15 Days Three Parallel Rivers Overland Adventure with Dulongjiang River Valley and Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking

The Grand Canyon of the Lancang River is famous for not only its deep and long vale, but also the rushing water. The river water is limpid and rushing in winter, but turbid and onrushing in summer. As the river becoming narrow in the Grand Canyon, high waves are striking against the banks and making a sound like thunder. What a fantastic spectacle! Such steep mountains, deep valley and miraculous geographic structure are seldom seen all over the world.

This tour focuses on discovery the beauty of Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nujiang River. You will visit the must-visit hiking place-Tiger Leaping Gorge and then hike there(Tiger Leaping Gorge is recognized as one of the most famous scenic attractions for hiking in the world and one of the must-visit hiking itineraries in Yunnan recommended by ‘Lonely Planet’). You will witness the surge of the rivers and find idyllic scenery in Bingzhongluo. Then you will step into a famous historic and cultural city in Yunnan Province–Tengchong city–the hometown of jade.

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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Ancient town of Lijiang, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Ethnic Museum

Black Dragon Pool Lijiang

Arrive at Lijiang airport, pick up by our English speaking tour guide and transfer to hotel. If time is enough(depends on the flight), go to visit the Ancient town of Lijiang, escorted tour to Square Street. Walk upstream along the Yuhe River from Lijiang Ancient Town Water Wheel to Black Dragon Pool, enjoy the wonderful reflection view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the pool. Visit the Dongba Ethnic Museum and explore the Naxi ethnic culture. At night, join in the singing competition party at the bank of ancient streams which wind through the town.

–Dongba Culture Museum near the Black Dragon Pool is a great place to admire the famous hieroglyphs and other ritual articles of the Naxis. Dongba Museum has been considered as the sanctuary of the culture of Naxi ancient culture. It holds a remarkable collection of Naxi relics and cultural display. Dongba Culture Museum features exhibits of Naxi clothing and jewelry, Dongba pictographic script, unearthed artifacts from old Li Jiang, and a display claiming the region is the real Shangri-La. Explanations are in English. At the museum shop you can have a piece of Dongba calligraphy drawn for you by an 85-year-old Dongba shaman.

-Lijiang Ancient Town is a largely Naxi settlement first built 800 years agao, located at the foot of the Lion Hill and completely surrounded by the new city of Lijiang.In December 1986, the State Council designated it a famous ancient historical and cultural city of national caliber. In 1997, UNESCO made Lijiang a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Day 2 Lijiang-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Impression Lijang Ethnic Show, Baisha Old Town, Baisha Mural

Enjoy the sunrise of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lijiang Ancient Town in the morning. Drive about 30KM to Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M), you will take the sightseeing bus for a short visiting through the Baishuihe River, take the chairlift up to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The cableway will be arranged according to the condition of the mountain. You will hike around 1 hour in the original forest in Spruce Meadow(3200M).

After lunch, you will an optiona to enjoy the Impression Lijang Ethnic Show (Tickets:190 Yuan not included) directed in Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M). A cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area. The show takes place inside Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at 3500m in an outdoor theater specifically designed to showcase the mountain which is used as a backdrop. The production itself was designed by Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang Chaoge, a cast of over 500 people, and a number of horses.

In the afternoon, you’ll stroll through Baisha Old Town, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan town. Visit the Baisha Mural about 600 years old, which is one part of the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997.

–Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a width of 20 kilometers (13 miles). Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15 kilometers (nine miles) away, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence, the name Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The highest peak named Fan Peak (Shanzidou in Chinese) which is about 5596 meters above sea level. There are three cablecars in the mountain, the fist to the Glacier Park(4500M),the second to Spruce Meadow(3200M),the third to Yak Meadow(3700M).

