CHINA – A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

A visit to Lijiang city or Yunnan province in China must include a Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike. Beautiful nature and a thrilling hike await you there! During my annual trip with my son (see my Yunnan itinerary) we went there on a day trip from Lijiang. We had a great night sleep at the Intercontinental Lijiang Resort and when we woke up we had a beautiful view on Snow Dragon Mountain (photo below). After a big breakfast our driver from the Rural China agency was already waiting and we headed to Tiger Leaping Gorge just after 9AM. A great day trip which I will share with you with tips and photos.

CHINA - A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

Getting to the Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is located between two snowcapped mountains called Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain. Each of them are holy mountains and Haba Snow Mountain area is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Jade Dragon Snow Mountain hike is also a must do. The gorge is one of the deepest in the world with a length of 15 kilometers. To reach Tiger Leaping Gorge it takes just over an hour by car from Lijiang.

TIP! Make sure you cross the bridge and visit the Shangri-La side of the gorge; there is the hike! The Lijiang side only has a flat paved walkway along the river which you will see in just over an hour and is boring.

If you are visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge then make sure to read also:
CHINA – A two-week Yunnan itinerary travel guide: Kunming to Shangri-La
CHINA - A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

After you cross the bridge into the Shang-ri La province you will arrive quickly in Qiaotou. In Qiaotou you have to buy the entrance tickets for the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike. You could hike the full hike from there to the end, called Tina’s Guesthouse, in a day but then you probably should start there at 8AM. We drove the first part to the spot to walk down to the river first. This is the spot where legend says a tiger jumped across the river escaping a hunter. Here you can have a great look at the fast flowing water and with all the steps a good test to make sure you are fit at this altitude for a hike. From there we continued by car up the mountain to Halfway, to the so called Halfway Guesthouse. At the guesthouse we had a great affordable lunch with some Snow Mountain Beer.

CHINA - A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

The Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

With our driver from Rural China we discussed, in Chinese, the rest of the day as he would drive to the end point while we walked. Rural China offers also English speaking guides of course but we were learning Chinese and this way we were forced to speak Chinese. The maps give two parts from Halfway Guesthouse to Tina Guesthouse at the end. This totals to about 3:30 hours of walking but we finished this 2nd part of the trail in just over two hours! We didn’t run!

CHINA - A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

From Halfway the first part goes around a rock after which there is an easier path for like half an hour. After that you pass some narrow paths along the cliffs sometimes not more as half a meter wide and there is no protection there. You must walk carefully here and not slip as the cliffs are a few hundred of meters down. After a while you have to climb up around 300-400 meters before descending down to Tina’s Guesthouse, the end point. The last part is more difficult to walk but there are no cliffs anymore. There are arrows pointing you in the correct direction of the trail. We did not enounter any other hikers or even local people on the trail! Watch the photos in the gallery for the great views you have on the way. The views are amazing and if you are in the Yunnan province this is a hike you simply must do!

If you are visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge then make sure to read also:
CHINA – A two-week Yunnan itinerary travel guide: Kunming to Shangri-La
CHINA - A day trip from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

Things to keep in mind while hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

The Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike is not a really difficult hike to do but keep in mind some things:

  • If you hike the full hike (7-8 hours?) then make sure to start early, or sleep a night in one of the guesthouses.
  • If you hike half of the length like we did, which is recommended for a day, hike the second part which is more beautiful.
  • Keep in mind you are walking at an altitude of 2500-2700 meters. Although there is not much climbing keep in mind possible altitude sickness if you just arrived at this altitude.
  • Take enough water at the start which is enough for at least half of the hike. During our part we did not see anyone except goats!
  • If there was a lot of rainfall recently get information if the paths are accessible because of possible landslides.
  • Be aware of the uneven path and do not slip over rocks and fall down the cliffs. Walk it at a speed that is comfortable for you.

For the rest just enjoy the scenery! It is amazing. It is a beautiful hike and highly recommended to do also with kids. I did the hike with my son of 12 and he enjoyed the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike also a lot! It’s a must add to any Yunnan itinerary.

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Did you visit Tiger Leaping Gorge too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery of Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.


  1. I came across this blog and it’s just so exciting reading about your adventure.
    You stated that you needed to pass some narrow paths along the cliffs sometimes not more as half a meter wide and there is no protection there. Can I know if these paths are easy to walk on?

    Would you know if cars can drive up to Tea Horse Guesthouse and whether the hike from Tea Horse GH to Halfway GH would be nice?

    • Hi yes from Tea Horse Guesthouse you can walk to Halfway GH as well. both reach cars as well.
      Half a meter walking path; total area bit more. It’s still easy to walk.

