Nujiang Gorge Travel Guide, Yunnan
Nujiang is one of the rivers within the Three Rivers Natural Reserve, a world heritage site listed by UNESCO. It is located throughout southwest China's Yunnan Province and flows into Myanmar, where it joins the Salween River and ends its journey at the India Ocean.
The Nujiang Gorge running from northwest Yunnan to Tibet lies in a narrow strip of land bordering Myanmar, sandwiched to the west by Gaoligong Mountain range and the Biluo Mountain range on the east. It runs through one of China's remotest areas, with carved canyons running through it. However, due to its inaccessibility, the Nujiang River has never been a popular tourism destination.
Clinging to impossible places on the slopes hundreds of meters up from both sides of the river, farms belonging to the Lisu and Nu people dot the landscape. One cannot imagine people living on such steep inclines. Most mountain inhabitants live in
Villages on the other bank of the river are accessed either by narrow hanging bridges constructed with small wooden planks strung together with rattan tied to trees; or by sliding on overhead cables that span the river. The cables are tied to trees on either side of the river and to cross, one is suspended from a rope loop attached to a harness worn around the waist.
The scenery between Fugong and Gongshan is awe-inspiring with many cliffs, clear green river-water and water falls. The first hairpin bend came into sight near Bingzhongluo.
Catholicism, Tibetan Buddhism and local religions are very popular and co-exist peacefully in the region. Members in one family may have different religions.
Best times to visit
The principal towns in the Nujiang Gorge include Liuku, Fugong, and Gongshan. The most beautiful part of the gorge starts from Bingzhongluo.
Liuku: the county seat of Nujaing Prefecture, an unpleasant town with ugly concrete buildings can definitely be ignored.
Fugong: 123km north of Liuku, mainly populated by the Lisu tribe. There are rice terraces just outside the town centre on the slopes all along the river, easily accessible by walking. All along the trek up the slopes, the view extended to the Gaoligong Mountains with snow crowned peaks soaring over 4000m.
Places to stay: There is ample accommodation in town as this region seems to be developing fast with better transport. Most of the accommodation options are close to the bus station near the town centre. Bus Station Hotel 车站宾馆 has clean doubles for Y50. Dianli Hotel 电力宾馆 is the most luxury hotel in town, only Y80 for a nice double.
Attractions: Waterfalls, River Bends, Crossing river - Rope Bridges,Stone Moon Mountain...
Gongshan: an autonomous county where 12 ethnic groups live including 3 of the earliest inhabitant minorities, namely the Nu, Drung and Tibetan. It is an important town(though just a one-street-town) because it is the closest supply depot for hardware and other requirements to all the towns and villages north and east (to Drung territory) of here. As in Fugong, there are more than enough accommodation options in this town such as the Bus Station Hotel and Gongshan Hotel 贡山宾馆. Sandan Jiudian 山丹酒店 has dormitory rooms of Y15/per bed, Y60/std. dbl
The scenery between Fugong and Gongshan is fabulous with lots of steep slopes and waterfalls. The road hugs the Nujiang and there are lots of landslides along the way. Be prepared to be delayed. One also needs to have a strong heart as vehicles frequently miss the cliff by inches. It is especially spectacular after rain; which also means higher potential of delays and landslide dangers. There are Lisu and Nu farms clinging to impossible places on the steep slopes hundreds of meters up from both sides of the river. Their fields are often partially or completely destroyed by landslides. They can do nothing but re-cultivate again and again.
Bingzhongluo: a Tibetan-dominated town some 44km north of Gongshan and 922km from Kunming. More about Bingzhongluo, pls click Bingzhongluo
Getting there & away
There are a few alternatives to get to Nujiang Gorge. From Kunming, one can catch a bus to various places in the Gorge. at least one sleeper bus winding all the way to Fugong in the middle of the gorge. The trip is about 14 hours(710km) and costs around Y155.
Kuming -> Liuku:580km, express and sleeper buses leaving from Kunming daily from 8am till 6pm, fare ranging from Y110-160, 13hrs ride. There are also buses from Dali(8hrs) and Baoshan(4hrs) to Liuku.
Kuming -> Fugong: at least one sleeper bus winding all the way to Fugong in the middle of the gorge. The trip is about 710km,14 hours and costs around Y153.
Kunming -> Gongshan: a sleeper bus departing from Xiyuan Bus Station at 18:00 daily, 830km/ 18hrs/ Y145-160.
Tips: Take the Liuku, Fugong or Gongshan bus either at West Bus Station 西站客运站 or Xiyuan Bus Station 西苑客运站 in Kunming. Sleeper buses with license at these two bus stations always have destinations printed on the top of their front screen.
Within the Nujiang Prefecture:
Liuku<-> Fugong(135km): frequent buses run between the 2 sites daily
Liuku<-> Gongshan(200km):4 buses run between along the spectacular gorge.
Fugong <-> Gongshan (111km)
From Fugong, there are regular buses and vans to Gongshan, the next major town north. Most of them are in the morning around 9am. In addition, the Liuku-Gongshan bus passes Fugong around 11am every morning; just wait outside the bus station for them. Ride to Gongshan is about 2 ½ hours costing 20Y.
Buses leave Gongshan for Fugong and Liuku in the morning. Latest buses are scheduled at 11:50 and 13:00. It is reported that the 13:00 bus is often suspended.
Gongshan <-> Bingzhongluo(44km)
Transport to the north consists mainly of vans,jeeps that run when reasonably full. The ride cost around Y10.