In this trip, you will explore two of the most charming places in Yunnan: Lijiang - the Kingdom of Naxi People & Shangri-La - Garden of Eden! Here, you are in a world of minority people, temples, old towns, ancient streets, lakes, rivers, mountains…splendid culture and breathtaking scenery are waiting for you to explore.
In this 5 days Lijiang & Shangri-La best highlights tour, you’ll grasp every second to enjoy yourself on the incredible land - have a panoramic view of Lijiang Old Town, explore the authentic Naxi Village to feel the special Dongba Culture, visit Songzanlin Monastery and Pudacuo National Park, and take a light hike to Tiger Leaping Gorge that is the world's deepest gorge. You will just find the tour fabulous every moment!
Extend Your Trip: If you have one more day for planning your Yunnan vacation, it is a good idea to cover your Lijiang Shangri-La tour with Kunming, the provincial capital city with convenient flights and trains linking with other destinations. Just have a look at our 6 Days Best of Yunnan Tour (Lijiang - Shangri-La - Kunming) with classic discovery in the three destinations. Feel free to select your likes and tell us your ideas.
Day 1 Lijiang Arrival & LijiangArrive in Lijiang - Lijiang Old Town
Ni Hao! Welcome to Lijiang, a very impressive ancient city! Upon arrival at the airport or railway station, your guide and driver will meet you at the arrival hall and transfer you to the hotel in ancient town area with a private car which is comfortable, air-conditioned and non-smoking.
After a short rest, you’ll start a memorable tour in Lijiang Ancient Town (Dayan Ancient Town). Established in the Ming dynasty as a commercial center, Lijiang Old Town is a well-preserved 800-year-old town for Naxi ethnic group, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Walk to the central area of the old town and visit Mufu Palace. A saying goes “there is Forbidden City in the North, Mu’s Residence in the South”. Mu’s Residence was called the miniature Forbidden City. Looked from a far distance, it likes a grand imperial palace and it is famous for the grandness and architectural buildings. Getting into the palace, you can know Tusi’s ruling history and appreciate Naxi people’s brilliant culture and fine arts. Then, wander through the old alleys, old bridges, featured shops and bars to Sifang Street Square, a mingling ground to enjoy lively atmosphere and unwind yourself. If time permits, join the Naxi people and tourists to dance happily in a round. (Optional Activity: Take a leisure walk up to the Lion Hill and climb up the 33-meter-tall Wanggu Tower - the landmark building of Lijiang to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole old town and overlook the magnificent Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance.)
Arrival Ideas: There’re direct flights from Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lhasa, Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guiyang, etc to Lijiang Sanyi Airport. Trains are available from Kunming (about 3-3.5 hours), Dali (about 2-3 hours) to Lijiang Railway Station.
- Lijiang Old Town Waterwheel
- Mufu Palace, the “Forbidden City” of Lijiang
Day 2 Lijiang (B, L)Yuhu Village - Baisha Murals - Shuhe Ancient Town - Dongba Culture Museum - Black Dragon Pool Park
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, you’ll be transferred out of Lijiang Old Town to Yuhu Village which is located at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Walking into this authentic Naxi Village, you’ll see unique stone houses, Naxi ladies dressing in traditional clothes, kids playing, a tranquil Yuhu Lake…explore leisurely around the village and then go to explore the Former Residence of Joseph Rock, who was an Austrian-American Botanist came to Lijiang and stayed in Yuhu Village for 27 years and made huge research work on Naxi minority.
Later, head to Baisha Village and appreciate the ancient Baisha Mural Paintings. Houses here are arranged on a north-south axis around a central, terraced square. Visit Dabaoji Palace and Liuli Temple to view murals painted over 1000 years ago which depict subjects relating to Buddhism, Taoism and the life of the Naxi people, incorporating cultural elements of the Bai people. (Optional experience: You can have in-depth cultural experience to learn how to make Baisha embroidery instructed by the local masters in Baisha Village.)
Then, it is followed by a relaxing trip to Shuhe Ancient Town - one of the earliest settlements of Naxi people as well as the well-preserved stop of the Ancient Tea Horse Route. This ancient town is less crowded than Lijiang Dayan Old Town. Take a nice stroll here to explore local cultures, folk customs and traditions over several centuries.
After that, transfer to Dongba Culture Museum where more than 10,000 Dongba cultural relics show mysterious Dongba culture of the Naxi people. Take a gentle walk to Black Dragon Pool Park to enjoy gorgeous view and peaceful surroundings. If weather permits, get to the best spot to overlook the snow-capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and shoot some amazing pictures.
- Black Dragon Pool Park
- Baisha Mural Paintings
Day 3 Lijiang - Shangri-La (B, L)First Bend of Yangtze River - Tiger Leaping Gorge
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, drive about 52 kilometers from Lijiang to view the First Bend of Yangtze River. The upper reach of the Yangtze River is Jinsha River coming down from Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and when it arrives at Shigu Town, it is obstructed by Hailuo Mountain and forms a V-shape turn. Then it changes the direction and goes to the northeast. You’ll reach the observation deck to catch a panoramic view of the bend, an extraordinary turn nearly about 180 degrees with beautiful and marvelous views like a wonderful landscape painting unfolding before your eyes. You’ll have a look at local market and Red Army’s Long March Memorial Monument in Shigu Town.
