Visit China's Tiger Leaping Gorge on a trip departing from Kunming.

Experience the breathtaking natural scenery, historical attractions and rural lifestyles for which the Yunnan province is renowned for on this active trip through Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of Asia's finest geological wonders, the gorge is best beheld from the winding hiking trails high above the Yangzi River – so prepare for some trekking! Staggering panoramas of mist-draped mountain peaks, deep ravines and gushing river gorges await those willing to raise their heartbeats a little, while some time in the chilled-out towns of Dali, Shaxi and Lijiang offer an excellent opportunity to mingle with locals.


Start
Kunming, China
Finish
Kunming, China
Country
China
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBSP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • A delightful snapshot of the past, Nuodeng is a lesser visited village on the old salt trading route where we begin our experience of Yunnan's traditional culture

  • In Shaxi, you'll see one of the best preserved examples of a traditional town. Stay in a friendly, family-run guesthouse and sample some authentic local cuisine

  • Experience the legendary Tiger Leaping Gorge, with two days of exploration of one of China's most breathtaking hiking trails

  • Picture perfect Lijiang is a must-see destination in Yunnan equally popular for its cobble stone streets and Naxi culture as its recent rebirth as a hot spot for domestic travellers

  • Travel like a local, on public buses and sleeper trains. It's the perfect opportunity to interact with people and take in the charming provincial scenery

  • You've never tried anything like Yunannese food! Get a different perspective on Chinese cuisine with the unique flavours of the local soup, noodle, mushroom and even cheese dishes.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip visits some destinations that are at high altitude (above 2,800 metres), and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

  • There are some long days of travel on public transport. While this is great for meeting locals and enjoying the countryside, it can be tiring, as conditions may be simpler than what you're accustomed to and may involve multiple vehicle changes to get to our destination.

  • There's a mix of accommodation on this trip – overnight trains, guesthouses and hotels. Keep in mind that conditions and facilities will vary, and in the simpler places we may have cold water only and shared bathrooms.

  • Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge is an unforgettable experience, with some truly awe-inspiring views. But if you're not up to a rigourous two days of walking through often tricky terrain, or have a fear of heights, you might like to reconsider. Some paths along the mountainside are extremely narrow, with a steep drop and few protective barriers. For those who aren't up for the most active inclusions on this trip, there is the option of staying in the guesthouse in town or travelling by road along the upper gorge (at own expense).

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these ready to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, go for a stroll and get acquainted with this pleasant 'eternal spring city', so called for its temperate nature. Perhaps head to Green Lake Park where you can see locals spending their leisure time on all kinds of activities and games. Check out The Loft, a disused factory area west of the city centre, home to many small galleries and cafes. Or perhaps visit Yuantong Temple, the grandest Buddhist temple in Yunnan province.
Optional Activities
  • Kunming - Yuantong Temple - CNY6
  • Kunming - Yunnan Impressions cultural show - CNY150
  • Kunming - Green Lake Park - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Embark on a long day of travel (approximately 10 hours). There will be three changes of buses to get to your destination – the intriguing, reclusive Nuodeng village. This place has sat hidden in the mountains for over a thousand years. While the journey there is long, the views of the lovely countryside, and the friendly locals you will get to interact with along the way, make it worthwhile. On arrival, check into your guesthouse and enjoy some local cuisine for dinner.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Accommodation is simple here, but authentic. Rooms may be multishare, with outdoor toilets and shared bathroom facilities with cold water.

