Photographic Guide to Top Holy Snow Mountains in Yunnan

Photography in Yunnan is an indispensable part of Yunnan Travel. Yunnan is the best place  in China to get breathtaking photographs. And photographic guide to top holy snow mountains in Yunnan is a good supporter to have a better experience of snow mountains tour in Yunnan. The ambient lights over the Meili Snow Mountain keep on changing every minute creating different colors in the atmosphere. No matter wherever you are either at the beautiful Feilaisi Monastery, Mingzhu Langka Viewing Platform, the lights will constantly change at every corner of the country creating a beautiful picture, which will remind every traveler to take photos to record the beautiful scenery. Of course, there are several snow mountains in Yunnan, which will make you enjoy yourself so much as to forget to leave.

Quzonggong area in Baima Snow Mountain in Diqing, Yunnan
Quzonggong area in Baima Snow Mountain in Diqing, Yunnan

Meili Snow Mountain

Meili Snow Mountain is located about 10 kilometers north-east of Deqin County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province. It is 849 kilometers away from Kunming. It is a holy land of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists, and ranks the first among the eight sacred mountains in Tibet area(the eight sacred mountains: Mount Benri, Moerduo Mountain, Kawagebo Peak of Meili Snow Mountain, the Aemye Ma-chhen Range, Mount Kailash, Gaduojuewo, Yalxiangbo and the Himalayas). When you come to Meili Snow Mountain, there are many attractions that are so beautiful that shall be under your lens.

1. How to Get There

By long-distance bus

There is only one road from Shangri-La to Meili Snow Mountain and no direct bus heading to Meili Snow Mountain. Visitors should take the bus departing from Shangri-La City to Deqin County first. There are only 4 long-distance buses every day and they depart at 7:20, 8:20, 9:20 and 12:00. It takes about 7 to 9 hours. Then visitors can change to a taxi or minibus to reach Feilaisi Temple, which is the Viewing Platform of Meili Snow Mountain, which takes 20 minutes.

By car rental

Renting a car is suitable to gain a flexible and comfortable travel. If there are enough people in your group to share the expenses, it is better for you to rent a car with an experienced drive and a tour guide if you are foreign travelers. If you want to have more fun on the way, renting a car is highly recommended way. On the way, there are famous attractions like Nixi Village, Benzilan, Great Bend of Jinsha River, Baima Snow Mountain, Dongzhulai Monastery, Feilai Temple, etc. the driver of chartering car can stop for you to enjoy the scenery and take photos. But a tourist bus will not stop on the way.

By plane

Fly directly to Shangri-la (Zhongdian), and then take a local bus to Feilaisi Monastery in Deqin County, which is the best jumping off point to view Kawa Karpo Peak of Meili Snow Mountain.

By scheduled bus

There are regular bus routes to Feilaisi Monastery from a number of nearby destinations: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang (albeit, via Shangri-la), and Shangri-la.

By charter bus

One of the easiest ways to get to Feilaisi Monastery is to take a charter bus. A number of even easier ways to get to Feilaisi Monastery is to hire a minibus, a car, or a cross-country jeep – they are available everywhere.

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Transportation

2. Best Time to Visit Meili Snow Mountain

The ideal season to watch the Meili Snow Mountain is the winter and spring of October-May. The best season is after the end of October. The weather is fine; the air is clean; the transparency is high; and the main peak is often seen. At other times, depending on luck, it is easier to see the snowy mountains when the sun just comes out in the early morning.

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Climate

3. What to Eat Around Meili Snow Mountain

Buttered tea and tsampa are the major food around Deqin County. Buttered tea is a must-have for guests. Tsampa is a staple food that is often eaten in three meals a day.

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Dining

4. Where to Stay Around Meili Snow Mountain

When people arrive in Shangri-La, most of them will go to see the Meili Snow Mountain. Therefore, there are also a number of family inns with general environment and facilities in Deqin County. The best view of Snow Mountain in Deqin County is the Feilaisi Monastery Observation Deck. If you want to see Rizhao Jinshan in the first time, staying at Feilaisi Monastery is the best choice.

