Tiger Leaping Gorge offers one of China’s most spectacular treks. With scenery that will catch your breath, paired with the ease of hiking to guesthouses, this trek is one to add to your list.
The trail follows the north side of the gorge offering spectacular views of snow-capped mountains and frothing white rapids. Covering 26km and reaching an elevation of 2650m, you will find yourself climbing 750m. Extensions to the trail are already being built, I’d expect the length of the trail to continue to grow. As of 2017, the map showed that it was possible to continue on to Walnut Guesthouse, however, we did not see evidence of the trail continuing on.
Dates: Jan 7-8th, 2017
Starting Location: Qiaotou, also called Hutiaoxia Zhen, is the small city at the South-West entrance of the Gorge.
Finishing Location: Tina’s Guesthouse, 22km along a paved road from Qiaotou
- 65 yuan fee to enter into the park. An attendant come onto our bus and collected the fee from everyone before we got off the bus.
- 15 yuan fee to take the trail from Tina’s Guesthouse down to the gorge
- If you want to go onto the “Tiger Leaping rock” the locals charge 10 yuan to cross the bridge
- 15 yuan to take the trail back up from the gorge to Tina’s Guesthouse
- It was mentioned to us that If you continue on the trail past Tina’s towards Walnut Guesthouse there is another fee; however, I am unaware of what this fee is.
Lijiang to Qiaotou – We took a charter bus and were able to purchase the bus ticket at our hostel, International Youth Hostel Lijiang. The bus picked us up at 7:45am just 2’ down the street from the hostel, super easy and super simple. The fee was 50 yuan. 2 hours
Tina’s to Lijiang – We took a charter bus back to Lijiang. This was arranged at Tina’s Guesthouse and cost 55 yuan. The bus left at 3:30pm. 2.5 hours. There was also another bus that went to Shangri-la.
The trail starts off on a road as it starts to gain elevation and then transitions into a wide dirt trail. Signs along the way point you in the right direction, making it easy for those even directionally challenged. There are many guesthouses along the way helping to keep your pack super light as you only need to carry clothing layers, snacks and water. Along the way you’ll see raging rapids, cascading waterfalls, quaint villages, and pass along bamboo and pine forests.
Numerous guesthouses exist along the trail. We stayed at Halfway Guesthouse (it’s not halfway!!) and ate lunch at Naxi Guesthouse. The food was delicious at both places and the meals cost around 35 yuan per person. The accommodations were 40 yuan for a 6 bed in a co-ed dorm room, 150 for a private room with a heated blanket, and 200 for a private room with heat. We stayed in the dorm room and found the beds quite comfortable and it had a spectacular picture window. The guesthouse provided sheets and a warm blanket. Although we didn’t have heat, with 0 deg temperatures, I slept quite well on an upper bunk. They did have warm water for showering.
Wiki Travel provides a more detailed account on the various guesthouses. Check it out here
We took two days to hike the trail. Caching the bus in Lijiang at 7:45am, we arrived at Qiaotou around 9:45am. After milling about for a couple minutes, trying to regain our bearings we set off around 10am. Taking our time we appreciated the surrounding terraced views. Around 12pm we reached Naxi Guesthouse, it was the perfect spot to stop for lunch! We soaked up the heat as we sat in the sun waiting for our meal. The 28-bends greeted us shortly after stopping for lunch. Through the bends the trail gains 450m in 2.5km bringing us to the highest point on the trail, 2650m. From here you will pass along various guesthouses. We had hoped to spend the night at Come Inn Guesthouse; but, where it was low season no one was around. So, we opted to follow the rest of the hikers and stay at Halfway.
We made it to Tina’s Guesthouse by 11:30am. Here, we bought tickets for the bus ride home and continued hiking to the bottom of the gorge. Following a twisting and turning trail down to the bottom we enjoyed the place to ourselves. I love hiking during the off season exactly for this reason! Taking lots of time to explore and take pictures we returned to Tina’s by way of the sky ladder. Arriving by 1:30 we enjoyed a delicious lunch and too the opportunity to start planning the next part of our trip!