We'll be sending our main luggage on ahead to Dali, so just take what you need for our 2 night stay here.
A key trading village on the ancient salt trading routes, Nuodeng has been through a long, varied history and remains authentic and unique among the villages in Yunnan. Today you will take a guided tour of this gorgeous ancient village, stopping to visit some local temples and museums along the way. The remainder of the day is yours to explore as you please. There's much to like about the slow pace of life here. You can sit in the sun and chat with elderly locals, explore the local museums and temples on your own, or perhaps learn more about the town's history of salt production, the longtime lifeblood of the community.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nuodeng - Museum
  • Nuodeng - Yuhuangge Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by public bus to your next destination, Dali (approximately 3–4 hours). For many years this spot has been a favourite destination for foreign travellers and backpackers, thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and spectacular surroundings. There are snow-capped mountains on one side and the vast Erhai Lake on the other, making for an impressive sight. This afternoon you will take a guided walk around Dali's ancient town with your leader. Present-day Dali is a city that combines history with modern convenience. It is divided into two areas: the Ancient City and the New District (widely known as Xiaguan). After your tour, enjoy a free evening to make your own discoveries in this picturesque town. Perhaps circle back to the famous Foreigner Street in the Ancient City, where handicrafts and local culinary delights rightly attract many visitors.
Included Activities
  • Dali - Walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a private bus to Xizhou, around 23 kilometres north of Dali on a day trip today. Xizhou is famous for its Butterfly Spring and Bai architecture. Enjoy a guided tour of the town and the local markets – a great chance to learn more about Bai architecture. Interact with some local families living in the traditional courtyards to get a feel for local life. Be sure to try some tasty local snacks such as baba (fried rice cake) or the local cheese. Upon returning to Dali you can enjoy some free time. 
Included Activities
  • Xizhou - Day trip
Optional Activities
  • Dali - Cangshan Mountain - CNY40
  • Dali Erhai Lake - CNY100
  • Dali - Cangshan cable car - CNY90
  • Dali - Three Pagodas - CNY88
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by public bus to Jianchuan, then by private van to Shaxi (approximately 3–4 hours). Much of Shaxi's charm lies in the fact it has been restored rather than rebuilt, and being off the main highways it hasn't seen the rapid development of the tourist industry that other places like Lijiang and Dali have. Here you can still find the Yi and Bai ethnic minorities living their traditional lives, farmhouses lining the country roads, and the original walled town gates and market square that prove Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail. Here you will stay in a local family-run guesthouse in twin, triple or multi-share rooms. The accommodation is very simple and bathroom facilities are basic and shared, but the warm hospitality makes for a memorable experience. Most travellers choose to eat their meals at the family guesthouse, which offers a great range of regional cuisine; it's also a great chance to further interact with your hosts.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you will stroll through the stunning mountain trails with a local guide. Your destination is Shizong Temple (approximately 4–5 hours return). It's a good idea to pack a lunch to enjoy along the way, as the beautiful 'danxia' landscape will make a nice backdrop for a picnic. Be sure to bring your camera too so you can snap a few pictures of these gorgeous surrounds. Feel free to ask your leader more about this part of China. In the evening, take the opportunity to mix with the locals out on the town square. Here you'll likely encounter dancing, singing and various traditional games. Perhaps try your hand at some of them yourself.
Included Activities
  • Shibaoshan - Hike
Optional Activities
  • Shaxi - Shizong Temple - CNY50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private bus back to Jianchuan and then public bus to Qiaotou (approximately 3 hours), the starting point for your trek through the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the deepest and most spectacular gorges in the world. The entire canyon is 16 km long and rises up to 3,900 metres above the waters of the famous Yangzi River. Though the gorge has become very popular in recent years, and the area is rapidly developing, it's still an incredibly rewarding travel experience which many cite as a highlight of their trip to China. Prepare a day pack (your larger luggage will be stored for two nights) and embark on your hike. There will be regular stops to have a rest as needed. The first part of the trek is quite arduous – this is not flat terrain by any means. After a slow and steady climb you will reach the 24 bends (the most challenging part of the trek), a steep and twisting path where you'll really gain some altitude. After stopping for a break, continue along the flatter section of the gorge to your accommodation. This is a simple but comfortable guesthouse with shared facilities (upgrades to private facilities at your own cost may be possible, depending on availability).