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Accommodation

5. What to Photograph Around Meili Snow Mountain

Kawa Karpo Peak

To take the full view of Kawa Karpo Peak, there are two good locations: Feilaisi observation deck and Wunongding Viewing Platform of Meili Snow Mountain, which can take the beautiful photos.

Read more about Kawa Karpo Peak

Rizhao Jinshan

Rizhao Jinshan will appear due to the altitude of the Meili Snow Mountain, accumulated snow all year round, without high mountains. Just because there are no mountains, the sun before the coming out will be softly illuminated on the snow mountain, and there will be Rizhao Jinshan at the early morning and in the afternoon. Feilaisi Monastery is one of the best places to watch the most beautiful “Rizhao Jinshan (Sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain)” in Meili Snow Mountain.


There are four big glaciers at Meili Snow Mountain: Mingyong, Sinong, Niuba and Nongsong. The longest and the largest glacier is the Mingyong Glacier.


There are two trekking routes, one is outer Circumambulating pilgrimage, the other is inner Circumambulating pilgrimage. The Inner Circumambulating Pilgrimage is easier trekking route which will cost about 6 days, And the Outer Circumambulating Pilgrimage would take 7-15 days.

The Route of Inner Circumambulating Pilgrimage
1. Xidang Village- Ninong Village- Lower Yubeng (Sacred Waterfall and Sacred Lake)-Upper Yubeng- Xidang Spring
2. Xidang Village- Upper Yubeng (Ice Lake)- Lower Yubeng (Sacred Waterfall and Sacred Lake)- Ninong Village- Xidang Spring

The Route of Outer Circumambulating Pilgrimage
Deqin County Center- Yunling Town- Yangla Village- Yangza Suspension Bridge- Yongjiu Village (northwards) or Yongzhi Village (southwards) – Yongshitong- Dekangyading- Duokeyaka- Shusutong- Qienatong- Abing- Lakangya(near Nu River, at an altitude of 1700m)- Zhana- Longbu- Damuyaka- Gebu- Daguya(4100m)- Gezaya (4300m)- Meijiubugong- Shuoya (4828m)- Dulongyong- Meilishui (near Lancang River)- Adong River- Deqin

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Activities

Lancang-Mekong River Grand Canyon

Lancang River Meili Grand Canyon, is China’s most beautiful grand canyon, one of China’s largest one of the most important nature reserve, and the sceneries are mostly the protective Yunnan golden monkeys and other rare species, as well as the typical mountain forest perpendicular band natural landscape, which is the best place for photography.

6. Recommended Tours Including

Read more about Meili Snow Mountain Tours

Haba Snow Mountain

The Haba Snow Mountain stands by the Jinsha River, 120 km southeast of Shangri-La City, with its main peak of 5,396 meters. The attraction of the Sanba Tourist Area is attributed to the towering peaks of the Haba Snow Mountain and its alpine moraine lake, endless tracks of azalea flowers and cluster of waterfalls cascading down snow-covered cliffs. The glacier on the Haba Snow Mountain is the southmost glacier in China.

1. How to Get There

By long-distance bus

Tourists can take a long-distance bus from Lijiang or Shangri-La to Qiaotou and it will take about 2 hours. Then rent a car or a minibus driving along the highway near Tiger Leaping Gorge for Haba Village.

Long-distance buses frequently shuttle between Lijiang and Shangri-La every day. You can take the  long-distance bus and get off at Qiaotou if you miss the direct  long-distance bus for Qiaotou from Lijiang or Shangri-La. It’s easy to rent a car or a minibus at Qiaotou and takes around 2 hours to get to Haba Village.

Read more about Haba Snow Mountain Transportation

2. Best Time to Haba Snow Mountain

April-June and September-November are the best time to visit Haba Snow Mountain. Because the other periods are mostly rainy season or windy season. From April to June, the blossoming rhododendra add more glamour to mysterious Haba Snow Mountain. From November to December, the light wind makes tourists more easily to climb up to the summit. In the late autumn, the forest is full of color, the air is pure, and the starry sky can be photographed.

Read more about Haba Snow Mountain Climate

3. What to Eat Around Haba Snow Mountain

Most of the guesthouses in Haba Village provide local food for backpackers. Besides, You can take some food at only the Guesthouse around the Base Camp (4,200m). Please note it provides Muslim food without pork. Other than the impressive range of locally gathered wild mushrooms, there is a definite shortage of culinary variety in this town. The staple food is often baba or flatbread rather than rice, and you may be offered Tibetan-style buttered tea, which is an acquired taste by all tourists. The saving grace is that all food available is locally produced and is completely free of agricultural chemicals.

Read more about Haba Snow Mountain Dining

4. Where to Stay Around Haba Snow Mountain

There are not many accommodation choices around Haba Snow Mountain. Before you start trekking, the guesthouses in Haba Village seems to be the only and the best option for you. Most of guesthouses provide equipment for climbing. After getting to Base Camp, at the hillside nearly at an altitude of 4,200 meters, it’s better for you to stay one night there. It’s an important landmark of Haba Snow Mountain and a relatively good place for a rest. You can pitch a rent if there is no available room as it’ s the only lodging place on the halfway. Yunnan Travel  will provide the suitable hotels for you according to your requirements.

Read more about Haba Snow Mountain Accommodation

5. What to Photograph Around Haba Snow Mountain

Summit of Haba Snow Mountain

Haba Snow Mountain is a mountain rising above the northwest side of Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan, China. It rises opposite the higher Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and towers 3,500 metres above the upper reaches of the Yangtze River(Jinsha River). The summit of the mountain is a popular destination for amateur mountaineers and its lowest slopes are crossed by the popular Tiger Leaping Gorge trail. Its massif is considered the southernmost extent of the expansive Shaluli Mountains, themselves a component range of the Hengduan Mountains.

The Base Camp of Haba Snow Mountain

The base camp of Haba snow mountain is registered in 2007 and is the only reception centre of Haba Snow Mountain. All the tourists who want to climb to the top of the mountain must camp at the base camp and make the accommodation registration according to local police. It is in charge of the accommodation, dining, climbing equipment rental, etc. Covering the total area of 30 mu, it can accommodate 140 persons which is recognized as the best five-star base camp among the National climbing circle.

Heihai Lake of Haba Snow Mountain in Shangri-La

Alpine moraine lakes is a glacier relic formed by ancient cirque hydrops which is the only glacial relic distribution area of “Dali glacial period” in the area of “three parallel rivers”. Heihai Lake is the most famous one.

Huanghai Lake of Haba Snow Mountain

Alpine moraine lakes is a glacier relic formed by ancient cirque hydrops which is the only glacial relic distribution area of “Dali glacial period” in the area of “three parallel rivers”.

6. Recommended Tours Including

Read more about Haba Snow Mountain Tours

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Located in Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang City, Yunnan Province, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is 15 kilometers north of the downtown, which has a highest altitude of 5596 meters and an area of 455 square kilometers. With thirteen perennial snow peak, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence the name. Featured by its magnificence, precipitousness, uniqueness and beauty, the scenery of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain changes in accordance with seasons and weathers.

1. How to Get There

By bus

Take a bus at Yuhe Parking Lot near the northern gate of Lijiang Ancient Town. You can buy the ticket in Tourist Service Center at the northern end of Lanhua Street, the opposite of Tianyu Hotel. The bus leaves for the Snow Mountain at 8:30 and returns at 16:30; the bus fare costs 40 yuan per person. Or take bus line 7 near Hongtaiyang Square to get there.

