This blog post is the first one in a series of posts about the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike. Click on the links to jump to Day 1, Day 2 and Day3&4 of the hike. Or follow in our family’s Mandarin learning journey on our Facebook page Mandarin Motion
Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡 Hǔ tiào xiá) is a spectacular hike in Yunnan Province (云南省 Yúnnán shěng) along the Jinsha River (金沙江 Jīn shā jiāng), a tributary of the Yangtze River (长江 Cháng jiāng).
Lee and I did the hike 20 years ago! It was such an awesome experience, we have wanted to share it with our kids for a while now. In our previous trips to Yunnan Province, the kids had been a little too young to tackle a hike like this one. This time, at ages 10 and 12, and having done some extended hiking in Australia now, we thought they were ready.
I wrote this blog to share our journey with friends, but also for anyone in the world thinking about doing this hike. We could not find any travel blogs of anyone doing this hike with kids…so we hope other families may find the blog helpful in making the decision to take the first step 🙂 Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments 🙂 My kids also plan to do a blog from their perspective, I will link when complete.
For the direction that we wanted to do the hike, we needed to get to Lijiang. We took an overnight train from Kunming (the capital of Yunnan Province) (昆明 Kūnmíng) to Lijiang (丽江 Lìjiāng).
Security at train stations has increased a lot since our last visit to Kunming. A terrorist attack a few years back has made for SWAT teams to be permanently stationed there, all luggage is screened and everybody is body scanned. This together with our passports being checked a million times makes entering the station quite time consuming and chaotic, but did make us feel a little bit safer.
You can buy ‘Soft sleeper’ (软卧 ruǎn wò) tickets, which are 4 beds in a compartment (like the one in the pik above) that you can close the door to the rowdy noise and smoke (yes you can smoke at the end of the carriages on Chinese trains…the smoke surprise surprise does waft all over the train though). Hard sleeper carriages (硬卧 yìng wò ) are 6 beds to a little compartment and are a little cheaper, but the compartments do not have doors so you are still sharing with the rest of the passengers’ noise and smoke! Hard seats (硬座 yìng zuò) can also be purchased even cheaper, not recommended for a 9 hour journey though! You can buy the tickets from any ticket office in China, and foreigners can now book long distance train tickets online before they get to China. You will need passport numbers to book, and ensure that your name is typed in the booking EXACTLY the same as it reads on the passport, including middle names, hyphens etc. If it is not identical they will not issue your ticket!
Lijiang is located at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山 Yù lóng xuě shān). It is very touristy, but luckily in January it is very low season, so we didn’t have to share the town with thousands of other tourists 🙂 There are lots of other less ‘touristy’ towns around the base of the mountain which are only a bus ride away to explore. One of these towns is Baisha (白沙 Bái shā) (When the name of the town is hyperlinked you can click and learn a little more about this town).
3 nights exploring Lijiang and the villages around the mountain gave us time to adjust to the higher altitude, and we were ready to get a bus to a town called Qiaotou to start our hike. You can read about the first day of the hike clicking this link.