The town. The many different routes down to the river provide a pleasant walk among traditional houses, orchards, and cultivated fields. Getting to the bank of the river can be a bit tricky as there is a steep drop-off as you approach the bank, but if you persist you will come across one of the purpose-built staircases. It is possible to get boat across to the Sichuanese side, though there is not much to see within walking distance.
Where to visit in Benzilan Town:
East Bamboo Forest Temple (东竹林寺; Dong Zhu Lin Si; Tibetan: Dhon-Drupling Gompa). A wonderful temple built on the side of the gorge around 15 km northwest along the main road to Deqin. The monastic village that surrounds it is also quite lovely. Dhon-Drupling Gompa was founded in 1667 by Kusho Dondrub and received its name by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1670. It has many beautifully intricate paintings inside and houses several precious statues. Getting there by hitch-hiking or hiring a mian bao che (microvan) presents no problems.
The first bend of the Jinsha River (金沙江第一湾; Jinsha Jiangdaguaiwan), (8 km northwest of Benzilan along the same road). There is a viewing platform along with the customary ticket office but it is not necessary to pay the fee to see the bend.
What to buy in Benzilan:
There are several shops along the main road selling the same silverware and materials that are found elsewhere in the region. Tibetan wooden materials.
How to get in and get out Benzilan:
There is a bus (though it might be a microvan) that leaves for Zhongdian at 7:30AM. If that does not take your fancy, stand by the side of the road and flag down any of the buses that pass from morning to mid-afternoon.In January (2014) the Zhongdian bus left at 8:00AM.
All of the buses from Zhongdian to Deqin pass through the town, for Benzilan at 2:30AM from Feima (horse statue). In fact the mid-point lunch stop is often taken a mere five minutes south of Benzilan. Tickets can be bought at Zhongdian bus station for ¥24. Minibus for ¥40/p.
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