Yunnan Province's


Update April 03 by Wang Xiaocong, China

Global Mark : 14.83    Top Ten : No7

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


4 5 1 1 3 1 5 2



Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
20 100%  (20) 85%  (17) 100%  (20) 14 to 20 18.10

Description :
A difficult yet amazing walk in one of the world most beautiful gorge.

Comments : This place got the best backpackers' rating of whole China !  If you are in Lijiang, if you are reasonably fit and if the weather is fine, put on your walking shoes and see by yourself why !

Warning : The high path is a difficult and dangerous walk that requires some previous trekking experience and good fitness. The path is sometimes slippery, sometimes very narrow (20cm), sometimes next to a ravine... It is OK under (very) light rain but not more. In any case, check the conditions before going by asking at Backpacker's Cafe in Qiaotou. If you stick to the path and follow the arrows (red, yellow, white or blue) and the shoes traces in the dust, you should not have any trouble finding your way. (Note: The description of the path here also applies to the trek to the Middle Rapids of TLG).

What to do : Sweat / Dream at the scenery / Get sensations by walking the narrow path / Drink rewarding beers at guesthouses along the trail

What you may not like : To be hurried by the time / Not being alone on the trail / The Chinese tourism at the lower path / Loosing your way / Not finding the higher path / Not being fit enough to walk the higher path / The rip-off "river crossing" fee : 10Y at the old ferry or 12Y at the new ferry / The rip-off "road crossing" fees of between 2Y and 5Y at various places when visiting the Middle Rapids of TLG, refusal to pay this may incur fighting / The entrance fee : Y30 at either Qiaotou or Walnut Grove

How to do it ?

Two paths :

The high path : long, strenuous & dangerous but amazing view : this is the "real" stuff. To find it from Qiaotou, walk 80m after the "entrance-fee short cut" or 200m after the entrance, take the large road on the left, pass a school sport yard, take the small path going up and follow the arrows of various colors.

The low path : relatively easy, relatively flat, relatively boring. You can really walk in good condition from Walnut Grove to Km 9 only : from Qiaotou to km 9 is the domain on the Chinese tourist cars and buses (the Chinese come to see the Tiger Leaping Rock at Km 10) and you will have to take a lift or bring a mask gas as the road is transformed into a big dust cloud... (Note: From Qiaotou to km 9 the low path is already paved, therefore much less dust. The pavement of the rest of the low path is in progress and is expected to complete before the end of 2002. Just imagine trekking the paved low path! )

Two places to start (for the high path)

  • From Qiaotou : Buses from Lijiang to Zhongdian stop at Qiaotou, 7:30/8/9, etc up to 15:00, 2h30, Y13.5

Advantages : Cheaper as you can avoid the entrance fee / You do the difficult walk the first day, when you are not tired / The path is somehow better indicated as Seam is leading the trekkers to his guesthouse.

Disadvantages : Buying a bus ticket might be problematic during the HS (see "Trip from Lijiang to Tiger L.G.") / Taking the high path, you will need to walk at least 4 to 8 hours to reach the first accommodation so start early if you want to take it easy ! / The path is slightly more difficult this way / The last bus from Daju to Lijiang leave at 13:30

  • From Daju : Buses from Lijiang, 7:30/8, etc up to 13:30, 3 hours, 23.5Y

Advantage : You need only 2 to 3 hours to reach Walnut Grove from Daju (with a 20mn jeep ride to just before the river crossing, Y5 for the old ferry or Y10 for the new ferry) which means no stress / The last bus from Qiaotou to Lijiang pass at 18:30

Disadvantages : The road between Daju and Walnut Grove is nice but not that spectacular so it could be easily skipped.


