Overlooking Tiger Leaping Gorge

Over­look­ing Tiger Leap­ing Gorge

Introduction to Tiger Leaping Gorge

Clouds hov­er on the moun­tain­side, drift­ing through the ridges cov­ered in lush green forests, water­falls cas­cade to the rag­ing Jin­sha riv­er below, high above tow­er­ing over you is the jagged ridge­line and snowy peak of Jade Drag­on Snow Moun­tain. Emerg­ing from the for­est you are greet­ed by a small herd of goats graz­ing on the hill­side as you look down on a small Naxi farm­ing vil­lage sur­round­ed by fields of corn. It has rained recent­ly, trans­form­ing the Jin­sha Riv­er far below you into a froth­ing mud­dy beast with seem­ing­ly lim­it­less pow­er and awe-inspir­ing rapids (In the dry sea­son it slows down to a rel­a­tive­ly mel­low turquoise riv­er). Jaw drop­ping views of the gorge get bet­ter and bet­ter around every bend in the trail. Though in the dis­tance you can still hear the sound of con­struc­tion vehi­cles as the nev­er-end­ing expan­sion of China’s infra­struc­ture march­es on.

It is the start of your hike through Tiger Leap­ing Gorge, one of the deep­est riv­er gorges in the world with two peaks Jade Drag­on Snow Moun­tain (5,596 m 18,360 feet) and Haba Snow Moun­tain (5,396 m 17,703 feet) on either side of you, ris­ing in sharp con­trast to the sur­round­ing val­leys and foothills. The gorge hike is very acces­si­ble with an estab­lished trail and plen­ty of lodg­ing options.

Helpful things to know:

Time Required for Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Trek: 1–3 Days
Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Entrance Fee: 65 RMB (~$10)


  • The Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Hike is a loop. You will hike to the end and then take a bus back, pass­ing where you started.
  • Because of this, you can leave any excess bag­gage or heavy items at the begin­ning so you don’t have to haul it with you the entire way. (See “Jane’s Tibetan Guest­house” in Part: 0 below)
  • It is a lit­tle stren­u­ous with hik­ing uphill at the begin­ning, but only until Tea­horse guest­house (around halfway), after which it is fair­ly mellow.
  • There are ample lodg­ing and food options along the way. No need to camp or bring lots of food.
  • Just about every vil­lage along the way (The start and end of each of these “parts”) is acces­si­ble by road. For exam­ple, if you want to skip the uphill por­tion and start at Tea­horse Guest­house to avoid pret­ty much all the uphill hik­ing ( I met a woman who did this with her much old­er moth­er), it is pos­si­ble to get a car to drop you off at any of the vil­lages along the way.
  • You can also get your bags dropped off at most of the guest­hous­es along the way  (I’ve been told it is 150 RMB for 2 bags from point A to point B, two points along the hike).
  • These are arbi­trary por­tions. You can hike the entire thing in one long day, or if you have time and want to enjoy it, spread it out over 3 days.
  • Every por­tion has pro­gres­sive­ly bet­ter scenery.
  • I rec­om­mend going down to the riv­er at some point. There are two places to do this; Upper Gorge and Mid­dle Gorge and can either be done at the start or end of your trek. (You can see the Upper Gorge view­ing area before you start your trek and Mid­dle Gorge after you’re done hik­ing. Best option if you have time.)
  • Through­out the Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Trek, you will prob­a­bly pass peo­ple offer­ing horse rides or per­haps they can haul your bag for a fee. They don’t seem too per­sis­tent but this could vary by season.
  • The trail is pret­ty well-marked with blue signs and arrows point­ing the way.
  • At the end of this post, I have added some maps that you might find use­ful. Map 01  Map 02  Map 03

Time of Year to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge — Raining or dry

