The Real Shangri-La - Daocheng Yading Photography Tour
Scenic Spot of Daocheng Yading is located at the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, Sichuan. Some people call Daocheng Yading the “Last Pure Land on the Blue Planet”. In here, you will find the spectacular and sacred snow mountains standing under the pure blue and clear sky, vast meadow stretch to the horizon, strong view impact coming through the contrasting color of the box forest, and crystal and clean lakes lies peacefully under the heaven… Almost the most beautiful sceneries of a snow-covered plateau have gathered in here. You have every reason to come here and stay here. It’s easy to take breathtaking photos in here, even if you are not professional photographer. Daocheng Yading really deserves its reputation “the paradise for photographer”.
This Daocheng Yading photography tour can be customized depending on what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!
Travel Route: Chengdu / Daocheng
Travel Length: 4 Days
Tour Code: CD-PTDYT-04
Tour Type: Customizable Private Tour
Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)
Today, your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel and then escort you to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport to catch the flight to Daocheng Yading, which needs only 1 hour. After your arrival, you will be welcomed by your local guide and driver at the arrival hall of Daocheng Yading Airport (4,411m).
You will be escorted to visit Benbo Monastery (3,940m) first to take some nice pictures of the striking claret-red Kagyu Buddhist temple cluster of over 900 years old, learn the interesting story of its establishment and the creator, and feel the sincere Buddhist pursuit and persistence of local Lamas. Next, go to Sangdui Red Grassland at Sangdui Town to shoot the painting-like landscape with fiery red grass in water against the typical Tibetan village houses, colorful poplar trees and azure sky, which is superb like an ocean of bright colors and available in September and October.
Then, go to shoot the ten thousand acre of poplar forest (3,740m) from the best location at Sela County and Bang River. In autumn around October, the wide spread of poplar trees are dressed in orange and golden to be so charming under the frequent azure sky.
After the visiting, your guide and driver will send you to your hotel at Shangri-La Town (2,950m) and help you check in. Have a good rest for the following hiking experience!
Tips: Since the altitude of Daocheng Yading area is mainly over 3,000 meters, you are highly suggested not do strenuous exercise to release or avoid altitude sickness.
1).Benbo Monastery is beautiful all year round and particular charming in clear days.
2).Sangdui Red Grassland changes into red in September and October, and morning with Rembrandt light and afternoon with front light is best to shoot the brighter red grass.
3).Poplar Forest changes into golden yellow in autumn, and is most beautiful in October. Sunrise to morning hours and dusk are best to shoot the poplar forest with countryside view with soft sunshine.
After an early breakfast, start your photography exploration of Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve, the Last Pure Land on Earth first found by Joseph Rock in 1928 and then be widely treated as the “Soul of Shangri-La” with extremely dreaming wonderland.
First, go to the best viewing deck to catch the panorama of Yading Village that is hidden in the embrace of snow mountains and forest like a mysterious holy land with around 30 households living on the bright colorful cultivated land. Take the sightseeing bus from the tourist center to Zhaguanbeng for about 1-1.5 hours and walk for 0.5km (20 minutes) to Chonggu Monastery (3,900m) to get on the battery car directly to Luorong Pasture (4,150m) for another 0.5 hour (you can also choose to hike for 1.5-2 hours to Luorong Pasture). Enjoy your relaxing roam here and take fascinating photos of the idyllic pasture with those carefree grazing cattle and goats, layers of multicolored dense alpine forest, clear winding stream, etc. backed by the three holy snow mountains, namely Xiannairi (Mount Chianrezig), Yangmaiyong (Mount Jambeyang) and Xianuoduoji (Mount Chanadorje). Do not miss the chance to take the most beautiful picture of Xianuoduoji snow mountain like a powerful man!
Next, you can choose to ride a horse (extra payment needed) for about 5km or hike for 3-3.5 hours up to shoot the fabulous Milk Lake (4,600m), unbelievably charming like a precious blue gem that can even move one to drop tears. Continue to visit Five Color Lake (4,500m) (0.3 km away and needs 0.5 hour if you hike there) to record the impressive world-class oil painting sightseeing with beautiful snow rock mountain in white, grey, silver and chocolate, blue and green water, various alpine plantations, clear sky backdrop, etc. After the photography visiting, ride your horse and take the car and bus back to the entrance. And our guide and driver will send you back to your hotel at Shangri-La Town. Have a good rest!
1).The highway to Yading is best to take the high angle shot of Yading Village with Xiannairi and Xianuoduoji. Sunrise (around 06:10 in Summer and 07:30 in Autumn) is recommended to shoot Xiannairi with red glow, and sunset hour (around 20:00 in Summer and 18:30 in Autumn) is great to shoot Xianuoduoji with brilliant setting sun.
