There are two cable cars and one chairlift taking visitors up the CangShan mountain. Below is a description of the three. Tickets can be bought at travel agencies or guesthouses for a small discount and/or a free pickup service or at the entrance.
Pricing was accurate at time of writing but can change without notice.
ZhongHe Chairlift (30RMB one way, 60 RMB two ways + 40 RMB national park entry fee). Starting about 400m north west of the top of SanYueJie, this chairlift takes you up to the ZhongHe temple on the “cloud pass” or “jade belt path” (same path, different names). Use the Insight Dali map to see more detailed directions. The ride takes about 25 minutes, passing through the pine forests with a multitude of tombs visible. This is probably the best value of the chairlifts and cable cars. From there you can either choose to head north or south. We recommend going north as there are far less people and you are more likely to see some wildlife (there are even red pandas on the CangShan mountain!). Heading north about 5km you will intersect with a long winding road. Look for a path straight down to save about one hour walking time. You will eventually reach the highway. You can wait for a bus or just walk back. For those not wishing to walk down just buy a two way ticket.
Gantong Cablecar (50RMB one way, 80 RMB two ways + 40 RMB national park entry fee). This cablecar begins at the GanTong Temple (the turn off is about halfway between Dali Old Town and XiaGuan). From the turnoff it is about 4km up to reach the cable car. At the end of the cable car is the QingBi waterfall and CangShan grand canyon. You can either have a wander and return on the cable car or walk the 11km to the ZhongHe temple. Unfortunately there is no cooperation between the Gantong cable car and ZhongHe chairlift so tickets will need to be bought separately. (Some guests have said the ZhongHe chairlift people let them return with a GanTong cable car ticket. Please do not “expect” this to happen. They probably just decided with language barrier issues it was easier to just let them on).
Xi Ma Tan Cablecar (280 RMB two ways including access to the TianLongBaBu movie studio). The newest, longest (in China) and most expensive of the three cable cars takes you to just 100m below the summit (4000m). Kilometres of boardwalks extend to some beautiful scenic spots including the historic XiMaTan (Horse washing pool), where Kublai Khan rested his horses before conquering Dali in 1254. There are no boardwalks to the summit proper, presumably for safety reasons.