An essential Yunnan tour program, it covers the best destinations including Dali, Shaxi, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La. Yet, the travel experts of Yunnan Discovery craft it for you to see the REAL Yunnan. Apart from the must-visit sights, your local guide will also lead you to the off the beaten paths to explore further into the rarely-visited places of Yunnan, and make ways for your sense to experience peculiar fascinations of ethnic cultures and pure nature charms.

Top Things to Do:

  • Take 10 days Yunnan hiking tour to asmire sublime highlands scenery and delve into thousands year-old Yunnan cultures and traditions.
  • Relax and enjoy the sheer joys in the charming old towns of Lijiang, Dali and Shangri-La.
  • Experience the ethnic cultures of Bai, Naxi and Tibetan, plus different lifestyles.
  • Venture into the wild of Yunnan by hiking Cangshan Mountain, Shibaoshan, Wenhai Lake and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • Lost in Shaxi Ancient Town over the age of 2000, and trace the Ancient Tea Horse Road sites.
  • Travel Style: original, private tour, culture, hiking, adventure, photography

    Best Time to Travel: all year round

    Destinations: Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri-La (Zhongdian)


    Meals Included: No Meals

    On arrival in China and make your connection flight to Dali. Your private guide of Yunnan Discovery will meet you at the arrival hall of Dali Airport and give you a cordial welcome. Transfer to your hotel in Dali Old Town and check in.

    You will be transferred around to acclimate the new surroundings and weather. Pay a visit to the Three Pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple, the iconic landmark of Dali, standing majestically against the Cangshan Mountain. A royal temple of the Kingdom of Nanzhao, it was built in the 9th Century, and of typical Dali architecture.

    Then transfer back to Dali old town, a prosperous capital tracing over a thousand years ago, with profound Bai ethnic culture and folklores. Today, it is an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing.

    Tips: There are direct flights to Dali from Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha and some other China cities, so you don't have to make a stopover in the provincial capital Kunming.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    In the morning, your private guide will pick you up from your hotel lobby and transfer to the foot of Cangshan Mountain, take a cable car up to the half way of the mountain and start around 3-hour hiking. Cangshan Mountain is a UNESCO Global Geopark, where the Himalaya ends. The beautiful walking path is called Jade Belt Path, embraced by tranquil woods, and offers a great view of Erhai Lake. Hike Cangshan Mountain in different seasons, you will be rewarded different beautiful sceneries. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant for you to taste authentic Yunnan and Dali dishes.

    In the afternoon, bike Erhai Lake along the West Ring Road (about 2 hours). It is one of the best ways to discover the beauty of Erhai Lake and also Dali. Bike freely on the paths of crisscrossed farmlands, into the idyllic countryside, and find pristine fishing villages. Then transfer back to the hotel to have a good rest.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    After breakfast and check out from hotel, transfer to enjoy a 1-hour cruise on Erhai Lake by fishing boat for relaxation. Learn about the fisherman and your guide about the traditional way to fish.

    Then have a visit of a wet market at Xizhou Town, where fresh food materials, vegetables, mushrooms and a wide variety of local specialities are for sale. And you will have a glimpse of local people's daily life. Xizhou Town is another important settlement for Bai people. Here you will find the best preserved and the largest collection of Bai nationality residential complex.

    After a lunch at a local restaurant in Xizhou, drive about 2 hours to Shaxi Ancient Town and check-in to hotel. Roam around, you wil get a speical feeling of traveling backward in time. With a history of more than 2400 years, as well as its primitive architectures, antient stone-paved alleys, bridges, temples, caravansaries, Shaxi is a 'truly ancient town' in the world, untouched by modern civilization.

    A trade hub of the Ancient Tea Horse Road and a Buddhist cultural center of Dali Nanzhao Kingdom hundreds of years ago, Shaxi is now a lost city. When the weather is good, look up for the stars flickering over the sky and drink in the peace and serenity at the moment.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Hopefully you have had a sound sleep last night, and this morning, we'll hike from Shaxi to Shibaoshan for about 3 hours. Along the road, you will see paddy farms, vegetable fields, pristine villages, rolling mountains afar and clear blue sky above (during sunny day).

    Shibaoshan is of typical Danxia Landform and features oddly-shaped hills and stones, looking like the bell, sword, lion, elephant…

    Visit Baoxiang Temple on Shibaoshan Mountain, known as the 'Hanging Temple' in Yunnan, and also the exquisite over 1000-year-old stone carvings at Shizhong Temple, which are art treasures of Nanzhao Kingdom, and important historical relics to study Bai ethnic culture and folklores.

