Overlooking meili snow mountain

Meili Snow Mountain and Yubeng Village, a hidden hiking gem in China

Meili Snow Mountain is not a location that comes to people’s minds when they think of hiking in China. It will usually be Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain), Zhang Jia Jie (Avatar Mountains) or Dao Cheng Ya Ding (In Si Chuan).

We chanced upon this location on Google when planning for our China trip and looking at somewhere to hike. On this hike, we were accompanied by 2 of my friends from high school.

Getting to Meili Snow Mountain wasn’t easy an easy feat at all. The nearest airport to the mountains is at Shangri-la and that’s still a 4-hour bus ride away from Fei Lai Si.

Morning view of the Meili Snow Mountain, peaking from behind the clouds.
Morning views from our Fei Lai Si hotel. Meili Snow Mountain peaking from behind the clouds.

For us, we flew to Li Jiang instead as there were more flights that fly there. Li Jiang to Shangri-la is a 4-hour bus journey. From Fei Lai Si, you’ve got to take an hour’s car ride through the winding western China valley before you reach Xidang, a village that acts as the gateway to Yubeng.

At Xidang Village, you’ll be given the option to either hire a 4×4 Jeep that gets you all the way into Yubeng Village in 45 minutes or hike the exact same route in 8 hours.

Starting the hike from Xidang Village.
Starting the hike from Xidang village.

Of course, being young and adventurous (and foolish), we’ve decided to take the harder way in.

Once you’re in Yubeng village, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a separate and isolated world. The village is split into 2, namely Upper Yubeng and Lower Yubeng.

The entire village lies in a valley with Lower Yubeng sitting exactly in the trough and Upper Yubeng at the opposing side facing Meili Snow Mountain.

Despite China’s rapid growth in tourism infrastructure, Yu Beng appeared to have lagged behind the rest of the country.

View of the Meili Snow Moutain at sunrise.
Sunrise view from our Upper Yubeng lodge.

As Yubeng is located in Tibet (part of the Tibetan plateau), you’ll get to interact with many Tibetans along the way. There are also many iconic Buddhist flags lined along the way. For those who want to experience Tibet but are unable to get travel permits to Lhasa, this is as close to Tibet as you can get.

On the walk towards Yubeng Village.
Meili Snow Mountain in the background. Towering over the village
Local man at the Lower Yubeng village

Hiking Trails

Map of the Yubeng village area. You can see all the trekking routes available here.
Map of Yubeng

Once you’ve reached Yubeng village, there are multiple day trip hikes that you can take from here.

Each of these hikes will take you about 5-6 hours to and fro and the views at the end makes it all worth it.

Sacred Waterfall

On the way from Yubeng village to the Sacred Waterfall
Reaching the sacred waterfall at the Meili Snow Mountain area
Contrasting landscapes along the way.

We were there in early summer and most of the snow has not melted yet. This gives the area an incredible and magical view.

We have reached the sacred waterfall. Not very obvious though.
The Sacred Waterfall.

Truth be told, the waterfall itself wasn’t grand or anything. You might not have even spotted it in the picture above.

However, the incredible views on the way there easily makes up for it.

Glacier Lake

Starting our hike towards the glacier lake.
Feels as though we were in Switzerland!

There’s a lot more hiking up to do for the trek to Glacier Lake. Therefore, I would think that this hike is comparatively more challenging than the previous.

Viewpoint looking out towards the glacier lake.
Overlooking the path to glacier lake.
We have reached the glacier lake!
Glacier Lake. As we went in the thick of summer, most of the lake has already melted.

Pro-tip: Try to stay at Upper Yubeng the night before you decide to do the Glacier Lake hike. The entrance to the trek starts from there.

How to travel to Yubeng, Yunnan

Time: 1.5 days for 1 way
Cost: 152Y per person 1 way

  • Take a plane to Li Jiang Sanyi International Airport.
  • Take an 8-hour coach ride from Li Jiang Inter-city Bus Terminal to Deqen city. There’s only 1 bus ride every day in the morning around 8. The timing changes every day so head down a day or 2 before to check and get your tickets. Cost: 122Y per person one way
  • At Deqen, your bus driver will offer to take you to Fei lai si for a small nominal fee. It only takes 10 minutes to get there. Stay there for a night. Cost: ~5Y per person
  • At Fei lai si, get a taxi or share a van to bring you to Xi Dang village. The ride is 1 hour long. Cost: ~150Y for a van of 6 people
  • At Xi Dang, you’ve got to pay an entrance fee into the park. Cost: 60Y per person
  • You can choose to either hike your way to Yubeng Village, or take a jeep. The hike is about 8 hours and it’s free. The jeep is ~250Y per person and takes an hour.

Alternatively, you can fly to Shangri-la and take the bus to Fei Lai Si from there. The bus ride would be cut to 5 hours instead of 8.

Accommodations at Yubeng Village

You can and should pre-book all your accommodation online prior to your arrival. We highly recommend using trip.com as it is in English.

Upper Yubeng is more developed than Lower Yubeng and the views during sunrise is a lot better as you face the mountain. If you’re going to Glacial Lake, you’re recommended to stay at Upper Yubeng as it’s nearer and if you’re going to the Sacred Waterfall, you should stay at Lower Yubeng. Travelling between Upper and Lower Yubeng takes about an hour on foot.

These are the hotels that we’ve stayed in.
Fei Lai Si: Pearl Laka Snow Mountain Landscape Hotel
Upper Yubeng: Longmen Inn
Lower Yubeng: Qicai Meili Inn

We hope you enjoyed our trip to Meili Snow Mountain as we certainly did. Do drop us an email or DM us on Instagram @shrugmyshoulder if you have any questions!

Are you looking for more outdoor adventures in China? Consider visiting Guilin in the southwest!

The majestic limestone karst hills would leave you in awe of the place!

Guilin in southwest china

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