Yading (亞丁) is one of the picturesque area in China Sichuan. It is located at 4000M above sea level and is a bit far from major cities like Chengdu. It took two days of driving from Chengdu to get to Yading.
Yading is safe and beautiful place. As long as you play by the rule and stay with tourist facilities, you are pretty safe. There is no dangerous cliffs and falling rocks for you to overcome. The only challenge is your body response to high altitude.
The key attractions in Yading is Mike Lake (牛奶海), Five-Color Lake (五色海), Luorong Cattle Ranch (洛絨牛場), Chonggu Temple (沖古寺) and Pearl Lake (珍珠海).
Hiking to Mike Lake (牛奶海), Five-Color Lake (五色海) is quite strenuous given its high altitude. The hiking path is friendly to hikers. It is however these two lakes are not stunningly beautiful. It may not worth the effort and time . There is risk of getting altitude sickness too. Instead of going to the two lakes, spending more time in Luorong Cattle Ranch (洛絨牛場) may make sense if you are a big fans of picturesque scenery .
Pearl Lake (珍珠海) is much easier to reach, the path is shorter with less elavation. The path runs though a beautiful valley.
I would recommend to spend two full days in Yading.
Day1: arrive at Yading in the morning and settle in hotel. Spend an afternoon to visit Pearl Lake. Stay in Yading hotel.
Day2: take the earliest bus to Chonggu Temple to start the journey to Mike Lake (牛奶海) and Five-Color Lake (五色海). Hike slowly. Enjoy the secenry of Luorong Cattle Ranch (洛絨牛場). Stay in Yading hotel.
Day3: leave Yading in the morning
Before we start our Yading journey, we spent a night in Shangri-La Town which is within walking distance to the entrance of Yading Tourist Centre.
This is the ticket office in the tourist centre. For local Chinese, they can buy tickets online. For others, you have to buy tickets by person. In general, the queue is not long. Even if you have ordered tickets online, you still have to get your tickets here. Ticket fee is RMB266 per person which include entrance fee and coaches fee. Once you are inside Yading, you can take unlimited bus ride without paying again.
The coach took about one hour to reach Yading village. Unlike the simplified map shown above, the road is actually winding among mountains. We finally got the visual of Yading village.
We stayed in 見山酒店 which locates right in the Yading village. Service is good, room is clean. Some rooms come with big windows to see the snow mountain. The mountain pictures below was taken from my room. You can also borrow walking stick at no charge. Room has oxygen supply at RMB100 per night. If you love stargazing or astrophotography , it has a pitch black rooftop.
This Milky way photo was taken on the hotel roof top with a Huawei cell phone.
Food selection in hotel restaurant is not great but good enough.
As you see from the map, road traffic ends in ZaGuanBeng. It is one of the terminus of the Yading coach. Here you will have aka convenient store and wash rooms. Hiking starts from here.
The hike from ZaGuanBeng to Chonggu Temple is on a cemented uphill path. Magnificent scenery starting to emerge.
The last bus the leave ZaGuanBeng is 6:00pm. Time your hike.
Chonggu Temple (沖古寺)
Chonggu Temple is a Buddhism temple lying next to a beautiful grassland. You can find Electric Vehicle (EV) ticket office and EV terminus in this area. EV ticket is only valid for one day. You cannot buy in advance. The EV queuing signpost is a bit confusing.
The EV fleet runs between Chonggu Temple and Luorong Grassland. If you are really keen on the visiting Mike Lake (牛奶海) and Five-Color Lake (五色海), you are highly recommended to start early, I mean really early i.e. Taking the earliest EV at 7:30am from Chonggu Temple.
Could you see the short brown house behind the white triangle? Those brown house is the EV ticket office.
Pearl Lake (珍珠海)
A must-go visit is Pearl Lake (珍珠海). The local name is Zhumalacuo (卓瑪拉措). This lake is nice and the walk to this lake is impressive. This path is well maintained with public toilets, but remember to prepare your own toilet paper. It is really for casual hikers. The only challenge is a bit short in oxygen. There is no supply on the walk, bring some drinks and snacks.
Luorong Cattle Range (洛絨牛場)
It is a very beautiful grassland. Although it is called cattle range, I don't see a lot of cattle. Instead I see people rearing horses and goats in the range. To reach Luorong Cattle Range, you have to take EV from the Chonggu Temple (沖古寺).
If you are planning to to visit Mike Lake (牛奶海) and Five-Color Lake (五色海), riding horses to cover the first 1KM (approx) is recommended. Horse ride costs RMB300 for taking you to the official end point which took about 45 min. However, horseman will ask for another RMB 200 for additional steep short ride. Most tourists will pay for that short trip because they prefer to trust the horseman. The horse ride is really for saving power at high altitude , not saving time.
There are around 30 horses for such service. When they finish one trip, they will hurry back to the starting point.
The direction from EV terminus to the horse farm is very confusing too. You shall trust your visual inputs of the horse field. Signpost may mislead you again.
Luorong Cattle Range itself is very beautiful. It really worth spending some time here.
Mountain YangMaiYong (央邁勇) shot from Luorong Cattle Range in the morning.
Five-Color Lake (五色海)
After leaving the horses, you start hiking up. It is a bit steep but not dangerous. The scenery is stunting.
Again, except a couple of public toilets, there is no supplies on the way, you need to bring your own toilet paper, drinks and packed lunch. Bringing canned oxygen is also good, just in case.
Eventually, you reach a junction. The junction is part of the circuit hike. It really does not matter which way you take. I chose to hike up to visit Five-Color Lake (五色海) first.
Eventually you will see a small lake (left picture). Don't be disappointed, this is NOT Five-Color Lake (五色海). Just keep walking until you see the signpost.
You will eventually get to the Five-Color Lake (五色海) (right pictures). The water level was a bit low during my visit.
Mike Lake (牛奶海)
After visiting the Five-Color Lake (五色海), we started descending to Mike Lake (牛奶海).
The water level was a bit low too and yet it was rewarding after all these hike and preparation.
When you come back to Luorong Cattle Range (洛絨牛場), it is good to check out the tourist centre. It has clean toilets, hot coffee, snacks and even oxgyen supply. Some hikers may a need sip of oxygen or hot coffee.