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Yushu County (玉树) is a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province and is very hard to get to and completely worth it. The capital, which everyone just calls Yushu, is Gyêgu in Tibetan and located in a beautiful valley. Although this area has changed hands among many different rulers in the last 500 years it has still remained completely Tibetan in character, especially since 97% of the population is Tibetan. From the humming chants of monks and pilgrims to nomads with large knives hanging from their belts Yushu has plenty to offer.
The town itself are the sights and activities. Although a modern city in most ways, the people are not. In the summer time the city floods with nomads from the country side and the large monastery on the hill dominates the city skyline. In the city centre there is a huge statue to a Tibetan mythic hero (bigger then most statues of Mao). All day long along the main street you can hear the hammering of metal workers as they create new prayer wheels and other instruments of religious worship. East of the city is the largest piles of Mani Stones in the world, with over two billion stones, and is a constantly surrounded by pilgrims. West of the city there is a temple to a Tang Dynasty Princess that was the second wife to a Tibetan King. This princess helped with the early introduction of Buddhism to Tibetan culture. Other then that temple there are several small temples, monasteries and shrines around the area that are very pretty.
If your looking to do some shopping there are several shops around town that sell Tibetan handicrafts although a little more expensive then in Xining. There is one shopping mail next to the post office. Then there is an open air market, with cool Tibetan tailors, located behind the buildings on the main square.
Every July there is an annual horse festival in Yushu.
In the summer expect lots of rain storms in the afternoon. Winters come early and can be very harsh. Spring and fall, although short, can be very nice.
There is no Airport at this time.
The easiest way to get to Yushu is taking a 17-hour sleeper bus to and from Xining. There is also day buses that go to and from Xining that leave at 6:00am. You can also take buses to/from the smaller towns in the area. Including the nearby provinces of Sichuan and depending on the political situation even sometimes the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Remember it can sometimes be difficult to buy tickets ahead of time because the bus station has no computer system. If the ticket vendor does not sell to you just show up early the next morning.
There are little taxi vans that do not have meters. Usually anywhere in town only costs 5 RMB and for a full day around 100 RMB.
There are several public buses that run around town and are very useful. The bus that runs out of town towards Xining goes all the way to the Mani Stones and only costs 2 RMB.
The main source of food in this area of the country is soup noodles. Everywhere you go will be most likely some sort of noodle soup restaurant. Travellers should try the Tibetan hotpot noodles that come in a small black cast iron pot. There are some hotpot and chinese restaurants but they are not very good and are overpriced. There are several restaurants to choose from on the road to Xining.
There is two options for drinking in this town. Either at a tea house with the walls covered in fake bamboo or the Tibetan discos. There are several Tibetan discos around town and they are constantly moving to new locations. These places can be lots of fun. Most of the night is spent watching people perform on stage (dancing, singing or doing tricks) then at the end of the night maybe some traditional Tibetan dancing to some Chinese or Indian pop music. Ask your hotel owner about the location of Tibetan Discos.
There are several hotels around town most of them not good. There is an International Youth hostel located on the main road going toward Xining and has nice standard rooms, private/dorms, with public or private hot showers. Also many families will rent out extra beds to tourists illegally.
There is an internet bar located right on the town square.
See also International Telephone Calls
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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