Home   >> China Travel Guide
  China Travel Guide  >>   China Attractions Guide  >>  

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

Comments on Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas by the World Heritage Committee

Consisting of eight geographical clusters of protected areas, within the mountainous northwest of Yunnan Province, the 17,000-square-kilometer site features sections of the upper reaches of three of the great rivers of Asia: the Yangtze (Jinsha), Mekong (Lancang) and Salween (Nujiang), which run roughly parallel, from north to south, through steep gorges 3,000 meters deep in places and bordered by glaciated peaks more than 6,000 meters high. The site is an epicenter of Chinese biodiversity. It is also one of the richest temperate regions of the world in terms of biodiversity.

Brief Introduction

The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas refers to a unique natural and geographical landscape: the Jinsha, Lancang and Nujiang rivers flow, but do not converge. This protected area covers Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Lijiang area. The site consists of eight geographic clusters—the Gaoligong Mountain Area, the Baima-Meili Snow Mountain, the Haba Snow Mountain Area, the Qianhu Mountain Area, the Red Mountain Area, the Yunling Mountain Area, the Lao-jun Mountain Area, and the Laowo Mountain Area. Covering some 17,000 square kilometers, it is the largest area of its kind, with the richest landscapes and the most colorful ethnic customs.

The Gaoligong Mountain Area, the most extensive protected area, features numerous gorges, cliffs, streams, waterfalls and lakes, and virgin evergreen broad-leaved forests, as well as the traditional customs of multiple ethnic groups. The Stone Moon Scenic Area is a typical representative of the alpine karst water-erosion caves in the upper reaches of the Nujiang River.

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

The Baiman-Meili Snow Mountain features the highest holy peak, a modern glacier at the lowest altitude, the hot dry valley of the Lancang River, and the gorges of the Jinsha River. It also has a rich Tibetan religious culture and ethnic flavor.

The Haba Snow Mountain Area, located in Shangri-La County of Deqen Prefecture, features a modern oceanic glacier at the southernmost latitude, an Indian azalea forest, alpine lakes, glacier peaks, snowy mountains, belt-like clouds, and lava formations.

The Qianhu Mountain Area is one of concentrated virgin vegetation and glacially eroded lakes in the upper reaches of the Jinshan River. It features alpine lakes and meadows, Indian azalea forests, and fir forests.

The Red Mountain Area features gorges, alpine ice-sheets, alpine moraine lakes, alpine meadows, streams, waterfalls and primeval forests.

The Yunling Mountain Area is a natural habitat of many wild animals, of which the most interesting and representative are the Yunnan golden monkeys.

The Laojun Mountain Area includes glacially-eroded alpine lakes, alpine Indian azalea forests, thawed-glacier landforms, alpine meadows, and alpine Danxia landform.

The Laowo Mountain Area features alpine lakes and meadows and many beautiful wild flowers.

Here we find the richest natural museum of geology and landforms in the world. These landforms include 118 snow-capped mountains, each at an elevation of at least 5,000 meters above sea level, glaciers, glacial lakes, and alpine Danxia landorms. It is also one of regions with the richest ecological landscapes and biodiversity in China. Meanwhile, various ethnic groups, languages, religions and customs peacefully coexist in the area — a phenomenon seldom seen in the world.

Website: www.tprcc.com

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

Tourist Information Transport

Tourists can reach Deqen from Kunming quite easily by bus, or alternatively fly to Shangri-La County. Lijiang is 180 kilometers away from Shangri-La County, with a few shuttle buses running between them every day. Dali is 300 kilometers away from Shangri-La County, and again a bus service operates between the two.


Deqen is rich in natural medicinal resources, and the Meili Snow Mountain is often referred to as "the Mountain of Medicinal Materials". Tibetan drugs produced here, such as the 70-flavor Pearl Pill, 25-Flavor Pearl Pill and Chamcho, are very famous. All kinds of Tibetan handicrafts constitute the special local products of Deqen Prefecture, and these include the heavenly beads, silver knife, wooden bowl, wooden box, and silver talismanic Buddhist box. When visiting Deqen, one should also look out for milk cakes, yak meat, tricholoma matsutake and qingke highland barley wine.

Other Information

Please be aware that this trip can be quite hard, so is probably most suitable for those who are used to hiking and out-of-doors sports.

<< Back

Explore The China Travel Guide

First Name:
Last Name: