Undoubtedly, the Meili Snow Mountain range, located on the border of Yunnan Province and Tibet, remains in my eyes to be one of the most majestic mountain ranges I have ever seen. To watch the rising of the sun upon the range from Feilai Si village was one of those moments that evoked a strong stillness from within. The ruggedness of the place, the friendliness of the local people, and the fantastic perspectives are all lifetime memories that are unshakeable.
One reason I really loved my visit to these mountains was its authenticity as an attraction. There were no tourist booths selling cheap jimbes or other generic tourist crap. No here was the real deal. Sadly, this atmosphere is waning. When we visited the area last month already the tide of development was rising and rapid construction of the area was looming. During my visit, the Mingyong Glacier and adjacent village was closed for the construction of a new tramway. Fortunately, you cannot alter the state of a megalithic mountain too much.
A pro and con of visiting here is you get to see a villages and towns largely untouched by a large tourist industry but the downside is such large mountains and deep valleys makes transportation from one isolated village to the next difficult. Snow-ins are common. I have included in this post what little information I know about getting around the area. Also, speaking a little Chinese up here is almost necessary.
MEILI SNOW MOUNTAIN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
Firstly, here are the options for getting around:
- Come in a rental car. This is the easiest option and if I could have afforded it, I would have chosen this option for myself.
- Take the local Public Bus. Cheapest option, but unreliable if you’re on a tight schedule as there’s only one bus a day in both directions. The plus side is there’s no official bus stops so you can flag down the bus from anywhere along its route.
- Take taxis. The best option. You have two types of taxis. The regular car taxi or van taxi. I don’t think there is a price difference between the two. The colors of both the taxis here are lime green and white. There’s no meter all taxis are agreed prices. Try to hail taxis together with other travellers for a taxi share. This will save all parties money. I’ll point out later why taking a taxi wasn’t always possible.
- Hitch hiking. Not really an option. The weather is freezing and traffic is too few and far between. What drivers may stop will also ask for money that’s not too different from the price of an actual taxi.
THE MEILI SNOW MOUNTAIN ROUTES
1) Deqin to Feilai Si and vice versa: The public bus leaves Deqin at around 3PM. It’s about 10 RMB for a ride. It takes about 25 minutes if the bus driver doesn’t stop all the time picking people up along the way. You can also take a taxi which will run around 40 RMB. There are lots of taxis in Deqin.
To get back there’s a bus which comes through from Xidang between 11am and 1pm. There’s enough taxis in Felai Si. Walking back isn’t a bad option either, only 10 KM between the two towns.
2) Deqin or Felai Si to Xidang and vice versa: Again, the same public public bus leaving from Deqin can take you to Xidang. You can catch the bus as it goes through Felai Si. Taking a taxi from Deqin will cost 200 RMB.
To go back there is a mid-morning bus which leaves from Xidang. You know when it goes through town because it will be blaring its horn. There is no taxi stand in Xidang. To get a taxi, you must find a taxi that is dropping off a passenger just coming from Deqin. You can also make pre-arrangements with a taxi driver who brought you from Deqin/Felai Si for a arranged pick-up back.
3) Xidang to Yubeng and vice versa: Walking on the trail is the primary option. There are young dudes on motorcycles carrying supplies up and down the trail. If they have an empty load, I’m sure you could haggle for a ride. Otherwise, it’s nearly a day long trek.
4) Yubeng to Ninong and vice versa: Walking this route is the only option. It’s not a very popular route so there’s not much to be found on it except awesome scenery. In Ninong there is no supplies store or restaurant to break and restock up at. There’s nothing in Ninong except being a picturesque Tibetan village. The walk is around five to six hours.
5) Ninong to Xidang and vice versa: There is a road being built this way but no busses or taxis come down here to find passengers. Walking the route will take about three hours.
Going to Ninong, walking is your best option.
6) Deqin to Ninong and vice versa: Taxis will take you all the way. Taking the bus from Deqin will only go as far as Xidang. You’ll have to walk to Ninong from there.
You can find a local going to Deqin and offer him money for a ride. You can make pre-arrangements with a taxi to meet you in Ninong at a certain time or you can walk back to Xidang and stay the night then take the bus back the next morning.
Good luck to anyone visiting this area. It’s a definite place for adventure, surprises, and a whole lot of fun. If there’s any updates or specifics that you can contribute to this article please write them in the comments section.