid climate on the plateau, with dry severe cold in the northwest and north, mild and humid in the southeast. It has long sunshine time, with annual average temperature of 7.6℃, annual rainfall of 400-600 mm, due to the high mountains and deep valleys, complex terrain, there is a plateau climate characteristic of "one mountain experiences four seasons, different weather appear within ten miles ".

Water Resources

Qamdo boast rich water resources including rivers, glaciers and lakes. Qamdo River system belongs to outflow water system. The main rivers include Nujiang River, Lancang River, Jinsha River and its tributaries. It is one of the upstream concentration areas of the main rivers in China and southeast Asia, with numerous rivers. Qamdo has a large number of lakes, but the scale is very small. Large lakes inlcude Rawok Lake , Rencuo Lake and Butuo Lakes. There are hundreds of glaciers in Qamdo, which is one of the concentrated distribution areas of glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.  Lhegu Glaciers is the most famous one.

Mineral Resources

Qamdo is rich in mineral resources, with non-ferrous metals taking an obvious advantage. As of 2014, more than 70 minerals have been discovered, with more than 360 mining sites. There are more than 80 mineral deposits, more than 290 ore occurrences and more than 340 mineralized spots. There are 13 kinds of mineral deposits that have been listed in the Tibet Autonomous Region's mineral reserves balance sheet. Among them, copper ranks the second, magnesite the third, arsenic  the fifth, crystalline graphite the seventh, gypsum is the seventh, nad molybdenum kuang ranks the tenth, etc.

Plant Resources

Forest resources in Qamdo are the main components of the forest resources in southwest China. The forest resources in Qamdo are not only rich in tree species, good in material quality and large in timber accumulation, but also feature primary forests. According to 1991 survey data, the living wood stock in the whole region is 364 million cubic meters. In addition to building materials forests, there are more than 1200 kinds of medicinal plants, mainly including cordyceps sinensis, fritillary and rhubarb, etc. There are abundant fungus resources in forest and grassland, such as lentinus edodes, Hericium erinaceus, roebuck fungus, Tricholoma matsutake and the like, which are rich in nutrition, delicious in taste and contain anticancer substances, and are exported to domestic and foreign markets.

Animal Resources

In the grasslands and forests of Qamdo, there are many kinds of animals, which are called "pheasant kingdom" by zoologists. Domestic animals  mainly include yaks, cattle, cattle, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, etc. There are 17 species of wild animals listed as national first-class protected animals and 54 species of listed as second-class protected animals. There are two nature reserves in Qamdo for wild animal protection, which are Riwoqe Deer National Nature Reserve and Markham Nature Reserve for Yunnan Golden Monkey