Famously known as one of the deepest gorges in the world, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is 16 kilometres long and a giddy 3900 metres from the waters of the Jinsha River. Outstandingly majestic, it is nestled within the snowcapped Haba Mountain in the West and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the East.
Locals call it Hǔtiào Xiá (虎跳峡), the name you need to know if you love trekking, as this is considered one of the greatest treks of southwest China.
The gorge is divided into three segments: Upper Gorge, Middle Gorge and Lower Gorge. The whole valley lies between Hǔtiào Xiá Zhen (Tiger Leaping Gorge Town), also known as Qiaotou, near the Upper Gorge, and the town of Daju, near the Lower Gorge.
You can see the canyon near the start of the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest and the most important in China. The famous scenic areas of the Upper Gorge are located at the mouth of the gorge and the Tiger Leaping Boulder area.
The Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge is a landmark of the area, so much so that around three-quarters of Tiger Leaping Gorge photos are taken here.
A postcard-perfect iconic tiger sculpture stands at the river bank, feeding plenty of legends and stories. The Tiger Leaping Gorge owes its name to a tiger that once leaped from Yulong Snow Mountain to the Haba Snow Mountain. The tale has been attracting tourists from all over the world ever since.
1. The Low Trail
Tourists can tour the gorge area on tour buses along a road at the bottom of the canyon that follows the course of the river. This tour road is very popular particularly amongst Chinese tourists.
2. The High Trail
Well used by hikers and local people, this is the main path in the canyon. It faces South, so hikers get to benefit from the sunlight in the deep gorge. Much of the trail is at an elevation of about 2,700 metres or 8,800 feet.
The eastern side is often shaded by the peaks, and the higher elevations appear to be bare rock or white snow. However, near the river, everything is green.
Whether you visit on a tour bus or on a hike, you can see some spectacular sights.
Shangri-La City, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China,
- By Bus: There are two buses departing (8:00 and 8:30) from Lijiang to Hutiaoxia Town directly. If you prefer, you can take a bus from Lijiang to Shangri-La City and get off at Hutiaoxia Town.
- Best time to visit is in the months of October, November and May. The rainy season runs from June to September, and it’s cold during the winter.
- Experience: The Tiger Leaping Gorge is considered one of China's best hikes.