Highlights

China’s iconic destinations Beijing and Shanghai, together with Yunnan Province, the best hidden gem in China, are to be explored with 12 days classic itinerary. This incredible China discovery tour combines China’s highlight attractions, ancient & modern wonders and remote villages with secret treasures that are less travelled.

Get started in Beijing to be embraced by history and then travel off the beaten track to Yunnan, where the sublime plateau landscape and thousand year-old towns and villages await. End the tour in Shanghai with city sightseeing and panoramic high altitude view.

Top things to do:

  • 12 days China & Yunnan tour to the most rewarding destinations – Beijing & Shanghai, with a perfect escape to “the Kingdom South of Clouds”.
  • See the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Forbidden City and more remarkable architectures with art treasures of ancient China.
  • Ride a rickshaw through the long and narrow hutong alleyways, experiencing Old Beijing’s life, folklores and art.
  • Get off the typical tourist trail and venture to the charming Old Town of Lijiang and Dali, discovering the remote villages on ancient Tea-horse Route, meeting unsophisticated local minority people, and feasting on local cuisines.
  • Escape the mountains and rivers of Yunnan, viewing Stone Forest, and Tiger Leaping Gorge, hiking Cangshan Mountain and cruising on emerald lake.
  • Discover the charm of Shanghai, China’s magic city, and glimpse Shanghainese’s life style.
  • Travel Style: private tour, original, classic, culture, nature

    Best Time to Travel: All year round

    Destinations: Beijing, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shanghai

    Day

    Meals: No Meals Fly over ocean, mountains and cities into China, and arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport. Your private local guide and driver of Yunnan Discovery have been waiting and will give you a warm welcome. Transfer into your hotel. Your first contact with Beijing is comfortable and delightful.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Start the morning with a Kung Fu lesson at the Temple of Heaven – practicing the slow, soft but strong Tai Chi boxing by following a master. Admire the magnificent architectures of Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420, it was a royal religious site, where Ming and Qing Emperors worshiped god of heaven for national harvest and stability.

    Come at the heart of Beijing. Cross Tiananmen Square, world’s largest city square, to view Tiananmen Rostrum, as well as the portrait of Chairman Mao, and walk into the once mysterious Forbidden City – now a fabulous ancient Chinese culture and art museum, named Palace Museum. From your knowledgeable expert guide, you learn the imperial history and the back stories of those relics and treasures on display. Later cross an avenue and reach the top of Jingshan Hill, where you can enjoy an incredible panorama of Forbidden City.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Today, take in magnificent views of the Great Wall of China stretching for more than 20,000km over the mountaintops, acknowledged as the greatest man-made fortification in human history. Enjoy the cableway ride up Mutianyu, a less-visited part of the Great Wall that keeps its original looks. Hike and climb the stairs to find the beacon towers and view the world underfoot.

    Then ride a rickshaw through the crisscrossed hutong alleyways, dating to 600 years ago. The relaxing trip offers an insight into traditional Beijing life, folklores and handicrafts. Explore its centuries year-old quadrangle courtyards, houses, workshops, wooden gates… The hutong scene is the cultural root of Beijingers and rarely seen in any other places.

    >> Want to watch the sunrise or sunset on the Great Wall? We can arrange you the hotels at the foot of the Great Wall with special access to the Great Wall during the off hours, so that you can enjoy the peaceful sunrise and sunset without tourists.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Continue to admire China’s ancient majesty – touring Summer Palace. The royal garden, with a series of beautiful architectures of the traditional dignified and noble style, was built against a hillside and beside the pretty Kunming Lake. Like an emperor, cruise on the lake and enjoy the stunning scenery.

    Depart Beijing and take a flight to Kunming. Arrive China’s pleasant Spring City, from where, you will veer "off the beaten path".

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Today drive to visit Yunnan Stone Forest Geological Park (UNESCO) in Shilin County. It is a typical example of karst geological and geomorphic relics on Earth and the origin of the word "stone forest". Here you can view the oldest, most diverse and complex limestone formations, including pinnacles, peaks, caves, stalactites, natural bridges, waterfalls… in an area of 500 km2.

    Drive back to downtown Kunming. If you’re dance and music enthusiasts, make sure you don’t miss the fantastic Dynamic Yunnan (optional). You’re going to be amazed by the mysterious original ethnic dance moves, accompanied by the unusual folk songs.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Take high speed train from Kunming to Dali, the habitation for Bai minority people. Begin your full day Dali tour with a walk exploring the old town of Dali, the once soul and heart of ancient Dali Kingdom, where the old stone-paved streets, traditional dwellings of white walls and grey tiles and mighty city gates are meticulously preserved.

    Keep enjoying Dali’s laidback and comfortable vibe and get closer to the nature. Take cableway up Cangshan Mountain, soaring towards the sky. The snow of Cangshan Mountain is one of Dali’s four famous scenes. Hike along Jade Belt Road for 1 to 2 hours. Overlook Dali and Erhai Lake, take in the breathtaking high-altitude views and tranquility and have a feeling that you walk on the clouds.

    Later tour Erhai Lake by boat cruise. The lakes in Yunnan are regarded as the pearls on the plateau. Erhai is one of the most beautiful, with a kind of infinite pure blue, shinning in the sunlight. The boat cruise also allows a shore excursion to Tianjing Pavilion (Sky Mirror Pavilion).

