Are you looking for something to do on a day trip from Lijiang? In this article I explain how you can visit the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain National Park.
In a previous article, I explained why is it worth visiting Lijiang and what are some of the things you can do if you have some time left. This includes a day trip to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山. As soon as you get to Lijiang you can’t help but notice it: with a height of 5596 meters, it’s one of the highest peaks in Yunnan.
When is the best time to visit the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Keep in mind that this is a very popular destination so it can be very crowded. If possible avoid all national holidays and the month of August.
The summer months are generally quite rainy and it will be very difficult to see the peak of the mountains. During winter it can get a bit cold although not as much as you would expect at these elevations.
My recommendation is to visit during the spring and autumn months, although, to be honest, you can go all year round.
How to get to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山
The mountain is located in the national park and the entrance fee is 100 RMB. The area is pretty big and includes several tourist spots.
To get there take the minivan n° 7 parked in front of the square with the huge statue of Mao Zedong right after the north gate of Lijiang Ancient Town.
The price of the ride to the park varies greatly and especially for foreigners is a bit high. I managed to pay 25RMB per person. Maybe take this as a reference, although things might change in the future.
Alternatively, you can take the public bus n° 101, which is a bit slower but much cheaper: 3rmb. It takes 25 minutes from Lijiang to the entrance of the park.
Don’t forget to take your passport with you. You’ll need it to buy the tickets.
Once in the park, you will have different places you can decide to visit. This is the map with the main tourist spots to help you visualize where they are located since it can be quite confusing:
- You can take the cable car to the Glacier at an elevation of around 4000 meters 冰川公园
- You can visit the Blue Moon Valley 蓝月谷
- You can take the cable car to the Spruce Meadow 云杉坪
- You can take the cable car to Yak Meadow 牦牛坪
- You can visit all of the above
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Glacier Park 冰川公园
The peak of the mountain has been climbed only once, on May 8, 1987, by an American expedition. They rated the maximum technical difficulty of the rock at YDS 5.7, one of the most difficult in the world.
Fortunately, you can take a much more convenient cable car that will take you at an elevation of 4000 meters. Unfortunately, the convenience of getting there also means that you’ll find a lot of tourists.
The ticket to get to the summit costs about 160RMB. Look for these four characters 冰川公园 to find where to take the cable car. The Glacier Park allows no more than 10,000 visitors a day.
Blue Moon Valley 蓝月谷
The Blue Moon Valley is a series of four crystal clear blue lakes with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as background. The melting glacier water feeds into these lakes which gives them this special color.
The landscape is really beautiful and includes several submerged trees which can be seen underneath the lakes.
To get to the Valley you can take one of the buses that leave from the main building every few minutes between 07:00 – 17:00 and cost RMB 15. Simply follow the 蓝月谷 signs to find the bus. It only takes about 5 minutes to get there.
There is a wooden path that follows the river and a few bridges to cross it. Usually on the opposite side there are fewer people.
If you can, plan to visit the area early in the morning before most of the tourists arrive.
Spruce Meadow 云杉坪
Right after the Blue Moon Valley, you can continue on the bus and get to Spruce Meadow: a huge grassland area with an easy wooden path to follow.
The ticket for the cable car costs 40RMB.
Yak Meadow 牦牛坪
The last area is called Yak Meadow and it takes about 20 minutes by bus from the ticket area to the cable car. To find the right bus look for this sign 牦牛坪.
The area takes its name from the grassland on the plateau where herds of yaks placidly roam the area. Like in the previous spot, there is a wooden path to follow and, at the end of it, a small lake. You can also find a Tibetan temple and a few Tibetan prayer flags (not sure why since this is still a Naxi area and not Tibetan).
If you are interested in visiting a Tibetan area, Shangri-La (here’s my travel guide) is only about 2.5 hours from Lijiang.
Final thoughts about Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
If you find it a bit difficult to explore the area you can book a tour in Lijiang but honestly, it’s not really necessary. Just be prepared to read a few Chinese signs (as I mentioned in this article) because there aren’t many in English.
The national park is truly beautiful but, as it often happens in China, the ease of access means that it’s a super popular destination and it’s often very crowded, especially in summer, when the rest of China is extremely hot. If you visit during winter you’ll probably find fewer people.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is an AAAAA sight, which is the highest ranking a place can get. Sites in China get rated from A to AAAAA (with AAAAA being the best) and most Chinese people want to see these places, so it gets EXTREMELY busy. Be prepared for that.
If you are looking for a hotel in Lijiang I recommend Trip.com since it has way more options than other search engines and it also allows you to book tickets for the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.