Looking beyond Beijing and Shanghai? Consider Yunnan and Tibet, two less-visited destinations in Southwest China that offer truly off-the-beaten-path wilderness. The 10 days Yunnan & Tibet discovery tour is a wonderful choice for nature lovers and adventure travel enthusiasts. Picture yourself walking amidst the spectacular mountains of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, soaking up the views of jewel-like plateau lakes, waking in hamlets shrouded in mystery, and paying homage to the ancient Buddhist shrines and temples in holy Lhasa.

Has your wanderlust been ignited? So, travel with Yunnan Discovery and go see the world from its roof!

Top things to do:

  • Travel to the unexplored Yunnan and timeless Tibet in 10 days – private and customized.
  • Get lost in the intriguing ancient towns of Lijiang and ShangriLa, visiting historical sites along the great Tea-horse Road.
  • Discover the unique, majestic yet serene natural beauty, forging the path through Tiger Leaping Gorge, exploring Potatso National Park and taking in heavenly Namtso Lake.
  • Explore several of China’s most legendary Buddhist temples, e.g. Sumtseling Monastery and Jokhang Temple, from the inside out.
  • Visit the Potala Palace in awe, experience Tibetan culture and life, and find inner calmness, embraced by snow-capped mountain ranges and pure blue sky.
  • Travel Style: private tour, original, adventure, culture, nature

    Best Time to Travel: All year round

    Destinations: Kunming, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Lhasa

    Altitude: between 1890m (6,200ft) and 4,718m (15,479ft)


    Meals: No Meals

    You may fly or ride a high speed train to Kunming. Upon arrival, your private guide of Yunnan Discovery will greet you at the arrival hall. Also meet your driver for a private transfer to your Kunming hotel.

    If you arrive before or around noon, there’s time to discover the cultural delights, markets of flowers and local people’s life at China’s “Spring City”. Wander around Green Lake, the most beautiful and dynamic park in Kunming city center, where the locals enjoy daily life with various activities. Visit Yuantong Temple, the largest and oldest temple in Kunming dating to 1200 years ago. And enjoy the beautiful, fragrant flowers, a famous scene in Kunming, at the lively market.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Ride a high speed train from Kunming to Lijiang, the homeland of Naxi and vital to the ancient Tea-horse Route (or known as the South Silk Road). Check-in to your hotel in the old town of Lijiang (Dayan).

    The ancestors of Naxi built this sophisticated town in the late 13th Century to be the capital of ancient Lijiang Kingdom. Surrounded by crisscrossed streets and alleyways and connected with common people’s dwellings is the Mufu Palace – the Forbidden City of Lijiang. It is the former residence of Chieftain Mu. The buildings combine traditional Han architectural style of Ming dynasty with the distinguished art of Bai and Naxi.

    Climb up to Wangu Pavilion on Lion Hill, the highest place of Lijiang Old Town, to take in intoxicating views of thousand year-old town, Lijiang countryside and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Enjoy the incredible charm and atmosphere when the sun is setting down slowly.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    This morning, explore the nature of Lijiang, taking in Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Ride cable car to the Yak Meadow, inhabited by Yi and Tibetan people and offering different views in different seasons. It is one of the best places to view the 13 silver peaks of the mountain. Be in awe watching the performance of Impression Lijiang – the highest open-air show on Earth. Enjoy the ancient Naxi music and dance that tells the legendary stories of Tea-horse road and melts into the grand snow mountain.

    After lunch, head for Yuhu Village, a tiny peaceful hamlet at the foot of snow mountain that reminds intact. In the early 20th Century, American Adventurer Dr. Joseph Rock, photographer of National Geographic, got inspired by Lijiang and lived in Yuhu for 27 years. His former residence can still be found.

    Journey to Baisha Ancient Town, Lijiang’s former capital before Dayan. Here the ancient structures are reminders of an old way of Naxi life. Soak up Naxi culture and art by visiting the Baisha Fresco. Later if time permits get to Shuhe Ancient Town, a well-preserved trading port on Tea-horse Road. Walk along the ancient streets and around the local markets - traces of merchant travelers can still be found even today.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Depart Lijiang and navigate to the entrance of Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest and most beautiful canyons in the world. Your guide will lead you to walk for a while from the viewing platform deeper into the gorge, to hear the roar of Jinsha River (the upper reach of Yangtze River) under feet and see big, high mountains soar to the sky.

