Why Visit Tiger Leaping Gorge?

Tiger Leaping Gorge, called Hutiao Xia in Chinese, located at the border of Lijiang and Shangri-La, is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. It offers one of the best hiking trails through some of the most naturally beautiful and diverse landscapes China has to offer. No matter you have short time or with about 2 days, you can have exciting hiking experience in Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a Part of a UNESCO Site Called Three Parallel of Yunnan Protected Areas.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a part of the Three Parallel of Yunnan Protected Areas UNESCO World Heritage Site which was inscribed in 2003. Being one of the deepest gorges in the world, Tiger Leaping Gorge is with a drop of 3,900m from the mountain peak to the river bed. A visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can enjoy deep-incised river gorges, luxuriant forests, towering snow-clad mountains, glaciers of the UNESCO site.

Overlook Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is located between the 5596 meters Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Snow Mountain) to the south and 5396 meters Haba Snow Mountain (Haba Xueshan) to the north. Legend says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point, hence named Tiger Leaping Gorge and the stone called Tiger Leaping Rock. No matter you visit Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge or Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can catch the best sight of the two snow mountains.

Enjoyable Hiking Experience at Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Around 17 kilometers in length, Tiger Leaping Gorge is divided into three parts: Upper Gorge, Middle Gorge and Lower Gorge. Travelers can hike from Upper Gorge to Lower Gorge, or from Lower Gorge to Upper Gorge. Even, many travelers choose one gorge to hike - Upper Gorge or Middle Gorge.

3 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour

4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Lijiang Highlights

Tiger Leaping Gorge Rushing Water at Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge: Upper, Middle and Lower Gorge

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge

Upper Gorge is 9 kilometers from Hutiaoxia Town. The famous scenic areas of the Upper Gorge are the mouth of Tiger Leaping Gorge, making it the narrowest section. The hiking trail is plank road which is are suitable for hiking no matter you are elder or young people. It takes about two hours to hike Upper Gorge. Most travelers who have limited time will choose to visit Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge on the way between Lijiang and Shangri-La.

Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge

Middle Gorge is 33 kilometers from Hutiaoxia Town. Hike downhill from Zhang’s Guesthouse, then you need to hike about 1~2 hours to the bottom of the gorge - Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. There are two famous high ladders connecting upper place to lower place because of no available road. Get down to the river side, you will see the Jinshan River shrinks in a narrow valley, and get blocked by several huge stones. Listen to the deafening voice of water flapping at the stones, and explore the nearby. From the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, you have two choices: back to Tina’s House or Halfway Guesthouse, and transfer back, or keep hiking to next destination – Hetaoyuan. For those who are hike down from Zhang’s Guesthouse to the Middle Gorge and transfer back via high lappers, it takes about 3 hours all the way. For the road is steep and muddy, please consider your physical condition if you want to hike this path.

Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge

Lower Gorge is 5 km away from Daju. It is less crowded and traveled by less people. Travelers can hike from Daju to Lower Gorge or from Middle Gorge to Lower Gorge. If you come from Middle Gorge, it takes 3 hours from Yixiantian to Hetaoyuan. After get to new ferry dock, get a ferry across to Daju. A scenic and relaxing journey ends to the hike. Very few travelers choose to hike Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Tiger Leaping Gorge Tiger Leaping Gorge Platform
Tiger Leaping Gorge Our Guests Take a Photo at Upper Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking & Recommended Routes

  • From - To: Qiaotou Tourist Center - Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Elevation: 1,600m ~ 2,650m
  • Hiking Hours: 9~11 hours around
  • Time Needed: 2~3 days
  • Recommended for: serious hikers in good physical condition
  • Ticket Price: CNY 65/person + CNY 15/person for the Teacher Zhang’s Path or Tianti Path

Day 1: Hike from Hutiaoxia Town to Halfway Guesthouse

In this morning, drive from Lijiang to Qiaotou. Departing from Qiaotou, buy the ticket, then walk a few minutes to the High Road which refers the hiking paths on the upper region of mountains. You will hike about 1.5 hours to Naxi Family Guest House. Keep hiking from Naxi Family Guest House, then you need to climb up some steep narrow paths, such as the challenging hiking section of Tiger Leaping Gorge - the 28 Bends. Keep hiking until you reach Tea & Horse Guest House. Hike another 2 hours to Halfway Guesthouse. Accommodate in Halfway Guesthouse.

Day 2: Hike from Halfway Guesthouse to Lower Gorge

On this day, you will descend for about 1.5~2 hours to Tina’s Youth Hostel first, and then takes about 1 hour or so to travel down to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tina’s Hostel is settled on the highway. The last part of trail, which will take you down below the highway to the raging river far below, is not officially built but built by the locals, so there may be a slight fee about CNY 10~15 per person charged on each route. There are 3 routes for you to choose, and normally hikers prefer the Teacher Zhang’s Path more, which is relatively safer. If you want more adventurous experience, you can also try the rickety straight up and down by the iron ladders.

After the sightseeing, you are required to hike up to the highway and catch a bus near Tina’s to get out the Tiger Leaping Gorge Scenic Area from Qiaotou.

Tiger Leaping Gorge Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking
Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Map Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Map

Please note: If you want to a tough hike route, you can hike from Hutiaoxia Town to Tea & Horse Guesthouse on the first day and hike from Tea & Horse Guesthouse to Middle Leaping Gorge on the second day and hike to Lower Gorge on the third day. For details about Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking route, please check Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking: Map, Trekking Route & Tips >>

No matter you are come from Lijiang or Shangri-La, you can combine Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking with either Lijiang or Shangri-La.

>> 4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Shangri-La Highlights

>> 4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Lijiang Highlights

How to Get to Tiger Leaping Gorge?

