Bingzhongluo Travel Guide, Yunnan
920km from Kunming, something of a melting pot, Bingzhongluo represents the southernmost extent of the Tibetan culture, and the northernmost extent of Han Chinese influence in the valley. The local population includes Nu and Lisu people, as well as some Dulong. Even a Christian community exists, boasting a sizeable church down the hill from the town proper - but to get there you first have to pass by a Tibetan stupa.
Bingzhongluo is an excellent staging point for hikes west to the Dulong River, and east to the Mekong. You'll definitely need a guide, however, as the mountains here are big and the weather severe. It's possible to find guides in the area that speak rudimentary English, though you'll be much better off if you can speak Chinese.
There are easy and beautiful walks to nearby villages along the Nujiang. A few kilometers outside of town, the river widens and cuts through very deep and dramatic gorges. The road hugs the Nujiang and landslides occur from time to time along the way. It is said that the scenery is especially spectacular after rain, however this also increases potential delays and exacerbates the danger from landslides.
The most beautiful part of Nujiang Gorge starts from Binzhongluo, the northernmost town of the Gorge, where the essential attractions of the Nujiang Gorge are located. Hiking is the best way to enjoy the landscape and an average of 2.5 hours is needed for most tourists to reach the famous "Tea Horse Caravan Route." Renting a mini bus at Bingzhongluo town is an alternative for the less adventurous sightseers.
On the way to the "Tea-Horse Caravan Route", one can see the 100-year-old Zhongding Catholic Church built and founded by a French missionary. Shimen Pass is another fantastic section of the gorge along with Wengli (also called Wuli), another stunning landscape lying on a beautiful slope along the river bank. Very near to the Wengli, a carved path is seen on the other bank cliff, the so-called "Tea-Horse Caravan Route", a path used by traders ferrying their goods between Yunnan and Tibet. At the end of the trekking road, an old hanging bridge and a new one-year-old bridge swing side-by-side.
To those wanderlusts, some trekking routes are worthy of spending days or even weeks longer between Gongshan and Bingzhongluo. Getting 90km further west to the Drung River from Gongshan reveal beautiful virgin forests as well as the kind-hearted Drung ethnic people living their old way of life.
Getting there & away
The only access to Bingzhongluo by road is from the south via Liuku, Fugong and Gongshan. A direct bus to Liuku (Y50) leaves at 8am every morning from in front of Yudong Hotel. It stops briefly at Gongshan, then long enough at Fugong for a quick lunch. Two buses leave from Liuku at 6:20 and 8:20, arriving in Bingzhongluo in the afternoon. The trip takes 8 hours and costs Y63, though schedules sometimes vary so it's best to check before buying your ticket (visit or call Liuku Bus Station to confirm).
A police checkpoint cum ticket office just before Bingzhongluo will force you to cough up some dough for a ticket to the 'scenic area'. Unless you can pass for a local or arrive late in the evening this will be unavoidable.
Though it's only 100km west of Deqin, the last town on the Yunnan-Tibet highway, there is no direct road connects the Bingzhongluo region to Deqin. From either location, travelers can follow a local guide and cross the high Biluo Mountain Pass of 4000m. An expressway does run from Kunming to Wayao, before the bus has to be driven on a tortuous mountain road. The road winds its way down the gorge slope and the cliff-face hides many hairpin bends. Traffic warnings are erected on most of the dangerous sections by local authorities to reduce traffic accidents.
There are a few hotels in town. The best is Yudong Binguan. (Tel : 0886-3581153) with comfortable standard doubles at Y100 per night with hot shower, possible to negotiate to Y80. Their dormitory rooms are often fully occupied. One can get accommodation for about Y40 for a double with shared bathroom and toilet.
Mother Ding's Hostel in Chongding village (0886-3581144) is quite famous among Chinese backpackers. All rooms have either two or three beds, Y15~Y20/bed, shared bathroom, a beautiful court with nice views. It is always fully booked during Chinese holidays.
There are several Nu families in Chongding village offer home-stay to travelers. But it's less convenient to stay at Chongding village than in Bingzhongluo town if one would like to walk to caravans, find bus and restaurants, buying provisions. find bus and restaurants, buying provisions.