Start from Kunming for a magical journey to Stone Forest which is a geographical miracle and a giant precious art gallery of natural stone landscape. With another 200 kilometers’ driving, you’ll enter into a beautiful world totally carved by local industrious Hani people generation after generation for over 1300 years. The 17,000-hectare Yuanyang Rice Terraces different from Stone Forest is that Yuanyang Rice Terrace is the masterpiece of human, showing the greatest harmony with nature. Travel beyond Yuanyang and move to Jianhsui, giving you a strong sense of what an ancient town looks like. Jianshui Ancient Town is the Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses for cultural exploration and to travel out of the old town, the time-honored meter-gauge sightseeing train will take you to ancient arched bridges and folk villages. Let’s discover!
Day 1 Kunming Arrival - Stone Forest (L)Arrive in Kunming - Drive to Visit Stone Forest - Nuohei Village
Welcome to Kunming, the Spring City of China! Upon arrival in Kunming (before 12:00), your tour guide and driver will meet you and escort you to Stone Forest. Or, if you arrive in advance, you’ll be picked up at your hotel in Kunming downtown area.
Later, drive 85 km to the typical Karst landform - Stone Forest. As the “Essence of World Karst Landform”, Kunming Stone Forest has been listed as the UNESCO World Natural Heritage with the incomparable coverage of 12 square kilometers’ stone pinnacle groups. Take the sightseeing bus to visit the Greater Stone Forest Scenic Area to admire the typical concentrating cinerous stone pinnacles by walking through the maze of stone peaks and jumping high for the panorama of the forest of protruding stone peaks. Also, you will see the famous peak on many photos and even stones towering over 40 meters. Then, continue to ride the bus to explore the Lesser Stone Forest to closely look at the iconic stone “Ashima” like a young lady, listen to the touching love story of Ashima, and fill your eyes with the emerald garden-like park of wilder stone peaks surrounded by lush green plants and blossoms. Take the sightseeing bus to exit the scenic park.
If time permits, drive about 40 minutes to visit Nuohei Village which is a typical Yi minority village with more than 600 years history in Shilin County and reputed as “the most famous stony village with Karst landscape”. You’ll totally indulge in this featured village of stone - stone houses, stone walls, stone paved roads, stone squares and stone mills…and have a wonderful time to explore local customs.
Stay overnight in Shilin County.
- Major Stone Forest
- Kunming Nuohei Village
Day 2 Stone Forest - Yuanyang & Bada Rice Terrace (B, L)Shilin County to Yuanyang - Bada Rice Terrace
After breakfast, your guide and driver will meet your at your hotel. The following journey is about 293 kilometers’ driving from Shilin County to Yuanyang which takes about 4-4.5 hours. On the way, you’ll have the chance to stop for relaxing exploration about some primitive ethnic villages near Yuanyang County.
Yuanyang Rice Terrace, regarded as the most beautiful rice terrace in China, is the core area of the UNESCO World Heritage called the Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. Upon arriving in Yuanyang, you’ll be transferred to your hotel first and in this afternoon, have a nice shoot in the spectacular Bada Rice Terrace - the best place to shoot sunset and catch the terrace panorama. At dusk, when the sun shines on the 950-hectare rice paddies rising from 800 meters to 2000 meters, then the magnificent scene forms - like the ladders toward heaven led by bright light. Hold your breath when sunset glow shining upon the paddies and you'll see the 3700-level terraces first turns pink, then rosy and later dark red, pink, golden and white…
After the tour, you’ll be escorted to your hotel in Yuanyang. Have a good rest tonight.
- Bada Rice Terrace
Day 3 Duoyishu Rice Terrace - Aichun - Azheke - Laoyingzui Rice Terrace (B, L)Duoyishu Rice Terrace Sunrise - Aichun Blue Rice Terrace - Azheke Mushroom Houses - Laoyingzui Rice Terrace Sunset
On this day, try to get up early and head to Duoyishu Rice Terrace to watch sunrise. Duoyishu is the best place to shoot sunrise and misty Hani village, surrounded by high mountains in three sides and stretching to the valley in one side. There are many mushroom-like houses dotted aside the rice paddies, just like the sailboat moving into the sea. The ray appears splendidly over the high mountains at first light and when the sun rises up, the whole rice terraces change its colors from quiet blue into golden, shining brilliantly.
Later, move from Duoyishu Rice Terrace to Aichun Village which is about 5km away to see the blue rice terrace. It is in blue not because the water here is blue but for the terrace is the huge mirrors of the blue sky. Standing at a high observation deck, you can feast your eyes with a beautiful painting scrolls with azure sky and white clouds above, blue rice terraces layer by layer on the ground, traditional Hani houses hidden among the trees at a short distance... (Travel tip: come to visit Aichun Village during 09:00-10:00 which is the best time to appreciate blue rice terrace.)
The following time is a leisure cultural trip to Azheke Village, the most primitive Hani Village and its 51 mushroom houses are listed into the protective mushroom houses in Yuanyang. Azheke Village is the best example of harmony living between humankind and nature, fully presenting Forest - Village - River - Clouds fused together. Walking into the village, you’ll numerous old mushroom houses, stone mills, sheep, buffaloes, back pigs, smoke rising continuously from the chimneys…Pay a visit to one of the local Hani families and have a good talk with them to know their daily life and ethnic customs.
Lastly, be transferred to Laoyingzui Rice Terrace for the beautiful sunset. This terrace is the steepest one and another good spot for shooting sunset. It is at the top of a cliff with an inclination of 90° that you’ll see the rice terraces from above just like an eagle does. What attracts travelers most is the gorgeous multiple colors of the rice terraces, just like the colorful palette being scattered on the land with magic. Catch the best time to shoot many pictures as you like.
- Duoyishu Rice Terrace
- Blue Rice Terrace in Aichun Village
- Mushroom Houses
Day 4 Yuanyang - Jianshui (B, L)Ethnic Market & Bazaar in Yuanyang - Drive to Jianshui - Jianshui Ancient Town - Zhu Family Garden
After breakfast, catch the last moment to enjoy the beautiful morning in Yuanyang. Your guide and driver will escort you to attend the Ethnic Market & Bazaar in Yuanyang, a bustling place for local people who dressed in traditional ethnic costumes trading daily supplies, including fresh vegetable, fruits, meats, and many other kinds of food and daily necessities. It is a great opportunity to get close to Hani people’s living conditions.
Later, you’ll head to Jianshui County (116km, about 3-3.5 hours’ driving). Upon arrival, you’ll first reach the grand Chaoyang Tower, the landmark of Jianshui. Reputed as “Little Tian’anmen” with similar construction, Chaoyang Tower has a history even older than Tian’anmen in Beijing. This imposing Ming edifice is also modeled on the Yellow Crane Town in Wuhan and Yueyang Tower in Hunan. (Extra experience: you can climb up to this three-storey tower for a panoramic view of the whole Jianshui Ancient Town.)
Then, enjoy a relaxing visit to Jianshui Ancient Town which is reputed as “Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses”. With a history over 1200 years, Jianshui Ancient Town is even older than Lijiang Old Town. Stroll leisurely along the old street and explore different kinds of ancient wells to witness how water plays an important role in making the famous Jianshui Tofu and Steam Pot Chicken. Afterwards, walk to Confucius Temple, the third largest as well as the second grandest Confucius Temple in China. The temple has operated as a school for 750 years and was so successful that over half of all Yunnan’s successful candidates in imperial examinations during this period came from Jianshui. Walk through the axis and visit the main hall - Dacheng Hall to worship the great sage.
Later, move your steps to Zhu Family Garden, a spacious 20,000-sq-meter residential complex built in Qing Dynasty comprising ancestral buildings, family homes, ponds and lovely gardens. When walking into the garden, you’ll get amazed at its layout, exquisite design and elegant garden scenery.
Have a good sleep tonight!
- Zhu Family Garden
- Ethnic Market & Bazaar in Yuanyang
- Jianshui Ancient Town
Day 5 Jianshui - Kunming & Kunming Departure (B, L)Double Dragon Bridge - Tuanshan Village - Drive to Kunming for Departure
In this morning, you will enjoy a scenic journey by taking the meter-gauge sightseeing train to travel out of Jianshui Ancient Town to see Double Dragon Bridge and Tuanshan Folk Houses. Yunnan meter-gauge railway, which has a gauge of only 1 meter (1000 mm), has been in operation for 110 years. It is the only meter-gauge railway that still operates in China, and works as a connection with the neighboring countries.
Hop on the train at Lin’an Station (near Chaoyang Tower) and appreciate the idyllic farming scenery along the route and make a stop at Double Dragon Bridge for sightseeing. Double Dragon Bridge, also called Shuanglong Bridge, is a Seventeen-Arch Bridge with 148 meters long and 3 meters wide. It crosses above the injunction of Lu River and Tachong River which looks like two Chinese dragons, hence got the name Shuanglong Bridge. This bridge is a masterpiece and listed as one of the top 10 famous bridges in China. You can either look it from afar or walk on the ancient bridge for close appreciation.
Afterwards, continue your train journey moving to Tuanshan Village. Built in Ming Dynasty, Tuanshan Village is regarded as the Gem of Chinese Civil Houses and the most beautiful village in Yunnan. Its architectural style of the 19th century and beyond remains intact and the distinctive way of people's life is preserved, fully showcasing China's indigenous cultural characteristics. Have a wonderful stroll in this historic village and explore the distinctive buildings like Zhang Family Garden, unique lifestyle and folkways of Tuanshan Villagers.
After the tour, your guide and driver will take you to Kunming. After arriving in Kunming, transfer to the airport or train station to catch your flight/train (after 18:00) to next destination or back home.
- Tuanshan Village
- Twin/ Double Dragon Bridge
- Meter-gauge Sightseeing Train
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
3. This price is only valid to March 31, 2022.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1= RMB 6.65. The final quote is based on current exchange rate. It may change according to the currency fluctuation, while the RMB quotation will be remained the same.
Dear Lyn Wang
We had a very fine and well planned trip to Guilin and are most grateful to this great experience.
We think the tour was a fine mix of three very different and well selected locations.
We were especially grateful for the pleasant and professional guiding by Steven.
In all respects an absolutely positive experience for us.
Helle and Leif Thuesen
We enjoy our trip. The boat is very clean, the food is good and the staff nice and helpful. We enjoyed vey much the scenery from the boat. However, the includes visits were a bit disappointing. Moreover, we could not go to Chongming because of the navigation. We are globally satisfied with our stay.
Hi Rita, sorry for the delay in responding. Yes, I really enjoyed the cruise! Thank you for your help in arranging!
Hahahaha so perfect.
Matt is really good. I think i even visit more than we have in itinerary.
Matt is really good. He know how to manage the route efficiently and make the good vibes along the trip.
Thanks for all your help for our group holiday. We will be using this group for our group communication.
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There will be some meals excluded in your itinerary as you like, and your private guide will be delighted to give you some suggestions and take you to the local restaurants to taste like Beijing Roast Duck, Xian Dumpling Dinner, Sichuan Hotpot, etc., if you are interested in local food tasting.
All the dining options will satisfy your stomach!
Kunming / Yuanyang / Kunming
Kunming / Dongchuan / Kunming
Kunming / Stone Forest / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
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