    >> If you’re a tea enthusiast, your guide of Yunnan Discovery can lead you to the tea garden on Cangshan Mountain, and savor the simple joy and peace when surrounded by tea fragrance, and the greens and blues.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Discover an ancient shrine in Dali – Chongsheng Temple and its three pagodas. The Buddhism used to dominate the kingdom, when several of the Dali kings abdicated and handed over the crown to the successor, and later become monks in Chongsheng Temple. The three pagodas are the finest examples of Chinese pagodas and Buddhist architectures.

    Then visit Xizhou Old Town, steeped in history. Here you can discover Bai folklores such as the tie-dye handicraft and the best-kept traditional Bai dwellings – a great works of architecture. Walk around the traditional market to glimpse the local lifestyle.

    After lunch, make your way to Lijiang, the homeland of Naxi (2.5 hours’ drive). Explore Lijiang Old Town (Dayan), the historical center of Lijiang and still experiencing the good times today. It was carefully constructed along the streams with a refined layout. As for the architectures of Dayan, they are very beautiful, exquisite and elegant, blending different architectural styles.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Wake in the ancient capital of Naxi. After breakfast, navigate to Yuhu Village, an untouched ancient Naxi hamlet nestled at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Naxi people live their life in a traditional way, by wearing Naxi clothes, living in the original brick-stone houses and riding horses. Drop on the Former Residence of Dr Joseph Rock, who dedicated his life to research Lijiang and Dongba Culture.

    Move to Baisha Ancient Town, the once capital of Naxi, but much less crowded and touristy than Dayan (Lijiang Old Town) with ancient streets, architectures, handicrafts, etc. You probably feel like going back in time. Appreciate Baisha Fresco, the highest artistic achievement of Naxi, blending paintings, religions and mysterious Dongba Culture.

    Explore Black Dragon Pool, another highlight attraction of Lijiang. Soak up the amazing views of the snowy mountain, jade-like lake, ancient structures and arched bridges.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Spend a day exploring Lijiang’s stunning nature. Arrive Shigu Town, with a significant military strategy location in ancient times, and vital to the transportation between Yunnan and Tibet. Besides, it is the best place to view the First Bend of Yangtze River. The mighty Yangtze traverses the mountains and valleys of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from east to north, but it is stopped here, forming a huge V-shape.

    Then tour Tiger Leaping Gorge, enjoying a delightful walk for around 2 hours. It is the deepest and most beautiful gorge in China. The mountains soar up to the sky, while the Jinsha River roars on the deep bottom. Hikers also list Tiger Leaping Gorge as one of the 10 best treks in the world. Free at leisure in the rest of the day.

    Meals: Breakfast

    Lijiang is an ideal place to idle about. Sip drinks at the bar to enjoy for the moment and stare blankly at the snowy mountains and azure sky.

    Fly from Lijiang to Shanghai, returning to the modern world. One of the most bustling metropolises on Earth, Shanghai is where you can see future trends with numerous modern marvels, yet, it also fascinates visitors with its unique elegant traditional vibe if you travel with a local insider.

    >> Wish to explore more of Yunnan for its culture and nature? You’re encouraged to extend the trip from Lijiang to ShangriLa, where a reclusive world awaits.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Enjoy a full day exploring Shanghai’s historical corners, cultural sites and modern spectacles. Visit Shanghai Museum, to be amazed by the precious exhibits of ancient paintings, bronze wares, handicrafts, etc. Then visit the elaborate Yu Garden, one of the best classical gardens in China. Wander around to see its corridors, pavilions, rockery, artificial pools, bridges… Later enjoy the laidback ambience at Yuyuan Market area lined with old streets and Town God Temple Area, the celebrated food paradise in Shanghai.

    Come at the futuristic Lujiazui Financial District, packed with high-rise buildings. And you are going to the highest one – Shanghai Tower that boasts the world’s highest observation deck. Enjoy yourself the best ever city high altitude views.

    Ramble the Bund. The 52 colonial buildings in different styles remind people Shanghai’s turbulent modern history. Learn from your local guide the stories that happened on the Bund and travel back in time to the 19th – 20th Century.

    The Shanghai acrobatics performance, world-famous for fusing classical Chinese tricks and skills and modern technology, is a good activity at night (optional).

    >> Want to experience Shanghai in a more cool and traditional way? We can arrange you the Shanghai sidecar tours to discover the more secret corners and glimpse local life.

    Meals: Breakfast

    As your 12 days China & Yunnan tour comes to end, your tour guide and driver will transfer you from hotel to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Board your flight home. Yunnan Discovery service ends. Welcome to China again!

    What's included

    • One-on-one travel counseling service with fully tailor-made itinerary
    • Private English-speaking guide, native-born or with years of local life experience
    • Reservations of domestic flights and trains as listed on your itinerary
    • Private driver, with comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle
    • Entry tickets to all attractions on your itinerary
    • Private transfers to airport/hotels/attractions
    • Handpicked accommodations to meet your needs, with daily breakfast
    • Lunch and dinner arranged at local restaurants, for taste of Yunnan
    • International flight tickets or train tickets
    • China Visa (but we can send you the invitation letter to help you apply China visa)
    • Tips for guides, escort, drives, bellman
    • Personal expenses

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