Introducing Dānbā (Rongtrak)
Dānbā stretches almost impossibly along a valley of the Dadu River (Dàdù Hé), the town seemingly chiselled right into sheer riverine escarpments. The cliffs gradually back off and melt into imposing hills, and here you’ll find a heavy Tibetan and Qiang populace in picturesque villages. Rising heavenward around the hamlets are the archaeological wonders of the area – dozens and dozens of ancient stone Qiang watchtowers gracefully aging as they still guard their locals, even after centuries. Not for nothing was this sublime little village rated in 2005 as the ‘Best Village in China’ by none other than Chinese National Geographic.
Technically not on the Sìchuān–Tibet Hwy, Dānbā is nonetheless a good place to take a brief detour. Inherent loveliness, sure, but the elevation is also much lower, so you can get a break from icy winds, intense sun and altitude giddiness.