2).Luorong Pasture is great to shoot Xiannuoduoji with splendid autumn golden larch and the essential Daocheng Yading view in red, yellow and blue, which is beautiful either in the morning or afternoon.
Today after breakfast, go to Chonggu Monastery as the same way on Day 2 by sightseeing bus and hike. Have a stop at the temple to shoot the sacred Gelug Buddhist temple architecture in white, red, yellow and black and learn the interesting story about the temple and Joseph Rock’s stop by. From such unbeatable location, you will easily take some excellent photo of the brilliant temple with the three pure white holy snow mountains. After some short walk, embrace the lovely Chonggu Meadow (4,020m) that can be paralleled with the fairyland on earth. Stroll on the vast grassland like a thick and soft carpet in yellow and green in each season. Play along the particularly appealing transparent chanting river with clearly visible little stones like countless grains of gold sank to the bottom. Do not miss the best angle to admire the Xianuoduoji snow mountain.
Then, continue to hike for 30 minutes to Pearl Lake (4,120m) that is super wonderful to take fantastic photos of the picturesque landscape of surrounding snow peaks, green and orange dense forest, iridescent prayer flags, and their dazzling reflections in the shimmering clear lake. Also, it is the best location to admire the holy Xiannairi snow mountain.
After the visiting, our guide and driver will send you to your hotel in Daocheng County (3,700m) and help you check in. Have a good rest!
1).When approaching Chonggu Monastery, it is great to shoot Xiannairi with the stream and forest being the foreground.
2).Chonggu Meadow is the best place to shoot Xianuoduoji and particularly the snow peak dyed into red by sunset glow. 3).Pearl Lake is the best location to shoot Xiannairi. Around 9:00 is better to shoot the representative Daocheng Yading photo of the snow peak with golden autumn leaves.
After breakfast, your local guide and driver will send you to Daocheng Yading Airport for your flight to Chengdu or other destinations. Tour ends.
Departure Idea: Daocheng Yading Airport has direct flights to Chengdu, Chongqing and Xian, and very few connecting flights to Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Kunming.
The scenery in Yading Nature Reserve is the most beautiful part in Daocheng County. Giant snow mountains, precipitous cliffs, mirror-like lakes, magical glacier, vast meadows and primitive forests in Yading have created a peaceful earthly paradise for us. The Three Religious Lord Snow Mountains, Luorong Pasture, Chonggu Monastery, Pearl Lake and Milk Lake are all must-go places for shutterbugs.
Three Religious Holy Snow Mountains refer to Chenresig (Xiannairi), Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong) and Chanadorje (Xianuoduoji). They respectively represent the Bodhisattva of Mercy, Wisdom and Wrath. They are regarded as the sacred mountain which can protect the Tibetan people in Yading.
The best location to shoot Chenresig is the lake side of Pearl Lake, which is located one mile away from Chonggu Monastery. The best time to shoot is from the sunrise to mid-day. Afternoon is not suitable for taking photos because the backlight makes framing easily getting dark, and creates glaring light. If you want to shoot the golden Chenresig and its reflection in the Pearl Leak in summer, you need to get to the Pearl Lake before 6 am. While in autumn, the best time to shoot golden Chenresig is around 9 am.
Luorong Pasture is the best location to shoot Jambeyang. Cowshed on the pasture is a relatively good position on the Luorong Pasture. The best time for shooting is 6 am in summer and 7:10 am in autumn. The sun will fall behind the left back of Jambeyang, and this will cause backlighting when shooting, so it’s not suitable to shoot sunset photo of Jambeyang. Another good time for shooting is at moonlit evening. You can shoot the fairy-tale scenery of Jambeyang.
The best location to shoot Chanadorje is the pasture around Chonggu Meadow and Chonggu Monastery, and the best time is from afternoon to dusk. Another good location is Luorong Pasture. When autumn comes, the bushes are red, the larches are golden, and the sky is blue. The contrasting of the cold color and warm color will bring a strong visual impact for your photo, which highlights the pure, sacred and majesty of Chanadorie. Both forenoon and afternoon are suitable to shoot.
Chonggu Monastery occupies an ideal location in Yading Nature Reserve. Standing on the green and yellow meadow with blue and transparent sky over its head, facing the thousand years of snow mountains in distance, while the sleeping canyon lying behind, Chonggu Monastery is like the door of heaven, where you feel you were so close to god’s world. Any photographic novices can take good pictures in Chonggu Monastery due to its advantaged position. You can see Chenresig and Chanadorje in here, and all things around the temple can be the foreground of the two mountains. The best time to shoot Chenresig in here is from early morning to mid-day, while Chanadorje is from afternoon to dusk.
In Luorong Pasture, herds of sheep and cows are scattered over the grassland and enjoy the great sunshine and pure lake water. Snow peak, forest, pasture, rivulet, lake, waterfall and wooden house compose a most beautiful picture. This pasture is surrounded by the Three Religious Holy Snow Mountains, thus, it’s also a great place to shoot the Three Religious Holy Snow Mountains.