    After lunch, drive about 2 hours to Lijiang. On arrival in Lijiang Old Town, check in to your hotel. Lijiang is the best-kept and one of the most famous anceint towns in China. The scenery and local village life are fascinating, and are for you to discover.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    This morning we take a leisure tour of Lijiang Old Town, originally called Dayan, which is a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site. Wandering around, you will see ancient cobbled streets, meandering streams, quaint traditional courtyards and houses. The old town also offers views that will take your breath away.

    Make a visit to Black Dragon Pool, where the snow-capped mountains seemingly shimmer when they are reflected in the waters of the lake, which is the water source for Dayan. There are a dozen elegant historical structures of bridge, pavilion, temple and ancestral hall in the park. Black Dragon Pool has become an iconic image of Lijiang Old Town.

    Lunch will be a served at a local restaurant in Lijiang Old Town – taste popular Lijiang foods and snacks.

    This afternoon we take a trip to Lashi Lake Wetland Park (at 2437m), an ecological protection base of The Nature Conservancy. Here the marsh grass is flourishing and the scenery is amazing. December to March is the best time for bird-watching at Lashi Lake.

    Optional Activity (not included in the quotation): It will be intoxicating to take a boat (canoe or kayak) on Lashi Lkae, while enjoying the natural scenery.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Today we have a full day tour of Lijiang countryside. Make a hike journey to Wenhai Lake (average altitude of 3180m), part of Lashi Lake plateau wetland nature reserve, with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as its backdrop. In summer, all kinds of flowers are in full blossom. While in winter, migratory birds fly from the north and perch at Wenhai Lake.

    We will hike for about 4 hours over the mountains and get to Wenhai Lake. The hiking path was a major thoroughfare of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, and is rarely visited in nowadays. The small villages in this area are like reminiscent of China many years ago and offer a perfect way for you to see the real rural China.

    Drive to Baisha Village, the previous political, economic and cultural center of Lijiang. After having a late lunch, visit Baisha Murals, a Buddhist art treasure mostly created in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Later visit an embroidery school, where there are beautiful embroidery works collections on display and people making hand embroidery on-site.

    This afternoon we also make a visit to Yu Hu Village at the southern foothill of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It is the former home of Dr. Joseph Rock, a renowned US naturalist who used to live in Yuhu Village for 27 years. Here the more traditional Naxi way of life continues. Then transfer back to your hotel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Check out from hotel, and then drive about 1.5 hours from Lijiang to Qiaotou Town, which means the head of the bridge in Chinese. From here we start a 2-day Tiger Leaping Gorge trekking tour. The trail rises alternating between forests and cultivated farmlands. After 2 hours hiking, we arrive at Naxi Family Guesthouse for lunch.

    Keep on moving, we come to the most challenging part of the trek as the trail rises steeply with "28 bends" to the top of the 'high path' (the hiking path, not the road for vehicle). As continually hiking along the 'high path', we will be rewarded with amazingly beautiful views of the Tiger Leaping Gorge with gushing river deep below. And look up, you will see the majestic Jade Dragon Mountain is seemingly within reach.

    After 4 hours hiking in the afternoon, we arrive at Old Tea Horse Guesthouse, your accommodation for the night. This family-run guesthouse offers simple clean room with attached shower and toilet.

    Total hiking time today: 6 hours

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Get up early if you would like to take some photos of the great nature by sun rise. After breakfast, continue hiking for about 2 hours along the gorge and enjoy even more beautiful sceneries than yesterday, until we get to the Half-way Guesthouse.

    From here, we will walk through the vast farmlands and lovely small villages for another 2 hours, and feel lost in time and space. In the end, we get to the Tina Guesthouse where your private vehicle awaits and transfer you to Zhongdian (Shangri-La), a mysterious land. But yes, we should have lunch first.

    Total hiking time today: 4 hours

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    We are now on the Tibetan Plateau where the majority of people are Tibetans, who speak differently, eat differently, dress differently and live in a different kind of dwelling from outside world.

    Today we have one full day tour of Shangri-La (average altitude of 3459), the mini-Tibet. First, we pay a visit to the majestic Sumstenling Monastery, a Tibetan castle architecture complex. It is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan and known as the "the Mini Potala Palace". From Sumstenling Monastery, you can overlook Shika Snow Mountain in a distance.

    Then have a stroll around the over 1300-year-old Dukezong Ancient Town, or named Moonlight City. It possesses China's best-preserved and largest Tibetan dwelling group. Go across Moonlight Square and get to the White Chicken Monastery, where there the world's largest prayer wheel is located. Have lunch in the old town.

    This afternoon we travel to Nixi (Tanwei) pottery village, with a pottery manufacture history of around one thousand years. We visit their workshops and see the traditional way of pottery making.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    This morning you will be transferred to the Shangri-La Airport for your onward flight to the next destination. Your private guide will assist you in check-in procedures and walk you to the airport security. Your Yunnan tour ends. See you next time!

    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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