In this article, you can find all the info you need to visit the beautiful Yubeng villages in Northern Yunnan.
Nestled in the rugged beauty of northwest Yunnan, Yubeng Village (雨崩) is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, pristine forests, and alpine meadows, this remote Tibetan village offers nature enthusiasts and trekkers an unforgettable adventure.
If you are planning a trip to Northern Yunnan, in the Shangri-La area (here is my guide), don’t miss this stunning area.
Best Time to Visit Yubeng
The best time to visit Yubeng is during the Spring (March-April) or Autumn (September-October) when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear. During these seasons, the temperatures are mild despite the high elevation of about 3400 meters, and the surrounding landscapes are at their most vibrant. It’s also easier to see the peaks of the mountains compared to other times of the year.
Avoid the rainy season (July to August) due to heavy rainfall and slippery trails.
Where to Stay and for how long
Yubeng is composed of two villages: Upper Yubeng (上雨崩) and Lower Yubeng (下雨崩). They are close and offer different views of the Meili Snow Mountain range. I’d say that Lower Yubeng is probably quieter, but for the best sunrise pictures, Upper Yubeng is slightly better.
Regardless of which village you choose, you’ll find a variety of options for accommodation, ranging from traditional Tibetan guesthouses to basic hostels. Many local houses have become guesthouses, so you’ll find plenty of options. The main issue is how to book them. On Trip.com, you can find some, but many guesthouses are still unavailable on the main booking platforms. This is one of the few options available online on English platforms.
The length of your stay depends on your time. Considering how long it takes to get to the villages, I think the bare minimum would be 2 nights, but you can easily stay even 4 nights if you plan to hike the nearby mountains.
How to get to Meili Snow Mountain and Yubeng
The best way to get to Yubeng is from Shangri-La. Shangri-La is easily reachable by high-speed train from Kunming or even by plane since there is a small airport outside the city. You can book the train or airplane tickets using Trip.com.
The ideal itinerary to get to Yubeng includes spending one night in Feilaisi 飞来寺, a small village about 4 hours from Shangri-La, right after Deqing. If you want public transportation, you should get a bus from Shangri-La to Deqing and then a minivan or taxi to Feilaisi.
You can spend one night there (this is one of the few hotels available online in English) and wake up for the sunrise where, if you are lucky, you will be greeted by a fantastic view of the Meili Snow Mountain range right in front of you, with the sacred Kawagarbo peak and its 6740 meters high.
You can spend the morning photographing the Tibetan pilgrims, paying homage to the sacred mountain, and then head for your next destination: Xidang Village 西当村, the starting point to get to Yubeng. The village is about 1 hour from Feilaisi, right below the snowy mountain range.
Getting there by public transportation can be difficult, so I suggest arranging for a local driver to take you to Xidang and return a few days later to pick you up after you finish your trip to Yubeng. Feel free to contact me if you need a recommendation for a local agency that can help you.
Once in Xidang, you have two options: hiking for about 6 hours on a windy and steep road full of SUVs taking people to and from Yubeng or paying 200 RMB to get on one of those SUVs. If you decide to hike but later change your mind when you are already on the road, remember that it’s pretty challenging to hitchhike because the SUVs only leave for the village when they are full, so most of them won’t have any spare seats.
In my case, the hike was not worth the 6 hours on a dusty road, especially considering how steep the road and how heavy my photography equipment was.
The car will take you to the entrance of the Upper Yubeng Village. If your guesthouse is in Lower Yubeng, you must hike down for about 30 minutes. Usually, the cars won’t take you to Lower Yubeng unless you want to pay more money, and even in that case, it’s not guaranteed that they’ll do it.
How to explore Yubeng
There are two main hiking routes in the area:
- The first one is from Upper Yubeng to the Glacier Lake 冰湖. It’s about 6 Km long (one way) and has an elevation gain of 700 meters, starting from Upper Yubeng at 3200m and arriving at the lake at 3900m. This trek is more challenging and takes about 5 hours to get to the lake.
- The second one leaves from Lower Yubeng to the Sacred Waterfall 神瀑. It’s about 5 Km long, with the first 2/3 of the hike beating relatively easy and the last part quite tricky due to the never-ending stairs. The altitude gain is smaller since you’ll start at 3100m and end at 3700. It takes about 4 hours to get to the waterfall.
You can also consider spending a day walking around the two villages and photographing some of the local people. There is a Tibetan temple hidden in Lower Yubeng, with a tooth-shaped rock, from which the village took his name.
Yubeng is a place of raw beauty that has been hidden and forgotten for thousands of years and only recently has been rediscovered. You can see this in the increasing number of guesthouses and tourists. Due to its remote location, it still hasn’t been touched by mass tourism, though: head there before it’s too late!
Before heading to China, remember to get a VPN; otherwise, you won’t be able to access most of the internet.
If you are looking for other places to visit in Yunnan, check out my travel guide. If you are looking for another authentic area in Yunnan, still relatively untouched by tourism, check out my travel guide to Dulongjiang.
Here, you can find other pictures I took in Shangri-La.