Don’t lis­ten to those peo­ple who tell you not to do the Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Hike dur­ing the rainy sea­son (Rainy sea­son is gen­er­al­ly June through Sep­tem­ber). If you’re in/around Lijiang/Shangri-La dur­ing the rainy sea­son and you want to do the hike, DO IT. If you have time you can wait for a sun­ny day and head out (they do hap­pen dur­ing the sum­mer). On the plus side dur­ing the spring/summer, the rains turn every­thing green, trans­form the Jin­sha riv­er into a sav­age beast and also can give more of a moody atmos­pher­ic feel to the gorge. Of course, the rocks are a lit­tle slip­pery, the views prob­a­bly won’t be as good and if it’s pour­ing rain you prob­a­bly will not want to hike and there is a dan­ger of mud­slides. If it has been rain­ing a lot recent­ly you can call one of the guest­hous­es list­ed below to ensure the road is open, as some­times if there is a land­slide the road is closed for a few days.

Rainy weather in Tiger Leaping Gorge

Rainy weath­er in Tiger Leap­ing Gorge

Getting to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang:

Take bus 8 or 13 to the Lijiang Bus Ter­mi­nal. Ask for a tick­et to the town of Qiao­tou (桥头) 40RMB. This is usu­al­ly the bus that con­tin­ues onto Shangri-La and they run through­out the day. The trip takes about 1:50–2 hours. Alter­na­tive­ly, check with your hostel/hotel and they may be able to get you a bus that drops you off direct­ly at the trail skip­ping “Part 0” detailed below and sav­ing you about an hour of road hik­ing). This should be about the same price (40RMB).

Trails, stairs, and boardwalks in Tiger Leaping Gorge:

The Tiger Leap­ing Gorge trek described below is for the tra­di­tion­al trail on the North side of the gorge also called the “High Trail”. It takes at least 1 long day (With an overnight at the end) or can be spread out into mul­ti­ple days (most peo­ple spend about 2 days) with a few oth­er side trips out­lined at the end of this guide. There is also a low­er flat path on the South side of the gorge, a cement path that runs along and close to the Jin­sha riv­er. This low­er path can be done as a day tour from Lijiang (or on your own), though it may not be open due to con­struc­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly there is an “Upper Gorge View­ing Area” which is a net­work of stairs and a board­walk that goes down to the riv­er lev­el. This is where the pic­tures are tak­en on most of the pro­mo­tion­al posters of the gorge of peo­ple stand­ing on a plat­form amidst a rag­ing brown riv­er. This is also where the vast major­i­ty of the tours go and it will usu­al­ly be full of peo­ple (though in my opin­ion def­i­nite­ly worth visiting).

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge - Boardwalk viewing area

Upper Tiger Leap­ing Gorge — Board­walk view­ing area


Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike:

Part 0: Entrance gate (Qiaotao) to start of the trail

Approx. time: 1:00 Hour 
Dis­tance: 1.75 Miles (1.6 km) 
Ele­va­tion gain: 570′
This is labeled as part 0 as it is the road por­tion of the hike at the begin­ning and it is pos­si­ble to get dropped off at the end of this sec­tion and start of the actu­al trail, skip­ping this road hike entire­ly. If you are on a bus that con­tin­ues to Shangri-La it will drop you in the town of Qiao­tao and you will need to hike this por­tion. Though a pri­vate car can also be hired to drop you off at the start of the trail.
Con­tin­ue across the bridge cross­ing the Chongjiang riv­er. After the bridge, take the road on the right. Here is the entrance sta­tion where you will pur­chase your tick­et (cur­rent­ly 65 RMB, approx. $10 USD. Half price if you are a stu­dent under 25 with a stu­dent ID. It may apply to just Chi­nese stu­dents but it’s worth try­ing if you aren’t. Bring your pass­port). They will also give you a fair­ly basic map.
Con­tin­u­ing down the road a few min­utes lat­er you will see Jane’s Tibetan Guest­house on the left.

Jane’s Tibetan Guesthouse

Phone: +86 887 8806570 / +86 13988505848
- 40 RMB Dorm bed (Shared Bath)
- Pri­vate rooms available.
You can leave your extra lug­gage here for the dura­tion of your hike for a fee of 5 RMB (if you stay here it is free).
They can answer ques­tions about the hike (Though their Eng­lish isn’t per­fect) arrange a horse to car­ry your lug­gage as well as a mini­van to pick you up/drop you off at any point in the gorge or bus tick­ets to Shangri-La or Lijiang after your hike.

