7 Days Yunnan Ethnic Minorities & Traditional Culture Discovery

Deep Cultural Discovery in Classic Destinations of Yunnan


Yunnan is a paradise on earth with more than breathtaking natural scenery, but brilliant ethnic culture, colorful folk customs as well as traditional craftsmanship. This 7 days tour is the unique tour specially designed for travelers who not only want to explore the iconic attractions in classic destinations (Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La), but also do something special with involvement in Bai, Naxi and Tibetan people’s life. You’ll see deeply and experience more! It will be once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Highlights of this tour:

  • In Dali, enjoy the specially-designed activities to experience Bai ethnic minority’s culture, like taste Three-Course Tea, visit local morning market, or learn how to make Yunnan cheese, or learn how to tie-dye in Zhoucheng;
  • In Lijiang, explore in and out of Lijiang Ancient Town to explore Naxi Dongba culture showed everywhere. You have got the opportunity to know Naxi people, Naxi Dongba Houses, Dongba Writing, Naxi Ancient Music, Naxi Dance and Dongba Region.
  • In Shangri-La, you’ll catch the rare chance to deeply contact with Tibetan people and know Tibetan Buddhism and even pay pilgrimage to Little Potala Palace, witness traditional skills of making black pottery and involve in local Tibetan people’s daily life.

Basic Trip Information

from Request
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
Travel Length:
7 Days & 6 Nights
Tour Code:
Group Size:
You, your family & friends
Any day you want

Your tour - at a glance

Day 1~3 Dali & Dali Tour

Have some leisure time in the Bai ethnic treasure land by visiting Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple, Erhai Lake and Dali Old Town. Experience Bai people's culture in Xizhou Ancient Town and learn how to make Tie-dye in Zhoucheng.

Day 4 Lijiang & Lijiang Tour

Have full day exploration about Naxi Dongba culture by visiting Yuhu Village, Baisha Mural Paintings, Lijiang Ancient Town, Naxi Dongba Culture Museum and Black Dragon Pool Park.

Day 5~7 Lijiang to Shangri-La & Shangri-La Tour & Departure

On the way from Lijiang to Shangri-La, visit the First Bend of Yangtze River and thrilling Tiger Leaping Gorge. Explore Shangri-La by visiting Pudacuo National Park, Songzanlin Monastery and Dukezong Old Town. Witness how black pottery is made in Nixi Pottery Village and pay a visit to a local Tibetan family to have close contact.

Full Itinerary Day by Day

Day 1 Dali Arrival

Welcome to Dali, the Kingdom of Bai ethnic group! Upon arrival, your private tour guide and driver will meet you at airport / train station in Dali New City (Xiaguan in Chinese) and escort you to your hotel which is usually located in Dali Old Town, a stunning place sandwiched between Cang Mountain and Erhai Lake! After check-in, you are free to explore this old city which is famous in Chinese literature.

Arrival Ideas: Dali Airport has flights to Kunming, Jinghong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guiyang and more cities. While, Dali Railway Station has normal trains linking with Kunming (about 8.5 hours) and Lijiang (about 2 hours).

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Day 2 Dali (B, L)

On this day, you’ll have a nice exploration in and around Dali Old Town to soak the essence of Dali. First, take a visit to Cangshan Mountain, the national geological park in China with 48 km from north to south and 18 km from west to east, just like a painted screen hanging magnificently around the elegant Erhai Lake. You’ll explore the essence of Cangshan Mountain by taking Gantong Cableway up and enjoy a walk around Qingbi Stream, Jade Cloud Road and Gantong Temple. It is a very relaxing way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Cangshan Mountain at the halfway. (Note: when the azalea blossom in spring, it is recommended to take Ximatan Cableway up to the highest point of Cang Mountain to enjoy changeable and breathtaking scenery.)

Later, transfer to 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…

Afterwards, it will be a relaxing boat trip on the vast Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea) with crystal clear water and charming landscape. 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.

Lastly, 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 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 elegant streets with weeping willows dancing and colorful flowers blooming in the sunshine, if you like have a cup of coffee when visiting the famous Foreigner Street, visit the bustling shops selling Yunnan specialties, get on the city wall or gate tower for a bird’s eye view of the large old town area. You will feel like going back to old times.

  • Dali Old Town Dali Old Town
  • Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery

Day 3 Dali / Xizhou / Zhoucheng / Lijiang (B, L)

On this day, you’ll enjoy the specially-designed activities to experience Bai ethnic minority’s culture.

