Solo Adventure Tips:
How to Get There?
1) By plane: One can fly directly to Shangri-la (Zhongdian) from a number of cities, and then take a local bus to Feilai Temple in Deqin County, which is the best jumping off point to view Meili Snow Mountain. One can also fly to Shangri-la via Kunming, then take a public bus to Feilai Temple. Alternatively, one can fly to Kunming and take a charter bus (a 5-6 hour trip) to Feilai Temple.
2) By scheduled bus: There are regular bus routes to Feilai Temple from a number of nearby villages: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang (albeit, via Shangri-la), and Shangri-la itself.
3) By charter bus: One of the easiest ways to get to Feilai Temple is to take a charter a bus. A number of even easier ways to get to Feilai Temple is to hire a minibus, a car, or a cross-country jeep – they are available everywhere.
1) Feilai Temple, the best vantage point from which to view Meili Snow Mountain, is 10 kilometers from the Deqin County seat. Tourists can make the 10-kilometer trip by a variety of motorized means, or go there on foot. The weather in the vicinity of Meili Snow Mountain is highly changeable. In general, the rainy season is July to August. A down-filled coat can be rented for 20 yuan (with an additional, refundable 100 yuan deposit). An oxygen bag, for those who feel they might need it (the best advice, if one feels that one might need it, would be to abandon the idea of viewing the mountain from the vantage point of Feilai Temple), is available for the same price/ refundable deposit.
2) The best time for visiting the beautiful scenery of Meili Snow Mountain is from January to May. It is difficult to see the mountain in its entirety during summer and autumn, due to heavy cloud cover or mists, but if one is in the area anyway, then try at various times of the day. For example, mists can burn off later in the day, while ordinary cloud cover may first blanket the mountain later in the day, so, depending on whether one or the other is present, one can proceed accordingly (if both are present, well,... shucks!).
The second-best place to view Meili Snow Mountain is Crown Prince Temple on the Mingyong Glacier. To get there, take a regular bus to Deqin (the Shangri-la County seat), which costs 40 yuan. Or, one can get to Crown Prince Temple by charter bus from Xiali. The round-trip fare is a whopping 500 yuan, however.
You are better off viewing the mountain from Feilai Temple, and the charter bus from Deqin to the temple is not disastrously expensive. The very best way to enjoy the area – not just the mountain – is to get yourself to Shangri-la by whatever means is handy for you (it depends on your departure location of course), then take the charter bus to Feilai Temple. The charter bus trip offers you a fantastic view of the passing scenery through enchanting villages such as Nixi and Bengzilan, and past Dongzhulin Monastery as well as Baimang Snow Mountain, and finally, past Mingyong Glacier before depositing you at Feilai Temple. If you are in the vicinity of Feilai Temple at dusk, you will be able, weather permitting, to behold the sun go down behind Meili Snow Mountain.
When taking a charter bus, do remember to bargain with the driver, and make sure he understands your destination and agrees to the specific touring route of your choice before engaging a charter bus. In the off-season the round-trip fare for a Santana charter bus will set you back about 400 yuan.
If you would like to combine a trip to Meili Snow Mountain with a visit to Mingyong Glacier, then proceed as follows: after viewing Meili Snow Mountain from Feilai Temple (see the above options for how to get to Feilai Temple), take a charter bus on to Bucun Village across the Lancangjiang River, then on foot from Bucun Village to Mingyong Village, where you can view the glacier of the same name. Alternatively, you can rent a cross-country jeep and take it all the way to Mingyong Village.
3) Accommodations: a bed at Deqin hostel costs 20-40 yuan; at Feilai Temple, 25 yuan.
4) To circumambulate Meili Snow Mountain:
Inner Circle (6 Days)
Day 1 – Proceed from Shangri-la to Deqin, where you will spend the night, passing through Bengzilan and past Dongzhulin Temple (187 kilometers); Day 2 – Proceed from Deqin to Mingyong Glacier (70 kilometers), overnighting at Mingyong Village; Day 3 – Proceed from Mingyong Village to Xidang Village by bus, then on to Yubeng Village on horseback, or on foot, overnighting at Yubeng Village; Day 4 – Spend the day in Rest & Recuperation at Yubeng Village (you are also resting up for challenging Day 5), possibly exploring the village a bit, and overnighting there again; Day 5 – Trek over Yubeng Mountain back to Xidang, then take the bus back to Deqin, where you overnight; Day 6 - Return to Shangri-la from Deqin by bus, immensely satisfied with yourself.
Outer Circle (13 Days)
Since this is a pilgrimmage for the hardy, which leaves out most of us, we will skip most of the details here. Rest assured that you can obtain a detailed itinerary, replete with map, of the Outer Circle circumambulation route at any hotel in the area, or at the Tourist Bureau in Shangri-la. Note as well that the Outer Circle route is generally not via roads – at least not via paved roads – and since the terrain can be muddy and fraught with landslides or heavy snows in some places (in some areas, the pilgrimmage may be held up by landslides that recur each year during July and August, and in the winter – from January through March – the pilgrimmage can be temporarily blocked in some areas by heavy snow), it is absolutely advisable to make this pilgrimmage on horseback. If you make it back to Shangri-la, you will surely be happier with yourself than were Mitch and Phil in the Hollywood film, City Slickers!