China Tours & Private Packages - Discover the mistery of China with a Local China Travel Agency(TTC)

Yading Nature Reserve

Yading Nature Reserve is a mountainous paradise that you’ve probably never even heard of, but it was one of the biggest highlights of my recent trip in China. Impressive mountains covered in snow and glaciers tower over forested slopes, grassy meadows, blue glacial lakes, waterfalls, and clear mountain streams. And yet all of this only gets a brief mention in most guidebooks! It’s extremely difficult to find much information in English, but there is really pretty decent infrastructure, so here’s everything you’d need to know about visiting Yading Nature Reserve.

About Yading Nature Reserve Facts

Yading Nature Reserve

Yading in Sichuan, China is praised as the soul of Shangri-La and photographers’ paradise with stunning authentic landscape of snow mountains, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, flowery pastures, idyllic rural houses and temple for a superb landscape satisfaction!

Type: Nature Preserve, National Park, Religious Site, National AAAA Tourist Attraction

Best Seasons: All seasons, especially Sept. - Nov.

Altitude: 2,900m (Gongga River Mouth) - 6,032m (Mount Xiannairi)

Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 days

Opening Hours: 07:00-18:30 every day

Ticket: 146 CNY/person

Address: Shangri-La Town, Daocheng County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China

Yading Nature Reserve, the Soul of Shangri-La

Yading (亚丁) or Yading Nature Reserve is more often known as Daocheng Yading (稻城亚丁). This mysterious place in southwest edge of Sichuan Province is highly treated as the “Last Pure Land on Earth”, the “Soul of Shangri-La” and the “Last Shangri-La” by all its global visitors.

Found firstly by Joseph Rock from USA in 1928, Yading has got its name booming by Joseph Rock’s Yading photos published on National Geography and later believed to be the real legendary “Shangri-La” by the inspiring novel of “Lost Horizon” by James Hilton. Hence, Yading cannot hide its charming landscape kingdom surrounded by layers of pure snow-capped mountain for tourists and shutterbugs anymore. And yearly, Yading is listed into traveler’s must-visit destinations to marvel at its terrifically mysterious terrain of over 4,000 meters height with holy snow mountains, ancient glaciers, primitive gorges, dense forests, vast grasslands, shimmering lakes and streams, rare gold ores, various colorful plantations, and leisurely livestock. Boasting the sacred mountains, temple and belief of local Tibetan people, Yading is not only for a purification of eyes, but also a fantastic spiritualization paradise for mind and soul during the close to great nature!

What to See in Yading Nature Reserve?

Yading being the top popular nature reserve in China and even the whole world holds a lot to please your both eyes, such as the cloud kissing snow mountains, thousands of diverse lakes and rivers, pasture with nice countryside view, village with local people’s life atmosphere, old temple cluster, and more!

Three Holy Snow Mountains of Yading Nature Reserve

Mount Xiannairi

Snow mountains are particularly holy for local Yadding Tibetan group, and the three snow mountains in a triangle formation, namely Chianrezig, Jambeyang and Chanadorje, are not only the spiritual ballast of all Tibetan Buddhist believers, but also the best background and also core sceneries in the whole Yading Nature Reserve in Daocheng.

● Mount Chianrezig (Xiannairi)

Chianrezig (Chinese called Xiannairi,仙乃日) symbolizing the Bodhisattva of Mercy is the No.1 among all three holy mountains in Yading and sits at the north. Being the No.5 highest mountain in whole Sichuan Province, this great mountain reaches up to 6,032 meters with never melting pure snow, and looks like a kind Buddha leaning back on the lotus. Every time when it is sunny, the whole mountain body is well dyed into sparkling golden to be more sacred.

(Photography Tips: best shooting location is Pearl Lake. Sunny morning is suggested to shoot the snow mountain body, especially before 06:00 in summer, around 09:00 in autumn.)

● Mount Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong)

Jambeyang (Chinese called Yangmaiyong央迈勇) means Manjusri Bodhisattva and is regarded as the embodiment of wisdom in Buddhist culture. Situated at the south among the three mountains in Yading, Jambeyang towers 5,958 meters high like the sword of wisdom held by Manjusri pointing to the azure sky and also like a holy and noble young lady with pretty appearance. Besides, deeply moved by its beauty, Joseph described it as the most beautiful mountain he had seen in the world in his journalist to show people the existing peaceful fairyland scenery of deep valley, leafy forest, nutritious grassland, stream, and more at the foot of the pure snow-covered mountain, just hidden in Daocheng of China.

(Photography Tips: best shotting location is Luorong Pasture. Jambeyang under sunshine is best shot around 06:00 in summer and around 07:10 in Autumn. Fairytale night scene is also good with soft moon light.)

● Mount Chanadorje (Xianuoduoji)

Chanadorje (Chinese called Xianuoduoji夏诺多吉) of 5958 meters high is the east mountain at Yading and represents Vajrapani Bodhisattva. The entire mountain is formed into nearly a pyramid shape with distinct line like cut manually. Looked from a distance, Chanadorje is like a powerful young man protecting its good villagers and defeating the cruel people.

(Photography Tips: Best shooting location is Chonggu Grassland. Sunset hour is best for the most beautiful mountain with rocks and colored snow.)

Amazing Sacred Lakes of Yading Nature Reserve

Mount Yangmaiyong Like a Holy & Noble Lady

Apart from the great holy snow mountains, Daocheng Yading preserves more than 1,000 various sized clear lakes fed with the melting snow in its kingdom, like the jewels scattered by god. You shall never miss the top fabulous lake for its clear charm and elegant reflection of the three mountains.

● Erong Lake (Milk Lake)

Erong Lake (meaning Milk Lake Yading牛奶海) of 4500 meters above the sea and 0.5 acre wide is the No.1 holy lake in Yading Nature Reserve. Being the ancient ice glacier lake, it is the must-see water in whole Yading. Stepping into the valley of Mount Jambeyang, you will find this super pure crystal clear lake like a drop of tear and also like a blue gem inset into the surrounding snow mountains, which is really sacred to make no one dare disturb its serine beauty. Furthermore, when the mountain wind blows by, the face of the lake shimmers like a gorgeous box of diamond to completely conquer your eyes.

● Danzhen Lake (Five Color Lake)

Danzhen Lake or Five Color Lake (五色海) is the highest lake in Yading with an altitude of 4,600 meters. This round shaped lake covers 0.7 acre between Xiannairi and Jambeyang. With the surrounding snow mountain in white, grey, chocolate and ink, alpine plantations under sunshine, the lake in dark blue and green creates naturally a quiet but spectacular oil painting which often exhibits in international galleries. However, in cloudy days, you will also be strongly appealed by the deep and serene blue and azure to calm your mind down and marvel at the amazing power of nature.

● Pearl Lake

Zhuoma Lacuo Lake (卓玛拉措) is also known as Pearl Lake (珍珠海) in Chinese, which is the lowest holy lake in Yading with 4,100 meters above sea level and 0.75 acre formed by the melting snow on Xiannairi Mountain. This lake of green and yellow is another visual refreshing surprise. Particularly in late autumn when the leaves changing yellow, golden, fiery red, etc., the lake with the fantastic surrounding, white snow mountains, and blue sky easily draws out a dazzling colorful autumn for your superior enjoyment.

Apart from the above, you can also visit Cuolang Lake (Frog Lake) with the grand alpine azalea flowers in Spring and Summer days with the reflection of Xiannairi on its jade like surface, Rese Lake (Wisdom Lake) to see its hidden elegant peace, and more in Yading.

Luorong Pasture

Luorong Pasture or Luorong Cattle Ranch (洛绒牛场) is one of the most idyllic places in Yading. Backing the three holy mountains, this is the best place to appreciate those snow mountains. Furthermore, located at 4150 meters above sea, it is the ideal pasture for local Tibetan villagers feeding their livestock. So take a roam at the pasture to see the cattle and goats grazing by Gongga River and on the slope fully decorated by seasonal colorful wild blooms.

Chonggu Monastery

Ancient Chonggu Monastery at Yading

Chonggu Monastery (冲古寺) (3,880 meters above sea) originated from Yuan Dynasty is the only nunnery in Daocheng, however, it still stands well without much maintenance. Inside the monastery worships the statue of Sakyamuni for local people’s spiritual pursuit. Routes to the three holy mountains go by Chonggu Monastery and it is also the start of the Yading Kora trekking of Buddhists, so you will not miss this ancient cultural place. Moreover, Joseph lived there for 3 days and from the window there he saw the peaceful Blue Moon Valley and the harmonious Yading Village.

Besides, Yading also holds more idyllic places for both visual and mind pleasing, for example, you can go to Yading Village to see the simple rural houses like heaven on earth, visit Blue Moon Valley (蓝月山谷) to find the dreamy sightseeing loved by James Hilton, and so on to get full enjoyment of Daocheng Yading’s soul of Shangri-La!

Recommended Yading Nature Reserve Trekking Routes

Yading Nature Reserve offers some sighseeing buses inside the tourist area, however, there are some parts visitors need to walk.

● Classic route (6-7 hours with 3-4 hours’ walking):

Daocheng Yading Tourist Center - Bus Ride (1.5 hrs) - Zhaguanbeng - walking (20 mins) - Chonggu Monastery (appreciate Mount Xiannairi, Mount Yangmaiyong & Mount Xianuoduoji) - Walking (1 hours) - Pearl Lake (appreciate Mount Xiannairi) - return the same way

● In-depth route (2 days with 10-12 hours’ walking):

Day 1: Daocheng Yading Tourist Center - Bus Ride (1.5 hrs) - Zhaguanbeng - walking (20 mins) - Chonggu Monastery (appreciate Mount Xiannairi, Mount Yangmaiyong & Mount Xianuoduoji) - Walking (1 hours) - Pearl Lake (appreciate Mount Xiannairi) - return the same way;

Day 2: Daocheng Yading Tourist Center -Bus Ride (1.5 hrs) - Zhaguanbeng - walking (20 mins) - Chonggu Monastery (appreciate Mount Xiannairi, Mount Yangmaiyong & Mount Xianuoduoji) - Bus Riding (0.5 hr) - Luorong Pasture (Luorong Cattle Ranch, to appreciate Mount Yangmaiyong closely and Mount Xianuoduoji) - Walking (3 hrs) - Milk Lake - Walking (0.5 hrs) - Five Color Lake - return the same way.

Where is Yading Nature Reserve & How to Get There?

Yading Nature Reserve is located in Shangri-La Town, Daocheng County, Garze Tibetan Prefecture in Sichuan Province in China, which is about 683km from Chengdu City (the capital of Sichuan Province) with 763km’s driving distance there. Besides, it usually needs about 1.5-2 hours from Daocheng County (81km driving) and 2.5 hours from Daocheng Yading Airport (128km driving) to Yading.

1. To Daocheng County

● By Air:

Flying is the most convenient way to reach Daocheng County from other major destinations in China. At present, Daocheng Yading County offers direct flights from Chengdu (1 hour), Chongqing (1.5 hour) and Xian (2 hours), and flights from Guangzhou and Hangzhou, with layover in Chengdu or Chongqing several times every week.

● By Distance Coach:

Chengdu and Shangri-La (Yunnan) offers coaches to Daocheng every day. There are 1-2 distance coaches from Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus Station (about 22 hours), Shangri-La Bus Station (about 11 hours) to Daocheng County every day, however, you are not recommended to choose it for the too long time in the not very comfortable bus on the road.

● By Car

Visitors can drive to Daocheng from other places in China, and it usually needs more than 12 hours from Chengdu, more than 8 hours from Kangding in Sichuan, which is not suggested for international visitors.

Yading Nature Reserve Weather & Best Time to Visit

Splendid Autumn at Yading Nature Reserve

Yading in Daocheng County belongs to the Continental monsoon plateau climate zone which enjoys long winter and short summer with a large difference in temperature in day and night. Temperature declines as altitude rises. Yading is great to be visited in all four seasons, and the best time is from mid-September to mid-November when all forests are colored into fantastic yellow, orange to red, with the clear azure sky, the wonderful autumn is truly a wonderland to admire. Besides, you can visit during late March to late June to see the layers of peach flowers, pear flowers, azure flowers (June), etc. blooming around the mountains, when is also the lower season to avoid crowds. From July to mid-September, it is good to enjoy a cool summer with pleasant snow mountain wind and a large spread of green and emerald, however, there are some rainy days not very suitable for trekking. While from late November to early March, Yading is more mysterious with thicker snow cap.

Yading Nature Reserve Tickets & Fees

● Entrance Fee: 146 CNY/person (enter during 07:00-17:30) (valid for 2 days);

● Sightseeing Bus: 120 CNY/person; operate before 19:30 during March 26th - November 4th and before 17:40 during November 5th - next April 25th; (60 CNY/person for second entry);

● Battery Car: Chonggu Monastery to Luorong Pasture (80 CNY/person for round trip); operate before 19:30 during March 26th - November 4th and before 17:40 during November 5th - next April 25th;

● Horse Riding: Luorong Pasture to Milk Lake (500 CNY/person for a round trip) (for reference).

Yading Nature Reserve Travel Tips

● Altitude sickness: The area of Daocheng Yading in Sichuan is usually over 3,000-4,000 meters above sea level, so you are suggested to drink some Rhodiola rosea at least one week before visiting Daocheng Yading to avoid or relieve altitude sickness. Besides, sleep well, drink enough water and keep a calm mood to release your body, which is also helpful.

● What to wear: temperature in Yading is usually lower than most cities in Mainland China, so you are highly suggested to pack you thick sweaters, thick coats, waterproof clothes, scarves, gloves and antiskid hiking shoes in spring, autumn and winter season. Long-sleeves coats are also suggested in summer for the cold night. Sun block, sunglasses, hats, lip balm, etc. are recommended for protect your skin.

● Hiking gear: hiking shoes and mountaineering jackets are best. Besides, you can prepare a bag with necessary food, water, tissue, etc. for your walking in Yading.

● Hiking paths: there are mainly plank road and mud road to walk. Also, there are some harder slopes at higher altitude.

Recommended Sichuan Tours

Top 4 Sichuan Tours chosen by most customers to explore Sichuan in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

We are here to help you...
Start planning your tailor-made with 1-1 help from our travel advisors.


Create Your Trip