Highlights

Longing for a luxury but unique adventure in China? Abandon those well-worn routes to dive into the underexplored Yunnan. Capture some of the last remaining places of a bygone China, with enriching cultural experiences and endless contact with the untouched nature, while at the same time staying at a hand-picked selection of luxurious hotels and savoring unique Yunnan cuisine at local featured restaurants.

Yunnan Discovery will make sure you have an epic journey. So contact us right now for a private, bespoke and authentic travel experience in Yunnan.

Top Things to Do:

  • Take this off-the-beaten-track itinerary to experience the luxuious Yunnan in 12 days.
  • Witness the essence of world’s karst landscape at Kunming Stone Forest;
  • Delight in cruising Dali’s Erhai Lake and ascending Cangshan Mountain by cableway;
  • Explore the UNESCO-protected ancient towns and villages in Lijiang;
  • Luxuriate in the beauties of Tiger Leaping Gores and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain;
  • Enjoy a secret getaway in Shangri-La and make Chinese black pottery yourself;
  • Stand in Awe before Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the reputed lesser Potala Palace;
  • Enjoy the relaxing time and spa treatment at luxury accommodations.
  • Travel Style: original, private tour, classic, luxury, adventure

    Best Time to Travel: all year round

    Destinations: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri-La

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    Meals Included: No Meals

    Cross cities, mountains, rivers and even oceans and arrive at Kunming Changshui International Airport. Take your time for landing and customs, and meet your private local guide of Yunnan Discovery at the exit of arrival hall, who is waiting patiently and holding your name sign. Then transfer to you luxurious hotel, with excellent location.

    Relax at hotel. Alternately, set out to see what the capital city of Yunnan is like – at your own pace. Kunming is well regarded as the Spring City with pleasant climate, beautiful settings and relaxing lifestyle.


    Recommended Luxury Hotel in Kunming: Zhongwei Green Lake Hotel, Hualuxe Kunming, or similar


    Meals Included: No Meals

    Today, with your private guide and driver, head for the UNESCO-protected Stone Forest (Shilin) Scenic Area. It is a majestic geological park and one of the oldest natural heritages on Earth, with the essence of South China Karst. Take in the sweep of Karst topography evolution history when walking through the enormous forest of rocky pinnacles.

    For your lunch, you can dine in style with a la carte menu, offering local flavor favorites.

    Drive back to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Alternately, with insight of your local guide, visit the cultural attractions of Kunming, and later enjoy the night life of Kunming.

    >> Want to travel in Yunnan like a local with fun experience? In Shilin, the hometown of Ashima, a legendary ethnic Sani girl, we can offer the brand-new traditional Sani outfit for you to try on. Furthermore, you can take it home as a very special souvenir.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    In the morning, you will be transferred to the railway station and take the super-fast bullet train from Kunming to Dali (about 2 hours travel time) with the first-class seat. Upon arrival, your local guide of Dali will meet you at the exit of railway station and transfer to your luxurious hotel beside Erhai Lake or inside the Old Town of Dali.

    The culturally rich Dali Old Town was the heart and soul of the great Nanzhao Kingdom (738 - 902), and today retains its old look hundreds of years ago. The traditional dwellings of black roof-tiles and white walls stand still on both sides of the cobbled streets, as if they are telling the stories and legends of ethnic Bai people, who are the primary residents and hosts of Dali ever since ancient times.

    Enjoy a boat cruise on Erhai Lake, one of the biggest and most beautiful lakes in Yunnan. Sail to the middle of the lake to experience the ultimate serenity and bask in the sunlight and fresh air. Take a shore excursion to Tianjing Pavilion where you can overlook Erhai Lake resembling a “sky mirror” under Cangshan Mountain.


    Recommended Luxury Hotel in Dali: Hotel Indigo Dali Erhai, The One Hotels & Resorts, or similar

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Take Cangshan Mountain cableway to reach the Zhonghe Peak (above 3500m), one of the 19 peaks of the grand Cangshan mountain ranges. When going up and down slowly, you can overlook the entire Old Town of Dali, Erhai Lake and even the snow-capped peaks of Cangshan.

    Then visit Chengsheng Temple and its Three Pagodas, dating to the 9th Century. They are the iconic structures of Dali and an ancient shrine for Buddhist. Legend has that several monarchs of Nanzhao Kingdom seek Dharma as a monk in this temple.

    Enjoy a special Bai style lunch at a local farmer’s house in Zhoucheng Village.

    Admire Dali Bai people’s ancient residential houses concentrated in Xizhou Ancient Town. As one of the finest example of Chinese traditional dwellings, Bai residential houses are exquisitely built with beautiful designs, carvings and paintings on the window, door, eave and wall. Drive back to hotel and relax.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    It is a special arrangement for you to experience Dali on your town – to unwind at a cozy café, to enjoy the clean air and tranquility and authenticity beside the lake connecting the primitive countryside. Also relax at your luxurious hotel with a spa or massage to reward every inch of your skin. Feel as you are totally refreshed.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    It takes 2.5 to 3 hours from Dali to Lijiang. Check into your luxurious hotel in the Old Town of Dayan or Shuhe. Both of them are part of the UNESCO-listed Lijiang Ancient Town. Dayan is bigger, busier and more prosperous while Shuhe is quieter and more primitive.

