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Ya'an is famous firstly for pandas and secondly for tea. See below.
Ya'an was hit by a major earthquake on May 20, 2013. The epicenter was in Lushan County, Ya’an Prefecture, Sichuan Province, around 100 kilometers from Chengdu, home to China's biggest panda research center at Bifengxia.
Chengdu and Leshan tourism was unaffected. However, Bifengxia Giant Panda Base was closed because of continuing aftershocks. Tourism in Ya’an, including Bifengxia, was suspended at least until after the May golden week holiday (May 1–7). A great alternative to Bifengxia is Chengdu’s Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base.
Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is the world's largest panda breeding and research establishment. It has a volunteer program, which allows participants to feed, care for, and learn about the pandas for a half-day, a day, or more. China Highlights giant panda tours include opportunities to participate as a volunteer and get close to the pandas.Known as the hometown of giant pandas, Ya'an was the place where the first panda was discovered. The number and density of giant pandas in Ya'an is first in the world.
Ya'an is one of the birthplaces of Chinese tea culture. Its tea growing history can be traced back to the Western Han Dynasty over 2,000 years ago. Tea trees planted on Mount Mengding by a herdsman were believed to be the ancestors of China's tea. Even today, tea grown at Mount Mengding is still considered superior.
Ya'an is the starting point of the Sichuan-Tibet stretch of the Tea Horse Road.
The brick tea produced in Ya'an, which was called frontiers tea was carried by caravans from Mount Erlang to Tibet, and further afield to India and Nepal in exchange for horses, drugs, etc. Tea trading activities went on for centuries, which boosted Ya'an's economy and brought peace and stability to the frontier regions.Chengdu is one of China's Top Tea Cities, in part due to Ya'an's tea history.
Mt. Erlang is characterized by primitive forests, varied wildlife, rugged mountains, and unspoiled streams. The view from the mountain summit is superb, with towering peaks often cloaked in mist, like a white dragon rolling in from the sea. Visit for the views, exploring tea history, and buying tea straight from the plantation.
The ancient tea garden at Mount Mengding Tourism Area consists of a royal garden where Wu Lizhen, the founder of Mengdingshan Tea in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), planted seven seeds of "miraculous tea". Ancient stone trails lead from the Palace of King Shu to Tiangai Temple and a tea museum.
Ya'an has a subtropical monsoon mountain climate. Spring, which is cool to cold with a lot of rain, is not a recommended travel season.
Do not expect too much in comfort in accommodation while traveling Ya'an. Most of the hotels in the city only cater to Chinese visitors and English is little spoken. The Ya'an Hotel and Ya'an Yudou Hotel are considered the best two hotels in the small city.
Ya'an on the edge of the Tibetan plateau foothills is a gateway from Sichuan to Tibet. There are no trains or flights to Ya'an, and the only practicable way is by highway.
Ya'an city is served by three bus stations, but Ya'an Tourist Station is most used by travelers. The tourist bus station lies at the junction of Bei'er Road and Yabi Road, with buses serving Chengdu, Leshan, and Kangding.