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Historically, culturally and geographically, Yunnan Province is one of the most diverse and alluring destinations in China. Situated in the southwest of China on the beautiful land south of the colorful clouds, Yunnan has become the ideal paradise for travelers who want to get far from the madding crowd with breathtaking natural scenery and brilliant ethnic cultures. This mysterious and charming lady is waving her hands and smiling to you, and how about stepping your feet onto this piece of land to explore all you imagine about Yunnan!
This 8 days Classic Yunnan tour is the No.1 Yunnan tour chosen by half travelers who planning their first time trip to Yunnan. It covers four widely known destinations - Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La, with classic attractions and best things to do designed in the golden itinerary. During the trip, you’ll visit Yi, Bai, Naxi ethnic groups’ land and the legendary Shangri-La. The most magnificent scenery and colorful ethnic culture of Yunnan are waiting to be explored, from ancient towns to snow mountains, from the world’s deepest canyon to notable limestone formations...What are you waiting for? Travel with China Discovery now!
Day 1 Kunming ArrivalArrive in Kunming & Transfer to Your Hotel in Kunming Downtown Area
Welcome to Kunming, the Spring City of China! Upon arrival at the Kunming airport/train station, the local tour guide and driver will meet you in the arrival hall and escort you to your hotel and help you check in. If you want to explore nearly, feel free to get some practical suggestions from your tour guide.
Arrival Ideas: You can take a direct flight from more than 110 domestic cities and some international destinations including Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, San Francisco, Tokyo, London, and Los Angeles. Also, you can take a bullet train from Chengdu (5.5 hours), Chongqing (4 hours), Guilin (8 hours), Guiyang (2 hours), Guangzhou (7 hours), Beijing (11 hours), Shanghai (11 hours), Hong Kong (7.5 hours), etc. with convenience!
Free Time Ideas: If time permits, enjoy a cultural trip to Yunnan Nationalities Museum for a wonderful understanding of the 25 ethnic minority groups in vast Yunnan. This largest minority museum in whole Asia boasts a collection of over 20 thousand pieces (units) of precious cultural relics to show you the beautiful costumes, diverse ethnic festivals, daily life scenes, exquisite musical instruments, brilliant cultural texts, and so on to know the essence of Yunnan culture!
- Yunnan Nationalities Museum
Day 2 Kunming (B, L)Stone Forest - Yuantong Temple - Green Lake Park
After breakfast, drive 85 km to the typical Karst landform - Stone Forest. As the “Essence of World Karst Landform”, 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.
After the discovery, drive back to Kunming downtown for a cultural visit to Yuantong Temple that is one of the top oldest Buddhist temples in Kunming with more than 1,200 years’ history. Take your stroll there to feel the rich Buddhist atmosphere of three Buddhist sects filling the antique halls and houses specially designed into a traditional Chinese garden layout for a quite different appreciation of temple in China.
Then, walk to Kunming Green Lake nearby. This pretty park with a lovely lake, old-styled pavilions, corridors, flowers, etc. is the most popular place for an authentic feeling of local Kunming people’s leisure life with citizens singing, dancing, talking, exercising, etc. During November to the next March, Black-headed Gulls from Siberian will never be late to fly there for their expecting comfortable warm winter holiday. Do not miss playing with those adorable and vigorous elfin during your relaxing roam!
- Kunming Green Lake Winter Scenery
- Major Stone Forest
- Kunming Yuantong Temple
Day 3 High Speed Train to Dali from Kunming (B, L)Three Pagodas - Erhai Lake - Dali Old Town
In this morning, you’ll be escorted to Kunming Railway Station to take a high speed train from Kunming to Dali (about 2 hrs). After your arrival at Dali Railway Station, you will be welcomed by the local tour guide and transferred to begin today’s sightseeing.
First, pay a visit the symbol of Dali - Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple. Built in 10th century in Nanzhao Kingdom, Three Pagodas is made of one big pagoda and two small pagodas forming a symmetric triangle. If you look at it from a distance, the pagodas are like three giant ballpoint pens breaking up the landscape of the never-ending mountains. Here, you’ll get close to look at the pagodas to know more history and stories, visit the royal temple in Dali - Chongsheng Temple, take awesome photos of Three Pagodas and the reflections…
After that, go to have a relaxing boat trip on the vast Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea) with crystal clear water and charming landscape, which is reputed as the “Immaculate Jade between Mountains”. On Erhai Lake cruise, you’ll enjoy the green Cangshan Mountain and Three Pagodas from afar as well as lots of birds and seagulls flying over the lake. Enjoy an excursion to one of the famous islands for an in-depth look at the peaceful Bai fishing village and other sites on island.
