Three Cableways and Hiking Travel Tips of Cangshan Mountain in Dali

Dali is very small, so you can know its grand view after half a day’s leisure. At the same time Dali is also very large, and without enjoying carefully cannot get the whole picture. Cangshan Mountain in Dali has 19 peaks. Between each of the two peaks there is a stream that flows from east to west and finally converges in Erhai Lake. The highest peak of Cangshan Mountain, Malong Peak, has been snowed for years, demonstrating the wonder of “one mountain has four seasons” and defending the position of “snow” in the four wonders of “sentimental writings of the exploiting classes”. The beauty of Cangshan lies not only in one mountain and one pool, but also in the excellent perspective overlooking Dali City and Erhai Lake.  So how to make full use of Cangshan sightseeing cableway and hiking route to save labor and be reasonable?

View of Three Cableways in Cangshan

Although there is a saying” Cangshan has nineteen” peaks, which span more than 40 kilometers from north to south and almost fill the entire west bank of Erhai Lake, the southern mountain range with Zhonghe Temple as its midpoint is suitable for mass mountaineering tours. Cangshan has three sightseeing cableways. From south to north, there are Gantong cableway (medium cableway), Ximatan cableway (large cableway/Tianlong cableway) and Zhonghe cableway (Cangshan cableway/small cableway). The medium cableway and small cableway can only reach halfway up the mountain, which is the best way to connect the elite mountaineering route-Yudai Yunyou Road. Only the large cableway can reach Ximatan with an altitude of nearly 4000 meters. Most of Cangshan’s highlights are concentrated around ropeways or hiking trails. Reasonable selection of ropeways and hiking trails can save time and effort. The hiking routes recommended below are not very strong and can be completed by ordinary tourists.

6dc1979e-def1-4f33-96d3-8fcbbd106259_720_.jpg ▲ Changshan Guide Map

2512e3fb-435c-4239-b58e-1b51f0a2b792_720_.jpg ▲Dali Overlooked From Cangshan Mountain

1. Gantong cableway (medium cableway)

  • Fare of Gantong Ropeway: One-way 50 yuan, round trip to 80 yuan.
  • Cangshan Scenic Spot Entrance Fee: 40 yuan.
  • Opening hours: 8:30-17:00
  • Transportation: Take Dali Bus No.4 to get off at “Dali Town No.2 Middle School” station, and walk about 2 kilometers to reach Gantong cableway. Or take a taxi from Dali ancient city.
  • Route: Gantong Temple-Qingbi Stream (Cangshan Grand Canyon)

The route of Gantong cableway is second only to the popular route of big cableway, and it is also the one that many local tour groups often choose. The lower station of the ropeway is located near Gantong Temple in Cangshan scenic area, while the upper station is located near Qingbi Stream, with a total length of about 2.5 kilometers. After arriving at the station by cableway, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cangshan Grand Canyon and Qingbi Stream. At the same time, it is also the starting point of the southernmost part of the “Jade Belt Yunyou Road”.

efe59b47-4c46-4630-a7df-b8918d7c16c8_720_.jpg ▲Gantong Ropeway

Views along the Gantong Ropeway

Gantong Temple

Gantong Temple is located at Shengying Peak in Cangshan, formerly known as Dangshan Temple. It was built in Han Dynasty and rebuilt in Tang Dynasty. Gantong Temple once built 36 temples, but by the end of the Ming Dynasty it was badly damaged and only one temple (Dayun Temple and Jizhao Hall) remained. At present, temples in the current site of Gantong Temple at the foot of the mountain where the Gantong cableway is located are mostly rebuilt and repaired. Backed by Cangshan Mountain and facing Erhai Lake, Gantong Temple is surrounded by green and verdant tea gardens. When you experience the flavor of ancient temples, you can also walk into the tea gardens and experience the sweetness and aftertaste of famous tea.

af435367-060d-4e96-9d5e-5a7b092d1015_720_.jpg ▲Gantong Temple

Zhenlong Chess Game

“Zhenlong Chess Game” is a fabricated plot in Jin Yong’s martial arts representative work “Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils “. It was founded by Minstrel’s chief executive, Wu Yazi, who wanted to use such a chess game to recruit a talented disciple. This chess game, which has not been cracked for decades in martial arts novels, is not recorded in the real chess world. It is said that Jin Yong’s former Zhenlong chess game is located in the Grand Canyon of Qingbi Stream. The “Zhenlong Chess Board” located near the upper station of Gantong ropeway was built according to the concept in the novel, but it was changed into a huge Chinese chess board according to aesthetic principles. The whole chess board is 25 meters long and 20 meters wide. Each piece is 1.5 meters in diameter and 0.5 meters high. From a high altitude, you can take the cable car to overlook the huge chess game surrounded by pine trees, which is very spectacular.