Start from Luorong Pasture and proceed along the valley between Chenresig and Jambeyang, you will arrive at the Milk Lake, which is located at the foot of Jambeyang. The lake surface is bright with many colors, and the mountain’s reflection in the river looks more holy and pure. Pass Chonggu Monastery and keep walking for about half an hour, you will arrive at Pearl Lake. Pearl Lake is hiding behind a small forest, and it’s actually a bigger pond. Verdurous water shines quietly under the reflection of the sky. Chenresig’s reflection on the lake surface keeps invigorating the lake.
Along the way from Daocheng County to Yading Nature Reserve, there are also many scenes deserving your visit, like beautiful Banghe Village and Sangdui Red Grassland. In Banghe, a wide spread of poplars are cultivated along the road, being of the poplar forest at the highest altitude globally. And there are a few white pagodas lie among the undulant mountains and forest. In Sangdui Red Grassland, red, blue, white and yellow, only a few colors, however, you’ll be amazed when you feel the strong visual impact formed by these colors.
Banghe Village is only about 5 miles away from Daocheng County. The fabulous idyllic scenery of Banghe Village is composed of river, farmland, poplar forest, hamlet and temples. This is a great place to shoot the autumn scenery of Daocheng. Banghe’s scenery is more suitable to shoot in before the sunset. At this time, there will form an acute angle between the sunlight and the ground. If there is a kitchen smoke or fog at this time, the picture would be more beautiful. Along the road from Jinzhu Town to Yading Village, the best location to shoot Banghe scenery is 2 miles away from Jinzhu Town. You can shoot Bang River and afar village facing the sunlight at the road side, and then, just before the sunset, turn your camera to shoot the birch forest’s shadow against the sunset.
Red Grassland is located at Sangdui Town, which is only about 28 miles from Daocheng County. Once the September comes, there will be full of red grass. This scene will continue to October. During the golden autumn, the birth forest is shining from afar, while in front of the forest is a little pond which is full of red grass. The Red Grassland is actually small, however, it’s definitely deserve your visit. The best time to shoot is from the sunrise to forenoon. At this time, the red grass is facing the sunlight, thus, the color of the grass is brighter.
The best shooting season is autumn, from the end of September to middle of October. At this time, the air visibility is very good and the photo shot at this time has a good transparency. At another hand, autumn is the most colorful season. Photo at this time has rich layers, just like an oil painting. Dawn and dusk are very good time for shooting. If you want to shoot sun shining on the snow mountain, you should be prepared before dawn. In the morning, the sun angle is very low, and the mountain and forest have abundant light and shade levels, which gives the photo more depth.
1. Recommended equipment：wide angle lens, telephoto lens, small aperture, tripod, graduated filter and polarizer
Place like Daocheng Yading has numerous things to shoot, thus, it’s wise for you to prepare full photographic equipment. Wide angle lens is essential in landscape photography and it will bring a different visual impact to the photo. Telephoto lens will help to shoot the remote snow mountain and forest. The light is weak in dawn and dusk, so you need to use small aperture to increase the depth of field. While long exposure time is needed to make the photo clearer, thus you need tripod to steady the camera. When you shoot on the plateau, light and shade contrast is rather strong, it’s better for you to use graduated filter and polarizer to make sure the photo can be exposure correctly.
2. Don't hesitate when shooting
The weather in Yading is changeable and unpredictable. Sometimes, sunshine is gone too soon, maybe only in several seconds, so it’s important to capture the scene. Don’t hesitate when you shoot. You can modify the photo later if your photo is not very good, but if you miss the scene, it’s too late to regret it.
3. Medicine preparation
Yading is a high attitude area, you may face harsh living conditions, so aged and frail should act according to their abilities. Prepare some medicine to ease altitude sickness. Vitamin complex tablets, cod liver oil and cold medicine should also be prepared according to actual situation.
4. Warm notice
There is large temperature difference between day and night, so prepare enough warm clothes. Rain-proof and snow-proof equipmentand sunblock shall be also prepared.
Killing living things is strictly prohibited; it’s forbidden to take away anything from the holy mountain; don’t protect the natural environment in the scenic spot.
6. Transfer advice
From Chengdu to Daocheng Yading, you can take bus, and this will take about 2 days to get there. Another way is by flight, it’s only takes 1 hour to fly from Chengdu to Daocheng. In the scenic spot, some sections are allowed battery cars, but most transportation vehicles are horse and your foot.
7. Accommodation advice:
Daocheng County and Yading Village provide hotels for tourists. You can also stay at Chonggu Monastery and Luorong Pasture, however, the accommodation and facilities here is not good as Daocheng County and Yading Village.
For more photography advice in Daocheng and Dading, you can feel free to contact us and we are here ready to help!
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