Later, be transferred to visit the one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyon in the world - Tiger Leaping Gorge. It is also a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site called Three Parallel of Yunnan Protected Areas. This steep gorge is situated between the 5596 meters Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the south and 5396 meters Haba Snow Mountain to the north. Measuring 17 kilometers in length, the whole gorge is divided into three parts: upper, middle and lower gorge and you’ll pay a visit to the maturest section - Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge. Walk about 1,000 stairs along the plank road from the entrance to the Tiger Leaping Rock. Take a moment to enjoy the magnificent gorge view and rolling waves.
Travel tips: 1) This gorge is suitable for most travelers with easy walk. Comfortable shoes are recommended. 2) There are also optional elevators for you to go down from the entrance to the sightseeing platform by the river (CNY 40/pp), and vice versa (CNY 60/pp).
After the hiking tour, you’ll be driven to Shangri-La. With 2 hours' driving, enjoy the enchanting natural scenery along the way. Welcome to Shangri-La (Zhongdian, altitude: 3459meters), the Garden of Eden! Upon arrival, check in your hotel and explore this earthly paradise on your own.
Notice: Because of the road upgrade, the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking tours to the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge have been suspended since June 29, 2021. We will update the news once it reopens. You can also contact us to get the real-time info. The classic visits to the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge are still available.
- Sightseeing at First Bend of Yangtze River
- Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Day 4 Shangri-La (B, L)Songzanlin Monastery - Pudacuo National Park - Local Tibetan Family Visiting
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, you'll be transferred with 7 kilometers' driving to Songzanlin Monastery (Ganden Sumtseling Gompa), reputed as the "Little Potala Palace" for it was built according to the complex of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Established by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1679, the monastery belongs to Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and it is also the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province with around 700 monks and lamas. Walk 147 steps to get atop of the monastery and pay clockwise visit to the three main lamasery buildings where you can not only see the Buddhism treasures, but also enjoy large number of monks of all ages going about their daily routines, praying, chanting, cooking and resting. It should a nice trip to get in-depth understanding about Tibetan Buddhism. If time permits, take some quiet time to walk around the peaceful Lamuyangcuo Lake and shoot panorama view of Songzanlin Monastery with reflection in the clear water.
Then, drive about 27 kilometers to Pudacuo National Park. This 1,300-square-kilometer national park is notable as the first national park in China to meet International Union for Conservation of Nature standards. It is renowned for well-preserved primitive landscape, which is endowed with lakes, wetlands, forests, meadows, streams, brooks, rare plants and animals. Throw yourself into the lush green forest with diverse species of flora and fauna, walk along the plank road to catch the gorgeous scenery. There are also many hiking opportunities. (Notes: 1) the altitude of Pudacuo is at 3500m-4150m so you should avoid strong activities to avoid high altitude sickness; 2) part of the national park is currently closed for environment protection and recovery.)
After the merry time in the park, pay a visit to a local Tibetan family to experience the highly-praised hospitality of Tibetan people and taste some special Tibetan snacks and butter tea. (Optional Experience: If you are interested in the Tibetan people's daily drinks, you can follow the locals to involve in the process of making butter tea.)
- Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park
- Tibetan Style Songzanlin Lamasery with Prayer Flags
- Pudacuo National Park
Day 5 Shangri-La/Zhongdian Departure (B)Dukezong Old Town
In the morning, cherish your time in Shangri-La to explore Dukezong Old Town. With a history over 1300 years, Dukezong Old Town is the largest and the best preserved Tibetan community in China. Climb up to the top of Guishan Hill (or Tortoise Hill) to have a panoramic view of both the endless snow-capped mountains surrounded the pure land and the large scale of the old town with countless Tibetan dwellings. Join in the tourists to turn the largest Prayer Wheel in the world in clockwise direction. (Optional experience: If you show interest in making traditional Tibetan Thangka, you can learn at Shangri-la Thangka Institute. Programs here include Thangka painting, chanting, Tibetan language and calligraphy. You can choose your like.)
After the tour, be escorted to the Shangri-La Zhongdian Airport for your flight to next destination. Service ends!
- Dukezong Old Town
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according to 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, 2023.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1= RMB 6.45. 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.
we made it back to Shanghai. It was a great trip even with rain, COVID, and Sophie's personal issues.
we enjoyed the trip very much. Thanks a lot for organizing everything so brilliant it was really fantastic!
Thank you for your help in sorting out my few days ago. I will certainly be asking you for help in the future, now to start thinking about my 10 day break, beginning of April!
We did quite a lot of research for travel agency before heading for our first trip to Lhasa, Tibet; since foreign travelers to Tibet have to purchase a tour. China Discovery did a great job in helping us get the Tibet Tourism Bureau permit, booking our train tickets from Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa; and organizing a private Tibetan guide, Tenzin, and a driver, for our 5 days in Tibet. They also helped us with all Covid-19 safety measures and authorization requirements). Great sceneries and sites, especially Yamdrok Lake, Khambala pass (4800m), Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Deprung Monastery. Our guide Tenzin spoke very well in English and was very helpful.
My suggestion: No need to visit Summer Palace; suggest organizing visit of Yack herd with Nomads in higher plateau and in Snow area. Otherwise, very good and Tenzin was excellent
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The hotels we choose are based on star rating, great locations, well-equipped facilities, cozy bed, high quality service and guests’ feedbacks. Choices are a lot ranging from luxury 5 star, comfortable 4 star to budget 3 star. You could decide where to stay to best suit for your budget and likes. Generally, the hotels have both Western and Chinese breakfast with a wide choices.
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Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.
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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!
Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming
Kunming / Shangri-La
Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
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