The picturesque Tibetan styled town of Feilaisi hangs on the mountainside high above the Lancang (Mekong) River in South Western China, with spectacular views of the Meili Snow Mountains, dominated by Kawagebo (Kawagarbo/Khawa karpo) 6,740 m (22,110 ft) one of the most sacred (and never climbed) peaks in Tibetan Buddhism.
People come here to either hike to the small village of Yubeng, hidden in a valley at the foot of these mountains or just for the amazing view this place affords.
There is one main road that goes through town and everything is built around it.
Take a bus to Deqin (58 RMB) approximately 4 hours. Buses leave throughout the day. Your hostel/hotel can help you with the timetables if you want to take the earliest bus. To get to the bus station in Shangri-La (“Xianggelila Busterminal” on Maps.me) take bus # 1 heading North from Old Town.
When you arrive in Deqin the bus may continue onto Feilaisi (another 15 minutes) for 5 RMB. If not catch a minivan or car. It shouldn’t cost more than 10–15 RMB.
What to see
Meili Snow Mountains
If you’re lucky and the weather is clear, the mountains dominate the skyline to the West. You can get a good view (without paying anything) by walking down the main road (North/downhill) until the long white wall ends and there is nothing blocking the view.
The other option is to go to the official viewing platform (labeled as “Flying Horse Viewpoint” on Maps.me) and pay the extremely overpriced entry fee of 60 RMB (about $9). Once inside it’s pretty much just a big platform with a bunch of white stupas. But if you want to get inside this viewpoint without paying anything and are willing to walk a little there is another way in.
At the main bend in the road in town is a resort called “High Mountain Resort-Deqin” (Regalla resort and spa on Maps.me). Take the small road to the left (when facing it) of the resort. Just before you get to the Sadingna hostel take a dirt path on your right (looks like it’s a broken line on Maps.me). Follow this dirt path up until it intersects with a paved road on top of a short steep dirt bank. (This area may change in the future and if there’s any confusion you can ask the people at the Sadingna Hostel, labeled as “sa ding na guo ji qing nian lu she” on Maps.me…yeah it’s a mouthful)
Once on the paved road take a right and walk for about ten minutes. You’ll see a bunch of prayer flags. This is where I took the main picture of Feilaisi. You will also see the mountains from here. The paved road winds around to the right and ends up at the back of the viewing platform.
There is a dirt road that leaves the paved road at the sharp bend. It is covered in prayer flags and I think this goes out to a viewpoint but I never went to explore it.
I highly recommend getting up to see the sunrise over the Meili Snow Mountains. It’s some of the most beautiful light I’ve seen. Truly, it’s a unique interplay of golden or pink light in and out of the clouds and across the glaciated peaks. The Chinese have a name for the first light at sunrise “Ri Zhao Jin Shan” which means “The sun rises and shines up above the mountains like gold”
Even if clouds are forecast there is still a chance to see some beautiful light as you just don’t know what will happen.
If you have time you can also check out this small monastery/temple which gave the town of Feilaisi its name.
Lodging in Feilaisi
There are lots of hotels to stay at and finding one shouldn’t be a problem. But in terms of budget options there are two that I know of:
Feeling Village Youth Hostel
30 RMB — Dorm Bed
I stayed at the Feeling Village Youth Hostel which is a 5-minute walk downhill from where the bus drops you off on the main road going through town.. You’ll see a sign in a driveway on your right.
Decent place, though the walls are super thin and the level of hygiene in the bathrooms have something to be desired. On-site restaurant with good affordable food. Tripadvisor review
(labeled as “sa ding na guo ji qing nian lu she” on Maps.me)
30 RMB — Dorm Bed
At the main bend in the road in town is a resort called “High Mountain Resort-Deqin” (Regalla resort and spa on Maps.me). Take the small road to the left (when facing Regalla Resort) and follow it until it ends at Sadingna Hostel.
If you are going to Xidang to hike to Yubeng village read the description on how to get there on the hiking guide to Yubeng Village here.
To get back to Shangri-La you will need to get a ride to Daqin first. If you wait on the road near the viewing platform you can probably hitch a ride for free if there are people going. Otherwise, flag down a van which will cost you 10 RMB. It takes 10–15 minutes.
From Daqin there are buses leaving to Shangri-La throughout the day until 2:40 pm (58 RMB). It takes close to 4 hours. You can also get a seat in a van, I paid 70 RMB. It took 3 hours, so a little faster than the bus, but people were smoking in the van. I’d opt for the bus unless you have enough people to fill the van and are in a hurry.