Discover Yunnan's most famous ancient towns and picturesque natural scenery in 8 days tour. You'll travel from Kunming to Dali by high speed train, an exhilarating experience for all ages. Visit the highlight attractions and go on an expedition to a bygone world, for a wealth of historical sites and a reclusive lifestyle experience. Travel further from Dali to Lijiang for unique cultural exploration and to Lugu Lake shrouded in an aura of mystery.

Top Things to Do:

  • Enter into the geological park of Stone Forest and find extraordinary beauty of limestone formations.
  • Visit several time-honored towns in Dali to experience the essence of China's minority culture, also with a journey backward in time.
  • Ascend Cangshan Mountain by cable car ride and appreciate the serene beauty of Erhai Lake by cruise.
  • Enjoy a relaxing trip to Lijiang and its Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with a close contact to nature.
  • Unwind spiritually and physically at Lugu Lake and even attend a campfire party.
  • Travel Style: private tour, original, bullet train tour, culture

    Best Time to Travel: All year round

    Destinations: Kunming, Dali, Shaxi, Lijiang, Lugu Lake



    Meals Included: No Meals

    Hello, welcome to Yunnan China! Your Yunnan tour begins in Kunming, the provincial capital city, the most modernized city in Yunnan, yet steeped in history and culture. Most people feel that the life in Kunming is comfortable, as it has a warm, pleasant climate throughout the year, hence the name Spring City. Meet your private guide of Yunnan Discovery at the airport, and transfer to check in to hotel in Kunming downtown area.

    If time permits, visit Green Lake Park and Kunming Flower and Bird Market, so that you can quickly acclimate to the new surroundings and new life.

    Green Lake Park – ideal for a leisure stroll, with a beautiful setting of green vegetation, lovely islets, gardens and bird-watching spots in winter

    Kunming Flower and Bird Market – a popular place favored by both locals and travelers, offering a various kinds of flowers all year round, as well as cute birds, pets, fish, antiques…

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Pick up from hotel lobby and take a private trip to Stone Forest (Shilin). It is wondrous land with an outstanding, sprawling set of rock formations, rarely seen on earth. Stone Forest entered the list of UNESCO World Geopark in 2014 and the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 2007. So obviously a visit of Stone Forest is one of the must things to do in Yunnan.

    Walk around to wonder at the peculiar-shaped peaks that were formed as early as 270 million years ago. Free your imagination and see what the stones look like, maybe an animal, a human figure and anything else.

    Then your guide and driver will drive you to Kunming South Railway Station, and take bullet train to Dali. On arrival, be met by your driver and guide of Dali, and transfer to Dali Ancient Town and check into your hotel.

    For the rest of the day, you can explore Dali old town by yourself. No matter you are Chinese culture fans, or kind of hermit, or adventurers, you're going to love Dali and its more than 1200-year-old ancient town. Have a brisk walk on the stone-paved road and discover many ancient structures. When the night falls, the town center is still full of excitements, whiles the back streets and corners completely quiet down.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    In the morning, transfer to visit the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple, a sacred Buddhist site and an iconic landmark of Dali. Built in the 9th Century during China's Tang Dynasty, it was a royal temple of Ancient (Dali) Nanzhao Kingdom. Thus there were nine emperors in history who chose to be monks and did Buddhist practice in Chongsheng Temple.

    The three pagodas possess a wealth of ancient Buddhist relics and are masterpieces of ancient Chinese architecture. The 62.4-meter-high Qianxun Pagoda stands in the middle, right next to the South Pagoda and North Pagoda, both 42.19 meters high.

    Later take a cable car slowly up Cangshan Mountain with an incredible panoramic view of Dali, its dotted villages and clean blue Erhai Lake. Cangshan Mountain is another UNESCO Global Geopark in Yunnan, and a beautiful place for nature lovers. The cable car will bring you to the halfway of Cangshan Mountain. Enjoy an easy delightful hike along Jade belt path (Yudai Road), and go through tranquil woods, green-lush plants, and mountain streams.

    After having lunch at a local restaurant in Dali, take a cruise on Erhai Lake and luxuriate in the cultural and natural beauties of Dali. The water flow very slowly and calmly. Thus your boat is like floating on a giant blue screen. Stop by an islet in the middle of Erhai Lake, named Jin Suo Island, accessible only by boat. It was once an isolated islet, and now becomes a beautiful fishing village with bustling fresh market.

    Visit Xizhou Ancient Town for a profound Bai ethnic culture tour. Here the typical Bai architecture and vernacular dwellings are best kept. Appreciate the beauty of richly ornamented buildings with carved beams, painted rafters, overhanging eaves and artistic walls.

    Then drive 2 hours to get to Shaxi Ancient Town, to be embraced by history.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    The old town of Shaxi looks pretty unremarkable when compared with China's skyscraper. Yet it offers a chance for visitors to discover the last remaining corners of a bygone China. Shaxi's architecture and streets keep the look of ancient days. Visit the Sideng Street, the old theater stage, ancient temple and caravansary. So you can travel back to the past, when it was a famous town on Ancient Tea Horse Road and connected with Tibet, India and Southeast Asian countries. If you happen to travel in Shaxi on Friday, your guide can lead you to the local market, with an insight into the peaceful local way of living.

    Then take a trip to Shibao Mountain, famous for mountainous beauty, fantastic (red) rock formations and most importantly its stone treasure caves. Marvel at Shizhongshan grottos, 1100 years old, known as "Southwest China's Mogao Caves", and mainly distributed in Shizhong Temple. Later visit 800-year-old Baoxiang Temple – "Yunnan's Hanging Monastery". The beautiful carved grottoes on Shibao Mountain are treasures of Buddhist art and offer materials to research the history of Dali.

    Go on your Yunnan tour to Lijiang old town, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan. For nearly 900 years it has been inhabited continuously, and altered and refurbished by Naxi people. Today it is a must-visit place in Yunnan and a perfect place to unwind and to explore colorful Chinese minority culture.

    The narrow streets extend to all directions and take you to Lion Hill, the highest place of Lijiang Ancient Town. There is an all-wood building named Wangu Pavilion, actually a viewing platform to overlook the entire old town and Lijiang's idyllic scenery. The majestic Jade Snow Mountain can also be seen in a distance. Behold the sunset over Liajing Ancient Town, then one by one the light from each house are on.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Take a trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to return to mystical nature. A holy mountain for local Naxi people, it features glacial landscape, alpine meadows, primeval forest, and is home to preserved wildlife.

    At Ganhaizi Scenic Area (at 3050m) of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Impression Lijiang Show is on. It is directed by Zhang Yimou (director of the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony) and inspired by Lijiang's breathtaking natural scenery, the history of Ancient Tea Horse Road, Lijiang Old Town and mysterious Naxi ethnic culture. Enjoy the beautiful music, dance and local villagers' and artist's wonderful performances.

    Later take Jade Dragon Snow Mountain cable car to get to Spruce Meadow (at 3240m). A large alpine meadow surrounded by primitive forest. Mythology has that Spruce Meadow is the entrance of 'the Third World of Jade Dragon'. Walk around for incredible views. It feels that the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is close at hand, with unobscured views of millennium glaciers.

    Then go to Yuhu Village, an old, quiet place at the foot of towering snow mountain and under azure sky. Although the influence and permeation of modernization is irresistible in most of China, Yuhu Village retains its old look – the stone-paved roads are rotten, the unsophisticated walls and houses are still made of timber, stone and bricks, and the life continues as it was a hundred year ago.

    Find Locke's former residence in a corner. The US adventurer praised Lijiang as a heaven on earth and lived in Yuhu Village for 27 years. Locke and his research on Naxi Dongba culture made Lijiang world famous.

    When driving back to Lijiang Ancient Town, visit Baisha Village en route. An important part of Lijiang UNESCO World Heritage, Baisha was the cultural cradle of Naxi people and the previous capital of Lijiang before 1383. Visit local crafts workshop and see how people make wood carving and do embroidery.

    Also visit Black Dragon Pool, or named Jade Spring Park, with beautiful setting and a set of ancient structures, including a Dongba Museum. Find the best spots to take some beautiful photos when the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain with blue sky and clouds is reflected on the pool water.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Pick up from hotel and drive for about 6 hours to get to Lugu Lake (at 2685m) that lies in the meeting belt of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. An isolated place, Lugu Lake is known as "the Mysterious Oriental Kingdom of Females" inhabited by Mosuo people. Apart from Mosuo, Yi, Pumi, Mongolian and several other ethnic minority groups also settle down around Lugu Lake and live together harmoniously and happily.

    Lugu Lake is the highest lake in Yunnan Province and the third deepest lake in China. Your guide will lead you to the viewing platform of Lugu Lake for sheer natural beauty – the clear blue waters are surrounded by majestic mountains, the islets are quiet perched places for migrant birds.

    Then take a chance to visit a Mosuo Family at an original wood house. It offers a glimpse into local people's daily life and the old Muosuo culture, even the walking marriage custom (or male-living marriage).

    Attend a Mosuo traditional campfire party at night, when all the young girls and boys are dressed in colorful traditional costumes. Enjoy the beautiful music and join in the dance party.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Transfer to visit Yongning Zhamei Temple built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Its golden peak and painted walls are shinning under the sun. In the north of the temple stand an outstanding architectural complex of living Buddha halls. Visitors may find that there are only a few lamas in the temple, as the rest go back home for daily work and doing prayer at home. But when the dharma assembly is held, hundreds of lamas in kasaya with yellow cockscombs conduct the mysterious ceremony.

    Sit back at a Lugu Lake cruise for relaxation. Breathe the fresh air and feel lost in the picturesque scenery. A remote, sparsely populated region, Lugu Lake is one of China's best preserved places with perfect natural ecology and very little man-made destruction. Free from pollution, the lugu lake water is crystal clear.

    Afterwards, have a brisk stroll around Lige Peninsula, linked with the land with a 2-meter-wide path. Enjoy more of the views of Lugu Lake and local customs.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

    Your guide and driver will then escort you to the Ninglang Lugu Lake Airport for flight to Kunming or other destinations. Your 8 days private Yunnan tour ends. Welcome to Yunnan 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


    Useful things to know before you go

    We can arrange for you the departure on the 7th day of this tour itinerary if Lugu Lake to Kunming afternoon flight is available. Or we can tailor make 7 days kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Lugu Lake tour for you.

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