Yading (亚丁) means "face to the sun" in Tibetan. Yading Nature Reserve was first discovered by Joseph Rock in 1928. There are many names about this wonderland. The most well-known sayings are: ‘Soul of Shangri-la’ and ‘Last Pure Land on the Blue Planet’. Endowed with the three holy mountains and three holy lakes, Daocheng Yading is rated as one the top 10 hikes in China. Furthermore, the beautiful meadows, crystal waters, blue skies and old Tibetan monasteries are the extra benefits for your hiking tour. It’s the ideal place for people who are looking for ‘off-the-beaten path’ hiking routes.
Your driver will pick you up from the hotel in Chengdu and transfer you to the Shuangliu airport to catch your flight to Daocheng. At the airport, you would need to go through the security check. Upon arrival at the Daocheng Airport (4,411m) our local guide will meet you and take you to your hotel in Shangri-la Town (2,950m). The drive is approximately 2 hours.
On the way to Shangri-la Town, you will visit the Benbo Monastery (3,943 m). It’s about 30km from Daocheng County, first built in Song Dynasty and has a history of more than 800 years. It’s a classic Tibetan monastery with red roofs and white walls. You can find the beautiful muralno prayer hall, on the cliff of the hill at the back of the monastery. There are lots of prayer wheels outside of the monastery. You will see many Tibetans with the prayer wheels, as they believe it will bring good luck.
After another 30 minutes drive, you will arrive at Shangri-la Town where your guide will help you check into your hotel.
After breakfast, you will head to Yading Nature Reserve, a 15 minutes drive. From the Tourist Center it is about an hour by the internal park bus to the Zhaguanbeng station where the trail begins. There’s a stop before Yading village for a photo opportunity of Mount Chianrezig.
The first segment of the hike is relatively easy. You may surprisingly find how extensive the infrastructure and facilities are. The hiking trail for the main public routes are well paved paths, shelters and toilets along the way. It's about 20 minutes hike from Zhaguanbeng to Chonggu Meadow (4,020m), natural grassland, forest and a crystal stream. The stream snaking across the meadow is a good photo opportunity with the reflection from Mount Chanadorje located at the back of the meadow.
Continue to walk for another half hour to the Chonggu Monastery (3,880m), a small Tibetan monastery located at the foot of Mount Chianrezig. The local people believe that it is related to the three holy snowcapped mountains. Joseph Rock resided there when he was on the journey to find Shangri-la in 1928.
From there, you will continue for another 20 minutes hike to the Pearl Lake (4,120m). This is a great spot to take a photo of the reflection of Mount Chianrezig. The sparkling waters reflect the snowcapped peak, with the blue sky and white clouds hovering above you, it’s like an oil painting coming to life. Hiking along the paths, you will come to a viewing spot for Mount Chianrezig.
Afterwards, you will trek for another 6.8 km back up to the Chonggu Meadow and take the internal park bus back to the Tourist Center. Your private tour guide and driver will pick you and drive to your hotel in Shangri-la Town.
After an early breakfast, take the internal park bus from the Visitor Center to Chonggu Monastery station, about an hours ride. Upon your arrival, change to a golf cart to get to the Luorong Pasture (4,150m). The golf cart ride takes another 30 minutes. We suggest you get there around 9 am, as it’s the best time to shoot the perfect reflection of the Mountain Jambeyang on the pool of the Luorong Pasture. Enjoy the peaceful surroundings before you start the trek. Along the way you may encounter some yaks, horses and goats grazing in the meadows. Clear fine weather permitting, when you look far into the distance, you can find the three holy snowcapped mountains: Mount Chianrezig (6,032m), Mount Jambeyang (5,958m) and Mount Chanadorje(5,958m).
From Luorong Pasture hike for another 4km to Milk Lake. The first segment of the hike is relatively easy, after about 1.5 hour’s hike, you will get to the viewing platform (Sheshen Cliff) just before the steep ascent to the other side of the mountains. Given the steep and rocky trail that is ahead, there is a sign informing visitors that horses are not allowed beyond that point for safety reasons and the rest is done on foot. From the platform, there is only about 1 km to the buttakes which due to the rough terrain, steep rocky climb and high altitude, it may take another 1.5 hours.
When you arrive at Milk Lake (4,600m), it is the best spot to soak in the unbeatable view of the lake. Endowed with crystal blue waters, icefalls are decorated from the surrounding snow mountains, so named Milk Lake. Look across the distance, the lake is like a gem decorated on the snow peaks. From Milk Lake, there is a short 20 minute climb (0.3km) over relatively gradual stairs to reach the Five Color Lake (4,700m). It’s another awe-inspiring lake where you will find it was worth the trek. Standing on the path beside the lake, you will enjoy the magnificent view of the snowcapped peak of Mount Chianrezig.
After taking in the sights at the Five Color Lake, hike for another 2 hours back to the Luorong Pasture where you will take the golf cart back to the bus taking you back to the visitor center. Then jump on your private vehicle back to your hotel in Daocheng.
Your tour guide and driver will pick you up from the hotel in Daocheng and transfer you to Yading Airport. There are daily flights from Yading airport to Chengdu, Xi’an or Chongqing.
High altitude hiking presents some challenges such as lower atmospheric pressure and thin air, wind and snow at any time of the year, as well as the intensity of the sun that you need sunscreen, sunglasses or goggles for better protection from the UV radiation. Sunhat, raincoat, hiking boots, alpenstock and sunblock are very much needed. Take a portable oxygen bottle with you if you have concerns for high altitude sickness.
Hike on the high altitude area is different from any normal treks, especially in your country. You need to trek at a slower pace and prepare enough water. Drinking too little water can quickly lead to dehydration at altitudes above 12,000 feet. Sip water for every 1 km but not drinking too much once.
Breathing plays another import role for high altitude hiking. The rate of breathing is among the adaptations to high altitude. Take a deep breath every 100 meters is necessary. The body increases the breathing rate to survive. Ascending to high altitude increases the breathing rate of a hiker.
The altitude on this trip is from 3,700 (Shangri-la town) to 4,700 meters (Five Color Lake). Upon your arrival, to help acclimatize to the high altitude, we suggest you walk around the hotel and relax. We do not suggest that you do any strenuous exercise on the first day. Furthermore, good quality sleep will help you to avoid high altitude sickness as well. We have listed the altitude of the spots on this trip below.
|Yading Airport||4,411 m||Pearl Lake||4,120m|
|Daocheng County||3,700m||Chonggu Meadow||4,020m|
|Shangri-la Town||2,950m||Chonggu Monastery||3,880 m|
|Benpo Temple||3,943 m||Milk Lake||4,600m|
|Luorong Pasture||4,150m||Five Color Lake||4,700m|