Travel Tips for Inner Pilgrimage of Meili Snow Mountain

Pilgrimage is a special way for Tibetan pilgrims who believe in Tibetan Buddhism to treks around Kawadgarbo for weeks to pay homage to the holy mountain every year. Meili Snow Mountain in Deqin County of Diqing Prefecture is one of the 8 most sacred religious mountains in Tibet Area. Each year multitudes of pilgrims spare no efforts and travel long to conduct their Buddhist circumambulations to Holy Mountains and Lakes for good luck and ascending to the paradise after death.

There are two trekking route,one is outer circumambulation,another one is inner circumambulation. The Inner Circumambulation is easier hiking route which will cost about 6 days.Pilgrims will hike through mountain area with light backpack,and live in local Tibetan guesthouse in villages. Pilgrims will hike to some sacred spots like Sacred Waterfall and Sacred Lake to pray. This route is usually conducted from Xidang Spring, then head to Ice Lake, Sacred Waterfall and Sacred Lake via Upper Yubeng, Lower Yubeng or Ninong Village, eventually back to Xidang. It serves as a passage connecting pilgrims’ dreams and paradise, and is an unforgettable trip in one’s lifetime.   

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

Option A

Day 1- Deqin to Mingyong Iceberg(70km) and live in Mingyong Village.

Day 2 – take a bus from Mingyong to Xidang , then ride a mule or walk to Upper Yubeng Village.

Day 3 – Upper Yubeng Village–>Base Camp–>Lower Yubeng Village. Hiking for 10km across virgin forest, you’ll approach to an alpine ranch, the site of base camp of the failed Sino-Japanese Climbing Team in 1990s. Keeping climbing to a glacier lake afoot Peak Kawagebo.

Day 4 – Lower Yubeng Village–>Holy Waterfall–>Lower Yubeng Village.

Day 5 – Lower Yubeng Village–>Feilai Temple–>Deqin

Option B

Day 1- Feilaisi Viewpoint (3360M) – Hot Springs (2680M)

Follow a trail descending steeply to the Mekong river, cross a bridge and climb up along the terrace fields to Xidang Village (2560M). Xidang has electricity and several rustic lodges. You’d better hike 2km further up to Hot Springs (Wenquan) and overnight at Wenquan Lodge in order to start the second stage early in the next morning.

Day 2 – Hot Springs – Nazong Pass (3680M) – Yubeng (3100M)

If you go to Hot Springs or Mingyong Glacier from Deqin by bus, you have to stop at the ticket office, located just in front of the bridge over Lancang River. All travelers are asked to pay Y60 for entrance.

The tough, 1000-meter-high ascent from Hot Springs to Nazongla Pass takes 2.5~3 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 Y100 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. At the end of the village, you can find Aqinbu’s Shenpu Lodge.

Day 3 – Trek around Yubeng

Yubeng Sacred Waterfalls(3650M): It takes two hours to reach Shenpu from Aqinbu’s Lodge. A climb of about 500. The higher you go, the farther you seem to be from Shenpu, the most sacred destination of circumambulation in Meili. Backdropped by tantalizing Mt. Miacimu, other lofty peaks as well as imposing glaciers, the valley is flamboyantly adorned by thousands of Tibetan prayer flags.

Cuoka Sacred Lake: 1300M 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 4050M.

– Another one-hour climb, you will climb over a range (alt. 4300M), and reach Cuoka Pasture. There is a collapsed hut.

– Last hour: from Cuoka Pasture to Cuoka Lake (alt. 4385M).
The return trek takes 3 to 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 in two days and overnight camp at Cuoka Pasture.

Day 4 – From Yubeng, there are 2 options

1. Yubeng – Hot Springs – Xidang – Mingyong Glacier
From the lower Yubeng Village, it takes 1.5~2 hours to climb back to Nazongla Pass. Mule riding costs Y70. The further descent to Hot Springs is not easy due to the fairly muddy and slippery trail. Count another 2 hours for this stage. From Hot Springs to Mingyong Glacier (around 12km), there is no bus service. Walk along the main road, you may get a free ride to Mingyong.

2. Yubeng – Ninong
If you don’t like to 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. A local guide is indispensable for this trek as well as any of the following treks. You can stay overnight at the home of village’s chef in Ninong.

Day 5 – From Ninong, there are 3 possibilities:

1. Ninong (2200M) – Yongzong (2540M) – Mingyong Glacier.
Pick the trail back to Xidang, in the northwest direction. When the trail meets the main road, walk along the road to Mingyong Glacier.

2 & 3. Walk down to Mekong River from Ninong, cross the bridge. You reach the path that used to be the “Tea and Horse Trade Road”.

2: Ninong – Qidingge (3150M) – Deqin.
Climb to Qidingge, a 900-meter-ascent. Walk further to the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road. It’s possible to hitchhike to Deqin from there.

3: Ninong – Yunlin. From the bridge, take the south Yunlin direction, walk along Mekong River without too many climbs, pass Jiabi Village. Yunlin is located along the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road, where exists a daily bus service to Deqin. From Yunlin, go further south to Yangtsa, the point of departure for the full circuit of Kawa Karpo. As per a traveler, this route is long and not very interesting. Most of travellers go back from Ninong to Feilaisi and rent a car to Yangtsa, Yongzhi.

a) Hot Springs(Xidang). b) Mingyong Glacier. c) Yunlin.

a) Hot Spring – There are daily buses leaving Hot springs for Deqin at around 8:00 and 15:00 in peak season. However, the departure time in the afternoon is dependent on the number of passengers. The bus might leave hours before the scheduled time if there are enough passengers. During the low season, you have to go to Xidang to wait for the bus.

b) Mingyong Glacier/ Lotus Temple (Lianhua Miao).

A well-paved road, souvenir shops as well as comfortable hotels have transformed Mingyong into a popular tourist destination. From the parking at the end of Mingyong Village (2450M), you can walk to the Taizi Temple (2940M, 7.5km). Horseback riding costs Y63 for the same journey. Continue along the main trail, and climb another 1.4km, you’ll reach the Lotus Temple (3480M).


Deqin –> Mingyong Village: 8:00, 15:00 / Mingyong Village –> Deqin: 8:00, 16:00
Double check the schedule at Deqin bus station upon arrival. There is no bus running between Mingyong and Xidang or Hot Springs. You can either rent a taxi or walk to Hot Springs.

c) Yunlin – located along the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road, where exists a daily bus service to Deqin.