Dapba (འདབ་པ།) is located in Daocheng County in the Garze Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest Sichuan, close to the border of Northwest Yunnan. The town is at an altitude of 3,750 meters and is the best starting point for the Tibetan areas of western and southern Sichuan. Dapba is known as Daocheng Town (稻城) in Chinese.
The town itself is a thinly populated, dusty two-street town that lives off agriculture, where farms with crops, tractors, and livestock are commonly seen. The area around the town consists of wild countryside with lofty hills, and winding rivers and valleys. The local Tibetan residents consider their hills and mountains sacred.
Daocheng town offers a passage to the famed Yading’s Nature Reserve.
Yading Nature Reserve
The famous explorer, Dr. Joseph Rock, on his exploration journey of the southeast Tibetan Plateau, stumbled upon the nature and beauty of Yading and photographed the entire area. Later in 1931, an issue of National Geographic detailed Dr. Rock’s exploration of the area together with incredible photographs of Yading. Tibetans have cherished Yading Nature Reserve for a long time and associated the three majestic peaks of Yading – Chenresig, Jampelyang, and Chanadorje – with the abode of their gods. Even today, local Tibetans make a Kora of the highest peak, Mount Chenrezig, at least once a year.
Daocheng Yading Airport
The Daocheng Yading Airport is situated 50 kilometers north of town and about 130 kilometers from Yading Nature Reserve. It holds the record of being the world’s highest civilian airport at an altitude of 4,411 meters – making Qamdo Bamda Airport in Tibet (4334 meters) the second highest airport. It was built in two years and cost around $255 million to build. The airport can handle up to 280,000 passengers annually and is serviced by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines.
Mount Haizi (Mountain of Lakes)
Mount Haizi or Mount Zhara Lhatse peaks at an altitude of 4,500 meters and boasts an amazing number of lakes – 1,145 in total. Mount Haizi is a national nature reserve that is covered with unique geological formations as a result of glacial erosion. On way to town, Mount Haizi can be seen in parallel with the Daocheng River. Mount Zhara Lhatse is also known as the ‘old ice cap of Daocheng’.
Other Sights around the town
Gonggaling Lamasery was constructed in the 15th century and is located 62 kilometers south of the town along the road to Yading. It is the biggest monastery in the county, and it holds an exquisite bronze statue of Maitreya (the Future Buddha) given by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Also in the area, about 4 kilometers outside of Daocheng are the famous Rubachaka Hot Springs.