Where is Daocheng?

“Where is Daocheng?” Asked Bill when I told him about the trip. This is the first question my friends asked me when they heard about the trip.

It is a reasonable question since Daocheng is not a famous place now. Unlike other similar scenery spots like Jiuzhaigou or Lijiang, Daocheng is not known by many people, even in China. Let me show you where it is.

The county of Daocheng lies near the conjunction areas of Sichuan, Yuannan and Tibet. It belongs to Sichuan Province. Traditionally, there are two routes to go there – one is from Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, or from Chengdu. We choosed to start from Chengdu.

Currently, the only transportation from Chengdu to Daocheng is by bus. It is said the airport of Daocheng will be ready by 2001, but it is not ready now – maybe it is only a joke. Starting from Chengdu, we choosed the North Route. It starts from Chengdu, via Mt. Siguniang, Wolong, Xiaojin, Danba and reaches Xinduqiao. The road for this route is very good, but it is still dangerous. The first mountain we crossed was called Mt. Balang. On the picture you can see the roads winding among the mountains.

Wolong is famous for its nature preservation for Pandons. Xiaojin is a historical town when two routes of the Red Army met after the famous Long March. Danba is called the Valley of Beauties, since lot of famous beauties in the history of China was born in Danba. Xinduqiao is the gateway town where the North and the South routes to Daocheng meets. We arrived in Xinduqiao at 12:30 AM.

The next morning, we spent some time taking pictures in Xinduqiao. The mountains and cattle fields near Xinduqiao is called the Heaven of Photographers.

Fron Xinduqian, there are still three big mountains waiting for you on your way to Daocheng. They are Mt. Jianzigou, Mt. Gaoersi and Mt. Haizi. The highest point of the highway are about 4600 meters above the sea level – please note: This is NOT the height of the mountains – it is only the highest points of the highway. The mountains themselves are higher. The bus climbed through the narrow mountain roads up, up and up, then down, down and down. After we climbed all the three mountains, we arrived in Daocheng. It is already 1:30 AM the next day. The bus may break down, and the road may be cut by flood or stones rolling from the top of the mountains – we did got off the bus to remove all the big stones on the way before we can continue. We also waited on the narrow road for about half an hour just for the road ahead to be repaired.

Daocheng is a beautiful place, especially the woodland south of the county. But the desination of the trip is actually Yading, where we can see the three holy mountains. It is 110 km away from Daocheng. In the high land area, donot use the 70-100km/hour normal bus speed to calculate. 30 km/hour is the highest speed possible. 110km requires at least 3.5 hours. I was told that before the new road is completed, it costs about 12-16 hours for the 110km. Thanks God because the new road was completed 10 days before we got there.

Leaving the county of Daocheng, heading southwards, we arrived in Riwa that is 73 km away. I took a lot of pictures in Riwa.

The base of Yading is 37 KM futher from Riwa. The scenery is beaufiful on the way to Yading, but it is still the normal scene we saw for the first three days. Until we are almost there – 30KM or so – we finally saw the snow mountiains – Yangmaiyong and Xiannairi – it was really breathtaking when we first saw them.

When we finally reached the tents we are going to stay in, it was already three days since we left Chengdu. Tired but exciting, we are staring at the mountains and cannot speak a word – just so beautiful!!

To see the mountains, we started early the next day and begin to ride horses. I am with the big horse the whole day – with him, I couldn’t cover so long a distance and reached that high.

OK. Now, I have successfully answered how we get there – three days’ of bus and one day of horse. It is a hard trip but it is worthy.

Escape from Shangrila

I am going to write a travelogue of on a Autumn trip from Chengdu to Daocheng-Yading. This idea of the trip is initialized by my girl friend. She read about Daocheng on the net and decided to go to the last Shangri-la. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we have ever made. The trip itself is an adventure, let along the beautiful scenes we saw in the Tibetan area. I didn’t thought about recording the jorney, until I read Chan Joon Yee‘s Almost Shangrila. Given I am very busy at day time and seldom can I find some time to sit down to write, the progress may be slow, and some times I may pause, but I will have a try.

Before I begin, I quote my email to one of my friends here. You may get some idea about trip in advance.

We were thinking about go to Jiu Zai Gou, but due to the national holiday, we decided to go further so it will not be so crowded.

