Ngawa Overview

Basic Information

  • Chinese Name: 阿坝藏族羌族自治州
  • Location: Northwestern Sichuan, China
  • Area: 84,242 square kilometers
  • Population: 0.9346 million
  • Ethnic Minorities: Tibetan(54.5%), Qiang(17.58%), Hui(3.2%), etc
  • Language: Khams Tibetan, Mandarin, Qiangic languages

Administrative Division

Aba(Ngawa) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture has jurisdiction over 1 county-level city and 12 counties.


At the upper reaches of the Yangtze and the Yellow River, Aba (Ngawa) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is situated at the southeast edge of the Ginghai-Tibet plateau and in the northwest of Sichuan. It lies in the joint part of Hengduan Mountains and alpine valleys, Tableland and alpine valleys make up the main landform of Aba prefecture. Alpine valleys are mainly distributed in the southeastern part, while its northwestern land is plateau region. It is the Autonomous Prefecture closest to the provincial capital Chengdu, neighboring Qinghai and Gansu provinces in the north, and Mianyang, Deyang, Ya'anGarze in other three sides.


Located in the highlands, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture has a complex climate contributed by the complicated geography and landform. The statewide elevation decreases from northwest to southeast, but it is still in the plateau region, and accompanied with high mountain and valleys. Therefore, Aba is characterized by apparent continental plateau climate, with freezing and dry winter, and cool rainy summer with hail and strong wind. It is partly cloudy year round. The period of Spring and Autumn are too short to enjoy. The sunshine in Aba is abundant with strong ultraviolet radiation. There is no absolute frost-free period. The annual average temperature is between 5.6 and 8.9 degrees centigrade, with large temperature difference between day and night, in some areas, the daily temperature difference can reach 36 degrees centigrade. Usually, you can feel the seasons of Spring and Autumn in the morning, hot Summer in the afternoon and severe winter at night. More detailed information please refer to Aba Climate.

The Best Time to Visit

Summer and autumn are the best time to visit Aba, especially October. There are stunning natural scenery and ethnic festivals in the summer and autumn. It is not suitable to visit Aba in the long cold winter except for viewing the scenery of ice and snow.

Recommended Time of Visiting: 5 Days

More information please browse the page Aba Climate.

Things to Do

Jiuzhai Valley Natural Park

Located 45 kilometers far away from Nanping County, Jiuzhai Valley is named after the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the area. There are a series of interconnected valleys situated in a high mountain range. It is eulogized as “a fairyland on earth” and “a fairy tale world”, which enchants tourists with its multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks.

Huanglong National Park

Situated in the Songpan county, Huanglong National Park is the only well-protected plateau wetland in China. The name “Huanglong” comes from a temple, Huanglong Temple. About 100 kilometers far away from Jiuzhai Valley, Huanglong National Park is famous for its colorful lakes, snow-capped peaks, pretty valleys and diverse forest. It is reputed as the "Jade Pool in the World".

Four Maiden's Mountain

Four Maiden's Mountain, also called Mount Siguniangshan, is 220 kilometers from Chengdu city. It is one of the Top 10 Mountain in China for Mountaineering. The main attractions are Four Maiden's Mountain, Two-Bridge (Shuangqiao) Valley, Long-Peace (Changping) Valley and Alpine-Lake (Haizi) Valley.

Wolong National Natural Reserve

Being the core part of Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, Wolong National Natural Reserve is the third largest national nature reserve in China and the largest in Sichuan. It is also the home to many endangered species such as Giant Pandas, golden monkeys, Chinese dove tree, etc. The quantity of wide giant pandas accounts for 10% of the total that makes it being the “Panda Kingdom” and “Gene Pool of Precious Flora and Fauna”.

Ruoergai Grassland

Ruoergai Grassland, also known as Zoige Grassland, is located in the north of Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province. Reputed as the “Oasis in Northwest Plateau”, it is one of the top three largest wetlands in China and the largest high-altitude wetlands in the world.


By Air

There are two airports in Aba Prefecture, Jiuhuang (Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong) Airport in the east and Hongyuan airport in the west, both of which only have flights to Chengdu. So the best way is to get to Chengdu first and then transfer to Aba Prefecture.

By Train

At present, there are no any trains to Aba. While the railway from Chengdu to Aba is under construction, and is estimated to serve travelers by 2020.

By coach

There are scheduled bus running every day from Chadianzi Bus Station or Xinnanmen Bus Station in Chengdu to get to the main attractions in Aba.

Please click Aba Tansportation for more detailed information.

History & Culture

For thousands of years, the people of ancient Di and Qiang, Xianbei, Tubo, Han, Hui jointly developed Aba region with their hard work and infinite wisdom. They merged with each other, made progress together, and gradually formed the main nationalities of the land - Tibetan, Qiang, Hui and Han. They have left old ethnic folk customs that have disappeared in the national amalgamation. When you step into the Tibetan village or Qiang village, pictures of splendid local ethnic culture leap to the eyes. See Ngawa History.


In Aba Prefecture, there are a variety of religions, including Tibetan original religion Bonismo introduced in 2th century or earlier, all factions of Tibetan Buddhism in 7th century, Islam in 8th century, Christianity in modern times, as well as Taoism and Chinese Buddhism from China mainland. About 290 official religious sites are standing in this area, 252 among which are Tibetan Buddhist temples, 5 Chinese Buddhist temples, 25 mosques and 8 Taoist temples.The Qiang people still retains the primitive religion and believes in Animism. They also has no religious organization or temples.


Since China's reform and opening up, Aba prefecture has accelerated its pace of developing regional economic, reflecting in the steady development of agriculture and rural economy, the growing industrial economy, the booming market in urban and rural areas and the better transportation and communication network. The comprehensive strength of regional economy has been significantly improved with the flourishing of social undertakings and the rise of people's living standards. There are two provincial economic development zones, Sichuan Aba industrial zone and Chengdu - Aba industrial zone, which are becoming a new force to promote the development of economy and a new apexes of economic growth.


Festivals have always been an important part in Aba ethnic culture. As a hot tourism destination, Aba festivals and activities attract thousands of visitors coming to this wonderland, such as International Panda Festival, Hongyuan Yak Culture Festival, Zangbala Festival, Jiarong Tibetans Watch Flowers Festival, Yadun Festival, etc. More detailed information about Aba festivals and activities.


Tourism has become the leading industry in Aba prefecture. The tourism pattern is “To see water landscape in the northern Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, to visit Wolong and Four Maiden's Mountain in the south, to view villages and grassland in the middle part, to walk along the road of Long March and to enjoy the ethnic cultural landscape.”


Situated in Sichuan province, Aba is the prefecture mainly inhabited by Tibetans and Qiang people. Therefore, food in Aba is featured with hot and spicy of Sichuan cuisine, as well as Tibetan and Qiang style. The distinctive Tibetan dishes includes Yak meat, goat roast, Pickled cabbage noodles, blood sausage, and barley wine, butter tea, yogurt, etc. Many local Sichuan dishes are also a good choice if you're not used to Tibetan cuisine. There are also many special delicacies around Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huanglong scenic spot and Four Maiden's Mountain, and you may have a chance to taste the local valuable wild fungus. More detailed information about Aba Dining.