Day 3 Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge

Sightseeing and Activities:LTiger Leaping Gorge trekking

Check out the hotel, drive about 100KM to Qiaotou Tow(Tiger Leaping gorge Town). Drive along the Naxi ethnic villages and the upper Yangtze River, with a panoramic view of the First Bend of Yangtze River on the way. You will start the trekking of Tiger Leaping Gorge, as one of the world’s four great gorges, which is honored as one of the deepest and most marvelous gorges with 3900 meters in depth.
Start the trekking form the Qaiotou Primary School, after half an hour, arrive in Changsheng Village, pay a visit to Changsheng Hope Primary School. Arrive in Zhong Nuoyu village at noon and have lunch in Naxi Family Guesthouse. After lunch, you will start the most difficult part trekking to the 28 Zigzag Bends trail and reach the top peak at the elevation of 2670m.

You will arrive at Half-Way Guest House to finish today’s trekking. There is a nice platform on the roof of Halfway Guesthouse, after dinner, you will drink and enjoy the wonderful Jade Dragon Snow Mountain facing to Bendiwan Village.

Day 4 Tiger Leaping Gorge-Baishuitai-Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities:Tiger Leaping Gorge, Baishuitai

Get up in the early morning, hiking down to Tina’s Guest house passing a small but high waterfall on the way. The trail from Halfway Guesthouse to Guanyin Waterfall is much easy but very small, but you will have a nice view of the middle gorge from the cliff. After the Guanyin Waterfall, you will walk down and through the Bamboo Forest, then arrive at Tina’s Hostel.

You will have an option trekking further down to the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge and back, which will take you about three hours. You will firstly trek from Tina’s Guesthouse down to Teacher Zhang’s Guesthouse, where you can have a nice view of the middle gorge which looks like a big gate. It is quite steep trail from Teacher Zhang’s Guesthouse down to the Middle Rapids.

From the Middle Rapids, there are two small trails back to the road. The first is climbing the Tianti or “Sky Ladder” to the Sky Ladder Guesthouse about 200KM away from Tina’s Guesthouse, this is a challenge, vertical and dangerous climbing. Usually we choose the lower trail and trek to the Walnut Grove Garden, this is a nice trekking along the Yangtze River. Take the minibus for a short driving back to Tina’s Guesthouse for one night stay, because Tina’s is the best location to enjoy the scenery of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Drive to White Water Terrace at the foot of Haba Snow Mountain Guesthouse, where the Naxi culture originated. The name of the Baishuitai Village comes from the white rock formations shaped like small rice terraces located just above the town. Another 3-4 hours drive west and reach Shangri-la, the former name “Zhongdian”, a small town on the Tibetan Plateau at 3300 meters above the sea level. Arrive in Dukezng Ancient Town around 7:00 at night, some Tibetan people and tourists will dance around Sifang Square in Dukezong Ancient Town, you will be warm welcomed by local people.

Day 5 Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities:Songzanlin Monastery, Pudacuo National Park, Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town

Songzanlin Monastery in Shangrila

In the morning, visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. Songzanlin Monastery has another alias – ‘the little Potala Palace ‘, so named because the whole monastery is in the traditional style with mysterious atmosphere. Walk around Songzanlin Monastery.

And afterwards you’ll visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake in Pudacuo National Park. Pudacuo National Park is located in one of the most biologically-diverse regions of the world. While the region comprises only 0.7 percent of China’s land area, it contains more than 20 percent of the country’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species.

In the late afternoon, walk around Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town which was an important town of the Tea-horse Trade Road from Yunnan to Tibet and India for the tea trading. Climb up to the top of Tortoise Hill, you will see the largest Prayer Wheel in the world, have a panoramic view of  Shangrila city and Dukezong Ancient Town. Finally, you will visit a Tibetan’s family to experience the local life in the bonfire party with Tibetan dance and music and you will try Tibetan home-made yak and cheese.

Day 6 Shangrila-Benzilan-Feilaisi

Sightseeing and Activities:Benzilan Town, the Moon Bend of Yangtze River, Baimang Snow Mountain, the sunset view of Meili Snow Mountain

In the morning, drive 6 to 7 hours to Deqin County (3400m altitude) which is 187km away from Shangri-La. The view along the way is fantastic with different kinds of trees, streams down the valley, prayer flags and stupas, and Tibetan villages. From Shangri-La, after half an hour driving, you will have a panoramic view of Nixi Pottery Village; drive town to the river valley, continue the nice scenery along the Jinsha River to Benzilan Town where you will have lunch.

After lunch, drive uphill to the Dongzhulin Monastery which is located in Shusong Village, Benzilan District, Deqin County, and 105km from the seat of Zhongdian County. The Yunnan-Tibet Road passes behind the temple and cars can get straight to the temple. The Dongzhulin Monastery was built in 1667, the sixth year of the Kang Xi Period in Qing Dynasty. Visit the First Bend of Jinsha River or Moon Bend, which is the boundary between Sichuan and Yunnan. This is different from the First Bend of Yangtze River in Lijiang City. The bend in Shigu Town changes the flow direction of the Yangtze River but in Benzilan, the Moon Bend is just a grand bend between the mountains with an impressive scenery. Visit Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, you will be able to view Baimang Snow Mountain if the weather is clear, pass the top part of today at 4292m.

Arrive in Feilaisi in the late afternoon, you will have a nice sunset view of Meili Snow Mountain from the Sightseeing Platform, where you can see the 13 white pagodas meaning of the 13 peaks of Meili Snow Mountain over 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) above sea level, known as the “Prince’s 13 peaks”.
–Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Xueshan), also called Kawakarpo, is a UNESCO nature site located in Deqin County dividing Yunnan from Tibet, a wonderful place to hike and explore both nature and Tibetan culture.Rising between the Salween River and the Mekong River  in the extreme edge of Northwest Yunnan, the Meili Snow Mt. region is part of Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas.Legend says that the Meili Snow Mountain is a god guarding Tibetan Buddhism. With 13 peaks over 6000m in the range, the main peak Kawakarpo (“Kawagebo” in Chinese) is a sharp snow mountain with an altitude of 6740m,which has never been conquered yet.

Day 7 Feilaisi-Meili Snow Mountain-Cizhong-Weideng

Sightseeing and Activities:Meili Snow Mountain, Mingyong Glacier, Mekong Grand Canyon, Cizhong Village, Cizhong Catholic Church, Weideng Town

Kawa Karpo Kora Meili Snow Mountain in Diqing

Early in the morning, you will enjoy the magnificent sunrise view of Meili Snow Mountain from Feilaisi, then drive to Mingyong Village. Hike from Mingyong village to Mingyong Glacier(2600m) which is the low altitude glacier of the lowest latitude in the world.

After lunch in Mingyong Village, you will trek down directly to the edge of Meikong River(2,050m/6,724ft). Walk along the Mekong Grand Canyon and arrive in Xidang Village(2,200m/7,216ft) where you can visit some scattered Tibetan houses in the village. Drive to along the Lancang-Mekong River to Cizhong Village in Yanmen Town.

Drive south along the Mekong Grand Canyon to Cizhong Village in Yanmen Town with some Tibatan villages en route, here you can see the different horses from Shangri-la. Visit the Tibetan Catholic Church built by French missionaries in 1867, the church is used by Tibetan, Naxi and Lisu people. They still have the grapes planted by missionaries and old the traditional way of making wine.

Drive further south along the Mekong gorge to Weideng Township, you will drive through these Lisu and Naxi ethnic towns with Badi Town,Baijixun Town,Yezhi Town, Kangpu Town,Zhonglu Town in Weixi Lisu Autonomous County of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and finally arrive in Weideng Town and stay one night there. All of these towns are located at the bank of Lancang River with a wonderful view on the driving.

Enjoy the landscape of the Mekong with mountains, terraces, villages on the both sides of the valley, and we will make stops to visit Naxi and Lisu villages and a church en route, people here live in the traditional houses built with wooden walls and tile roofs. As the road construction work is going on here, we may need to wait sometimes.

Day 8 Weideng-Liuku-Fugong

Sightseeing and Activities:Biaocun Lisu Ethnic Township, Laowo Bai ethnic town, Lancang-Mekong River, Liuku Town, Nujiang Grand Canyon

Lancang-Mekong River Meili Grand Canyon in Deqin County, Diqing

Drive further south along the Mekong River to Biaocun Lisu Ethnic Township. A nice day drive again with the upper Mekong River through Zhongpai Town, Shideng Town, Yingpan Town, Tuer Town in Lanping County of Nujiang Prefecture. Finally arrive in Biaocun Lisu ethnic Township for one night stay which is located in Yunlong County of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

You will stop to visit Lisu, Bai and Yi villages on the way. Biaocun Lisu Ethnic Township is located at the bank of Lancang-Mekong River in Yunlong County. You will have a great view of the Mekong gorge. Visit the cable suspension bridge of Lancang-Mekong River as well. The villages here are faraway from the road for a long time, so they keep more traditions than the people of the same ethnic groups from the other places. Biaocun is a small town of Bai people.

Drive south along the Mekong to Laowo River and turn to the west direction in Mofang. Drive over Laowo Mountain, and arrive in Laowo Bai Ethnic Township heading for the Salween River to the Salween Grand Canyon at Liuku Town.

Drive along the Nujiang Grand Canyon from Liuku Town, and arrive in Fugong County in the late afternoon.

Drive from Liuku to Fugong. On the way you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Nujiang Grand Canyon. You firstly drive north along the Salween to Fugong, visiting Laohutiao where you can walk through the huge rocks in the Salween and feel the water of the Salween.

Day 9 Fugong-Gongshan-Dulongjiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Laomudeng Village, Laomudeng Catholic Church, Donglongjiang River Valley

Laomudeng Village in Fugong County, Nujiang

Leave from Fugong County, drive uphill to visit Laomudeng Village and Laomudeng Catholic Church. You will enjoy the dramatic landscape of the gorges along the way with visits to villages as carrying on. The 316-kilometer-long Nujiang River Gorge is flanked by two 4,000-meter-high mountains. The mountain peaks on the two sides have an average altitude of over 3,000 kilometers. The gorge is located in Yunnan Province in southwestern China, an area rich in ethnic minority culture. It is now a first choice for many domestic and foreign travelers.

Arrive in Gongshan County for lunch. Drive along the Gaoligong Mountain to Dulongjiang River Valley. It is 96 kilometers and 4 hours driving today with the rough road in the virgin forest. Dulongjiang, also Dulong River , originates from Tibet, flowing through the northwest corner of Yunnan then into Burma. Its Yunnan section is about 80km long, sandwiched by Mt. Dandanglika on the west and Mt. Gaoligong on the east. Amongst the lofty mountains bordering Tibet and Yunnan is the Dulong River Vallley, at the west slope of the north part of the Gaoligong Shan.

Day 10 Kongdang-Bapo-Maku-Qinlangdang

Sightseeing and Activities:Dulongjiang River Valley, Nu ethnic villages

Drive about 30 kilometers southward to Maku Village. Leave the car in Maku Village and start a fantastic trekking trip to Dulongjiang River Region. You will see the Haba Waterfall from Maku Pass and then trek along the virgin forest down to Qinlangdang Village. Arrive in Qinlangdang Village in the afternoon and trek about 1 kilometer to arrive at Haba Waterfall, here is the only way to Myanmay from Dulongjiang River. 

Note: There are lots of leeches in the virgin forest in summer, so you should take some medicine to keep them away.

Day 11 Dulongjiang-Gongshan-Bingzhongluo

Sightseeing and Activities:Dulongjiang River Valley, the First Bend of Nujiang River, Bingzhongluo

The First Bend of the Nujiang River

Drive 96KM back to Gongshan Derung and Nu Autonomous County. Today you take the time to the villages and the churches around Bingzhongluo. The villages here are nicely located near the Salween on a slope with terraces and high mountains around them. It’s only 30km to Tibet, many Tibetans would come to the market here to shop with their horses. Today, Tibetans still come but use trucks instead of horses. We also drive a few kilometers further into the Gorge to visit Shimeng Guang, and walk up to visit a village of Nu people living in the wooden houses.

Day 12 Bingzhonggluo-Gongshan-Liuku

Sightseeing and Activities:Wuli Village, Qiunatong Village, the Catholic Church, Nujiang River

Do some trekking to Wuli and Qiunatong Villages, enjoy the fantastic scenery of Nujiang River. Leave Bingzhongluo and drive 110 km through the fascinating mountain areas to Fugong. Sightseeing includes a visit to a suspension bridge and a glide cable. Special Lishu food will be served during dinner. In the evening you will take part in a party with the local people. Overnight in Liuku.

Day 13 Liuku-Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities:Lujiang Basin, Heshun Old Town, the Anti-Japanese War Museum

Today, we will continue the driving to Tengchong County. Drive south along the Salween and arrive in Lujiangba Basin. As it’s hot and humid in the gorge here, Dai people who live here use big banyan trees to surround the villages, Tropical plants are grown here such as papaya, pineapple, banana and coffee. The famous Yunnan Coffee is grown in this area near the Salween. 

Arrive in Tengchong, you will visit Heshun Ancient Town including the Museum of Yunnan-Burmese Anti-Japanese War, Heshun Library, the Archway, Dragon Pool, the Wanlouzi Museum of Native Residence, Wenchang Daoist Palace, Clothes-washing Pavilions, Yuanlong Daoist Pavilion, the Philosopher Ai Siqi’s Former Residence, Guanyin Ancient Spruce Trees an so on.

–“Heshun” means peace and harmony. You could walk leisurely around the historical old town, built in earlier days by overseas Chinese as a location for their retirement. The remaining old town is a very beautiful place with many ornamental structures such as pavilions, memorial halls, archways, and balustrades, and also with lotus ponds and outlands with many birds. The library in this town is worth mentioning-set up in 1924, it possesses over 60,000 volumes of books, many of which are rare editions of ancient works.

Day 14 Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities:Liafeng Mountain National Forest Park, Graveyard of the National Heroes, Dieshuihe Waterfall Park, Beihai Wetland Park, Rehai hot spring Park

Visit Liafeng Mountain National Forest Park in the early morning, climb up to the half  mountain, pay a visit to Laifeng Temple bult in Tang dynasty; Climb to the top of the mountain, visit Wenbi Pagoda and the panoramic view of Dianyue Town of Tengchong County.

Visit the Graveyard of the National Heroes, and Dieshuihe Waterfall Park in the town, then drive to Beihai Wetland Park, where you will take a small boat to the lake for a nice view. After lunch, drive back to Tengchong, and visit Rehai hot spring Park. You will have an option to enjoy the hot spring in the park.

–Tengchong is one of China’s three major geothermal areas, known as “Land Abounding in Geothermal Resources”. There are plenty of springs of hot water and hot vapour, called “Hot Sea”. There are quite a number of hot fields as well. Tengchong is a resort where people can travel, take a bath and have medical treatment. The Hot Sea, with an area of 9 square kilometers, lies 20 kilometers away southwest of the county seat and in the center of the geothermal area.

Day 15 Departure from Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities:Departure from Tengchong

Departure from Tengchong. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

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Lijiang Intercontinental Hotel Lijiang Wangfu Hotel Louwailou Hotel
Tiger Leaping Gorge / / Half-way Guesthouse
Shangri-la Shangri-la Hotel Zhaxidele Hotel Shenqu Hotel
Feilaisi   Mingzhu Hotel Mingzhulangka Hotel
Tengchong Mansion of Commander Hotel Tengchong Airport Sightseeing Hotel Leihua Hotel

Service Included:

1.Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
2.Meals as listed in the itinerary;
3.Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
4.Private English-speaking tour guide and vehicle for transfers & sightseeing;
5.Service charge & government taxes;
6. Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
7. Two bottles of mineral water each day;

Service Excluded:

1.Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
2.Chinese visa fees;
3.Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
4.Single room supplement;
5.Tips to guides and drivers;
6.Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
7.Personal travel accident insurance;
8.All optional programs;