Cangshan Mountain Ropeway in Dali

Cangshan Mountain Ropeway Dali

One of the must-visit attractions in Dali is the Cangshan Mountain Ropeway here which is west of the main Dali city in Yunnan, China. The beauty about this massive mountain range is the fact that you can explore this place and have amazing views of Old Dali town from up above. 

I'll be very honest here as this place is highly recommended for those who love nature and the outdoors. There is a lot of trekking, walking and nature sightseeing to do here and that's all there is so if you are purely into this kind of activity, this would be perfect for you. For families and those with kids, not to worry as the facilities here all cater to children. But again, take note that this is a walking experience with nature. 

The Cangshan Mountains is actually made of 19 peaks and make up the highest peaks of the entire Yunling Mountain Range. The range is 3,500 meters (11,483 feet) above the sea level and Malong Peak is the highest point at 4,122-meter (13,524-feet). There are also a total of 18 steams where you can see beautiful waterfalls and amazing cliffs.

Cangshan Mountain Cablecar
Cangshan Mountain Cableway Entrance
For those coming here, please not that there are 3 cable car stations to choose from and for my trip, I took the main one which is the Cangshan Mountain Cableway or Xi-Ma-Tan where it is the largest one with full facilities. This is the North Entrance of the national park and is located at the Zhong He Tourist Information Centre and nearer to the Three Pagodas. The other cable car station is the South entrance to the national park and called Gantong Cableway. 

When you get into the main building, the tickets are the first thing you will buy and please use the bathrooms there as it is a long journey up. After the tickets and bathroom, you will pass the jacket room where they will issue you windbreakers during the cooler months. 

Cangshan Mountain Cableway Dali
The modern cable car system being used here at the main station
Next is the cable car station where you alight the modern cable car units. This system is similar to many other cable cars around the world where it slows down at the boarding area and you simply get on board. 

The entire journey for the cable car ride will take about 30-40 minutes where you pass through mountain forest and ride alongside cliffs. The journey goes all the way up to a peak before coming down to the main station which is the mid station where you alight and continue your explorations here.

For the extreme hikers or trekkers, you can choose to walk up to the Zhong He Temple from the bottom of the north entrance. It will take about two hours one way. 

Zhong He Temple Cangshan Mountain
Amazing views of the Cangshan Mountains from Zhong He Temple
From here, you can catch another cable car all the way to the peak of the mountain and this is highly dependable on the weather. If it is too windy, they close the cable car ride up as it can be dangerous. From the Zhong He Temple, you can enjoy the beautiful mountain views surrounding this place. There is a Chinese cafe, souvenir shops and a snack shop so if you need anything, you best buy it from here as after you continue from here, there are no more shops. 

Changshan Cableway Tram
Cangshan Cableway Tram
To get to the Jade Belt Road, you can either take the Cableway which is like a mini hill tram or funicular railway service that takes passengers up and down or you can simply walk down, and later take the Cableway up again. It is also called "Xi-Ma-Tan Cable". 

But I would seriously recommend taking the Cableway for 30 Yuan one way, especially if you have walking issues. The Jade Belt Road also translates as Cloudy Tourist Road, as you will see road markers with this name along your walk. I never did ask why it was also called that. 

After I reached the end of the Cableway, my group started to trek along the Jade Belt Road here. This cliff side road made from hand hewn stones stretches for about 12 kilometres, snaking its way around the side of the mountains. Views here are breathtaking and I can only imagine it during the Summer as I visited here in Spring and it was really cooling. 

Jade Belt Road Cangshan Mountain
Workers upgrading the main Jade Belt Road
The mountain walkway is also an easy trial where along the way has informative signs on the geology, flora and fauna, and most of them in English too. As we started our walk, we notice horses and donkeys along the way which are the main transport to ferry goods and working materials. 

After about an hour of trekking, our group decided to head back the way we came as we were tight on time. I have to say the walk here was pretty amazing, with stunning scenery and birds chirping along the way. Some of the mountain flowers caught my eye as they stood out among the green and brown colors. 

Jade Belt Road Changshan Dali
Jade Belt Road that snakes around the mountains
According to the information provided, in the summer time, chances are you can spot more birds and even the unique Chinese Red Panda among the many mountain wildlife. This is provided you do the full trekking all the way which can take from 6-12 hours, depending where you want to explore. It is also recommended you do this with a local Dali tour guide. 

Among the attractions at the Cangshan Mountains, the highlight would be the 7 Dragon Maiden Pools, but unfortunately it was under construction when we were here. Apparently, it has been for a long time now and there is no information on when it will be open to the public. 

There are however, many other interesting places around here which are;

• Phoenix Eye Cave
• Dragon Eye Cave
• Tao Stream
• Baili Roam Lane
• Qingbi Stream
• Gantong Temple

The upper part of the mountains offers these tourist spots;

• Malong Peak
• Yuju Peak
• Longquan Peak
• Zhonghe Peak
• Stone Gate
• Horse Bathing Pond

Cangshan Mountain Range Photo
Another description of the Cangshan Mountain Range
Tourist Map Cangshan Mountain Range
A map in English showing the tourist spots here
IMPORTANT NOTES

• You should know that the timing here may not be accurate as there have been cases where they close the cable way at about 4.00 pm. So it is best to double check with the ticket counter before going up, or you may just have to walk your way down. Again, it is recommended to go with a local tour guide so that he or she can explain everything in detail to you. 

• Food is also very simple here and if you have any special dietary requirements, please bring your own food. The cafe offers basic snacks and drinks while it is highly recommended you bring at least 2 bottles of water for your walk. 

• It can get really cold here, so bring a windbreaker or sweater if required. 

• English is rarely spoken here so be prepared and please wear comfortable walking shoes to come here. Not sandals, slippers, wedges or high heels.

• Prepare to spend about 500 Yuan per person for cable car and so on here. This includes the park entrance fees, the multiple cable car ticket prices and for your food and drinks. Overall, you can save some money by hiking some of the routes. 

Cable Car Operating Times at Cangshan Mountain

• Cangshan Mountain Cableway Operation Time - 8.00am to 6.40pm
(This is the North entrance to the National Park)
• Gantong Cableway Operation Time - 8.30am to 6.00pm
(This is the South entrance to the National Park)

Cangshan Mountains in Dali
View of Dali from the Cangshan Cable Car
Best time to visit Cangshan Mountain

The best time to visit is actually in April-May as this is where the flowers bloom just after the winter and mid-spring. If you go in early April, the rivers may still be dry as I experienced. Moreover, walking the Jade Belt Road in this time will be very cooling. 

I would recommend visiting the mountains using the north entrance then head to the 3 Pagodas of Chongsheng which is nearby. And in terms of accommodation, I strongly recommend staying in Dali ancient city as this is the epicentre of the Bai culture and heritage. 

For my trip here, our group was put up at the very unique and interesting Haidu Hotel in Dali, which resembles a traditional Chinese temple courtyard and facade. This is also walking distance to the center town gates. 

Map of Cangshan Mountain Ropeway
The Cangshan Mountain Ropeway map
To get here, I flew AirAsia to Kunming and then took an overland drive to Dali. This is one of the unique places of China which is not over populated with tourist as it is still beautiful and underdeveloped. The ancient town of Dali still maintains the traditional lifestyle of the Bai people while the culture and heritage here still remains strong among the people. 

There are quite a number of things to do in Dali which includes visiting the massive Erhai Lake, Suang Lang fishing Village, 3 Pagodas and the majestic Cangshan Mountain Ropeway in Dali.


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