About Zhilam

Who Are We…

We are Tibetans or people who love Tibetans working together to improve the life and situation of those around us.  This is who we are:



Patru grew up as a nomad boy in the village of YuLongXi. Herding yaks through all the valleys and passes was second nature to him before becoming a teenager.  Now with his own kids grown up, Patru has been  organizing and time permitting actually guiding guests on treks throughout the Gongga area over the last 10 years.  He also helps manage Zhilam Hostel.   Please see https://zhilamhostel.com/mountaineering-information/minyak-gongga-tours/ for more info about his treks.

Tashi Lhaji

Recently graduated from the Tibetan school here in Kangding.  She helps keep our hostel cleaner that the others around!  To get to her home village you must ride a horse for 6 hours!  Go visit!


Our Family

Kristopher and Stephanie fell in love with each other and with Tibet during an overland tour from Lhasa to Katmandu.  The following year were married in Colorado.  In 2003 they joined an NGO that would enable them to live in China and do development work with Tibetans, but soon found that road to be too full of bureaucracy.  So they branched out on their own, started a Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise (which has never been done before in Kangding), built a hostel, hired staff and use the center as a both a source of income and as a training center teaching local Tibetans all areas of hospitality industry.  In the last5 years they birthed three children: Adalia, Indira and Zhilam Hostel. (seen here with a visiting friend from America)

See Family Pics from Around Kangding

 About Kangding

Kangding, known in Tibetan as Dardo or Dartsendo, is the first Tibetan region as you travel west from Chengdu. Lying at an elevation of 2616m / 8580 feet, Kangding has been a main trading center, particularly for tea, between Chengdu and Lhasa for many centuries. Even today, most goods traveling from mainland China to the inner regions of the Tibetan Plateau pass through Kangding.


Kangding sits in a beautiful valley along the banks of the Zheduo and Yala Rivers. These two rivers merge on the east end of town just below the towering Guoda Mountain.  Kangding is the capital of Ganzi (Garnze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is part of the traditional Tibetan region of Kham. Kangding has long been the cultural boundary between Han Chinese and Tibetans. The city has a population of around 100,000. Roughly 40% of the population are Tibetans, 40% Han Chinese with the remaining 20% coming from smaller minority groups such as the Qiang, Yi and Hui. Colorful Tibetan nomads from the nearby grasslands often come into town to buy and sell goods.




About our hostel…

Zhilam Hostel, a peaceful Tibetan-style home, is perched on a quiet hillside above the city of Kangding, Sichuan. Zhilam is a Tibetan word meaning “the path of peace.” Come stay with us and gear up for your journey ahead, or rejuvenate after your travels through the rugged mountains of Western Sichuan. Kangding also serves as a gateway to many Tibetan areas of China.

Gateway to where?

Kangding itself is a delightful place to spend a week with many attractions in the neighborhood. However, if your looking to widen your checklist of “places visited” then Kangding is the place to start. To the South, one can travel to Dechin, Shangrila and Lijiang (Yunnan). To the West before hitting the TAR border, one can experience the wildness of Litang and the pleasantness of Batang. To the Northwest lies the adventures of Tagong, Ganzi, Dege and eventually Yushu (Qinghai). To the Northwest also lies Danba with its beautiful ancient towers, Ruoergai and even Jiu Zhai Guo.


The hostel is located in the village of “Bai Tuo Kan” (or “Bei Tuo Kan” in the local Sichuan dialect). We chose this local farming village for its charming paths, quiet ambiance, and unprecedented views of Kangding. The hostel location offers one of the best vantage points for taking in a panoramic view of two of the three mountains that enclose the Kangding valley. Directly opposite the hostel is Kangding’s famous mountain, Pao Ma Shan, visable from all rooms of the hostel. Although located out of the town itself, it is only a quick walk down the hill to the main streets of the city. If you are looking to get to the hostel, you can chose one of two ways: hike up the hillside, a ten minute walk from downtown, through the village (and take the challenge – can you do it without getting out of breath??), or get in a taxi and and ask to be taken to Bei Tuo Kan (RMB 15).

Please Also See:
Top Five Reasons to Come to KangdingBuilding of the Hostel

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