Daocheng is located on the southwestern edge of Sichuan Province in the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Its topography slopes from north to south, and from west to east, with undulating mountains. The county covers an area of 7,323 square kilometers, and has a population of nearly 30,000, of which over 96 percent are the Tibetan people. It is a Kham county blessed with a varied and beautiful landscape.
From the northern glacial-erosion highland where thousands of lakes and ponds are scattered and crowds of wild animals are inhabited, the topography descends through the rolling hills of Daoba River Valleys where there are a lot of farming, pasturing and pilgrimaging, across the comparatively flat heartland, up to the soaring heights of the mountainous south where stands a vast mountain consisting of three isolated peaks known as Khongga(snow-capped) Reesum(3 moutains) Gombo(religious protector).
As early as in 1928 Daocheng was well known for its picturesque scenery. Joseph Rock, an American-Austrian explorer discovered it, and took photographs of beautiful snow-covered Xiannairi and Yangmaiyung mountains with black-and-white films. Daocheng is the model of Shangri-La described in the novel Lost Horizon. The snow-capped mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, forests, grassy marshlands and lakes are integrated organically, forming a tranquil and peaceful land—Shangri-La.
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.