    After a rest at hotel, head for Mufu Mansion in Dayan. A masterpiece of ancient Chinese palace architecture, it is known as the Forbidden City in Lijiang. Chieftain Mu, King of Lijiang Naxi people, lived here for 470 years from 1253 to 1723. It is a wonderful place to learn Lijiang history and Naxi minority culture.

    Climb Lion Hill and reach Wangu Pavilion – another iconic structure of Lijiang and entirely made of timber. If weather permits, watch the sun sets over the ancient Naxi architectures in Lijiang Old Town, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the picturesque villages.


    Recommended Luxury Hotel in Lijiang: Amandayan, Banyan Tree Lijiang, or similar

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    Admire the holy Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Drive all the way to the Ganhaizi Scenic Area (at 3050m). It is an open alpine meadow, where when you look up you can see all the 13 peaks of JDSM. Then watch the highest open-air show on Earth - the wonderful Impression Lijiang, with the mighty Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as the backdrop. Enjoy the beautiful music and dance, the ingenious artistic style and ultimate visual effect.

    Later explore the timeless Yuhu Village under the foot of JDSM, where the houses, walls and streets are made of stones. Untrimmed flowers and trees grow wantonly along the wall. Everything here is humble yet lovely. No wonder Dr Joseph Rock working for National Geographic Magazine used to live here for 27 years, and today you can still find his former home.

    Visit Baisha Ancient Town, the heart of Naxi before Dayan. Apart from seeing its traditional dwellings and lifestyle, you can also glimpse the interesting local handicrafts. Enjoy a la carte lunch at a local restaurant. 

    Then has a walk in Lijiang’s iconic landmark – the park of Black Dragon Pool. Try to take a perfect photo with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain reflected on the pool.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    Enjoy the peaceful time in Lijiang and feel like you’re standing aloof from the world. Have a cup of tea while glazing quietly at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain or a long-gone world. Then relax thoroughly with a special spa treatment at your hotel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Continue your adventure in Yunnan and head for Shangri-La, a dream land under the Himalayas. En route, stop by Shigu Town. This small historic town offers the best view of the First Bend of Yangtze River, with the water flowing down from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

     Admire the spectacular scenery at Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest and most gorgeous gorges in the world. It is said that TLG was formed because of Jinsha River (the upper reach of Yangtze) was stopped by Jade Dragon and Haba snow mountains. 

    Arrive Shangri-La and transfer to your luxurious hotel that blends the Tibetan architectural style, which is supposed to be one of those secluded accommodations on Earth. Spend the reminder of the day to acclimate the high altitude at around 3500m and get closer to nature.


    Recommended Luxury Hotel in Shangri-La: Banyan Tree Ringha, Songtsam Retreat Shangri-La, Shangri-La Hotel & Resorts, or similar

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Take cable car up the holy Shika Snow Mountain (at 4500m) and visit the Blue Moon Valley Scenic Area. "Shika" in Tibetan means "a mountain with red deer", which is one of the auspicious animals of Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, Tibetan people regard Shika Snow Mountain as the protection god of Shangri-La. On the mountaintop, you can also see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Meili Snow Mountain, Holy Mountain of Daocheng and Biluo Snow MountaiSongtsam Retreat Shangri-Lan.

    Then visit Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, in large scale and of great importance in Tibetan Buddhism, thus known as the “lesser Potala Palace” in Yunnan. Appreciate its Tibetan castle style architecture and the preserved Buddhist cultural and artistic relics. 

    Enjoy time in the old town of Shangri-La, named Dukezong or Moon Light City. it was vital to the Ancient Tea-horse road for caravans travelled further to Tibet and Southeast Asian countries. Experience the Tibetan lifestyle here and find the world’s largest prayer wheel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Experience the superior Chinese ceramic art at Nixi Tangdui Black Pottery Village. At this small Tibetan village, surrounded by lush vegetation, you will have fun with the clay and learn from the local artisan to make black pottery wares. The technology of Nixi black pottery lives up to the spirit of ancient Chinese ceramic crafts, at the same time blending unique local skills. 

    Savor chicken steamed in stone bowl with other Nixi specialty dishes for lunch. 

    Enjoy the fresh clean air and unspoiled nature in Napahai Grasslands, a national nature reserve. It is a jewel-like lake in summer, but a vast grassy marshland in autumn & winter when the migratory birds including black-necked crane and bar-headed goose fly here and live freely. 

    Return to hotel for relax or a spa treatment.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

    Transfer from hotel to the Shangrila airport. Your guide will assist you in check-in procedures and walk you to the security pass. Wave goodbye and fly back home safely and soundly.

    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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