Daocheng is very far from Chengdu. We took 3 days + almost two nights to get there. Sometimes we arrive the place we live (no hotel there) after 2:00 AM, sometime we need to start as early as 5:00 AM. Four-ladies Mountain is on the way of our first day trip. It looks very nice. I have decided to separately go there someday.

We stayed the first night at Xin Du Qiao and arrived in Daocheng the second night. The village of Yading, where the snow mountain pictures were taken, is another 110 KM from Daocheng. The road condition is terrible, the maximum speed for the bus is about 20-30 KM/hour.

Even Yading is not the end of the journey. The next morning, we rode horses to march toward the top of the mountain. It is the first time I ride a horse for the whole day.

Compared with Jiu Zai Gou, the area is completely undeveloped. There are no roads, no water, no electricity power, no house, and no food. We use horses as transportation tools, we used candles, we lived in tents and we brought rice, oil and vegetables from Daocheng county to the place we stayed. Beside the unbelievable beautiful scene, it is an unforgettable journey itself.

Daocheng Trip Schedule

The seven days from Chengdu to Daocheng is very impressive. Many things happened during the trip and I got to know a lot of people too. Here is the schedule of the trip.

Day 1:

Chengdu – Xinduqiao (8:00 AM to 12:30 AM), stayed at Xinduqiao

Day 2:

Xinduqiao – Daocheng (10:30 AM – 2:00 AM), stayed at Daocheng

Day 3:

Daocheng – Yading (10:30 AM – 5:00 PM), stayed at Yading

Day 4:

Yading – Luorong Cattle Field – Yading

Day 5:

Yading – Daocheng (3:00 PM – 7:00 PM)

Day 6:

Daocheng – Xinduqiao (6:00 AM – 8:00 PM)

Day 7:

Xinduqiao – Chengdu ( 5:00 AM – 6:00 PM)


Returned from Dao Cheng

I have returned to Shanghai from Daocheng. It is a hard trip but very interesting and unforgetable trip. The snow mountains and the grass lands are so beautiful – I promise it is the most beautiful place in the world. It is really the Shangrila. I didn’t have time to upload all the photos I took yet, but I will do it little by little in the following days.

After seven days, I finally returned to the civilization world. I have been unable to access electrocity, mobile phone – sometimes even telephone, water pipes…. for seven days. It is the odd world – the natural world. I am very excited to tell you all about the trip, but hold a minute. I need some time to rest and all the long stories need some time to tell.

Message from Dao Cheng

This is a short message from Dao Cheng. After 30+ hours of bus, I finally arrived in Dao Cheng. The Internet access is not easy here. Thanks for Xue Long Zi from Yading.net to provide his computer and modem.

One of the 191 pictures I have taken is here.

Updated Nov 28, 2002

Luo Ye Hong’s Photo in


    Miss Luo comes from Fuzhou. She has been an independent

traveler or explorer for some time. She brought much liveliness to the group.

Caca and Xiaobai’s photo in Daocheng

    Caca and Xiaobai come from Wenzhou and they work for Wenzhou

Daily. It is an admirable to be the editor of the travel column. See their

professional photos.

Video in Daocheng

    Cautious: The video size is large – 48M in size

Jiuzhaigou by Maphis

    Maphis’s photos in Jiuzhaigou. He did much better job to

express the waters and mountains in Jiuzhaigou using his camera.

Daocheng Photos by Cuanyu

    I met Cuanyu in a very

interesting way. He obviously explored more in Daocheng than me. Take a look

at photos he took.

Questions and Answered about Daocheng

Other great resources

Trekking in the Yading

Reserve, Dabpa by Pamela Logan

I am on My Trip to Daocheng, the lost Shangrila

Note: This weblog will be paused from Sept 29 to Oct 6.

I will be away from the Internetized world for the next 8 days. From 6:00 AM tomorrow, I will be on my way to Daocheng, the lost Shangrila in China.

The small town is at the west part of Sichuan. The scene is exteremely beautiful. I am taking my cameras with me so I can share my photos with you when I come back. It will take me more than one day to get there by bus. Some areas can only be reached by horses. I may not be able to access computer or Internet there — actually, the mobile phone does not work in most areas and some of the towns I am going to tour are not covered by the electronic power network.

Sorry for the pause, but I will defintely share the best pictures you have ever seen with you as soon as I am back after Oct 6.