About 10 min­utes down the road just after cross­ing under a red tres­tle turn onto a road that goes uphill on your left with some signs includ­ing a blue sign writ­ten in tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese-Eng­lish trans­la­tion gram­mar that states: “Tiger leap­ing gorge hik­ing high­way thus into”. Fol­low this road as it con­tin­ues wind­ing up the moun­tain through some small vil­lages and passed fields with views down to the junc­tion of the Changjiang Riv­er a trib­u­tary of the Jin­sha Riv­er. After about 50 min­utes the road turns to dirt right after a “Chi­na Rail­way” build­ing (on the right-hand side). On the oth­er side of the street right before the trail, is also a place to eat (Last place before Naxi Village).


Part 1: Start of the trail to Naxi Village

Approx. time: 1:30 hours 
Dis­tance: 2 miles 
Ele­va­tion gain: 1,000 feet
First views of the river - Tiger Leaping Gorge

First views of the river

At the end of the paved road, just before the dirt road begins (The dirt road will most like­ly be paved in the next few years as the bridge across the gorge is com­plet­ed) and after the “Chi­na Rail­way” build­ing and a place to eat, there is a trail climb­ing up the moun­tain on the left. Take this path as it ascends, con­tin­u­ing in and out of the trees past small stalls sell­ing snacks, drinks and per­haps some Devil’s Let­tuce (Cannabis). There is a sec­tion with a bunch of trails going var­i­ous direc­tions, though they seem to all lead up to the main trail so don’t fret.
It’s about a mile (1.6 KM) of trail going uphill at which point the trail slow­ly begins to descend through the for­est to Naxi Vil­lage which you’ll get a nice view of from above.
As you emerge from the for­est Look across the gorge at the con­struc­tion of the super­high­way in an inter­est­ing jux­ta­po­si­tion to the beau­ti­ful, rur­al Naxi Vil­lage below you.
If you are tak­ing things slow and/or have vis­it­ed the Upper Gorge View­ing Area in the AM this makes a nice ear­ly stop for your first day. You will also most like­ly have the trail to your­self the next day as most peo­ple don’t stop here or are just start­ing the hike a few hours behind you. Oth­er­wise, it’s anoth­er 2:30 to 3:00 hours to Tea­horse Guesthouse.

Naxi Family Guesthouse

A pleas­ant place with nice views (though pret­ty much every lodge in the gorge inevitably has nice views) Friend­ly Naxi fam­i­ly. The shared show­er had luke­warm water.
-  30 RMB Twin room with shared bath­room (Per per­son. Though I had the room to myself)
- 100 RMB Twin room with pri­vate bath
— 120 RMB Deluxe Dou­ble room with pri­vate bath
Naxi Village - View hiking down into the village from the trail

Naxi Vil­lage — View hik­ing down into the vil­lage from the trail


Part 2: Naxi Village to Bendiwan Village (Halfway Guesthouse & Come Inn)

Approx. time: 4:00 to 5:00 hours 
The trail winds through town and is most­ly marked with blue signs point­ing the way. Leav­ing Naxi Vil­lage the trail becomes a paved stone path and then after a short down­hill sec­tion begins to climb the sec­ond and final real uphill por­tion of the hike, the “28 Bends”,  an hour or so of uphill, climb­ing about 1,400 feet (427 meters) of ver­ti­cal gain in a bit over a mile (1.6 KM), appar­ent­ly with 28 switch­backs or bends (but I didn’t real­ly count).
At the top of the 28 bends is a nice view and a small booth sell­ing water, snacks etc. From here to Tea­horse Guest­house it’s most­ly down­hill through the for­est with some views of the gorge and Jin­sha riv­er below. After 2:30 to 3:00 hours of hik­ing (from Naxi Vil­lage) you will arrive at Tea­horse Guesthouse.