  2. Hello,
    A friend and I are doing TLG in late August. We are trying to organize a private transfer from Lijiang airport to Qiaotou so I was trilled when I saw your reference to Rural China. The original link did not work nor did the link you sent Betsy on 9/8/17. Do you have any other contact information for them?

    Thank you,

  3. Hi Chris,
    You trip sounds great for our group. What did you do after you finished the hike at Tina’s Guesthouse? Did you drive on to Shangri La or back to Qiaotou? We would then want t go on to Gulin. Thanks for your help.

  4. Hi Chris, The description of your active person’s day trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge sounds perfect for myself and fellow travelers who will only be in Lijiang for a few days this October. We were trying to find a way to see both the Upper Gorge and do part of the hike all in one day. We will not have a car and are trying to figure out all the logistics. I tried to look up the company called “Rural China” but I could not get your link to work and I did not have any luck on a internet search. Please provide as much as you can recall of how you booked the private excursion through this company.

    • Hi,
      you can contact them on
      what you need is just a car with driver for the day. Taxi’s cannot go all the way. they can to go lijiang side, but you need go shangri-la side
      go first to entrance to buy ticket, go a bit down the road walk down. then, go to half way guesthouse, you can go up by car.
      then from there walk to the end in 3-4 ours.

      • Hi Chris,
        Thanks for your reply. The link worked this time. We are really looking forward to our trip to Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge.

        Thanks again,

  5. Hi Chris and everyone!
    I’m going to visit Lijiang next week and I’m planning to do the TLG hike. I plan to spend 2 days at the TGL, with an overnight at Halfway GH.
    I have two questions:

    1. I’ll get to Lijiang train station at 08:35 in the morning; will I get to the bus station on time to hop on a TLG-bound bus?
    2. My train back to KunMing departs LiJiang the following night at 21:50; can you confirm the bus from Tina’s GH is running at 15:00 in the afternoon to KunMing? Do I need to book it? In case I miss it, how easy is it to get a car to LiJiang/share a ride/hitchike?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Pa,

      thank you for contacting. I’m sure you’ll have a great hike! I have NO clue about busses…. I used a private transport from Lijiang to TLG. I do know that taxi’s cannot cross the river (other province/department). Keep in mind it takes few hour from Lijinag to TLG.

      Once you have visited; could you advise in a reply here about the busses? It might be helpful for others to read too.

  6. Hi Chris,

    I would like to hike the second part of the trail. To clarify, could we be dropped off at the halfway guesthouse by car? From there, hike to Tina’s guesthouse and have the driver meet us there? How long would this process take?

    And do you by any chance know if this is north of the river or south? Based on some other comments, it seems the view from the north side would be better.

    • Hi,

      yes you can get up by car to halfway. Best is to first stop at entrance of gorge to buy ticket, then go down by stairs to the narrow part. Then drive up to halfway. Lunch. Then hike in about 3-4 hours tops to Tina’s. You have to CROSS the river so you might not be able to use a taxi all the way as they are not allowed to cross into the other side; so you have to catch another taxi there but better a private drive which can do all the way. At the Lijiang side there is no hike; there is a view point but that’s not worth to go. My itinerary is really the best for a day.

  7. Hi Chris, I like your description of the hike it sounds very exciting! Myself and some other friends are looking to do the same thing you did, however we’ve been asking around for drivers and none of them say they can go up to halfway guest house by car and that we have to start either from the start of the trek or from Tina’s.

    We’re wondering is it that you got the driver to drop you off at the halfway point and there was a trek path going up to halfway guest house instead? Most of the stuff we’ve been reading apart from your blog says to only do the trek taking 2 days and no mention of being able to start from halfway guest house.

    Any help is appreciated!

    • Dave, yes if you follow the river then just “below” halfway there is a road up. Steep but with a normal car OK.
      they can get with car to the guesthouse at half way without problem. From there I walked to the end as that’s easy to do in a day and you get the best impression.

      • Hi Chris, we’re aiming to do the same trail in February; however, I was just looking at Tina’s GH map – according to her statement, it seems the Tiger jumping rock is right below her guesthouse? If you first drove to there, that means you basically drove to the trail’s finishing point first to admire the stone, than went back by car to the Halfway GH to have lunch and then again – this time on foot – back to Tina’s guesthouse? Is that the case?

        • Hi Boyka, first make sure about weather in February that it’s safe to hike. Don’t go after heavy rainfall.

          You first have to buy entrance tickets; from that town you first pass the Tiger jumping rock; then a bit further is Halfway GH and then further down is Tina’s.
          probably you have the map the wrong way? the best route is for 1 day: Entrance tickets – Jumping Rock – Halfway GH for lunch – Hike to Tina’s – at Tina’s you can walk a bit further if you want or return.

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