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The most popular day trip is to Baishui Tai (White Water Terraces; ¥80; 8am-6pm), a limestone-deposit plateau at the town of Sanba about 108km (67 miles) southeast of Xianggelila. These seemingly sculpted terraces, actually formed from calcium carbonate deposits over hundreds of years, are quite beautiful. It has become de rigueur for visitors to walk barefoot on the terraces, which appear slippery but are actually not. Nearby is the village of Baidi, the cradle of Naxi Dongba culture. To get there, it's best to hire a private car for ¥600; or join a day tour organized by the travelers' cafes or your hotel concierge desk.

Many tourists combine their Baishui Tai visit with a stop at Bita Hai (Bita Lake; ¥60; 8am-5pm, summer till 6pm) a nature reserve some 25km (15 miles) east of town whose centerpiece freshwater lake is awash in azalea blooms in June and a riot of autumn colors in September. There are two entrances to the lake: one in the west which is still several kilometers (a half-hour by pony) from the lake; and another in the south, on the road to Baishui Tai. From the southern entrance, it's a 2km (1 1/4-mile) walk down a log-lined path or a 20-minute pony ride for ¥20 to the lake. Many visitors tend to walk down and ride up, because the walk uphill at this altitude can be quite taxing. The main paths are full of tourists but there are plenty of opportunities to get away for more private hikes.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.