d40d1c56-df4e-4616-924c-fe30f63affc8_720_.jpg ▲Zhenlong chess game

Qingbi Stream

Qingbi Stream is located between Shengying Peak and Malong Peak in Cangshan Mountain. Clear spring water flows down from the cliffs of the peaks to form three pools of upper, middle and lower Qingxi. The colors of the three pools are different. “The lower pool is dark blue, the middle pool is blue, and the upper pool is green.” Near Qingbi Stream is the southernmost end of Yudai Yunyou Road. If you have plenty of time, you can walk on this beautiful mountain hiking road to the Qilongnv Pool or Zhonghe Temple. The mountain canyon where Qingbi Stream is located is Cangshan Grand Canyon, which was formed by the east-west fracture and water erosion during the ascent of Cangshan Mountain ten thousand years ago. There is a Grand Canyon viewing platform not far from Qingbi Stream. The mountain road to Shangtan is beyond this viewing platform.

9a277d77-c998-4f10-bd6f-c7a03dca0a19_720_.jpg ▲Qingbi Stream

2. Ximatan cableway (large cableway/Tianlong cableway)

  • One-way ticket price for the tramway at Ximatan:
    White Crane Creek (Lower Station) to Seven Dragon Female Pool (Middle Station) One-way Ticket 80 yuan
    One-way ticket from Qilong Women’s Pool (Central Station) to Ximatan (Upper Station) 70 yuan
    White Crane Creek (Lower Station) to Ximatan (Upper Station) One-way ticket to 150 yuan and round trip ticket to 300 yuan
  • Opening hours: 8:30-17:00
  • Sightseeing bus, Qilong Women’s Pool: The round-trip fare is 50 yuan and the half-way fare is 30 yuan.
  • Transportation: walk about 2 kilometers from the south gate of Dali ancient city or the red longjing gate to the Tian long ba bu movie and TV city and the tramway station at shimatan.
  • Ximatan cableway (big cableway/Tianlong cableway) route: Baihe creek-qilongnv pool-ximatan

Ximatan cableway is also called big cableway and Tianlong cableway. Among the three cableways, the distance is the longest and the reachable altitude is the highest. The Baihe Creek’s lower station of the tramway is located near Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City. In the middle of the whole tramway, there is a “Qilongnv Pool Middle Station”. The upper station is located near the tramway, which is nearly 4000 meters above sea level. The 5,555-meter tramway is divided into two parts, the next stop is “Baihe creek” to “Qilongnv Pool ” and “Ximatan”, connecting the three main attractions (Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City, Qilongnv Pool and Ximatan) at the foot of the mountain. From the foot of the mountain, you can see the changes of forest vegetation, even the wonderful sight of “one mountain has four seasons” in the process of slowly rising.

6ebd00e3-bc6b-4009-8ad2-c57901ba4d83_720_.jpg ▲Viewing rest area

Views along the Ximatan Ropeway


Ximatan has a good reputation as a “lake on the top of the mountain”. It is located between Cangshan Jade Bureau Peak and Longquan Peak, with an altitude of 3,920 meters. It is said that when Kublai Khan of Yuan Shizu led his troops to Dali, he crossed Cangshan and stationed here to wash horses, hence the name. According to historical records, a high mountain reservoir was built in today’s Ximatan area during the Nanzhao period to guide mountain springs to irrigate farmland below the mountain. The temperature at the top of the mountain is much lower than that at the foot of the mountain. Mount the viewing platform at an altitude of 3980m and you will have a clear view of Ximatan. The lake is surrounded by a fascinating sea of alpine azalea flowers, but the scenery throughout the year is very different, only azalea is different every month. When the weather is good, the pool reflects the blue sky and presents irresistible sapphire blue.

ee962d4f-bade-473f-a1cd-9ca67ef7cca9_720_.jpg ▲Ximatan

Qilongnv Pool

Qilongnv Pool is the middle stop of the Ximatan cableway and the only way to travel around the Jade Belt Road. The spring water flowing from the middle of Black Dragon Creek in Cangshan has formed seven pools. Legend has it that this is the place where the seven dragon ladies of Erhai Dragon King bathe and rest. They bathe here every summer and the night when the moon is high. They do not return to Erhai Dragon Palace until dawn. The cool mountain spring water covers the rock wall like white silks and satins, falling into the pool and making sweet sounds, creating a mountain wonderland.

