Location: Located in western Sichuan Province, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is an important Tibetan area in China on the southeast edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. It neighbors, Yunan Province in the south and Qinghai Province in the north, are separated from Tibet by the Jinsha River. Kangding County is the political, economic and cultural center of the prefecture.
History: Garze is also referred to as Kangba or Kangqu. Dege County in northwestern Garze, Lhasa City in Tibet and Xiahe County in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province are the three ancient cultural centers of the Tibetan ethnic minority. Kangding, the seat of the prefecture government, has been an important trading market since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). After the liberation of the region, the Xikang Province Tibetan Autonomous Region was established here in 1950, and changed to Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture under Sichuan Province five years later.
Physical Features: Situated in the transition area from Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau to Sichuan Basin, Garze is comprised of plateau, and highland and alpine valley. Its terrain slopes generally from the northwest to the southeast, with an average altitude of 3,500 meters (11,483 feet). The main branches in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Jinsha River, Yapan River and Dadu River, flow through the prefecture.
Climate: The prefecture enjoys a plateau monsoon climate, and the weather is complicated and varies in accordance with the spatial variation, such as the differentiation of altitude, terrain and latitude. The annual average temperature of most regions is below 8℃ (46.4℉).
When to Go: Spring (April to May) is the best season for appreciating flowers scattered all around the mountains in the fresh air, while for photographers, autumn is the best time to grasp the colorful scenery of Garze. If visitors expect to see the snow-capped plateau, they should make a trip during November and December. It is suggested to not travel in Garze in January and February for snow may block the way to mountains.