The area is subject to dramatic changes in weather. There are scheduled departures for this trip in the more stable seasons, but it's still possible that conditions may make travelling through the gorge dangerous. In this case an extra night each will be spent in Shaxi and Lijiang. Should the weather be deemed by your leader and guide as too rainy or foggy to safely complete the trek once in the gorge area, an alternative walking route will be taken or a minivan will be used for transport between stops.
Included Activities
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided trek
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Trekking in the gorge area can be hard going for some. For more experienced hikers it will pose no problem. You can expect to walk about 4–6 hours on the first day, tackling some long, steep sections, and about 4 hours the next. You'll be in the hands of an experienced local guide. The route and duration of walks will vary depending on the weather and the fitness of the group. This part of the trip definitely requires a good level of fitness.
Your second day of trekking starts with a nice, easy flat section that has spectacular views. There are only a few uphill battles, and one last downhill stretch which is long and slippery, before you reach your destination for the night – Walnut Grove. Those with the energy can enjoy further hikes to some excellent lookout points from here. Otherwise, this a tranquil place to simply sit back, relax, enjoy the scenery and rest your weary legs.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private transport to Lijiang (approximately 4 hours). This World Heritage-listed town is home to the Naxi people, a matrilineal society, the descendents of Tibetan nomads. You can still see Naxi folk around town in their distinct blue clothing, especially at the morning markets. Today you will enjoy a guided walking tour around Lijiang and visit the Wangu Pagoda. The pagoda is situated at Lion Hill in a small park and has amazing views over Lijiang. In town, during the day, you'll see the traditional side of Lijiang: cobbled streets, tiny alleyways and quaint wooden bridges that run over the canals. This is what attracts many (mostly Chinese) tourists every year to the Old Town. By night, flashing lights and kareoke bars spring to life, turning this idyllic town into something very different. It's a fascinating transformation to watch.
Included Activities
  • Lijiang - Walking tour
  • Lijiang - Wangu Pagoda
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day for you to explore Lijiang. Later in the afternoon, you'll transfer to the station an overnight sleeper train to Kunming (approximately 8-9 hours). First, though, you might like to explore Mu Palace or wander around the old town and make a wish like the locals do – by sending a candle down a canal on a flower-shaped boat. A Naxi Orchestra performance is highly recommended, famous around the world for its unique instruments and sounds. A day trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is another great option, though travellers on a budget might like to view the peak from afar to avoid the expensive cable car fees. This town is also great for cycling – jump on a bike and head to Baisha or Shuhe, two pretty local villages.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire - CNY20
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain & cable car - CNY240
  • Lijiang - Naxi Orchestra - CNY120
  • Black Dragon Pool - CNY80
  • Mu Family Mansion - CNY45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (these are not provided in cabins). Bathrooms are basic, and as toilet paper isn't always available it's best to carry some of your own. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.
Our train arrives in the capital of Yunnan, Kunming, early in the morning. We transfer from the station back to our hotel. The whole day is free for you to spend as you wish. We suggest rewarding yourself with a foot massage! Meet up in the evening for an optional final dinner out on the town with the group, your last chance to enjoy Yunnanese cuisine.

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train, Private Bus, Public Bus, Walking

Accommodation

Guesthouse (6 nights), Hotel (5 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Nuodeng - Museum
  • Nuodeng - Yuhuangge Temple
  • Dali - Walking tour
  • Xizhou - Day trip
  • Shibaoshan - Hike
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided trek
  • Lijiang - Walking tour
  • Lijiang - Wangu Pagoda

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding the overnight train.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities.
4. Parts of this trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude. A Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
5. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
6. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Beijing office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328
7. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster or civil unrest) necessitate a change to our planned route.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Yunnan & Tiger Leaping Gorge trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 10 reviews in the last year.

Yunnan & Tiger Leaping Gorge, July 2017

Tom Leach

Yunnan & Tiger Leaping Gorge, July 2017

Marie Randazzo