We spent a total of 15 days in Sichuan Kham Tibet. Our route included:
Kangding 康定, Xinduqiao 新都桥, Tagong 塔公, Luhuo 炉霍, Sertar
色达 , Ganzi 甘孜, Yilham Lha Tso Lake 新路海, Shiqu 石渠 and
Yushu 玉树 (结古).
Our path was partially informed by a route suggested by the blog Land of Snows, and partially by suggestions from Chinese motorcyclists.
The area we were in is considered part of Kham Tibet, a Tibetan area outside the PRC defined "Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)" that overlaps the Chinese provinces Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai. The Sichuan portion of Kham Tibet is referred to as Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
This area is rich in Tibetan culture and customs and non-Chinese traveling in the region are not held to the stringent travel restrictions that those traveling to the TAR and Lhasa are (which on a motorcycle would have included not only hiring a guide, but also hiring two support drivers --one in front and one behind-- and an ambulance to drive with us, if we even got a permit). These two factors make the Kham area a great option for travelers who want to be free to move on their own and interact more with local Tibetans. When we went there were no travel restrictions, but there have been in the past --especially because Garzê is one of the main regions for Tibetan activism (such as recent self-immolations). However, at our time of travel (late June to early July 2015) internet in the entire region --wifi and 3G-- was completely blocked. Ostensibly this was because the Dalai Lama's birthday falls on the 6th of July, but according to people in the region it is not unusual for it to be blocked at other times.
Despite all this, we would very, very much recommend this area --and even this exact route-- to anyone interested in visiting Tibetan regions in China. Although at the time we went there was still a fair amount of rain in some parts, the people and places in this region are absolutely unbelievable. We had a great time, and it completely changed any expectations (if there were any) we once had of what this region of the PRC, and the world, is like.
A detailed map of our route (with a rough outline of Tibetan areas, in turquoise) can be found below: