Covering an area of 56,000 hectares at an altitude ranging from 2,900 to 6,032 meters, the Yading Nature Reserve is known for being one of the best-preserved and most ancient natural scenic spots in China.
Featuring untouched and amazing plateau scenery, Yading Nature Reserve is often called "the last pure land on earth" and "the last Shangri-La".
What to see at the Yading Nature Reserve
As the holy land of the Tibetan people, Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve is well known for its snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes, vast grasslands, and colorful forests. It was first introduced to the West by Joseph F. Rock, the renowned American explorer and botanist who visited Yading in 1928.
The Three Mountains of God 三大神山
The most important tourist spot in Yading Nature Revere is the three snow-capped mountains including Mount Jambeyang at 5958 meters high, Mount Chanadorje at 5958 meters high, and Mount Shenrezig at 6032 meters high. These three impressive mountains sit in a triangle formation and represent compassion, wisdom, and power respectively.
These mountains are very holy to the Tibetan people who believe that their wishes will come true if they make pilgrimages three times to these three sacred mountains.
Gongga Chonggu Monastery 贡嘎冲古寺
Chonggu Monastery is a place you must pass by when going to the Three Mountains of God. It is an old temple, originally built 800 years ago during the Yuan Dynasty. Though the old temple, it is still incomplete.
Every morning and at noon tourists still visit and see Lamas sitting in meditation or reading from prayer books. It is an important relic of local religion and a good place to take pictures.
Luorong Pasture 洛绒牧场
Luorong Pasture is surrounded by the Three Mountains of God, with the Gongga River running through and cabins spread across it. This is the best place to view the three holy mountains.
Luorong Pasture is also used by the nearby villagers and herds of cattle and sheep can be seen enjoying the sunshine, green grass, and pure lake water. Tibetan-style houses and temples near the pasture will also catch your eye. This is a place where nature and humans live in harmony.
Horse Riding is available from Luorong Pasture to the famous Milk Lake which is located at the altitude of 4600 meters. It is about a 5 hour round trip ride.
Milk Lake and Five Color Lake 五色海和牛奶海
Milk Lake is an elegant lake that got its name from the outermost layer of the lake water which is colored white. Local legend says that the whiter the water is, the bigger golden harvest will be. This is a glacial lake and is shaped like a drop of water. It is surrounded by an alpine meadow, glacier, and snowcapped mountain.
Five Color Lake, also known as Danzengcuo, is the highest lake in Yading at an altitude of 4600 meters. The water of the lake is clear, but the bottom looks like a grid filled with rich or light shades of blue. In Buddhist scriptures, the Five Color Lake together with Namtso Lake, Yomdrok Lake, and Manasarovar Lake in Tibet are the Tibetan holy lakes. It is said that the Five Color Lake can reflect history and predict the future, so lots of Buddhists come here for worship and pilgrimage.
Both the Milk Lake and Five Color Lake are located close together, with only a 0.3 km distance between them.
Pearl Lake is also called Zhuomalacuo and is 4100 meters above sea level. This green lake looks like a piece of jadeite that was carved by nature and then quietly inlaid between the heaven and the earth. The reflection of the surrounding snow-capped mountains is mirrored in this holy lake making it a great place for photography lovers.
Yading Tibetan Village
Yading Tibetan Village is also called the Land of Sun because the duration of daylight is long here. This town is praised as the last Shangri-La and many travelers will choose to stay in this village if they want to stay inside the reserve. This is also a favorite place for photography enthusiasts, where they can take many good photos of Tibetan style buildings and food.
How to get around Yading Nature Reserve
Cars are not allowed to enter the Reserve. The only way to get in is by taking a shuttle bus. Travelers can catch a shuttle bus from the Tourist Center to Zaguanbeng. This bus will take you past Yading Village and Longtong Dam. It is about a one hour trip.
After arriving Zaguanbeng, you will walk for about 30 minutes to Chonggu Monastery, where you can take an electric car to Luorong Pasture or start a hiking trip to see the different attractions in Yading Nature Reserve.
Usually, it takes 2 days to explore the reserve.
On the first day, you will see 2 sacred snow-clad mountains (Mount Jambeyang and Mount Chanadorje), the Luorong Pasture, the Five Color Lake, and the Milk Lake. Horsing Riding is available from Luorong Pasture to the Five Color Lake.
On the second day, you will take a short-route tour to see the Pearl Lake and the holy mountain, Chenrezig. You can learn more about the route on the tourist map below.
Yading Nature Reverse is a gorgeous place for traveling and trekking. However, as it is located at a high altitude, it might be not friendly for kids and elderly people. Here are some travel tips for you to keep in mind while you pack.
1. Bring proper sun protection. At high altitude, the sun is much stronger and you can get burned more easily. So please bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunblock with you.
2. Bring warm clothes and comfortable shoes for hiking. The higher the altitude, the colder will be. Outdoor jackets are suggested.
3. Waterproof clothing is necessary. Weather changes quickly at high altitude and it may be both sunny and raining at the same time. Please keep a rain jacket with you at all times.
4. Drink more water. Water will help you to adapt more quickly to the high altitude.
5. Bring some snacks and enough water with you. There is no shop in the reserve.
How to travel from Yading to Chengdu/Shangri-La/Lijiang
Yading Nature Reserve is located in Riwa town, Daocheng County. With the Daocheng Yading Airport completed in 2013, it is now much easier to get to the reserve. The airport has direct flights to Chengdu, Xian, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Luzhou. Travelers can take a flight from Chengdu to Daocheng Yading Airport. The airport is about a 2.5-hour drive from Yading Nature Reserve.
Learn more about travel information to Yading from Chengdu, Shangri-La, or Lijiang here.
- 5-Day Daocheng and Yading Tour
Daocheng Yading is one of the Lost Horizons of the earth. During this trip, you will enjoy breathtaking scenery and experience local Tibetan culture in the western part of Sichuan Province.