Hiking in Yubeng Village: One of the Best Treks in China

For active travelers, a trip to Lijiang, ShangriLa or Yunnan Province in China always combines with a hike or a trek so as to discover the region’s amazingly stunning landscape and remote villages inhibited by mountain tribes. While most people choose to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yubeng Village at the foot of Meili Snow Mountain and close to Tibet is actually highly recommended for those who really fond of hiking, trekking, great outdoors, snow mountains, Tibetan culture and charming remoteness and wilderness. The Yunnan Discovery team had 6 days Yubeng trekking trip from Lijiang in April, 2019 to explore this hidden paradise and would like to share with you our itinerary, hiking route, travel tips and photos.

Where is Yubeng Village? 

Yubeng Village is located in Deqin County, 200km northwest of ShangriLa City, Yunnan Province, China. Right at the east foot of Meili Snow Mountain (its main peak Kawaboge is the highest peak in Yunnan), Yubeng Village is embraced by dense forests and rarely visited by outsiders. There are about 20 Tibetan families living in Yubeng Village, who retains the Tibetan Buddhist religion and traditions. Yubeng, along with Meili Snow Mountain, is their holy homeland.

As for hikers and nature lovers, Yubeng Village is one of the best places to hike in Yunnan and even China. But it is not easy to do Yubeng trek, as you will hike along mostly on rugged mountain paths. And sometimes you can’t even find your way. Besides, you need to pay attention to Yubeng attitude while hiking – between 3200m and 3800m above sea level.

Trekking Yubeng and Meili Snow Mountain

Best Time to Trek in Yubeng Village?

Nestled in peaceful seclusion between mountains, with high elevations, Yubeng Village has a relatively severe weather during the most of year. May to early June and late September to October are usually the best time to hike in Yubeng, when the snow and ice melt, the weather is mild and comfortable and the nature is at its best with greenery and colorful wild flowers.

Avoid hiking in/around Yubeng Village from June to August, when you can expect countless rainfalls and may encounter dangers caused by landslide. During the long winter season between November and March, the heavy snow may cut off the mountain passes.

The hiking trip of Yunnan Discovery team happened to be in early April, when the weather was perfect, with clear sunny days. But there were sharp temperature differences between day and night. Besides, some parts of the roads were blanked with heavy snow, causing difficulty in trekking.

How to Get in Yubeng Village?

You have to get to Lijiang or ShangriLa in Yunnan first.

If planning the tour from Lijiang – take a chartered bus from Lijiang to Feilaisi in Deqin (about 7 hours), stay overnight at Feilaisi, and the next morning take a charted bus to Xidang Village, where you begin to hike to Yubeng. 

If planning the tour from ShangriLa – take a regular bus from ShangriLa to Deqin County (about 4 hours), where take a taxi or chartered bus to Xidang Village the next day. Start hiking. 

In the past, Yubeng Village was accessible only by foot, horses and mules. But now, the road from Xidang Village to Yubeng Village has been built and broadened, so visitors can also take off-road vehicles provided only by local Tibetans to get in Yubeng.

Shangrila Dukezong Old Town

How many days needed to trek in Yubeng?

Normally it takes 3 to 4 days to trek in Yubeng, excluding the arrival and departure days. It depends on your strength and the route you take.

Suggested Yubeng Trekking Route according to Yunnan Discovery team’s itinerary:

This time, the team of Yunnan Discovery trekked in Yubeng for 4 days, and spent two more days on road, with visits to most classic sites, including Upper and Lower Yubeng Villages, Ice Lake, Sacred Waterfall, Nilong Grand Canyon and Kawagarbo Camp Base.

>> Suggested 9 days ShangriLa and Yubeng Trek Tour

Day 1, Lijiang to Feilaisi, (about 8 hours, approximately 400km, elevation of 2500m to 4000m)

We Arrived Lijiang the day before and had a great night at Lijiang Old Town. At 7:30Am this morning, we set out for our trip to Feilaisi. The road journey was long, but definitely amazing, with breathtaking views all long, as we passed by the First Bend of Yangtze River, view Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Haba Snow Mountain, drive through Baima Snow Mountain and stop for photos of the great bend of Jinsha River. We stayed overnight at Feilaisi, where there is a platform for Meili Snow Mountain and the Kawaboge Peak. It was a little disappointed that we didn’t capture the sunset or the sunrise due to the heavy fog.

