Depending on whom you believe, Yán’ān was either communism’s promised land or the location for the ominous beginnings of Emperor Mao’s twisted dystopian rule. Either way, it’s irrefutably the place where the Long March finally came to an end in 1935, a beleaguered 9500km away from its start in Jiāngxī province. Yán’ān served as the communists’ power base until 1947, and it was from here that they fleshed out the ideologies specific to the Chinese revolution.
As such, Yán’ān is hallowed ground for patriots, and this otherwise nondescript backwater manages to pull in four-million photo-snapping ‘red tourists’ annually. For most foreign travellers, though, the town does little more than elicit long yawns and drooping eyelids – there’s little reason to come here unless you’ve got a penchant for political history.