Teahorse Guesthouse

An alter­nate des­ti­na­tion to stay on your first day.
-  40 RMB Dorm bed (Shared Bath)
-  150 RMB Dou­ble room with pri­vate bath/shower
-  180 RMB Triple room with pri­vate bath/shower
-  268 RMB Dou­ble room in the new build­ing with pri­vate bath/shower
Leav­ing Tea­horse the trail is fair­ly lev­el and mel­low on and off the road with good views of the gorge. It is anoth­er 1:30 to 2:00 hours to Come Inn and Halfway Guesthouse.

Halfway Guesthouse

Phone:+86 13988700522
Halfway Guest­house is usu­al­ly the des­ti­na­tion peo­ple aim for on the first day of hik­ing if you’re try­ing to fin­ish the hike in a day and a half. Though, despite its name, it’s clos­er to the end of the Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Trek than “halfway”. Halfway Guest­house is a fair­ly large guest­house with a roof deck and amaz­ing views. Large groups may come here from the road and it can get busy. Check out the toi­let with a view downstairs.
- 40 RMB Dorm with a glass wall afford­ing views of the gorge. (the best view I’ve had from a dorm room)
- 150 RMB Dou­ble room with pri­vate bath
Halfway Guesthouse, view from the dorm. Wall window looking out on Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of the best views from a hostel!

Halfway Guest­house, view from the dorm.
Wall win­dow look­ing out on Tiger Leap­ing Gorge. One of the best views from a hostel!


Come Inn

Phone:+86 18183853151

Anoth­er lodg­ing option you will pass before Halfway Guest­house is Come Inn. From a sign on the trail, they have lodg­ing options from 30 to 300 RMB and a hap­py hour from 5–7 pm with 2 for 1 beer. It also states “BBQ pro­vid­ed when book in advance”


Part 3: Halfway Guesthouse to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge (End)

Approx. time: 1:30 ‑2:00 hours 
Dis­tance: 2.5 miles (4 km) 
Ele­va­tion gain: 200 feet
The best views on the hike are on this last sec­tion of trail leav­ing Halfway Guest­house (or Come Inn) with a steep cliff drop­ping away to your right. There are two waterfalls/streams to cross where you might get your feet wet. The trail is rel­a­tive­ly flat and even­tu­al­ly mean­ders down the (some­times slip­pery) hill­side to the Mid­dle Gorge (Tina’s GH etc.) and the end of the hike (with a few addi­tion­al hik­ing options out­lined below).
There are con­tin­u­ous views of the gorge on this last sec­tion pret­ty much the entire way. The trail can be slip­pery but is noth­ing to be afraid of (though you would not want to do it in the dark). You can always check on trail con­di­tions at Halfway Guest­house or Come Inn but if they will ben­e­fit from you not con­tin­u­ing down the trail (hir­ing a car to go down for exam­ple) take it with a grain of salt. You can always turn back if the trail is washed out, a pos­si­bil­i­ty if it has been rain­ing a lot recently.
Descend­ing back to the main road the trail comes out right at Tina’s Guesthouse/Youth Hos­tel. This area is called “Mid­dle Gorge”. You can stay at Tina’s or choose one of the small­er guest­hous­es fur­ther down the road. There are a few oth­er places to eat/sleep with­in 5 min­utes after the Shen Chuan Bridge. (When cross­ing the Shen Chuan Bridge look down­stream to the Jin­sha riv­er below and you can see the Tiger Leap­ing rock and the wood­en bridge that goes out to it).
30 min­utes fur­ther down the road, there are even more lodg­ing options. Tibet Guest­house (about 30 min­utes from Tina’s) has good afford­able food and friend­ly staff. A lit­tle fur­ther down the road are Sean’s and some others.

For a more com­plete list of lodg­ing options, you can check out the wiki trav­el page: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tiger_Leaping_Gorge

Additional trips in Tiger Leaping Gorge:

Up close view of the Jin­sha Riv­er (Option­al — High­ly Recommended):

I high­ly rec­om­mend get­ting down to the riv­er lev­el at some point in your trek, which can be done before or after the main hike list­ed above. There are 2 nor­mal options for doing this. You can do one or both.