Tiger Leaping Gorge is located about 78 kilometers north of Lijiang City and about 103 kilometers south of Shangri-La City of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is about 35 km from the First Bend of the Yangtze River.

Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge:

At Lijiang Bus Station, travelers can take bus to Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge at 08:00 and 08:30. For travelers who want to get to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can first reach Hutiaoxia Town and then hire a car to the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Hutiaoxia Town is 9 km from Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge and 33 km from Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Also, buses are available at Lijiang Bus Station to Daju. It takes about 2 hours from Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge. To leave Tiger Leaping Gorge, travelers can takes buses from Tina’s House, Hutiaoxia Town and Daju.

Shangri-La to Tiger Leaping Gorge: 

From Shangri-La to Tiger Leaping Gorge: At Shangri-La Long-distance Bus Station, travelers can take bus to Hutiaoxia Town first and the hire a car to Upper or Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. It takes about 2 hours to Hutiaoxia Town. There is no direct bus to from Shangri-La to Daju.

Tiger Leaping Gorge Transportation Map Tiger Leaping Gorge Transportation Map

Travel with China Discovery by Private Car (Top Recommended)

Since Tiger Leaping Gorge is located on the way between Lijiang and Shangri-La, you can take our private car service for the transfer and make a stop to visit Upper Leaping Gorge halfway. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Tiger Leaping Gorge with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Useful Travel Tips for Visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge

1. Best Time to Travel

April, May and June in the Gorge is the finest time for hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge with crisp air. September, October are the second best time to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge. June to August is the rainy season and the road is sloppy. Try to avoid the rainy season. After October the weather turns to cold, if you want to go, bring warm clothes.

2. What to Pack

Due to the mountainous steep and narrow road, a pair comfortable strong walking shoes are very necessary. Also pack light shirts and warm jacket. It is sunny, and gets hot easily because of hiking. While in the night, it is usually cold and windy. Before hiking, remember to pack with some water. An alpenstock is also necessary. You can also take a flashlight for the possible outage of electricity. A pair of gloves is helpful when passing some steep roads. Sun creams are MUST to prevent from the strong sunlight. Bring raincoat during the rainy season.

3. Accommodation Tips

There are many guest houses along the hiking trails, but the facilities are basic as this region is rural and far from cities. Convenient highways connect many villages. There are public washrooms, bathing room and hot water supply. The prices are ranging from 30 RMB to 200 RMB differing by facilities and location. Most guest house offer Chinese food. Some better guest houses also provide some basic western food and drinks.

4. Safety

Follow the high trail rather than the low trail. The high trail is no any problem for hiking. If you are independent travelers, try to find a local guide to go with you. They are experienced and know the way which will make you safe.

Tiger Leaping Gorge Nearby Attractions

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a mountain massif near Lijiang. It is the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 13 peaks all together and the group of mountains stretches about 35 kilometers from north to south. The highest peak is named Shanzidou at an altitude of 5,596m. On the eastern side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, there is a deep valley where the Yangtze River runs. Tiger Leaping Gorge is in the northern part of the valley and Yuhu Village Is located in the south of the valley. Travelers can see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain over Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yuhu Village, Black Dragon Pool Park and other locations.

▶ Learn more about: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

3 Days Lijiang Cultural & Natural Tour with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Haba Snow Mountain

Haba Snow Mountain is a mountain in southeast of Shangri-La, rising above the northwest side of Tiger Leaping Gorge, opposite off Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with the highest peak of 5,396 m. It boasts glaciers, lakes and waterfalls and contains one of the best preserved nature reserves. Each year from June to August, millions of azaleas are in blossom. To avoid the rainy season, the best time to travel Haba Snow Mountain is mid-March to June, mid-September to mid-December.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

How to Plan a Tiger Leaping Gorge Tour in Lijiang?

Normally, most part of travelers will choose Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking as a part of their Lijiang trip. They first enjoy about 2 days’ exploration in Lijiang to discover Lijiang Old Town (Mufu Palace), Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Shuhe Old Town, Dongba mural paintings, Black Dragon Pool, etc. for a classic savory of this romantic ancient city. Then, traveling out of Lijiang City, you’ll visit the First Bend of the Yangtze River and then make the visit to Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Hiking enthusiast? You are high suggested to add a 2-day in-depth hiking at Tiger Leaping Gorge into your trip. This hiking route is considered as one of the top 10 hikes in China!

3 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour

4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Lijiang Highlights

Since Tiger Leaping Gorge connects Lijiang and Shangri-La together. If you have plans to visit the gorge, why not spending 2~3 days more to Shangri-La? Songzanlin Monastery and Pudacuo National Park also await your visit!

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Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang
Pudacuo National Park in Shangri-La Pudacuo National Park in Shangri-La

Travel with China Discovery in Lijiang & Yunnan

China Discovery has been the leading online travel agency for over 10 years and we are specialized in offering different tours in diverse Yunnan, including Kunming tours, Lijiang tours, Dali tours, Shangri-La tours, Yuanyang Rice Terraces tours, Dongchuan Red Land tours, Xishuangbanna tours...

No matter you want to put one simple destination into your trip or cover several destinations together or even extend your Yunnan tour all over China like Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Shanghai, Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, Hong Kong, Guizhou, Tibet, China Discovery can provide you best tour guides and experienced drivers with comfortable private cars in any of the destinations. Our English-speaking tour guide will accompany you all the way, showing you the best traveling route and telling beautiful stories of the colorful Yunnan. The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interests, budget and other special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help or customize the tour with free quotation!

We have helped many global travelers enjoy their memorable trips to Yunnan for the past few years. Among them Mr. Elie & his wife from Belgium had 15 great days in Yunnan during their 69 days China trip customized with us and shared us their special travel story. Travel with China Discovery to create your wonderful Yunnan trip memories!

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