Tiger Leaping Gorge: the best hike in China

Looking for nature in China? Here we describe the stunning tiger leaping gorge trek, one of the best hikes in China. A must-do when visiting China

When you think that China is only about big cities like Beijing, Shangai or Hong Kong, you are wrong. One of the best hikes in the world is the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Furthermore it’s close to Lijiang and the nearby perfect landscapes of Dali and Yangshuo. In need for some nature and adventure in China? Then we suggest you to head to the South and hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge!

Starting point of the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek: Lijiang

Next to the tiger leaping gorge, the old town of Lijiang is also worth a visit, even though the city has become a Chinese attraction and has lost a lot of it charms. Almost every old building is a souvenir shop. You even have a party street with live performances in the evening. Try to look through it and start to appreciate the small streets, rivers and the little Chinese houses. Unfortunately, an attraction is always paired with an entrance fee. Entering the old city of Lijiang costs you 80 yuan (~11 EUR) but with this ticket, you can also visit the Dragon Pool (famous pool with view on the Jade mountains) and other attractions.

Why hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge?

Lijiang is the perfect gateway to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. It’s a scenic canyon with the Jinsha river running through it. The canyon is considered as one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world. In order to witness the beauty of the tiger leaping gorge, you have the upper trail hiking path where you can do a walk of 22 kilometers, starting from Qiaotou to Tina’s guesthouse.

lijiang tiger leaping gorge uppertrail
Views during the hike in the Tiger Leaping gorge

How to trek the Tiger Leaping Gorge?

HOW TO GET THERE? – Different mini-vans leave Lijiang every day to drop off hikers. Just ask your guesthouse and they will arrange the mini-van for you. Once at the entrance, the driver will drop you on the opposite of the street, where the hike starts. 

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME? – This is a national park, so you have to pay an entrance fee of 65 yuan (~8,5 EUR). A mini-van from Lijiang to the starting point will cost you 40 yuan/~5 EUR. From Tina’s guesthouse, it costs 55 yuan (~7 EUR) to get back to Lijiang. 

HOW WILL I FIND THE WAY? – The upper trail hiking is easy to do, as there are many signposts that guide you in the right direction. Also, each guesthouse in Lijiang can offer you a high-level map, so it is almost impossible to get lost.

Most of the hikers do the hike in two days as some parts are extremely steep (prepare yourself for the hardest part: 28 bends up!). You can spend the night in Halfway hostel. We choose for another hostel (Come Inn) which offered us a room with a stunning view over the mountains! Once you’re near Halfway hostel, it takes about two more hours to reach Tina’s guesthouse, the endpoint of the trail. Here you can take a bus back to Lijiang, or head to Shangri La.

GET STUNNING VIEWS ON THE RIVER – On the second day of your hike, you can descend into the gorge. Going down requires an admission fee (10 yuan). If you want to come up via the sky ladder, you need to pay an extra 15 yuan. You did pay an entrance to the park, but locals will explain to you that their family has built the road and that’s why you need to pay. Not a convincing story, but there is no way you get down (or up again) without paying. They even threaten you with a stick if you’re not willing to pay… (as we experienced firsthand). Nonetheless, we highly recommend to do this hike, as it gives impressive views on the roaring river.

jinsha river tiger leaping gorge
At the Jinsha river at the bottom of the gorge

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