Zhilam Hostel is an amazing hostel in every way! You will be welcomed by friendly, knowledgeable staff into a hostel that will soon feel more like your home. Hidden away in the hills with breathtaking views of the mountains and city life below, you can sit for hours on the front porch drinking beers and chatting, reading a book, and watching backpackers' exhausted looks of conquest when they finally reach the hostel. The staff will go out of their way to help you enjoy your time in Kangding and help you arrange the next step in your journey.
Once you reach the top, the location is superb, but it will no doubt take your breath away. The easiest way to reach the hostel is to find a taxi and call the hostel to give the driver directions. They will take you to the bottom of the hill near the Kangding Hotel; you will have to climb up the steep, twisting road to the top until you see the hostel. There is also a back road where the taxi can drive you to the door of the hostel, but most drivers will not know the way and will charge you extra (if the car can even make it up).
If you don't take a taxi, it will take about thirty minutes to walk from the bus station to the hostel, simply follow the river, pass the street market, and look toward the right until you see the Kangding Hotel (it's kind of tucked behind a corner but big enough to recognize). Just find the alley to the left of the hotel and start your trek up -- it is a little confusing but there are plenty of friendly locals to point you in the right direction. Once you reach the hostel, you will be surrounded by peaceful hills and the distant sound of the river running through the city below. The hostel has a few hiking trails nearby, which are great for a short trek, or the Gonga Trek is well worth exploring if you are looking for a few days adventure.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The dorm rooms are comfortable and spacious with big beds, curtains on most beds, and reading lamps. There are no lockers but the facility is very safe and you are welcome to store valuables at the front desk or in the storage room for longer periods. The bathrooms are tidy and the hot water showers are amazing.
There are a few different areas around the hostel where people congregate. Downstairs there are two computers and a TV; upstairs there are a few tables where you can sit and eat or just hang out. However, the best common area is the outdoor picnic table where you can watch the clouds pass by all day and the cable car run up and down the mountain to the monastery.
Zhilam is a fun, welcoming hostel where you will surely meet amazing people, share incredible travel stories, and possibly share further adventures. It is a place where you may find yourself lingering for longer than expected and feeling a tinge of sad regret once you do finally book your bus ticket away. This hostel is very popular, especially on weekends, so be sure to book at least a few days ahead.