From Salween to Mekong

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8 Days
Spring, Fall

Take the road less traveled through Yunnan’s remote valleys along the mighty Salween and Mekong rivers. Retracing a trail forged by French missionaries in the nineteenth century, you’ll encounter wild frontier towns, soaring mountains, and Catholic churches.

About this Journey

During the nineteenth century, adventurous French missionaries embarked on an epic journey into the remote Tibetan valleys of Yunnan. Unfazed by the challenges that lay before them, they ventured out along two of Asia’s mightiest rivers – the Salween and the Mekong. This trip retraces the arduous route they took, through small villages and up and over a mountain along Yunnan’s border with Myanmar. Take the road less traveled and discover the Catholic communities and churches these missionaries left behind. The roads are long and the hikes can be demanding, but this trip provides a rare chance to explore the unknown face of China.

What we love
  • Embarking on an epic hike, passing by gurgling streams, verdant valleys, and leafy forests
  • Exploring 19th-century Catholic churches constructed from wood and stone by ambitious French missionaries
  • Camping out amidst the rugged natural beauty of Biluo Mountain
Where you're going
Yunnan map

Day 1 - 2Baoshan - Gongshan

Arrive in Baoshan • Travel along the mighty Salween, known in Chinese as the “Angry River,” to the untamed frontier town of Gongshan

Day 3 - 4Gongshan – Baihanluo – Biluo Mountain

Hike from Demalo village to Baihanluo village • Admire Baihanluo’s wooden Catholic Church, built in a distinctly Tibetan style by a French missionary in 1898 • Share lunch and a game with the local women’s basketball team • Hike to campsite, located at 3,000m • Hike up Biluo Mountain and cross over the Biluo Mountain pass at 3,900m • Set up camp in a lush valley beside a gurgling stream

Day 5 - 6Biluo Mountain Hike

Embark on a strenuous hike through exposed terrain and leafy forests to the Mekong valley • Descend, re-ascend, and then descend again to a small Tibetan village • Visit Cizhong’s Catholic Church, built from stone in 1867 • Drive along the Mekong and past Lisu villages to Tacheng

Day 6 - 7 Tacheng – Lijiang

Explore Tacheng Nature Reserve and encounter its snub-nosed monkeys • Amble through the small paths and canals that weave through Lijiang Old Town

Recommended Hotels

Songtsam Cizhong Lodge

Luxury Boutique

Nestled into a Tibetan village along the Mekong river, this cozy lodge offers views of the surrounding vineyards and hillsides.

Songtsam Tacheng Lodge

Luxury Boutique

Each room at the Songtsam Tacheng features a large balcony for enjoying views of surrounding river valley.


Set up camp and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful natural setting.


Recommended seasons



What’s Included

  • All overland transfers with private chauffeur and in-transport refreshments
  • All admission fees and activity expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary with complimentary drinking water
  • Ground transportation, including airport transfers
  • Services of an English-speaking WildChina guide
  • Private chauffeur service to and from airport at start and end of your trip

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, domestic trains, plus relevant taxes
  • Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
Why WildChina

We’re on the ground with you

Our team of advisors will design every detail of the trip with you through close consultation, then orchestrate your entire journey while on the ground. We’re in the same time zone as you, so we can fulfill requests and handle issues without a hitch. With over 40 staff in Beijing and an expansive network of operational partners across the country, we have the manpower to ensure your journey is safe, reliable and comfortable from beginning to end.

Your trip, your way

Flexibility is our highest-ranking compliment. We pull off journeys for pioneers with a 6-hour layover to Hollywood’s elite, and everywhere in between. Our team regularly pulls off unprecedented logistical feats; nearly any time frame or budget is within our realm. No matter how you wish to experience China, we are here to bring that dream to life.

We embody passion

WildChina guides are carefully handpicked for their knowledge and charisma, then meticulously trained to maintain our exceptional service standards. They are expert storytellers and passionate natives of the regions where they guide, having the perfect combination of local insights and service know-how to bring you seamless once-in-a- lifetime moments all across China.

The little things, the big picture

Supporting inspired local economies allows you to experience the soul of the destination, while also protecting and cultivating China’s artisanal culture. From watching artisans hand make shoes in Yunnan, to picking organic vegetables for dinner on a local farm in Fujian, our tours are designed to showcase and protect China’s heritage, both natural and human.