    Continue the journey and arrive ShangriLa, a land of idyllic scenery nestled at the boundary of Yunnan, Tibet and Sichuan. After you settle in, enjoy a walking tour of the old town of ShangriLa, named Dukezong or Moonlight City. For the ancient merchant travelers, this town was a great place to trade and rest after traveling so far on the Tea-horse Road. Besides it was the first trading hub after getting into the Tibetan Region. Climb up Guishan Hill that provides a full panoramic vista of ShangriLa. Here you can also pray by twirling world’s biggest prayer wheel - you can make it only if twirling together with another three or four people.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    After breakfast, set out to explore the Potatso National Park. Potatso in Tibetan means taking a boat to reach the shore with divine intervention. The park is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas. Bitahai Lake and Shudu Lake are the core scenic area. Surround the lakes are forests and meadows, where you may see flocks of sheep and cattle and wildlife.

    After lunch, experience the brilliant Tibetan Buddhist culture and art at Gadan Sumtseling Monastery. Built against a hillside, it looks like an ancient castle, mysterious and majestic. Gadan Sumtseling Monastery is to Tibetans of ShangriLa as Potala Palace is to Tibetans of Lhasa. Climb over 100 stairs to get to the main halls, where you can see many Buddhist sculptures and relics and lamas learning. Look afar, the holy Shisha Snow Mountain comes into view.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Depart from ShangriLa and fly over snow-capped mountains, valleys, gores and rivers to Lhasa. Located in the center of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Lhasa is the political, economic and cultural center of Tibet. Furthermore, it is the premier sacred place for Tibetan Buddhists.

    Join the locals to walk along Barkhor Street, known as the sacred way or circumambulation way for the devotees making pilgrimages to Jokhang Temple. You may feel shocked and in awe seeing countless people, holding Buddhist beads, mumbling to themselves and kneeling down, to pray in front of Jokhang Temple. It is the holiest temple in Tibet, as it houses the life-size statue of 12-year-old Sakyamuni. And the buildings of Jokhang Temple are a masterpiece, blending Tibetan, traditional Chinese, Indian and Nepal architectural styles.

    Barkhor Street has gradually been the commercial center of Lhasa, lined with local specialty and souvenir shops. It also connects with the old city district of Lhasa, where the traditional Tibetan dwellings are well preserved and you can saok up the Tibetan folklore culture and experience the authentic local life.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Tour Norbulingka, the Summer Palace of Tibet, where the Dalai Lama used to deal with the political affairs and cool off in summer. The construction of Norbulingka absorbs both Tibetan architectural features and traditional Chinese garden art, showcasing in its palaces, halls, decorations and murals.

    Located at the southeast corner of Norbulingka, Tibet Museum is Tibet's first museum with modern functions to showcase Tibet’s history, culture, heritage, art and folklores.

    Then visit Potala Palace – a human palace closest to the sky - with awe. It was built in the 7th Century, consisting of the white palace and red palace, and today has become a Tibetan treasure trove of a large number of historical relics, including pagodas, statues, murals, thangkas, scripture classics… Potala in Sanskrit means the dwelling place of Avalokitesvara, thus it is also a sacred place.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    This morning, marvel at world’s biggest temple - Drepung Monastery. Rows of white buildings line the hillside, hence the name, Drepung - a huge pile of rice. It is also the most important temple of Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism and also famous for the grand Sun Buddha Ceremony (can be seen in Sho Dun Festival).

    Then visit another temple of Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism - Sera Monastery, which is renowned for the grand scene of Buddhist debate. Observe tens of lamas debate, practicing this wisdom tradition.

    Zhaji Temple is the only temple of wealth in Tibet, though only in a small scale. According to the locals, the god of Zhaji Temple is a wine lover, so they prepare liquor, along with hada (a piece of silk used as a greeting gift) to worship.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    It takes about 4.5 hours to drive from Lhasa to Namtso Lake. So get up early this morning and perhaps catch up on sleep on car.

    Namtso was formed at the end of tertiary and the beginning of quaternary as a result of Himalayan tectonic plate movements. Covering an area of 1920km², it is the third largest saltwater lake in China. Tibetan Buddhists consider Namsto the most sacred lake in Tibet, as they think it is actually the blue sky after falling down to the ground. So Namsto is also named Heaven Lake.

    On the way driving back to Lhasa, visit Yangpachen (Yangbajing) Town famous for various kinds of hot springs. Yangpachen geothermal field is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. When the big clouds of steam rise up from the lake, this place is like a fairyland on earth.

    Spend the last night in Lhasa, enjoying the most beautiful starry night on the roof of the world.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Your guide and driver will transfer you from hotel to airport. Say goodbye to Tibet and fly back home. End of your 10 days Yunnan & Tibet tour itinerary.

    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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