Cypress Park

Forest in Bāyī

Two kilometres southeast of Bāyī a stand of ancient cypress trees dot a steep but inviting hillside. The most venerable cypress is a reported 2500 years old, making it the oldest tree in China, and as old as the Buddha himself. This, in addition to the tree being sacred to Bön founder Tonpa Shenrab, makes the site exceptionally holy for Tibetans, and a prime pilgrim spot.

Owing to the short growing season at altitude, the trees in this park are not as thick or tall as those you find in Redwood Park in California, for example, but they are still magnificent. As with many sights in Tibet, the Chinese have built pavilions and paths around the trees (and given them new legends), though mercifully they are largely unobtrusive. Walk a few minutes up the paths from the oldest tree and you're likely to be alone with the 'younger' trees and the big views across the valley.