The Meili Snow Mountains — A Sacred Mountain Range in Yunnan

The Meili Snow Mountains is a holy land of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists. In the 1930s, they were praised by American scholars as the most beautiful mountains in the world.

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  • Chinese: 梅里雪山 Méilǐ Xuěshān /may-lee sshwair-shan/
  • Location: on the Tibetan border east of Deqen (Diqing) County Town, Shangri-La (Diqing) Prefecture
  • Altitude: 6,740 meters (21,221 feet)
  • Suited to: adventurous people
  • Open: 24 hours a day, and the best time to visit is in the morning and at nightfall
Meili Snow MountainsThe Meili Snow Mountains are sacred for Tibetans.

There are 13 peaks with an average altitude of over 6,000 meters in the Meili Snow Mountains range, lined up north to south, referred to as the 13 Prince Peaks.

The main peak, Kawagebo, which is 6,740 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in Yunnan Province. So far, no one has climbed up to the summit.

What to Do at the Meili Snow Mountains

Admire the Sunrise over the Snow Mountain

At the Meili Snow Mountains, the golden sunrise on its dramatic snow-capped peaks is a must-see for most tourists.

First golden sunlight shines over Kawagebo, the highest peak of Meili snow mountain, and then spreads quickly over the 13 peaks.

Against the backdrop of the dark-blue sky, the sunrise is considered very holy, and is astonishing. The spectacular scene lasts for only a few minutes. You will be truly privileged if you can grasp a chance to see it.

Meili Snow MountainsThe sunrise on Meili Snow Mountains

Visit the Glaciers

Under Kawagebo Peak, continuous glaciers stretch like jade dragons. With dazzling snow, they are very rare modern glaciers at low altitude (2,700 meters or 8,900 feet).

Among them, Mingyong Glacier is the longest and largest one, with a length of 11.7 kilometers (7.3 miles) and an average width of 500 meters (0.3 miles). It is also the lowest glacier in China, at around 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) high.

Trek Around the Mountain

A popular trekking route is from Feilai Temple to Yubeng Village, a remote Tibetan village. From Yubeng Village, a lot of other treks fan out. Ice Lake and Holy Waterfall are the most famous destinations.

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A sample trekking itinerary for reference:

Day 1: Feilai Temple to Xidang Village by bus or car (1½ hours); then trek to Yubeng Village

Day 2: Trek from Yubeng Village to Ice Lake and back

Day 3: Trek from Yubeng Village to Holy Waterfall and back

Day 4: Return to Feilai Temple.

Along the way, you will see alpine forest, stunning waterfalls, glacial lakes and tranquil Tibetan villages. It is a good way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and experience the Tibetan culture.

Best Positions to View the Meili Snow Mountains

Feilai TempleFeilai Temple viewing platform

Wunongding Viewing Deck

Wunongding Viewing Deck (雾农顶观景台) is on the National Highway 214 between Shangri-La and Deqen County Town, 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of the town. Standing there are 13 white towers and an open valley against the backdrop of the snow mountains.

Feilai Temple Viewing Platform

Feilai Temple is a small but interesting Tibetan temple, located about 5 km (3 mi) southwest of Deqen County Town. It is always the first stop for tourists to the snow mountains.

It is the best position to shoot a panoramic view of the thirteen peaks and to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the sunrises and sunsets.

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The Best Season to Visit

In fall and winter (between October and March), the weather is usually dry with clear skies. The height of the rainy season is in July and August.

The best season to visit is October to November. December to March is also favorable if you don't mind the cold weather (averaging freezing point). In other seasons, there is little chance to view the sunrise over the snow mountain, due to cloud.

Remember to check the weather forecast before you go. The road might be closed if it snows heavily. And try to avoid rainy days, when the mountain will be shrouded in mist.

Meili Snow Mountains

Where to Stay

The best view of the snow mountains is the golden sunrise. So we recommend you to spend a night there.

There are many guesthouses and hostels along the street near Feilai Temple. Most of the hostels have viewing decks, which provide tourists with a convenient way to enjoy the scenery of the sun shining over the snow mountains.

How to Get to the Meili Snow Mountains

The Meili Snow Mountains extend for about 200 kilometers north–south, centered west of Deqen County Town, which is 182 kilometers (113 miles) from Shangri-La Town.

You can get to the Meili Snow Mountains by bus or by renting a vehicle from Shangri-La. See Shangri-La Transport for how to get to Shangri-La.

By Bus

Take a bus from Shangri-la to Deqen, about 6 hours. There are only 4 buses daily. Then, for the famous view, charter a car from Deqen to Feilai Temple, about half an hour. The cost is about 200 yuan.

By Renting a Vehicle

Renting a vehicle with driver from Shangri-La to Feilai Temple is recommended, considering its flexibility and time saving. You can stop for photos along the way. The cost is about 600 yuan.

Touring Shangri-La with China Highlights

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The Meili Snow Mountains is a good place to enjoy breathtaking scenery and feel the Tibetan culture. Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance in trip planning and arrangement.

See more Yunnan tours, which cover the highlights in Yunnan and also include exclusive programs to give a unique experience.

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