Upper vs. Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge Viewing area:

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge Viewing Area:


Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge Viewing platform

Upper Tiger Leap­ing Gorge View­ing platform

The pic­ture you usu­al­ly see on posters and ads (on the tick­et as well) of a view­ing plat­form full of peo­ple sur­round­ed by a rag­ing brown riv­er, is the Upper Gorge View­ing Area. When you start your hike in Qiao­tou you enter  “Upper Tiger Leap­ing Gorge”. This is where the gorge starts (at the junc­tion of the Jin­sha and Changjiang Rivers). From Qiao­tou it’s a good 5+ miles (8+ KM) of paved road to the Upper Gorge View­ing Area. You could walk but it seems easy enough to flag down a car as there is usu­al­ly a steady stream of tourists dri­ving this route. I just stood there and waved at cars. If a mini bus/van stops they will prob­a­bly charge you. (One van want­ed 20 RMB so I got out, flagged down the next car and squeezed into the back­seat with their 2 adorable lit­tle kids and tried to teach them Eng­lish as we rode through the gorge.) Have your tick­et handy as it will be checked at anoth­er entrance station/building and usu­al­ly again at the view­ing plat­form area.

The view­ing area here is very devel­oped with sets of stairs going down to a board­walk par­al­lel­ing the riv­er below (which if it’s been rain­ing is quite some­thing to see so close up). Look­ing down at the riv­er, stick to your left, go down the stairs to the riv­er lev­el, along the board­walk and then back up anoth­er set of stairs on the oth­er side of the board­walk. Look out for the memo­r­i­al and short sto­ry on those who have raft­ed and died on the river.

While it is pos­si­ble to have the bus drop you off here on your return trip it might be eas­i­er logis­ti­cal­ly to hitch a ride down here and back on the morn­ing of the begin­ning of your hike, if you have time. If you do want to vis­it it on your way out just ask the bus to drop you off at the Upper Gorge view­ing area. Although you will have to hitch a ride back to Qiao­tou where you can then catch a bus to Lijiang or Shangri-La.


Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge — Ray of Sunshine Path


Looking down into Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge

Look­ing down into Mid­dle Tiger Leap­ing Gorge

There is a net­work of trails going down to the riv­er in the Mid­dle Gorge called the Ray of Sun­shine Path. If you only have time for one view of the riv­er up close I would rec­om­mend doing it at the mid­dle gorge after you fin­ish your trek. This is also where the “Tiger Leap­ing Rock” is locat­ed, where leg­end has it when a hunter was pur­su­ing a tiger, the tiger leapt from this rock (the nar­row­est part of the gorge) to the oppo­site side and to it’s safe­ty. As you stand on the rock you might won­der if per­haps this leg­endary tiger was part moun­tain goat, as I did. Note that you will be charged 15 RMB for access to the trail (an addi­tion­al 15 RMB if you exit a dif­fer­ent route than the one you entered on) and 5 RMB if you want to use the bridge to walk out to THE rock.

Tiger Leaping Gorge Rock. The legendary rock where it's said THE eponymous tiger lept from. (5 RMB)

Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Rock. The leg­endary rock where it’s said THE epony­mous tiger leapt from. (5 RMB)

There are a num­ber ways to get down to the riv­er in the Mid­dle Gorge, 5 actu­al­ly by my count. The first is from Tina ’s, the sec­ond from Sandy’s Guest­house and then three pro­gres­sive­ly fur­ther down the road. Sandy’s Guest­house has access to what is known as the “Sky Lad­der”, a few con­nect­ed lad­ders going straight up the side of the cliff with ver­ti­go-induc­ing views at the top look­ing down to the riv­er far below. Going up the sky lad­der on the hike out is the way to do it (there is a trail that goes around it if you want to avoid it or go down around it).