Backpacker's Tips : Robbin, Singapore (Nov 06)
We went to the bus station and got tickets to Qiaotou for RMB17 each. The coach was pretty decent, and the trip took slightly over 2hrs. Onwards to the gorge. Entrance fee was RMB50, and you have to keep the tickets safe as you will be asked to produce them again when you are leaving the gorge or else they'll insist you buy another ticket. After about an hour, you'll encounter a farm, the farmer is a friendly guy will will provide tea and advice all for free. Go through the farm and you will find the path leading to Naxi Guesthouse. But now there's an alternative called LuYe Inn, which was the place we stayed at. I highly recommend the place. The kitchen has a UV sterilizer thingy where all the eating utensils go through and room rates was RMB60 for a 3 bedder I think. The room
consisted of 3 beds and 3 beds only, but otherwise the decor and beds were very clean and perfectly liveable. And exhibitionists and voyeurs rejoice, the pine walls have lots of peepholes! There's also a public shower with 24hrs hot water. Shitting facilities are however very basic, though thankfully there's a door at least. The innkeeper was a kind lady who gave us free traditional chinese medicine
for our stomach upset. You can order Tu Ji (ie Earth Chicken) for dinner for around RMB80. It's basically a chicken stew with ginger and some herbs. Sounds simple, but smells great and very satisfying on cold nights. Serves 3 or more. There's also a very affectionate and spoilt black kitty who will roll over for a belly rub and mew piteously for chicken scraps. Ask her neighbours for horses to go up the 28 Bends for RMB 80 per person. At the top of the Bends, there's a stone ledge extending out about 15m. There's an entrance fee of a couple of RMB, though you can avoid it if you arrive before 11pm. View from the ledge is fantastic and terrifying, as it's a sheer drop off all 3 sides with nary a tree or shrub to obscure the view of just how far you can fall.
Note: If you ever buy tickets for the Express Sleeper, by all means avoid the bed numbers 5, 7 and 9. Bed 7 is only 30-40cm wide and is squeezed between 5 and 9, which is nice I guess if you're into having threesomes with total strangers. This situation is repeated perhaps 3-6 times further down the line, but I can't recall the exact bed numbers affected, other than that bed 1 is a good location, whereas though the feet of the person in bed 7 will be right beside the head of the person in bed 3.»

Backpacker's Tips : Anna Chabin, Switzerland  (Oct 06)
We took a bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou. To enter the gorge region, we couldn't skip the fee, because they make you pay now in the bus, when you enter the region! Maybe there were too many tourists getting around the barrier by other ways...;-)
We stayed at the Five finger guesthouse, which was really very nice, but we didn't get any sheats (sorry I don't know the spelling in English for what you get to put over the mattress and the blanket), so sensitiv people maybe want to bring their silk sleeping bag inlet. The food and the young cats were great!
The Walnut Grove Guesthouse doesn't look to nice from the outside, if you want to stay in that part of the gorge, Sean's Guesthouse really is the choice. But if you have time, and want to take a day
off, the Five Fingers is in much nicer surrounding! Higher up, nice landscape, more remote, not near the road,...
Costs: We paid 50 Yuan as entrance fee for the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The New Ferry costs 30 Yuan! And we bargaind with the ferryman until a price of 40 Yuan each for taking us back to Lijiang in his minibus (3-4h bustrip through very nice scenery (up over the hills, sometimes rather a tough road (stones).

Backpacker's Tips : Eric, USA (Nov 05)
Visited Tiger Leaping Gorge last week. It was great. The weather is still warm and the trails were in great conditions. I went from Qiaotao to Tina's Guesthouse and stayed at Naxi Family Guesthouse the first night and Five Finger's Guesthouse the second night. Both were 15 RMB per person and had great facilities, hot water, and lots of hospitality. Eat a load of sunflower seeds at Naxi and walnuts at Five Fingers. Both will provide ample free tea to warm you up. At Five Fingers, you can ask for milk tea with the special budded plants there (you'll see). Grandma is great at Five Fingers as she puffs away. At Five Fingers, we ate with the family, which was great, for 15 RMB a person.  The son will take you up to Five Finger Mountain if you want. The pets are great too. Definitely the best place I've been so far in China. The phone number for five finger's guesthouse is 13988776286, it's the mobile phone of mr. li, the owner.»

Backpacker's Tips : Zoe (Oct 04)
« Tiger Leaping Gorge is very muddy right now as there has been quite a bit of rain over the last few days. And out there muddy = dangerous!
The high road is still officially closed but that just means that you have to read a danger sign and accept responsibility for yourself whilst out on
the trail. This also means that the Y30 entry fee is waived.
The low road is still closed due to landslides, there seems to be no idea when that will be open as the worst of it (close to Tea Horse Guesthouse if
you follow the trail down) is still dumping rocks and looks like a rock face. This means that people wanting to get to Zhongdian will need to walk
the track twice, once in and then once to return.
Have just met two friends who returned from Walnut Grove via Daju and they also encountered a new landslide there. This could be a problem for a few days but there were machines working on clearing it.
I cannot recommend highly enough Sean's Guesthouse in Walnut Grove. Sean is a very friendly helpful guy with the latest information on the gorge. The food there is fantastic and the rooms comfy. You can even pay Y5 for a bath! I would have stayed longer if I could have!

Backpacker's Tips : Wang Xiaocong, China (April 03)
« The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain entrance fee is now Y80 per person.»

Backpacker's Tips : Wang Xiaocong, China (Aug 01)
« From August 1,2001,every passenger on the Lijiang to Daju bus who is not a local resident is charged 40 Yuan of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain entrance fee, thus making quite some TOG hikers opt for Qiaotou as the starting point. The reason is that many tourists take the Daju bus to tour the Snow Mountain area in attempt to evade the entrance fee.»

