Ya’an Travel Guide
Ya’an, situated in the west-central part of Sichuan province in southwestern China, rests along the banks of the Qingyi River, approximately 120 km (75 mi) southwest of Chengdu. Boasting a rich history spanning over 2,000 years, Ya’an holds significant cultural and historical importance as it served as the gateway to the ancient Tea Horse Road, connecting Sichuan with Tibet. The city is renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes and exceptional biodiversity, housing prominent attractions such as the Bifeng Gorge Panda Base, one of China’s largest panda reserves, and various giant panda sanctuaries recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ya’an enjoys a subtropical highland climate, characterized by abundant rainfall, while also gaining recognition for its thriving tea culture and renowned tea production.
Chinese: 雅安 yǎ ān
Location: Southwest Sichuan
Population (urban area): 1,433,000
Why Visit Ya’an
Scenic Beauty: Ya’an boasts stunning natural landscapes with picturesque mountains, lush forests, and serene rivers, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
Panda Sanctuaries: The city is home to several panda sanctuaries, including the world-famous Bifengxia Panda Base, where visitors can witness these adorable creatures up close and contribute to their conservation efforts.
Tea Culture: Ya’an is renowned as the “City of Tea” and offers opportunities to explore its rich tea culture, visit tea plantations, and savor the finest tea varieties, including the famous Ya’an Tibetan Tea.
Ecotourism Adventures: Outdoor enthusiasts can embark on thrilling adventures like hiking, camping, and exploring the region’s numerous nature reserves, such as the Wolong National Nature Reserve and Shangli Ancient Town.
Ancient Towns and Heritage: Ya’an is dotted with ancient towns like Lushan and Shangli, where visitors can immerse themselves in traditional architecture, local customs, and cultural heritage, providing a glimpse into China’s history.
Top Things to Do in Ya’an
- Engage in the panda volunteer program at Bifengxia Panda Reserve, where you can actively participate in feeding, cleaning, and interacting with the lovable giant pandas in their natural habitat.
- Explore the enchanting Bifengxia Valley, often referred to as “a Small Jiuzhaigou,” and delight in the breathtaking sights of waterfalls, meandering streams, lush forests, and dramatic cliffs while strolling along the wooden boardwalk.
- Immerse yourself in the charm of Shangli Ancient Town, a meticulously preserved town that once served as a pivotal stop along the historic Tea Horse Road. Marvel at the traditional architecture, wander across stone bridges, and experience the vibrant local culture.
- Deepen your knowledge of tea history and culture at Mount Mengding, the birthplace of tea cultivation in China. Witness ancient tea trees, explore the tea museum, and savor the renowned Mengding tea.
- Discover the ancient watchtowers of Suopo Town, remarkable stone structures that trace their origins back over 1,000 years. Serving as enduring symbols of Danba’s history and culture, they offer captivating insights into the region under Ya’an’s administration.
Ya’an Weather and Best Time to Visit
Ya’an experiences a humid subtropical monsoon climate characterized by distinct seasons and ample rainfall. The average annual temperature hovers around 14°C, accompanied by an average annual precipitation of approximately 800 mm.
For an ideal visit to Ya’an, the recommended seasons are spring, summer, and autumn, particularly from late March to early May and late September to early November. Spring unveils a captivating bloom, adorning orchards with fruits and painting the mountains in vibrant shades of green. Autumn unveils a tapestry of golden hues, embellishing villages and valleys. Summer welcomes visitors with pleasant weather, tranquility, and lush landscapes.
Winter, being the coldest and least favorable season, sees frequent snowfall and temperatures dropping below freezing. Slippery roads and snow blockages may impede travel, and some attractions could be closed. Nonetheless, winter presents Ya’an in a different light, transforming watchtowers, mountains, and villages into picturesque scenes draped in snow.
How to Get to Ya’an
There are multiple transportation options available to reach Ya’an, depending on your starting point and preferences. Here are some common methods:
The most convenient way to travel from Chengdu to Ya’an is by bus. Fast buses depart from Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus Station to Ya’an throughout the day (from 07:30 to 19:00, every 35 minutes), with a travel time of approximately 2 hours. The bus fare is around 130 yuan per person. Alternatively, you can opt for a train journey from Chengdu East Railway Station to Ya’an Railway Station (from 06:30 to 21:00, every 30-60 minutes), with a travel time of 1-1.5 hours. Train tickets cost approximately 40-80 yuan per person.
From Mount Emei:
To reach Ya’an from Mount Emei, you can take a bus from Mount Emei Bus Station to Ya’an Bus Station. Buses operate from 07:00 to 18:00 at intervals of 30-60 minutes, with a travel time of around 2 hours. The bus fare is approximately 40 yuan per person3. Another option is to take a train from Emeishan Railway Station to Ya’an Railway Station, with trains departing from 07:00 to 19:00 every 30-60 minutes. The train journey takes about 1-1.5 hours, and tickets cost around 20-40 yuan per person.
If you are traveling from Leshan, you can take a bus from Leshan Bus Station to Ya’an Bus Station. Buses operate from 07:00 to 18:00 at intervals of 30-60 minutes, and the travel time is approximately 2 hours. The bus fare is about 40 yuan per person. Alternatively, you can choose to take a train from Leshan Railway Station to Ya’an Railway Station. Trains depart every 30-60 minutes from 07:00 to 19:00, with a travel time of 1-1.5 hours. Train tickets cost around 20-40 yuan per person.