Later, be followed a trip to explore Dali Old Town. Used to be the ancient capital of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, Dali Old Town is formed in the square-shaped structure, laid out on a typical north-south, east-west axis with five north-south and eight east-west streets. Wander leisurely through the historic streets with weeping willows dancing and colorful flowers blooming in the sunshine. You will visit the symbolic Wuhua Tower in a drum tower outlook. Get on the tower to have a bird’s eye view of the large old town with rows of black tiled houses. Continue to find Honglongjing (Red Dragon Well) with lovely view of clear water flow on layers of stone stages between the ancient dwelling houses and modern bars. Walk along Renmin Road to visit those bustling shops selling Yunnan specialties and some interesting items and then encounter the only Christianity church in this Chinese old town to feel the mixture culture there. As you feel the ancient flavor of the old site, stroll to the famous must-visit Foreigner Street to soak in the busy atmosphere along the old path and in those boutique shops and old coffee shops. Enjoy your time roam in this famous old town and feel like going back to the old times.
- Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery
- Erhai Lake
- Dali Old Town Wuhua Tower
Day 4 Dali - Lijiang (B, L)Xizhou Ancient Town - Zhoucheng Tie-dye - Transfer to Lijiang - Lijiang Old Town
After breakfast, you’ll start your exploration of Xizhou Ancient Town, an authentic old town where local Bai people really live and work. Set eyes on the local morning market - a place for local people in traditional costumes trading daily supplies, including fresh vegetable, fruits, meats, and many kinds of food and daily necessities. It is a great opportunity for getting close to local living conditions. Walk into the “the Museum of Bai Architecture” and appreciate the exquisite residential complexes decorated fabulous sculptures, paintings, pointed eaves and wall screens. Taste Bai’s Three-Course Tea in bitter, sweet and mixed flavors and experience the tea ceremony to enjoy deeper of the artistic culture of Bai ethnic people. Then, visit Yan Family Compound where to appreciate the delicate courtyard houses, screen walls, colorful paintings, and more decorations to learn more about the fine Bai ethnic architecture.
Then, transfer to “Hometown of Bai People’s Tie-dye Art” - Zhoucheng Old Town for an appreciation of Tie-dye. Tie-dye is a typical feature to present the Bai’s excellent handcraft with various colors and elegant designs. You’ll visit local indigo workshop in Zhoucheng and know the way of making.
Later, transfer to Lijiang with 2 hours’ driving. Upon arrival, enjoy a memorable tour to wander 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.)
- Xizhou Old Town View
- Three Courses of Tea
- Lijiang Old Town Waterwheel
Day 5 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
- Former Residence of Joseph Rock
- Baisha Mural Paintings
Day 6 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 tip: This gorge is suitable for most travelers with easy walk. Comfortable shoes are recommended.)
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.
- Sightseeing at First Bend of Yangtze River
- Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Day 7 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 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. Visit the spots by clockwise and throw yourselves into the lush green forest with diverse species of flora and fauna, walk along the plank road to catch the gorgeous scenery of Shudu Lake (hike 3.3 km, about 1 hour). (Note: the altitude of Pudacuo is at 3500m-4150m and you should avoid strong activities. There’s no problem to hike in the park.)
Important Notice: Militang Pasture (弥里塘草场) and Bita Lake (碧塔海) in Pudacuo National Park are closed for tourists due to maintenance from 3th September, 2017. The administrative office of Pudacuo National Park hasn't confirmed when they will be open exactly. Shudu Lake Scenic Area (属都湖) is still open for tourists. If you want to adjust today’s itinerary, please contact your travel consultant.
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.)
- Pudacuo National Park in August
- Shangri-La Songzanlin Monastery Outside Scenery
- Songzanlin Monastery
Day 8 Shangri-La 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!
Departure Ideas: Travelers can take flights from Shangri-La to Kunming, Lhasa, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and more cities.
- Dukezong Old Town
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, 2021.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1= RMB 6.95. 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.
Thanks Wing, we came back safely and had a great trip overall. We had great tour guide and driver whom we will recommend without doubt and we took the liberty to change the schedule as we toured, depending on the weather and situation, which suited us. I’m actually glad lightning struck, allowing us to spend the last night in XM, as I think 2 days and 1 night in the Tulou is more than sufficient. I’ll leave Chew to comment on your email but you can also take my comments here if you want. Thanks again !
Yesterday just before check out at Xiamen , i had already completed a detailed questionnaire form and handed over to Adam.
(1) How do you like our tour arrangements and are you willing to recommend our service to your friends?
Yes, it was good service from tour coordinator, tour guide and driver. They are all very professional and good people. I will recommend to friends for sure.
(2) Do you have some suggestions for us to improve our service?