Sandy’s Guesthouse and the “Sky Ladder”

"Sky Ladder" From Sandy's Guesthouse

Sky Lad­der” From Sandy’s Guesthouse

If you just want to go down to the riv­er and back up pay­ing the least amount I think Sandy’s is the way to go. You will pass many stalls on the way down as well as a larg­er “shop­ping” area at the bot­tom. In high sea­son these will prob­a­bly be stocked with ven­dors (They were pret­ty much emp­ty in mid-July). They even have signs for cannabis, although I’d guess it isn’t any good. When you get to the “Sky Lad­der” go around it using the path going down (you can climb up it on the hike out). Even­tu­al­ly, you will arrive at a flat area near the bot­tom, fol­low a small trail to the riv­er. If you go left there is a hang­ing wood­en sus­pen­sion bridge of ter­ror lead­ing out to a rock in the mid­dle of the Jin­sha Riv­er that would be fit­ting in any Indi­ana Jones movie. It cost 10 RMB to use this bridge as it was built and is main­tained by locals. There is a locked gate pre­vent­ing access to this bridge if no one is there to col­lect the fee. It was locked when I was there but just for a cool pic­ture, I’d pay the fee…. for a friend to cross.

Turn­ing right (fac­ing the riv­er) from the trail you came down on, will bring you along a path cross­ing a few small bridges to the larg­er bridge going out to the Tiger Leap­ing Rock (5 RMB). I didn’t pay this fee as no one was there to col­lect. But if there was I would prob­a­bly pay. These extra fees seem exces­sive after pay­ing 65 RMB to get into the gorge. All of these trails and bridges here, how­ev­er, are built and main­tained by the locals (A cou­ple of fam­i­lies it seems). I found myself feel­ing thank­ful that there were trails and bridges here at all and I think 20 RMB (Approx. $3) isn’t ter­ri­ble, espe­cial­ly for the cool look­ing shot of some­one com­ing up the “sky ladder”.

Indiana Jones Suspension Bridge of Terror

Indi­ana Jones Sus­pen­sion Bridge of Terror

Other options for the Ray of Sunshine Path:

If you have more time and don’t mind pay­ing an addi­tion­al 15 RMB you can descend to the riv­er via anoth­er trail and go back up to the road using the trail to Sandy’s Guest­house. Either start­ing from Tina’s or going fur­ther down the road from past the bridge and past Sandy’s, there are a few more options. About 10–15 min­utes fur­ther down the road, you will see anoth­er sign for a trail lead­ing down to the riv­er on the right-hand side of the road. In all like­li­hood, there will also be some­one stand­ing there to col­lect the fee of 15 RMB. This trail has a kind of alcove cut into the cliff that looks kind of inter­est­ing. I was told by anoth­er hik­er that was the only attrac­tive fea­ture on the trail and that the steep­er trail from Sandy’s was bet­ter. But if you have time and want to see more of the gorge you can start from any of the oth­er options down to the riv­er. (It seems there are a few oth­er trails lead­ing down to the riv­er if you con­tin­ue on down the road.)

Part 4: Walnut Garden (optional)

It is pos­si­ble to not go down to Tina’s guest­house and con­tin­ue along the trail going through side gorge and cross­ing a tor­ren­tial water­fall even­tu­al­ly arriv­ing in Wal­nut Gar­den which touts the “High­est Lodg­ing in Tiger Leap­ing Gorge” at the Wal­nut Gar­den Youth Hos­tel. Though I would cau­tion that this por­tion of the trail is not for the faint of heart as the trail is very nar­row in places, poten­tial­ly washed out, has a slip­pery “lad­der bridge” that you have to climb up and it’s hard to know the trail con­di­tions espe­cial­ly if there were recent rains (a small rock slide/landslide could eas­i­ly ren­der the trail impass­able). Appar­ent­ly, the peo­ple at the Wal­nut Gar­den Hos­tel are the only ones who main­tain this sec­tion of trail so you can call them at 18065215732. This sec­tion trav­els along a large gorge with water­falls and a small bam­boo for­est. The oth­er option is to hike down to Tina’s Guest­house (as detail in Part 3 above) and call Wal­nut Gar­den Hos­tel at 18065215732. They offer a free shut­tle and can come pick you up. You can then hike from Wal­nut Gar­den Hos­tel back to Tina’s Guest­house along the trail detailed above, in a few hours.

