A likeable town populated by generally friendly folk, Tongren (Repkong in Tibetan) is a little town with a big secret: It's the art capital of Tibetan world, with artisans so skillful that an entire school of Tibetan art was named after the city.
One activity you might find taking a lot of your time will be browsing the excellent thangkas (sacred Buddhist paintings) produced by Tongren's artists. A post-card-sized thangka costs about RMB 300, but if you look at the incredible detail, and acknowledge the fact that it represents a full month's work to complete, you'll see that it's a good deal.
Becoming a thangka connoisseur is pretty easy, it's all about the detail. If you see a mind-boggling amount of detail work which includes lines the width of a single cat hair, you've got yourself an authentic masterpiece. Less detail and thicker brush strokes means that you're probably looking at a Nepali import, so you should pay much less.
Tongren is a city of monasteries, the main ones being Wutun Si, Rongwo Gonchen Gompa and Gomar Gompa. There you'll have the chance to hear Tibetan throat singing, peruse the sculptures, paintings and architecture on display and hang out with the chatty monks in residence. If you make friends and wake up early enough, you may even be invited to a communal Tibetan breakfast and sea how yak butter tea is made.