►By taxi/car/mini-van

Take a taxi / car/ mini-van or carpool together from the downtown area. The distance is around 15 kilometers (10 miles). It takes around 40 minutes. The round-trip charter rate is around 200 yuan.

►By shuttle bus 

The cable car company operates shuttle bus departing from Guluwan Hotel.

2. Best Time to Visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

From November to March of the next year is the best time to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Spring and winter are the best seasons for seeing snow-covered landscape of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. During that time, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is beautiful due to the good weather and dry air. Whether it is for visiting or shooting, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the most charming at this time.

Read more about Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Climate

3. What to Eat Around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

The Dining Center is the only large cafeteria in Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. There are numerous dishes, clean and safe to eat. It’s a tourism service center integrated with dining, leisure and shopping. Usually the tourists will have lunch here.

Read more about Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Dining

4. Where to Stay Around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

In general, the tourists who pay visit to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain will choose to stay in Lijiang Ancient Town. There are many characteristics hotels, guesthouses and inns to choose in Lijiang Ancient Town. Lijiang Ancient Town is that kind of place if one visit would stay for half a month, most visitors to Lijiang will choose to live in the inn.

Read more about Lijiang Accommodation

5. What to Photograph Around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan

Tiger Leaping Gorge is spectacular and crown as the deepest gorge in the world. Foreign backpackers started hiking in the area in the 1980s and now Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour has been one of the most famous hiking tour all around the world. From the top of Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Jinsha River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 meters below.

Shanzidou (Fan Peak) of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang

The Shanzidou (扇子陡)  is the main peak of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with an elevation of 5,596 meters. The highest latitude in the northern hemisphere and the highest altitude. Also known as Xuedou Peak(雪斗峰), it is also the highest peak of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It is second only to the Kawakarpo Peak (卡瓦格博)in Meili Snow Mountain in Yunnan Province. In 1991, the Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association climbed to the altitude of 4,500 meters. In 2002, Jin Feipiao and others climbed to the altitude of 5,100 meters.

The Pearl Lakes of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijiang

The ecological protection of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has been closely watched. However, the glacier of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has been retreating and the snowline has been rising in recent years due to global warming and the drought in Lijiang City. Hence, the ecological environment has become very fragile. To protect the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, protect the important water source of Lijiang city, the government implemented the lake-groups projects; actively explore a path to combine the exploitation, utilization and protection of the ecological environment to protect water ecological environment Baisha lake area, Yulong County.

6. Recommended Tours Including

Read more about Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Tours

Tips for Photography of The Holy Mountains in Yunnan

1. What Equipment We Need for Photography

  • Digital camera: Films are less useful at high altitude than digital cameras and the photos quality are lower and tend to blur at near-freezing temperatures.
  • Batteries: In general, the batteries can only last for a lot shorter period of time. So please take more batteries.
  • Tripod: A tripod is a kind of support frame used to stabilize the camera to achieve some photographic effects. The positioning of the tripod is very important.
  • Lens: After the light reaches the  retroreflector through the lens of the camera, it is refracted to the upper focusing screen and formed into an image. Different lens can meet the different requirements of the photographer.
  • Body: A body with good ISO performance is best here and can get the best photos possible.
  • Recharger: Ensure very batteries are in full of energy.
  • Filter: It can help us produce the best imagines.

2. Notes

  • Keep enough memory cards at hand.
  • A UV lens should be used to protect from the UV rays.
  • It might be a little hard to find points to recharge your battery.
  • Ask permission before taking pictures of the locals and the shrines.
  • Extra fully charged batteries as batteries seem to drain out soon in low temperatures.
  • It is better to take small tripod and photoflash lamp for a steadier and better photography.
  • When it comes to high altitude photography, it is preferable to carry wide angle camera and lenses.
  • Try to keep your gear as light as possible, as most of the places require trekking and a lot of walking.

3. Keep reading more