Walnut Garden back to Middle Gorge via Waterfall

Ladder Bridge crossing a side gorge.

Lad­der Bridge cross­ing a side gorge. On the way to Wal­nut Garden

Warn­ing: This sec­tion of the trail is NOT rec­om­mend­ed for inex­pe­ri­enced hik­ers. The trail is not reg­u­lar­ly main­tained and you must cross a sketchy, slip­pery lad­der-bridge over a rag­ing gorge!

I did this sec­tion of the trail in reverse so I am list­ing it as such.

Fol­low the trail leav­ing Wal­nut Gar­den Youth Hos­tel (The staff can show you exact­ly where it starts). After 5–10 min­utes you will come across an open cement water chan­nel and a pipe. You will fol­low this all the way to the water­fall. There is a trail the descends on the left leav­ing the main trail at: 27.2656, 100.1529 You can walk down to the water­fall and check it out, then return to this loca­tion. Leav­ing the main trail the path descends through a for­est and you’ll get some bet­ter views of the gorge you will cross. Descend­ing through a bam­boo for­est you arrive at a slant­ed log bridge cross­ing the gorge. It’s more of a lad­der than a bridge. Be very care­ful here and on this next sec­tion of the hike as the trail is very nar­row and crum­bling. NOT rec­om­mend­ed for small chil­dren or inex­pe­ri­enced hik­ers. Fol­low this trail as it winds down with more views of this side gorge, goes uphill and arrives back at the pri­ma­ry trail lead­ing down to Mid­dle Gorge and Tina’s Guesthouse.

Leaving the Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge to Lijiang:

There is a dai­ly bus back to Lijiang at 3:30 pm from Mid­dle Gorge (Tina’s). Tina’s or anoth­er guest­house can also arrange a pri­vate car any­where you want to go.

Addi­tion­al­ly, if it is a busy day on the road you could try to hitch a ride back to Qiao­tou (where you start­ed the hike) where you can then catch a bus to Lijiang or Shangri-La. Bus­es are run­ning through­out the day, usu­al­ly every 30 min­utes to an hour.

Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri-La (Zhongdian)

Get a ride back to Qiao­tou. There is a bus stop in Qiao­tou where bus­es reg­u­lar­ly go to Shangri-La through­out the day. You may also be able to get a ride from Tina’s

Tiger Leaping Gorge to Baishuitai:

Beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al lime­stone ter­races with crys­tal clear water flow­ing from one to the next. A holy place for the Naxi people.

From Mid­dle Gorge, you can flag down a van going East (Fur­ther down the gorge) and ask to go to Baishuitai (40–50 RMB). If there are lots of cars you can try hitch­hik­ing as well. Or arrange a car with your hos­tel. There is a town called “Haba” on the way to Baishuitai. I stopped there and spent the night but unless you intend to climb Haba Snow Moun­tain (5,396 m 17,703 feet) or have a spe­cif­ic trip in mind you might want to skip it. From Baishuitai it is pos­si­ble to con­tin­ue on to Shangri-La via a pub­lic bus on the main road.

Additional Information


Wik­i­trav­el: Some extra infor­ma­tion and addi­tion­al info on lodg­ing options in the gorge.

Chi­na High­lights website:

Tiger Leaping Gorge Tours

Some peo­ple have asked me about tours to Tiger Leap­ing Gorge so I will add a few here.

Tour 1: Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri La

This tour includes a pick up in Lijiang, a vis­it to the first bend of the Yangtze Riv­er, vis­it to Tiger Leap­ing Gorge, lunch, see a Yi Minor­i­ty Vil­lage and final­ly onward to Shangri La. It does not include the Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Trek. Check out the details of the Tiger Leap­ing Gorge tour here.

Tour 2: Two Day Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek

This tour is a two-day trek through Tiger Leap­ing Gorge with a pick­up and drop-off in Lijiang. Check out the two-day Tiger Leap­ing Gorge Trek tour here.

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