One tip :
If you plan to go to Zhongdian later, you don't need to go back to Lijiang. Go to Qiaotou, leave your bag at Backpackers' Cafe and do the high trek. From Walnut Grove, take a taxi (Y10-15) or walk back to Qiaotou via the low trek. Take a bus onward to Zhongdian (last bus at 17). From Zhongdian, there is a sleeper bus to Jinjiang (for the train to Chengdu, depart 15:30)

One way to avoid the entrance fee at Qiaotou : Just before you arrive at the barrier, take the road going up to the village on your left. Go inside the garden of an house. On the other side, you will find a concrete path going down. At the bottom, there should be a ladder to help you be back on the road... Note (nov 02): this tip may be a bit too old now but I heard there are other ways to sneak in... Ask around...

How long ? 

It is possible to do it in one day but you will have to be real fit ! It is possible to be back in Lijiang the same day but you will have to start in Qiaotou, be real fast and immediately find a taxi from Walnut Grove back to Qiaotou (the last bus to Lijiang pass at around 18:30). We however do not recommend the above : the place is to be enjoyed at a more reasonable pace. Below are some indications of time : the first one is real fast (too fast ?) and personally tested while the last one is real relax

- The High path :

Qiaotou <=> Halfway Guesthouse : 4 to 8 hours
HWG <=> Walnut Grove : 2 to 4 hours
Walnut Grove <=> Daju : 2 to 4 hours

This means that trekkers leaving from Qiaotou will probably have to spend the first night in HWGH while trekkers leaving from Daju will have the choice of Walnut Grove or HWG.

- The Low path :  Km 9 <=> Walnut Grove : 3 to 5 hours

How to visit the Middle Rapids of Tiger Leaping Gorge?  (by Wang Xiaocong, China)

Three roads lead to the Middle Rapids: One starts at the right of Woody No.2 (2Y "road crossing" fee), another starts near Teacher Zhang's Guesthouse (5Y "road crossing" fee), the third starts near Chateau Woody where you see a sign advertising Xia Yin Gu's guide service. Once you enter, you just go down --- you won't miss it! The scenery is the most spectacular in the entire Tiger Leaping Gorge. To return, you may go back on the same road, or take a different one. Notice that on the third road close to the rapids there is a very dangerous section of a few dozen meters long called "Tiny Sky" (and you need to pay between 2Y and 5Y depending on the condition to cross that). At the rapids itself, there are two places charging "road crossing" fees of 2Y each: one for a small bridge leading to the first road, the other for crossing the wooden plank to the Middle Tiger Leaping Rock. The visit takes between 3 and 5 hours.

Warning: Beware of the touts hanging around various guesthouses on the low path (Walnut Grove included except at Sean's Guesthouse): Offending these people may incur a harsh beating plus a demand for hefty money.

The bus schedule for the low path --- the pavement is already complete: 

Lijiang to Baishuitai: Duration 6h / Price Y38 / Dep Guluwan station 0830 and main station 0900 / Qiaotou 1130 / Walnut Grove 1230 / Old Ferry 1300 / Haba Village 1430 / Baishuitai 1500

Baishuitai to Lijiang: Duration 6h / Price Y38 / Dep 0900 / Haba Village 0930 / Old Ferry 1030 / Walnut Grove 1100 / Qiaotou 1200 / Lijiang 1500

Qiaotou to Baishuitai: Duration 3h / Price Y15 / Dep 1300 / Walnut Grove 1330 / Old Ferry 1400 / Haba Village 1530 / Baishuitai 1600

Baishuitai to Qiaotou: Duration 3h / Price Y15 / Dep 0830 / Haba Village 0900 / Old Ferry 1000 / Walnut Grove 1030 / Qiaotou 1130 

Other Treks ? (by Wang Xiaocong, China)

Instead of heading towards Daju from Walnut Grove, you may go north for a further trek over the mountain to Haba Village and further on to Baishuitai. There are guesthouses with cheap beds at both places.

Halfway Guesthouse organizes two-day treks up Haba Snow Mountain with an overnight stay uphill at a point of altitude above 4000 meters. Sleeping bags and mats for the trek can be rented at the guesthouse. Successful trekkers are awarded "donkey shoes" as souvenirs and their names and contact information are recorded in the "donkey skin book" at the guesthouse. Similar treks can also be arranged at Five Fingers Mountain Guesthouse.

From the top of "28 bends" on the high path further uphill to a place of altitude above 3000 meters you can have a view of the panorama of the entire Tiger Leaping Gorge. Check this at Old Horse Guesthouse if you cannot figure it out yourself.

Where to stay ?