bfc40e6b-92c2-4d39-9024-e4de3c98da24_720_.jpg ▲Qilongnv Pool

Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City

Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City at the foot of Cangshan Mountain is one of the shooting bases for the TV series Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils . The film and television city is composed of Dali Kingdom, Liao Kingdom, Xixia Palace and Jurchen Tribe. It can feel the prosperous social style of Dali Kingdom at that time in antique buildings. Walking through the tower of the movie and TV city is the gate of Dali Palace, where Duan Yu’s uncle Baoding Emperor Duan Zhengming met with courtiers and handled affairs of state.

Tickets to Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City: 52 yuan

103d4693-1166-4688-9384-c724b8d00777_720_.jpg ▲Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City

3. Zhonghe Cableway (small cableway/Cangshan cableway)

  • Fare of Zhonghe cableway: one-way 50 yuan, round trip to 100 yuan.
  • Opening hours: 8:30-17:00
  • Transportation: walk about 1.2 kilometers from Cangshan gate on the west side of Dali ancient city to zhonghe cableway.

The Zhonghe cableway, also called Cangshan cableway and small cableway, is the northernmost of the three cableways, and the height it can reach is also the lowest, probably halfway up the mountain. There are no more than two other attractions along the Zhonghe cableway, only Zhonghe Temple, who got on the station. Friends who like burning incense and hikers can choose this ropeway. For ordinary tourists, it is better to recommend the other two. The cableway is also different in that its compartment is old-fashioned, that is, it is not covered by a shell and is a pure open-air suspended chair seat.

Views along Zhonghe cableway

Zhonghe Temple

Zhonghe Temple, located halfway up Cangshan and Zhonghe Peak, is a very famous Taoist temple in Dali. It is precisely because Zhonghe Peak is the central peak of “Cangshan Nineteen Peak” and the foot of the mountain is facing Dali Ancient town and Erhai Lake, which has become the best place to overlook Dali Old City and Erhai Lake. Zhonghe Temple is made up of temples such as Juxian Tower, Linggong Hall and Yuhuang Pavilion. Every year, the 9th day of the first month of the lunar calendar is the birthday of The emperor of the Jade,  Zhonghe Temple will hold a grand “Peach Blossom Meeting” and Bai people from nearby will come to the temple fair in an endless stream. Zhonghe Temple is also a must-pass point on the Jade Belt Roam Road. Many hikers will come here from the southernmost Qingbi Stream and take cable cars down the mountain.

Tickets for Zhonghe Temple: No tickets required, included in Cangshan Mountain Entry Fee.

91eef6aa-092f-43ed-83f1-ee3c4c379f41_720_.jpg ▲Zhonghe Temple

Hiking Routes of Cangshan Mountain

1. Jade Belt Roam Road

“Jade Belt Roam Road” is one of the most famous hiking routes in Cangshan, and it is a scenic hiking road between mountains. If you want to know Cangshan better, you may as well set foot on Jade Belt Roam Road. As its name implies, the Jade Belt Roam Road floats like a soft ribbon around Cangshan’s waist. Jade Belt Roam Road is about 18 kilometers long and 2 meters wide. Its northernmost point is Yunyou Square near Yinglefeng’s Cangshan TV Station Turntable Transfer Station, and its southernmost point is near Qingbi Stream of Malong Peak, connecting Cangshan with many wonderful sights. The whole Jade Belt Roam Roadis built for hikers, with little fluctuation and paved trails suitable for tourists. It is very easy to walk.

0c841d81-a45a-4154-bc9c-70369f5d0849_720_.jpg ▲Jade Belt Roam Road

Four Ways to Jade Belt Roam Road:

There are four ways to reach Jade Belt Roam Road halfway up the mountain. the order from south to north is as follows:

(1) Take the inductive cableway (medium cableway): Starting from the lower station of Gantong Temple cableway, after taking the cableway to the upper station, the lower cableway is Jade Belt Roam Road. This is the most economical and labor-saving way, which many people will choose. After visiting Qingbi Stream, it is highly recommended to take Jade Belt Roam Road from journey to the south at the southernmost end to Qilongnv Pool or Zhonghe Temple and then take the cable car down the mountain.

