When Is the Best Time
The best seasons to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge are winter, spring, and autumn. Read our detailed tips regarding each season:
Winter, Low Season (December - January/February)
A good time to hike the gorge. Days are often sunny, dry and clear (up to 12°C / 54°F), but nights get cold (to 0°C / 32°F) and mornings very chilly. Keep in mind that in February it’s Chinese Spring Festival: Accommodations are heavily booked for two weeks. Check the starting dates: Spring Festival Eve in China
Spring, Soulder Season (March - May)
March and April are excellent months to hike. Especially in April, the weather is comfortable with possible temperatures up to 20°C (68°F). Still, bring a light jacket. May is still a less busy month with even warmer days than in April and blooming flora. Quote from our reviewer Rajdeep: 'A great month is April: Fewer locals to pester tourists to part with cash combined with pleasant weather'
Summer, High Season (June - September)
Wet season, not the best time to hike. The rain lasts until September / mid-October. The wettest months are July / August. Hiking is still possible as there are many sunny days. However, during or after heavy rainfall the road and trail through the gorge might be closed on certain days. Despite the unpleasant weather conditions, this is also the busiest season with the most ‘scams’.
Autumn, Shoulder Season (October - November)
Mid-October until November are also excellent. Usually dry and sunny, beautiful landscape, green trees, and blossoms. However, bring a long-sleeve shirt, light sweater, and a coat. Nice November hiking report: Hiking TLG in November. Monthly temperature and rainfall overview (the climate in Lijiang is almost identical): Lijiang Weather Regardless of the month: Check the weather forecast.
Besides the official gorge trail fee, there are many locals demanding cash from tourists. These unofficial posts collect money for parts of the path. Most of them are present during the busiest time from May/June until September/October. Less from March to April or mid-October to November and often none in winter (December - January/February)!
Where and Tips
Tiger Leaping Gorge lies between Haba Snow Mountain & Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Approx altitude is 2000 meters on average. It starts with a couple of hours from Lijiang from a place called Qiaotou Village. From there you should hike up the mountain taking your time and not racing with others. This trek can be completed in two days and by spending one night up in the mountain village where inns are specially catering to hikers but my advice would be to spend at least two nights on the mountain and three whole days to properly soak in the beauty and not get all exhausted in doing it. April is a good season to so as there are fewer locals to pester tourists to part with cash. And refrain from paying any money to the locals for taking pictures or going through certain areas of the trail. One of the best treks Yunnan has to offer.
reviewed by Rajdeep
The starting point and trailhead for your hike is the village of Qiaotou (桥头). Most visitor stay at Lijiang. You can get from Lijiang to Qiaotou easily by public bus within 2,5 hours. There is also a bus from Shangri-la to Qiaotou. The tickets are between 25 and 30 RMB. Buy the tickets the day before. Also, make sure you buy tickets to Qiaotou and not to Tiger Leaping Gorge and tell the bus driver to stop at Qiaotou. The stop at Tiger Leaping Gorge will take you past the trailhead for a ‘touristy’ 2 hour walk. That’s not the ‘real hike’! Read more details here: Wikipedia - Getting to Tiger Leaping Gorge
Rough Itinerary (2-3 days)
First morning: From Lijiang (or Shangri-la) to Qiaotou by bus > buy the TLG ticket (60 yuan) > hike to Naxi Guest House (good meal) > another 5+ hours to the Halfway Guesthouse > the next day hike to Tina’s Guesthouse > go further, explore Walnut Grove. Maybe stay another night at Tibet Guest House (book in advance) - highly recommended, best guest house in TLG. Read this Blogger’s Itinerary
Where to Stay
- Elegant Home Inn (Lijiang): Exceptional! If you want more comfort and privacy than the usual hostel, for an affordable price, book the Elegant Inn. Rooms are comfortable and spacious, the layout is exquisite, the decoration is sweet, nice views, very clean and very friendly staff.
- More Alternatives (Lijiang): Hostels and Hotels in Lijiang. Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels and hostels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select 'Review Score & Price'.
- Blossom Dynasty Inn (Shangri-la): Outstanding hotel. Unique design, awesome service, the owners are very warm and extremely helpful. Our recommendation: A++
Adventure Tours (including Tiger Leaping Gorge)
Pure and unfiltered China including an incredible 2-days Tiger Leaping Gorge hike without the hassle of taking care of everything: We traveled quite often with G Adventures ourselves and can highly recommend both tours:
Hong Kong to Xi’an (13 days): Yangshuo countryside bike ride with local lunch (full-day) > Bird and flower market visit (Kunming) > Orientation walk in Lijiang > Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek (2 days) > Panda Breeding Centre excursion (Chengdu) | All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Hong Kong to Beijing (20 days): Yangshuo countryside bike ride with local lunch (full-day) > Bird and flower market visit (Kunming) > Orientation walk in Lijiang > Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek (2 days) >Panda Breeding Center excursion (Chengdu) > Calligraphy class (Pingyao) > Forbidden City visit > Great Wall Mutianyu excursion > Hanging Temple visit > Yungang Grottoes visit | All transport between destinations and to/from included activities