The Great Bend of Jinsha River in ShangriLa

Day 2, Feilaisi to Xidang Village, Hike to Yubeng Village (2 hours driving, plus 6-7 hours hiking, elevation of 3000m to 3700m)

After a peaceful night sleep, we woke up and had a hearty breakfast with some local specialties to eat and drove along the mountain roads with ups and downs to Xidang Village. Right here, we got out of our vehicle and start hiking along the only trail leading to Yubeng. It was tough, as we had to hike uphill for more than 7km and downhill for 2 hours, with our backpacks. But finally we reached Yubeng Village, a truly untouched place in China with simple beauty. Along the trail, we also viewed the 13 peaks of Meili.

Day 3, Hike from Upper Yubeng Village to Ice Lake (approximately 14km, 7-8 hours trekking, elevation of 3200m to 3900m)

Ice Lake (or Glacier Lake) was our destination today. It was the most difficult day of the entire trek. We climbed mountains slops of 60 - 80 degree angle. There were nearly not paths to go. Like other hikers, we followed the red ribbons tied to the trees and green garbage cans all along. The accumulated snow made the trek much harder. We got supplies of hot water and instant noodles at Xiaonong Base Camp (of course at a higher price), and reached the Ice Lake Eventually. We happened to meet a guy from Europe who considered the hiking in Yubeng was one of the best treks in his life, even though the lake was covered thoroughly by snow. We walked back the way we had come.

Trek to Yubeng Village Yunnan

Day 4, Hike from Upper Yubeng Village to lower Yubeng Village to Sacred Waterfall (approximately 14km, 7 hours trekking, elevation of 3000m to 3650m)

This morning we woke up from a long sleep, and read to go at 9:00AM. Since we stayed a guesthouse at upper Yubeng Village, we trekked downhill to Lower Yubeng Village first, then followed the signs to trekked uphill for 4 hours to get to Sacred Waterfall. Pity that most of the waterfall was frozen. Or we might bath in the falls and wished the sacred water could wash away our dust and sins. The trek back to our Upper Yubeng Village accommodation took about 3 hours. And we took the chance to savor the breathtaking wilderness again.

Trekking in Yubeng Yunnan

Day 5, Getting out of Yubeng Village, Hike Ninong Grand Canyon, drive to ShangriLa (Trekking for 5 hours, 18km, elevation of 2000m to 3200m, plus 5 hours driving)

Although we trek for 18km today, actually it was the easiest, as we trekked downhill all the way. The trail leads to Nilong Grand Canyon and offers views of Lancang River (Mekong River). With this trek, you can experience yourself how ancient caravans traveled on the Tea-horse Road.

Yubeng Trekking Route

Our driver picked us up and headed for ShangriLa. A French couple carpooled with us and told us that they completed the trek with only 2 days. Incredible!

Day 6, ShangriLa to Lijiang

The amazing Yubeng trekking trip ends. The Tibetan villages we visited, the natural beauty we saw, the Tibetan Buddhist culture we experienced made all the hard work and sore legs well worth it. And we hope you can also share the unique beauty of Yubeng someday.

Additional tips for hiking Yubeng Village 

  • Always prepare yourself enough drinkable water, which is essential for the trek.
  • Your sun glasses and alpenstock are always needed.
  • If you trek Yubeng when it is blanked with snow, make sure you also bring with shoe cover and crampon.
  • If possible, trekking with a local guide of Yubeng, ShangriLa.
  • You can ride a mule or horse for some part of the hiking trail, such as Xidang to Yubeng and upper to lower Yubeng. 
  • Currently, the accommodations at Yubeng are very basic, consult with your Yunnan Discovery tour consultant for details.
  • >> Please feel free to contact us to create your own Yubeng trek trip

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