(2) Take the Ximatan cableway (large cableway/Tianlong cableway): Take the Ximatan cableway from the Baihe River lower station near Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City to the lower station of Qilongnv Pool Middle Station, not far from which is Jade Belt Roam Road. It is more expensive to take the cableway up the mountain, reaching the middle point of Jade Belt Roam Road, which is not suitable for the whole journey of Jade Belt Roam Road. you can only choose one direction instead of going back.

(3) Walk up the mountain from the hiking trail next to Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City: The hiking trail is next to the parking lot on the west side of Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City. You can walk up the mountain after paying the entrance fee to Cangshan Mountain in 40 yuan. This method consumes a lot of physical strength. It takes about 70 minutes to reach the vicinity of Fengyan Cave on Yudai Yunyou Road. You can go south to Qingbi Stream or north to Zhonghe Temple and then take a cable car down the mountain according to your preference.

(4) Take the Zhonghe cableway (Cangshan cableway/small cableway): You can reach Zhonghe Temple by taking the Zhonghe cableway, and it is also good to go south from here to the Qilongnv Pool or Qingbi Stream.

2. Top 3 Hiking Routes of Cangshan Mountain

A. Qingbi Stream+Ximatan Climbing to the Top

Route: Gantong Temple-take Gantong cableway-Qingbi Stream-Jade Belt Roam Road (hiking to the north)-Qilongnv Pool-take Ximatan cableway (Qilong Women’s Pool Central Station) to the top of the mountain-Ximatan-take Ximatan cableway down the mountain-Baihe River Lower Station (Tianlong Babu Film and Television City), or go in the opposite direction.

B. hiking experience on Jade Belt Roam Road

Route: Gantong Temple-Take Gantong Ropeway-Qilongnv Pool-Yudai Yunyou Road (hiking to the north)-Qilongnvchi-Fengyan Cave-Jade Belt Roam Road (hiking to the north)-Zhonghe Temple-Take Zhonghe Temple Ropeway down the mountain

C. bitter before sweet

Route: Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Film and Television City Mountaineering Trail-Fengyan Cave-(Hiking to the South)-Jade Belt Roam Road-Qilongnv Pool-Take Gantong Ropeway Down the Mountain

c2db556d-fb91-40b6-8cd5-06bfe8608eb0_720_.jpg ▲Cangshan

3. Stay away from the crowd

Hiking route: Gantong Temple-Jizhao Nunnery-Qingbi Stream

There is a hiking trail next to Gantong Temple. As most tourists take ropeways from Gantong Temple to climb the mountain, relatively few people go on this hiking trail. Starting from Gantong Temple, the hiking distance to Qingbi Stream is about 3.2 kilometers. The trail is winding and paved with stones and slates. Stone bridges, arch bridges and suspension bridges are also interspersed on the way. About 100 meters away from Gantong Temple, there is a “Jizhao Temple”, hidden in the green mountains, like a fairyland among flowers.

Jizhao Temple

Jizhao Temple is a quiet temple “hidden” in Cangshan, but it is not like a temple. The first thing I saw when I came to the temple on foot was not the plaque with the name of the temple, but colorful flowers and potted plants. A small signboard of “Baihua Garden” will lead your steps to the “Botanical Garden” in the temple. There are many green plants, including many well-received fleshy plants. The whole temple is full of vitality and spirituality under the decoration of various plants.

It is worth mentioning that the temple can also provide tea and vegetarian diet. The tea is free. You can sit here as long as you like. The vegetarian diet charges 20-30 yuan. You can eat enough and then continue hiking on the mountain.

Hiking route: Mocui Teahouse-The Source of Taoxigu Valley-Mocui Teahouse

Taoxi valley is located in the “small cenfeng” of the 19 peaks in Cangshan, on the hillside behind the three towers of Chongsheng temple. Taoxigu has nearly 100 mu of tea gardens here, all planted with 50-year-old Yunnan big-leaf tea trees. From the entrance below the mountain, one can find a place called “mo Cui teahouse”. next to the teahouse, which is almost covered with green vines, is a hiking trail. Walking up the stone plank road, you can see Taoxi valley with ding dong spring water and Taoxi waterfall. you can walk to the source of Taoxi valley in about one hour.

The attraction of Taoxi Valley is that it has tea gardens, waterfalls, streams, Cangshan mountain and Erhai lake. It has a very good view. The hiking route from bottom to top is very easy, and the whole journey is only about 3 kilometers, almost everyone can walk down.