The initially proposed 3D2N itinerary is an overkill of Tulou visits. The original plan was such that we visit Chu Xi on Day 3, but Chu Xi is the furthest (3 hours) from Xiamen, so it doesnt make too much sense cos it would be a mad rush if guests are rushing to fly off on Day 3. Our tour guide Adam adapted the itinerary, we cut down the more commercialized tulous and he even included He Keng Tulou which is the place that Hollywood Mulan was filmed in, that was a real treat.
From our experiences, if we fly into Xiamen by 9am, we would have 2 full days of Tulou visits, which is more than sufficient. First nite at HeRongZhuang was a good experience, the staff are very hospitable and room was very nice. Second nite at Prince Hotel there was power failure, and after being in the dark for 4 hours, we decided to check out and drove to Xiamen. We were on the road from 9.30pm to 12 midnight. I think it would be better if the itinerary just have first nite in Tulou and second nite in Xiamen, with Day 3 in Xiamen.
(3) If you want to do travel again in China, would you like to use our service again?
Yes. I would certainly consider
The hotel is beautiful. We took a walk around and end up having dinner in the hotel. It's very nice.
We got back to the hotel a while ago. We enjoyed the trip with Sara very much. She is a lovely woman like you. And once again thank you very much for the lovely souvenirs.
Sorry for my late reply.
We were really very happy with the whole trip to Yunnan province. It was very special and we still talk about it a lot.
The program you suggested was great, and we had a fantastic time. Everything was flawless, convenient and no long waiting times.
We specifically liked:
Alice was fantastic. We enjoyed that she told us about her village, family etc. to help us to understand the Bai culture better. We liked her personal style. It felt like walking around with a friend, joking and having a good time.
Tom also made the Lijiang experience a very memorable one. He also opened up, reflected and gave us great insight in traditions and culture of Naxi. He knows everyone.
The best about Aten was that he made some suggestions how to optimize the program and how to avoid tourist crowds. He loves to talk to the guests, exchange ideas and make this a mutual learning experience.
We would without any doubt recommend your agency. We consider to book trips with you in the future.
Thank you very much for everything.
Yes it was great. Bruce handled everything for us including assisting us with our hotel arrangements and our transportation the following morning. The mountain itself was beautiful.
Thanks for the follow up. Again, we are so happy with the trip and the services. Tour guide very good, car and driver very good and the places we visited are really nice. Also lunch was good.
"Highest Standards of Quality and Honesty" is the core value of each specialized team at China Discovery.
Eveyone in our company is working hard for only one goal, which is to ensure the highest level of service, luxury, and attention to detail from the minute you begin planning your trip, to the day you return home.
Our travel consultants are professional, experienced and responsible, helping you from the very beginning to the end of your China trip!
After sending us an inquiry, one of our travel consultants will get back to you within 0.5~23.5 hrs. In the next few days, he/she will be working closely with you to formulate a customized tour plan, as well as providing professional suggestions based on your travel interests, time, and budget.
Beside, he/she will keep in contact with you during your entire tour in China, continually checking if everything is going well as planned.
We're working at Chengdu Bamboo International Tours, local based in Chengdu.
Our local guide in every destination is not only very friendly, enthusiastic but also very informative and knowledgeable.
Once you arrive in the destination, the patient and punctual guides will pick you up and take you to get under skin of the city at your own pace. By in-depth discovery and explanation, they’ll show you more about the history, culture, customs and authentic local life. Throughout the journey, they're not only expert guides who take care of all the details but also fellow travelers who are dedicated to help you explore in comfort and style.
Our guides are passionate about what they do, and it shows all the way!
Using our private transfer service makes you comfortable, relaxed and worry free all the way!
Our private service includes licensed drivers with many years’ driving experience and air-conditioned, non-smoking, clean and well-maintained cars/vans. Drivers are local, polite, friendly and helpful, taking you to your tourist sites, hotels, airport/train stations in safety. All kinds of vehicle are offered, and yours depends on the size of your group. Usually, we offer sedan cars, SUVs, business vans (MPV) and different types of buses, all with extra space for your luggage.
Our private transfer service guarantees you the highest comfort!
In each destination, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in a great location!
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.
If you have already got an ideal hotel, please feel free to tell our travel consultants and they'll book the hotel for you.
Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.
We can satisfy all the dietary requirements no matter you want Chinese local food, western food, vegetarian food or muslin food.
The restaurants we will take you for lunch or dinner are all designated tourist restaurants approved by local tourist administration bureau. They have very good sanitary conditions and the food is prepared fresh and clean.
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 / Dongchuan / Kunming / Stone Forest / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
Kunming / Stone Forest / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >
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