At Qiaotou :

  • Gorge Village Hotel, Xia Gu Chun (0887 880 6246), opposite Backpacker's Cafe, Dorm 10Y in 2/3 bed's room, Dble 25, Dble with bath 120Y / Restaurant

  • Jade Dragon Hotel "Lotus Hotel" (0887 8806 196), on the right from Bus Station, Dorm 12/15Y in 5/3 bed's room, Dble with bath 160Y / Restaurant

On the high path (kilometers from Qiaotou):

  • Naxi Family Guesthouse, km 6.3, Nuo Yu Village, 1.5-2 hours from Qiaotou, 5-8 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Old Horse Guesthouse, km 6.5 on a separate path, Nuo Yu Village, 40mn walking up from low path at km 6.5, 1.5-2 hours from Qiaotou, 5-8 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic 

  • Tea Horse Trade Guesthouse and Peace Gorge Guesthouse, both at km 12.2, Ya Cha Corner, 5mn between the two, 1 hour walking up from low path at km 11, 3-6 hours from Qiaotou, 3-5 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Halfway Guesthouse, km 17.3, Ben Di Wan Village, 1 hour walking up from low path at km 14, 4-8 hours from Qiaotou, 2-4 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y,12Y or 15Y in 1,2,3 or 4 bed's rooms / Basic but what a view (check the toilets...) / Hot water /Restaurant 

  • Five Fingers Mountain Guesthouse, km 18.2, Ben Di Wan Village, 4-8 hours from Qiaotou, 2-3.5 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant / From here it is 3.6 km or 1.5-2.5 hours to Tina's Guesthouse on the low path 

Special thanks to Feng Defang, the owner of Halfway Guesthouse for all the high path kilometer data.

On the low path (kilometers from Qiaotou):

  • Woody No.2 (Zhongxia Meijing Shanzhuang), km 18 / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Teacher Zhang's Guesthouse, km 18.5 / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Tina's Guesthouse, km 20, in front of the path going up to the high path, 45mn from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant / If you are walking the low path to Qiaotou, take the shortcut just before the Guesthouse to avoid 1.5km of turning road. 

  • Midgorge Guesthouse, the former Ya Cha Hotel, now at km 21 / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

At Walnut Grove (km 23 from Qiaotou):

  • Chateau Woody, the first one from Daju / Great view from the clean room for 10Y or 15Y per bed in 1, 2 or 3 bed's room / Hot water in the evening / Clean Toilets / Restaurant 

  • Sean's Guesthouse "Spring Guesthouse", the first one from Qiaotou / Dorm 15 in 8 or 12 bed's rooms / Dorm 20 in Dble / 42 big beds / Hot water / Restaurant

At Daju :

  • Snowflake Hotel or Tiger Leaping Gorge Hotel have cheap beds. 

Backpacker's Tips : Blaise Fiedler, France (July 05)
« A nice trek well worth doing. Despite what I have heard not dangerous or difficult at all - almost a walk in the park.
A great great great guest house is the 5 fingers - 10 minutes after halfway. It's 15y per bed and you're welcome by a happy family, walnut and honey. I
recommend eating with the family - 10Y and plenty of different dishes to try from.» 

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
« Naxi Family GH (dbl,sb,cold w,extremely friendly host,good food,fantastic views,30 Y) / Five Fingers GH (dbl,sb,very basic but hw on demand,good food,very friendly,20 Y). These guesthouses are typical naxi farmhouses, much nicer than the rather impersonal Halfway GH and Tina´s GH. Also nice was Tea Horse GH
TLG was the highlight of our trip through China, amazing blue sky, views magnificient, met only one group and about eight other hikers in beginning of november, expected it to be much more busy, lower route was still closed, but in the morning it´s easy to get a taxi from Tina´s or Sean´s to the landslide (40 Y), walk through the construction site (exciting) and get a lift back to Qiaotou (5Y pp), going down to the upper tiger leaping stone isn´t really worth the effort in the morning when it´s shady. Easiest way down from teacher zhang´s GH (10 Y).
Bus qiaotou to lijiang (2.5 h, 15 Y)

Backpacker's Tips : Xiao Jing, China (June 02)
« Peace Gorge Guest House, Ya Cha Corner (two families), 1 hour walking up from lower path at km 11, 4-5 hours from Qiaotou, 2-3 hours from Naxi family, 2 hours from Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, 3-5 hours from Walnut Grove / 2,3 or 4 bed's rooms / Peaceful, traditional Naxi tribe's house / Hot shower, Clean toilet / Han Chian, Naxi food or Western food. »

The trip to Zhongdian :
Minibus / SSSS / L & R / Y15 / 2.5 hours

Plenty of buses ply the road up to around 17pm. You wave at them when they come and the chance are they will be quite empty. This leave you the option to change side according to the view : first on the right, following the river, then on the left. The scenery is mainly mountainous until you arrive in the valley. And there, it is like you have changed country : you are in Tibetan territory...

See also Trip from Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge...