20 Days Yunnan Three Parallel Rivers Adventure Trekking Tour

Originated in the Tanggula Mountain on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nu River flow parallel along the Hengduan Mountains for several hundred kilometers. More interestingly, their entrances to different seas are thousands of kilometers away. The protected area covers Nu Jiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Lijiang City. It is a very rare phenomenon, the Three Parallel Rivers have spectacular scenery that is composed of the rivers, mountains, rare plants, animals and 16 ethnic groups inhabitation.

Highlights:

  • Trek along the area of three parallel rivers, explore the nature and challenge yourself.
  • Visit the extraordinary natural stone view in Stone Forest.
  • Explore unique Ethnic culture in colorful Yunnan and get amazed by Naxi people and Tibetan people’s unique culture and lifestyle.
  • Explore profound ancient towns on the trip, like Shuhe old town, Lijiang old town and Baisha old town, etc.
  • Lose yourselves in Shangri-La, an earthly paradise with Snow Mountain, Buddhist monastery, forest park, and hospitable Tibetan people.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kunming Arrival
  • Day 2: Kunming-Tengchong
  • Day 3: Tengchong
  • Day 4: Tengchong-Liuku
  • Day 5: Liuku-Gongshan
  • Day 6: Gongshan-Bingzhongluo
  • Day 7: Bingzhongluo-Biluo Snow Mountain
  • Day 8: Biluo Snow Mountain
  • Day 9: Biluo Snow Mountain-Cizhong
  • Day 10: Cizhong-Xidang Village
  • Day 11: Xidang Village-Yubeng
  • Day 12: Yubeng Village
  • Day 13: Yubeng Village-Feilaisi
  • Day 14: Deqin-Shangri-La
  • Day 15: Shangri-La
  • Day 16: Shangri-La-Halfway Guesthouse
  • Day 17: Halfway Guesthouse-Daju
  • Day 18: Daju-Lijiang
  • Day 19: Lijiang
  • Day 20: Lijiang Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities: the Green Lake
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: None

Upon arrival at the Kunming International Airport, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel. You’ll begin your journey to the diverse and captivating Yunnan from the capital city, Kunming.

You will take a leisurely stroll along the Green Lake, a charming area of tea houses and small boutiques selling handicrafts and beautiful local paintings. If time permits, you will have a Kunming city tour. 

Day 2 Kunming-Stone Forest-Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities: the Stone Forest, Guandu Ancient Town, Heshun Ancient Town
Accommodation: Tengchong
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, we will drive 86 km to the Stone Forest. An old local saying says that ‘If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.’ Truly, the Stone Forest is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan.

After lunch drive back Kunming to visit the Guandu Ancient Town which is a famous historical & cultural town in Kunming. It keeps the main architectural style of Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

Take the flight to Tengchong in the late afternoon. Arrive in Heshun Ancient Town in Tengchong City, you will be free in Heshun Ancient Town and enjoy the relax life before the wonderful Three Parallel River Grand Canyons adventure tour.

The Stone Forest has unique karst topography. There are six scenic spots in the Stone Forest: Large Stone Forest, Small Stone Forest, the Naigu Stone Forest, the Zhiyun Cave, the Long Lake, the Da Dieshui Waterfall and the Qifeng Cave.

Tengchong city, a vital link on the ancient Southwestern Silk Route (Kunming-Baoshan-Tengchong-Mangshi-Ruili), is situated in the western part of Yunnan Province, Bordering on Burma in the northwest with a boundary line of 151 kilometers long. 

Day 3 Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities: Nujiang River Bridge, Gaoli Gongshan Mountain, Heshun Ancient Town
Accommodation: Tengchong 
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

After breakfast, visit Nujiang River Bridge in Nujiang Basin and Gaoli Gongshan Mountain and drive back to Tengchong at noon.

After lunch, 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.

Day 4 Tengchong-Liuku

Sightseeing and Activities: Gaoli Gongshan Mountain Natural Reserve Area, Nujiang Grand canyon, Liuku Town, Nujiang River and Nujiang River Bridge
Accommodation: Liuku
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, drive about 4 hours from Tengchong to Liuku, the county seat of Nujiang Lisu and Pumi Autonomous Prefecture. You will visit Gaoli Gongshan Mountain Natural Reserve Area which is located in the Nujiang River Grand Canyon, the south part of Qing-Tibet Altiplano. With a steep slope and sharp mountain incision, the Grand Canyon presents great vertical natural scenery and various climates. In fact, the vertical drop height is above 4,000 meters.

Drive north along the Nujiang-Salween River. 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 Nujiang-Salween River.

In the afternoon, you will walk around Liuku Town, visit Nujiang River and Nujiang River Bridge. The Nujiang River is China’s important river flowing from north to south. The name of the river is changed into the Salween River after flowing into Burma from China, and it finally empties into the Andaman Sea of Indian Ocean at the Moulmein.

Day 5 Liuku-Gongshan

Sightseeing and Activities: the Nujiang Grand Canyon
Accommodation: Gongshan
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Drive from Liuku to Gongshan. On the way you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Nujiang Grand Canyon. The 316-kilometer-long Nujiang River Gorge is flanked by two 4,000-meter-high mountains. The gorge is located in Yunnan Province in southwestern China, an area where is rich in ethnic minority culture. It is now a first choice for many domestic and foreign travelers.

Day 6 Gongshan-Bingzhongluo

Sightseeing and Activities: Bingzhongluo Town, the First Bend of Nujiang-Salween River, Nu ethnic village
Accommodation: Bingzhongluo
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Drive to BinzhongLuo, then trek 4 hours to visit the First Bend of Nujiang River (Sawleen River), the Nu People, Stone Houses, Hinayana Buddhism, Lama Temple, Chongdintian Catholic Church. Full day excursion to Bingzhongluo, sightseeing includes the first bend of Nujiang River (Salween River), the stone house of the Nu minority, Peach Island, the Tibetan Puhua Temple. You will then have the chance to visit a minority household and experience the life of the local people. 

Day 7 Bingzhongluo-Dimaluo-Biluo Snow Mountain

Sightseeing and Activities: Baihanluo Village, the catholic church, Biluo Snow Mountain
Accommodation: Biluo Snow Mountain
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Start trekking up the Biluo Snow Mountain(4652 meters), which is between the Nu river and the Mekong river. you will pass through a village(Baihanluo) and a catholic church. Finally, camp or stay in local villager’s house.

Day 8 Biluo Snow Mountain-Layatong Village-Diwazhachong Village

Sightseeing and Activities: Biluo Snow Mountain, Layatong Village, Diwazhachong Village
Accommodation: Diwazhachong Village
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Continue trekking up the mountain, you will pass through a village (Layatong) and the mountain pass of 4000 meters, reach the village (Diwazhachong). Camp or stay in local villager’s house.

Day 9 Biluo Snow Mountain-Cizhong Village

Sightseeing and Activities: Biluo Snow Mountain, Cizhong Catholic Church
Accommodation: Cizhong
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Trek down the mountain to Cizhong village by the side of Mekong river, finishing your 3 days trekking(total trekking distance is about 50 km). Visit the 100-year-old catholic church built by a french missioner, which is also the best-preserved church in Yunnan. Stay in a local guesthouse.

Day 10 Cizhong-Lancang-Mekong Grand Canyon-Xidang Village

Sightseeing and Activities: Meili Snow Mountain, Mingyong Village, Mingyong Glacier Park, Xidang Village
Accommodation: Xidang Hot Spring Hostel
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Early in the morning, drive along the Lancang-Mekong River to Mingyong Village in Meili Snow Mountain. Trek about 2 hours to Mingyong Glacier Park, then trek down to Mingyong Village. Walk directly to Xidang Village(2,200m), arrive in Xidang Village and stay in Xidang Hot Spring Hostel.

Day 11 Xidang Village-Nazongla Pass(3680 meters)-Yubeng (3100 meters)

Sightseeing and Activities: Original Forest, Yubeng Village, Yubeng Sacred Waterfalls
Accommodation: Yubeng
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, walk from our hostel to the Base Camp(3,700m). You will trek up about 3 hours to the Mountain pass(3,500m) in the original forests. And one hour trekking down along the horse-road from the mountain pass, we reach the base camp, where the view becomes very open. The tough, 1000-meter-high ascent from Hot Springs to Nazongla Pass, takes 2.5 hours for a fit hiker without carrying any heavy bag. The path zigzagging under the canopy of trees is quite damp and muddy.

A Tibetan house, located at one-third of the route, sells snacks and drinks. No breathtaking view can be spotted at Nazongla Pass. Another alternative is to ride up on a mule. You can easily reach the pass within 2 hours. It costs RMB 100 from Hot Springs to Nazongla Pass either for riding or carrying heavy bags. The descent from Nazongla Pass to the Upper Yubeng Village takes one hour.

Upon arriving at the village, take the trail turning to the left, walk further down to a stream, cross a bridge and climb a small slope up to the Lower Yubeng Village. When you arrive in Yubeng Village. If weather permits, you’ll wake up to a clear view of the Mt. Kawagebo glacier. You will hike to the Sacred Waterfalls(3,400m), from which Yubeng’s name originated. Buddhists on a pilgrimage to the area circumambulate the waterfall 13 times with the belief that this act will erase all sins from his life.

In the early afternoon, we’ll head back to the village lodge, visit sacred sites along the way, Yubeng Sacred Waterfalls(3650 meters). It takes two hours to reach Shenpu from Lower Yubeng Village. The higher you go, the farther you seem to be from Shenpu, the most sacred destination of circumambulation in Meili. On the background of tantalizing Mt. Miacimu, other lofty peaks as well as imposing glaciers, the valley is flamboyantly adorned by thousands of Tibetan prayer flags.

Day 12 Yubeng Village-Cuoka Sacred Ice Lake-Yubeng Village

Sightseeing and Activities: the Mt. Kawagebo glacier, Ice Lake, Meili Snow Mountain, Original Forest
Accommodation: Yubeng
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Enjoy the sunrise of the Mt. Kawagebo glacier from the guesthouse, then walk up to Ice Lake of the Meili Snow Mountain.

Walk through the original forest from Yubeng Village, you will see some horses and yaks, as well as some wild animals if you are lucky enough. A beautiful river originates from the Glacier Park, walk along the river with some wooden bridges and spruce trees, you will have a wonderful view of Mt. Kawagebo Glacier. At last, arrive at the Ice Lake which is located at the foot of the glacier. Trek down back to Yubeng village in the late afternoon and enjoy the sunset of Kawagebo Peak.

Cuoka Sacred Ice Lake is 1300 meters higher than Yubeng. The ascent takes 5-6 hours.
First three hours is a tough and long climb in a primitive forest where you may encounter local leeches, especially active after the rain. The ordeal will be rewarded later by a spectacular landscape when you reach the high meadow plateau at 4050 meters.
Another one-hour climb, you will reach Cuoka Pasture. There is a collapsed hut.
Last hour: from Cuoka Pasture to Cuoka Lake (4385 meters).

The return trek takes 3-4 hours. This one-day excursion is only reserved for strong hikers. Before June, the upper plateau is often covered by snow. Bring enough food and ask Aqinbu to find a good guide for you. It may be more reasonable to do this trek for two days and overnight camp at Cuoka Pasture.

Day 13 Yubeng Village-Ninong Grand Canyon-Feilaisi in Deqin

Sightseeing and Activities: Ninong Village, Yubeng Valley, Mekong River, Jiabi Village, Meili Snow Mountain
Accommodation: Feilaisi
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

This day, you won’t go back through Nazongla Pass, the same route that you hiked in, you can venture the steep narrow path along a stream and descend to Ninong Village. You will spend the whole morning walking down in Yubeng Valley. Yubeng River flows all the way into Mekong River. Parts of the trail we will pass is actually a canal dug along the half-way mountain by local villagers.

Have lunch in Ninong village(1,900m), cross Mekong River and 2 hours more trek to Jiabi Village. Finally, drive to Feilaisi and enjoy the sunset view of Meili Snow Mountain.

Meili Snow Mountain, also called Kawakarpo, is a UNESCO scenic spot located in Deqin County dividing Yunnan from Tibet. It is 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. is part of Three Parallel Rivers. Legend says that the Meili Snow Mountain is a god guarding Tibetan Buddhism. With 13 peaks over 6000 meters in the range, the main peak Kawakarpo (“Kawagebo” in Chinese) is a sharp snow mountain with an altitude of 6740 meters, which has never been conquered yet.

Day 14 Deqin-Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities: the sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain and the 13 white pagodas, Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, the Moon Bend of Jinsha River, Dongzhulin Monastery
Accommodation: Shangri-La
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, you will enjoy a nice sunrise view of Meili Snow Mountain from the Sightseeing Platform, where you can see the 13 white pagodas that means the 13 peaks of Meili Snow Mountain over 6,000 meters above sea level.

Drive 6 to 7 hours to Shangri-La. The view along the way is fantastic with different kinds of trees, streams, prayer flags and stupas, as well as Tibetan villages. Start from Deqin County, after one hour drive, you will visit Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, you will be able to view Baimang Snow Mountain if the weather is clear.

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 Jinsha River is in Benzilan, the Moon Bend is just a grand bend between the mountains with an impressive scenery.

Drive downhill to the Dongzhulin Monastery , which is located in Shusong Village, Benzilan District, Deqin County, and 105 km from the county 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 6th year of the Kang Xi Period in Qing Dynasty.

After lunch in Benzilan, we will drive along the the upper Yangtze River to Shangri-La. On the way, you will have a panoramic view of Nixi Pottery Village.

Day 15 Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities: the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Pudacuo National Park
Accommodation: Shangri-La
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

In the morning, you’ll visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. And afterwards you’ll go and visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake in Pudacuo National Park. After finishing the tour in the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake, you’ll visit the Old Town of Shangri La and the Guishan Park.

The Songzanlin Monastery, often called Ganden Sumtseling Monastery or Guihua Monastery, is located at the foot of Foping Mountain nearby Shangri-La County in Yunnan Province. The monastery is built on a hillside and looks like an ancient fort. The Songzanlin Monastery is often called the little Potala Palace because of its traditional Tibetan architectural style.

At night you will visit a Tibetan family and taste the butter oil tea and Tibetan food.

Day 16 Shangri-La-Qiaotou-28 Turns-Halfway Guesthouse

Sightseeing and Activities: Nuoyu Village, 28 turns Trail, the upper Tiger Leaping Gorge, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Accommodation: Halfway Guesthouse
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Your hiking trip starts from Qiaotou, pass through 28 turns. 26 km takes about 6-8 hours. From the top of “28 turns” on the high path further uphill to a place of altitude above 3000 meters, you can have a view of the panorama of the entire upper tiger leaping gorge. Check this at a Tea Horse or Guesthouse if you cannot figure it out yourself.

You will arrive at Halfway Guesthouse to finish today’s trekking. At an altitude of 2500 meters, you get a magnificent view over the Yangtze River and the Yulong Snow Mountain right in front of you. For the keen photographer this trek provides a great opportunity to capture nature’s best moments.

Halfway Guesthouse organizes two-day trekking up Haba Snow Mountain with an overnight stay uphill at a point of altitude above 4000 meters. Sleeping bags and mats for the trek can be rented at the guesthouse. Successful trekkers are awarded “donkey shoes” as souvenirs and their names and contact information will be recorded in the “donkey skin book” at the guesthouse. Similar treks can also be arranged at Five Fingers Mountain Guesthouse.

Day 17 Halfway Guesthouse-Middle Rapids-Walnut Grove-Daju

Sightseeing and Activities: Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, Walnut Grove, Daju Village
Accommodation: Daju
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the early morning, continue hiking to Tina’s Inn (2 hours). After another hour walking down the steep cliff to the bank of Jinsha River, you will reach the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge (Middle Hutiao or Middle Rapids), it is the narrowest part of the gorge, where a tiger can easily jump over the Jinsha River. Trek from Middle Rapids along the Middle Gorge to Walnut Grove Garden, then drive to the lower part of Gorge, get off and walk for about half an hour to the bank of the River. Then hike further along the road to the lower section of the Gorge (about 1.5-2 hours) where we will take ferry across the River. Not far from the Lower Section of gorge, at the other side of river, is Daju Village, you will get off the ferry and trek about one hour to Daju, whose inhabitants are mostly Naxi people.

Day 18 Daju-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain–Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Yulong Snow Mountain, Baishui(White Water) River, the Yak Meadow, Impression Lijiang Ethnic Show, Baisha Village and Mural
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

In the morning, drive about 2 hours from Daju to Yak Meadow. You’ll visit Ganhaizi Meadow, Baishui(White Water) River; take the chairlift to visit the Yak Meadow(3700 meters) in the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers and a width of 20 kilometers. Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15 kilometers 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. 

You will enjoy Impression Lijiang Ethnic Show in the mountain directed by Zhang Yimou, which reflect the history about Tea Horse Trade Caravan from the upper Mekong River to Tibet and India. Around 500 local people from 10 ethnic groups were selected from 16 towns and villages in Lijiang of Yunnan Province to perform folk songs, dances and rituals for visitors daily.

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.

Day 19 Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Shuhe Old Town, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Museum, Lion Hill, Mu Emperor’s Palace, Naxi Orchestral and Show
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

In the morning you’ll head for Shuhe Old Town, which is the relic of the Tea-Horse Trading Caravan from bank of Mekong River to India via Tibet.

You will have Lunch at NO.8 Restaurant at the bank of Black Dragon Pool, after lunch you’ll head for the scenic Black Dragon Pool and the Dongba Museum to explore the rich Naxi minority culture.

Then drive back to Lijiang Old Town and visit the Wangu Pagoda on the top of the Lion Hill, here you will have a wonderful panoramic view of Lijiang Old Town. You will walk down from the Lion Hill to Mu Emperor’s Palace which is the local chieftain’s former residence.

After dinner, you will attend the Naxi Orchestral and Show in Dongba Palace in the Lijiang Old Town.

Day 20 Departure from Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Departure from Lijiang
Accommodation: None
Meals: Breakfast

Departure from Lijiang by air or high-speed train. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostels
Kunming Sofitel Hotel Jinjiang Hotel Longteng Hotel Tu Tu Inn
Lijiang InterContinental Hotel E-outfitting Hotel Liwang Hotel Flowers Hall Inn
Shangri-La Shangri-La Resort E-outfitting Hotel Bodhi Boutique Inn  Guzang Xiangbala Diannan Wufu  Inn
Feilaisi Guan Jing Tian Tang Hotel / Feilaisi Temple Pearl Hotel Deqin Yunling Inn
Tengchong Guanfang Hotel Tengchong Pumi Wenlv Zhang’s Courtyard (Hepan) Yongle Holiday Resort and Spa Yonder Way Hostel
Liuku / / Shengshi Hongbang Hotel /
Yunlong / / Yulongwan Hotel Nuo Deng Fu Jia Liu Fang Inn
Tacheng Guanfang Hotel Tengchong Pumi Wenlv Zhang’s Courtyard (Hepan) Yongle Holiday Resort and Spa Yonder Way Hostel
Baoshan / / Shengshi Hongbang Hotel /
Gongshan / / Dusheng Zhuangyuan Inn /
Bingzhongluo / / Nu Xia Hotel Fusheng Manor Inn
Cizhong Songtsam Cizhong Lodge / Najizhaxi Hotel Jitao Yizhan

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels.

Service Excluded:

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