Daocheng is located at an altitude of 3750m. While there may not appear to be much to do in this town those who do decide to stop over and spend a day here will find this town/village much more charming than it initially appears. It offers a good stepping stone for those coming from Yunnan with altitude concerns as the towns either side of it (Xiangcheng and Litang) sit at altitudes of 3200m and 4000m. If you take the time to head out of the town you will find the surrounding countryside and mountainous backdrop quite charming.
Daocheng is a sensible acclimatizing base for a trip onward to Yading and the Yading Nature Reserve (which has trail altitudes of 4000m+). As of June 2016, the town's overly developed center is a ghost town both to domestic and international visitors--ask to see the kitchen in the restaurants, as ingredients may not be fresh. There are monasteries out in the countryside, but the hot springs, supposed to be only 4km or so from the center, are currently inaccessible due to (de)construction of the only road.
Kangding - Daocheng
There's only one bus from Kangding to Daocheng via Litang, leaving Kangding early in the morning. The journey normally takes about 11h. There are minivans departing for Daocheng outside the bus station in Litang. Journey times is normally 3 hours.
Chengdu - Daocheng
There are only Xinanmen Bus Station arranges buses to Daocheng from Chengdu which leaves at 10:00am every morning and costs 240 yuan. It will take two days, about 22 hours. It will stop at Kangding Bus Station and tourists can arrange their accommodation themselves. And arriving at Daocheng the next day at around 18:00. But be noticed that it will be canceled affected by the bad weather condition. Tourists should call and check the schedule with the bus station before they go.
Xinnanmen Bus Station Phone Number: 028 - 85433609
Daocheng Yading Airport
The Daocheng Yading airport is 50 km north of town. With an elevation of 4,411 meters, which is higher than the Qamdo Bamda Airport, the Daocheng Yading Airport is the highest civilian airport in the world.
Chengdu - Daocheng by private car
You can rent vehicles to Daocheng at the car rental agency. SUV and commercial vehicle are recommended. The prices vary based on the types of vehicles.
There are five ways to get around. For getting to Yading Scenic Area, one of the top destinations in Daocheng, you are recommended to take taxi or chartered vehicle.
1. By Chartered Vehicle
It is the best way to get to Yading Scenic Area from Daocheng County. The chartered vehicle costs about 50 yuan per person and varies in peak season and low season.
2. By Bikes
Bike is the best way to get around Daocheng County within 10 kilometers. The price is about 15 - 20 yuan per day.
3. By Taxi
It is convenient to take taxi to get around in Daocheng. About 8 yuan, you can get anywhere in the county.
4. By Shuttle Bus
In the Yading Scenic Area, the most convenient way to get around is to take shuttle bus provided by the scenic area. Tourists purchase the tickets with the shuttle bus fee (120 yuan per person).
5. By Caravan
The mountain road from Luorong Cattle Camp to Niunai Lake is steep for tourists to get through. It will take about 6 hours by hiking and 4 hours by riding horse to make a round trip.
You can easily spend a few days just wandering around Daocheng - especially if you go climbing the hill around the city, the arid landscapes are truly stunning. It's a worthy stop on your way, don't treat it just as a sleepover to Kangding/Shangri-La/ However, carry a stick or some stones in your pockets, as wild and freely roaming dogs are a bit of a danger, especially if you leave the villages and stay on your own.
As of June 2016, the town is still under heavy construction--dust and concrete and large trucks with massive horns are the norm. Development is everywhere, but the town is eerily empty of guests.
On Echu Street, there is a fast food place called Ousak. They serve a very delicious burger. Echu street meets the main street, Gongga road at the town central square. If coming from the bus station, take a left at the junction of Echu Street and Gongga road and walk about 2 blocks. Ousak is on your right.
Local Tibetans in Daocheng are keen on the air-dried beef and mutton. It will spend about three to four month to prepare this kind of food.
This dish can be found in the big restaurant in Daocheng County. Matsutake is a precious fungus with rich nutrition and protein. This dish is a tonify soup which can preserve one’s health. More Food at Daocheng Yading Dining.
It is simple to prepare. Stir the butter, milk, walnut kernel, peanut and sesame, egg and salt in a barrel, and then mix them with boiled red tea for a just moment. Then the butter tea is ready to serve. In order to drink it whenever, Tibetan people are always keep the butter tea in a teapot to warm on a stove.
There are a large number of budget guesthouses across the road from the bus station. There are also several guesthoues a short distance out from town which several touts crowding around the bus station will happily take you to. However, be aware that when coming in winter, the majority of guesthouses are dead-locked, and even if there is anything open, it will not have running water nor hot water (as the water pipes are frozen during winter). Moreoverm there is no heating as in the whole area. In such situation, it is a must to ask for an electric blanket in the sleeping places (but again, be aware that electricity fails very often). On top of all that, the bus station hotel is definitely not a bargain offer either.
As of Sept '12, there is a large number of Hostels around. 25 RMB for a dorm seems to be the standard price, some will offer a bed for as little as 20 RMB. You will be approached at the bus stop right away, choose your favorite one and enjoy the free lift.
There are 3 official hosteling international hostels in Daocheng. 2 are located on Dexi Street. Exit the bus station, turn left and then left again into Dexi Street. As of August 25th 2013, Dexi street is unpaved. Walk about 100 meters and you will see the first hosteling international hostel on the right called Yading Hostelling International Hostel. Walk a further 100 meters along Dexi Street and you will a second Hostelling international hostel called Yaocheng Hostelling International Hostel. To find the 3rd hosteling international hostel, exit the bus station and turn right. Walk until the end of the road, You will see the hostel on the left. It is called MaMa International Youth Hostel.
All of them are good. Staff speak good English in all of them. MaMa International Youth Hostel offers Yak meat stew in the evenings for 25 yuan depending on demand.
Be wary of guesthouses staffed solely by Chinese students doing a month of volunteering. They know very little about the area, may mislead you inadvertently, and are not very welcoming of guests, ensconced in their cliques of fellow college students.
If you arrive by bus you will undoubtedly be accosted by the local minibus drivers offering service to Litang or Xiangcheng. Even if you've made a late afternoon arrival, it is perfectly reasonable to skip Daocheng and take a minibus on to either of these destinations. In this part of Sichuan, minibuses are often the same price as public buses. Service to Litang cost 50¥ at time of writing (26 July 2009).