Southwest China – Sichuan, Tibet & Yunnan (17 – Zhongdian aka Shangrila to Tiger Leaping Gorge)

Day 16 – Zhongdian (Shangrila) to Tiger Leaping Gorge

I wasn’t going to visit any major monasteries so I decided on a few climbing exercises in the morning.  First place to visit was Guishan (Turtle Mountain).

Always remember to do the kora clockwise.

View from the top.

Next on the agenda was 100 Chickens Temple.  I just love the name.  Slightly hard to find, the hill is a short but tiring climb.

Can’t be called 100 Chickens Temple without a chicken right?

Spinning the prayer wheels.

As you probably guessed, Zhongdian aka Shangrila is also a Tibetan town.  As mentioned in one of the earlier posts, parts of Yunnan belong to the ethno-cultural region of Tibet.

The name Shangrila came from the book The Lost Horizons by James Hilton.

View from the top (Click on photo for a bigger view).

Back to Shangrila old town.

I have wondered how these cobbled paths are built.  Since there was a fair bit of construction going around, I was able to hang around and observe.

My breakfast of soya bean milk and mochi.

I originally planned some motorcycling in Shangrila to places like Napa Hai.  But when I called Kevin from Turtle Mountain Gear and Outfitters, I was told that there were some recent accidents involving foreigners riding in Shangrila and it’s best to lay low for the time being.  It’s not exactly legal for a foreigner to ride a motorcycle in China without local license.

So I checked out the cycling/bus tours to Napa Hai instead.  But it appeared to be the low season and an operator advised me that the place was not very scenic at this time of the year.

With no specific sights ito visit at Shangrila, I decided to move on to Tiger Leaping Gorge. At 1145am, I took bus no. 1 just north of the old town to the long distance bus station.  Keep a watch out for the long distance bus station as bus no. 1 doesn’t end its service there.  When I reached the long distance bus station at 1210pm, I jumped onto a bus that was just about to leave for Lijiang.  I paid 30RMB to stop at Qiaotou where I will intend to trek the Tiger Leaping Gorge high trail.

Scenery en route to Qiaotou.

The bus dropped me here.  On the right is the bridge mentioned in Lonely Planet Guidebook.  Head left for Jane’s Guesthouse.

Lunch at Jane’s Guesthouse.

Same as Emeishan, I deposited a bag at Jane’s.

I planned to take the high route as recommended by most  i.e. Jane’s Guesthouse > Naxi Guesthouse (stay for the night) > 28 bends > Tea Horse Trade Guesthouse > Half Way Guesthouse > Tina’s Guesthouse > Middle Tiger Leaping Stone > Tina’s Guesthouse > Qiaotou (by bus).

Continue the road down Jane’s for maybe 10 mins until you see the sign below.

Take the road on the left.

For the beginning of the hike, the path is all paved.

Watch out for the sign below to know you are on the correct Tiger Leaping Gorge trail.

Scenery along the way.

Sometimes I did find the route slightly confusing as there were branch-offs.  But I guessed they all eventually led to the same path.  Anyhow, I followed this horseman from Naxi Village where I intended to stay the night.

Now the path has changed.

Mandatory photo shoot location.

But you got to pay for it.

They claimed a world class toilet with a world class view.

Continuing with the trek.  You can do it on horses too.  The prices quoted to me were quite fair.

The route from here onwards were quite straightforward.  As long as you see such signs along the way, you are on the right track.

Reached Naxi Guesthouse at around 4pm.  It took me 2 hours plus from Jane’s Guesthouse.

I took a basic room with private hot shower.

Corns aplenty!

Views from the guesthouse

The food prices here were fair.  The family was also very friendly.  There was even a computer with internet access.  I could probably stay here for a few weeks.

My comfort food – egg fried rice for dinner.


6 thoughts on “Southwest China – Sichuan, Tibet & Yunnan (17 – Zhongdian aka Shangrila to Tiger Leaping Gorge)

  1. Hi,
    First of all thank you very much for jumping in the Yunnan tour memo 🙂

    From 2 articles seesms to me you did not join the tour but rather travel by bus and on your own of arranging those inns am I rigth?

    Those inn look very well maintance and I am not sure are they family frendly?

    Reading your articles can fell you are in the tireness stage of the tour? From the pictures you posted the air seem clear and clean but rather quiet? And I am excited and looking forward for the trip and see thouse moutain as what you have seen, thank you very much giving the first hand experiences even I have not been there yet.

    Can we ride horse on the way to Tiger Leap Gorge?

  2. No problem. I got something on tonight so I probably will continue from Friday to Sun to write up the remaining days of Yunnan trip. 🙂

    Yep, for Yunnan, I only joined a day tour to Yulong Snow Mountains. For the rest of the sights and hotels, I arranged on my own. For some hotels, I simply walked in.

    Both Naxi Guesthouse and Mu’s Inn are very popular so I am sure they are used to receiving all sorts of tourists i.e. families, foreigners, solo travelers etc. But some people I know find that an electric blanket or a portable heater is insufficient to keep themselves warm. They prefer to have those air conditioner units which can keep the temperature high.

    Yes, getting a bit lonely after my friends left. 🙁 But Tiger Leaping Gorge lifted my spirits. It’s really a nice hike in nature with little disturbance. You got a lot of time for quiet thinking.

    Yes, I believe you can do a horse trek for the entire route. At Qiaotou, you would be approached by the horsemen. I chatted briefly with one horseman and remember thinking that the prices are quite fair. Can’t remember the exact figures though. Even at Tian Ti’s where you get down to Middle Leaping Gorge, a horse can get you up to 70% of the way.

    If I am you, I might do this. Day 1 – bus to Qiaotou, deposit bags at Jane’s. Hike to Naxi Guesthouse. Day 2 – Depending on yesterday’s experience, get horses or continue to hike on foot. Stay the night at one of the guesthouses, maybe halfway or Tina. Day 3 – Finish the rest of the hike and maybe visit Middle Leaping Gorge. Bus to Lijiang/Shangrila.

  3. Wow! You spent total of 3 days on for Tiger Leaping Gorge, are you sure you have enough time for the rest?
    I read some articles from other they suggest to hire a 4×4 for the tour which cost RMB500.
    For my family and I if take tour will spend a lot of money for a 6 days tour which can cost as much as RMB4000 each if do that we will dead broke. I have considered taking buses for the entire route but it seems that it will take longer time to complete :-(.
    Always time and money never be friend-ed with each other.
    Guess I have to dynamically changing the plan as the weather and understand more of the location as usual.

  4. Actually, I spent 2 days and 1 night at Tiger Leaping Gorge. On the first day, I walked for 2 hours+. On the second day, it was around 8 hours.

    Many parts of the high trail weren’t accessible by vehicles so on a tour, they normally would just bring you to the low trail to see the rushing waters. It should probably be a 1 day tour.

  5. 我现在知道你说的那个kora是什么了,我上次去文殊院的时候转反了,到了舍利子塔时习惯性地逆时针参观了一番,回到原点才看到提示说必须从右向左转,不知道佛祖会不会惩罚我.










  6. 你可以回文殊院走几圈对的方向来补一补. 😀

    The noodles I had at Jane’s Guesthouse was not 过桥米线. You are right, it’s just normal tomato and egg noodle soup.

    There weren’t many tourists on the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike. I can imagine it being very difficult in wet weather. I really enjoyed the hike. If I am staying there for long, I would probably do the hike every other day until I get bored.

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