Chances are, you have heard about the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge and you are very tempted to attempt a trek in the scenic canyon. You hit up to Google and you find that most bloggers suggest that you must do a two to three days itinerary. However, I am here to tell you: it’s entirely possible to trek Tiger Leaping Gorge in just one day! After all, not everyone is a fan of strenuous walk. I for one certainly don’t want to exhaust myself during a vacation!
In this article, I will show you the detailed guide on how you can do a day hike on Tiger Leaping Gorge trail with Lijiang as your base. The following itinerary will focus on the middle gorge, which I think is the most scenic part of the whole Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Before you go
You should check the forecast before setting out. Please do not hike Tiger Leaping Gorge when it’s raining. The trail can be slippery and there’s a risk of landslides.
The best seasons to visit the trails are spring and autumn, ideally during the months of May and October
As well, Tiger Leaping Gorge (or Yunnan in general) is situated in the mountainous area so give yourself some times to acclimate. And, do not forget sun protection!
Option #1: Lijiang – Hutiaoxia Town – Upper Gorge – Lijiang
7:00 am Travel from Lijiang old town to the bus station(丽江客运站) by bus route 11. The journey is about 30 minutes.
8:00 am From Lijiang bus station, take the bus departing to Hutiaoxia town （虎跳峡镇，formerly known as Qiaotou 桥头镇). The journey is about two hours. The bus fare is about 30 – 40 RMB.
[Side note: according to a reliable source, you may request the bus driver to drop you off at middle gorge after Hutiaoxia town, for 20 RMB extra.]
10:00am Arrive at Hutiaoxia town. Then, head over to the hike entrance (about 1-2km walk) and purchase the entrance ticket (about 65 RMB).
Next, hire a local van and travel to Tina’s Guesthouse located middle gorge which is about 20km away. The journey should take 1 hour. The fare ranges from 20 to 50 RMB, depending on your negotiation skill.
From Tina’s Guesthouse, hike to the bottom of the gorge via Zhanglaoshi path （张老师小道）. Then, hike up to Tina’s Guesthouse via the sky ladder. The hike should take about 3-4 hours.
This is how the infamous sky ladder looks like:
3:30 pm From Tina’s Guesthouse, get back to Lijiang by bus. Bus tickets can be purchased at the guesthouse.
Option 2: Lijiang – Tina’s Guest House (Middle Gorge) – Lijiang
Once you’ve decided the date to visit the gorge, go to Lao Shay Hostel or Timeless Hostel at Lijiang old town to purchase a return ticket bus ticket. On the day of departure, the bus will pick you from your hostel at 7:30 am. The fare is priced at RMB 55 per person.
8:00 – 10:30 am: Lijiang old town to Tina’s Guest House by bus. You may want to have lunch at Tina’s before you start exploring the middle gorge.
3:30pm: Head back to Lijiang old town.
Option 3: Join a tour group
Many travel companies in Lijiang organize day tour to Tiger Leaping Gorge. The package usually costs about 200 RMB person, and it includes lunch, entrance tickets, and bus transfer to the upper and middle gorge. It’s a great way to travel without the fear of getting lost, especially when you don’t speak the local language.
Option 4: Join a private tour
You can hire a private van for a customized tour. A private day tour costs 300 to 1000+ RMB per person, depending on your negotiation skills, car type, your itinerary and also the number of people you travel with.
The map of Tiger Leaping Gorge Trail