Firstly, be driven 18 kilometers to Xizhou Ancient Town, an authentic old town where local Bai people really live and work. 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 and experience the tea ceremony. Set eyes on the local morning market - a place for local people 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.

Then, transfer to “Hometown of Bai People’s Tie-dye Art” 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.

Awesome Ethnic Cultural Experience you can choose today:

Option One: In Xizhou Ancient Town, you’ll visit a local Bai family and learn how to make Yunnan Cheese called “Rushan”. Rushan cheese is a cheese made out of goat milk, produced primarily by the Bai ethnic minority in Dali. Spend about 30 minutes involving in the whole process and taste the delicious cheese made by your own hands.

Option Two: In Zhoucheng Tie-dye workshop, you can follow the local Bai people to learn some traditional skills of how to knot and view your works to be dyed into different colors with beautiful designs. This whole experience takes about 1.5 hours.

After the tour, you will be driven to Lijiang with 2 hours’ driving. Upon arrival, be transferred to your hotel for a good rest.

  • Xizhou Ancient Town Xizhou Ancient Town
  • Zhoucheng Tie-dye Zhoucheng Tie-dye
  • Three Courses of Tea Three Courses of Tea
  • Yunnan Goat Cheese - Rushan Yunnan Goat Cheese - Rushan

Day 4 Lijiang (B, L)

On this day, explore in and out of Lijiang Ancient Town to explore Naxi Dongba culture showed everywhere. You have got the opportunity to know Naxi people, Naxi Dongba Houses, Dongba Writing, Naxi Ancient Music, Naxi Dance and Dongba Region.

First, drive 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 get to 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. Visit Dabaoji Palace and Liuli Temple to view murals painted over 1000 years ago which is a combination of Tibetan Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

Next, 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.

After that, enjoy a memorable tour to wander in Lijiang Ancient Town (Dayan Ancient Town). Pay a visit to Ming-dynasty style Mufu Palace, the “Forbidden City” of Lijiang to 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.)

Awesome Ethnic Cultural Experience you can choose today:

Option one: In this evening, if you are interested, you can enjoy the Naxi Ancient Orchestral Music which is called “living musical fossils”. Played on venerable Chinese musical instruments such as flute, shawm, Chinese lute, plectrum, and zither, the special music has the power to cleanse the heart and relax the mind. 

Option two: Pay a visit to a local Naxi family and follow them to learn Dongba writing. Besides, the Naxi people will perform sacrificial dance for you. The whole experience usually takes about 1 hour.

  • Naxi Old Women in the Ancient Town Naxi Old Women in the Lijiang Ancient Town
  • Black Dragon Pool Park Black Dragon Pool Park
  • Baisha Mural Paintings Baisha Mural Paintings
  • Mufu Palace, the “Forbidden City” of Lijiang Mufu Palace, the “Forbidden City” of Lijiang
  • Naxi Ancient Music Appreciation Naxi Ancient Music Appreciation

Day 5 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri-La (B, L)

After breakfast, drive 45 km to view the First Bend of Yangtze River, an extraordinary turn nearly about 180 degrees with beautiful and marvelous views like a wonderful landscape painting unfolding before you. Visit Iron Chain Bridge in Shigu (Stone Drum) Town.

Later, transfer to visit the one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world - Tiger Leaping Gorge. It measures 16 km in length and is a giddy 3900m from the waters of Jinsha River to Haba Snow Mountain and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It is divided into three parts:  Upper, Middle and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge. You’ll hike the upper part (the narrowest section of the gorge) and 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.

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 fairyland on your own.

  • First Bend of the Yangtze River First Bend of the Yangtze River
  • Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge

Day 6 Shangri-La (B, L)

On this day, you have the chance to deeply contact with Tibetan people and know Tibetan Buddhism, traditional skills of making black pottery and involve in local people’s daily life.

After breakfast, you’ll be driven about 5 km to visit Songzanlin Monastery (Ganden Sumtseling Gompa), reputed as the “Little Potala Palace”. Established by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1679, the monastery belongs to Gelug sect of Buddhism, and it is also the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province with around 600 monks.

Walk 143 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 take photo of the breathtaking scenery of this pure land.

Later, drive about 40 kilometers to Nixi Pottery Village, the most “Shangri-La” of Shangri-La. Nixi Village is a Tibetan village well known for the one-thousand-year-old art - black pottery (also listed as National Intangible Cultural Heritage). Around 70 out of the 100 families in the village are engaged in this traditional art. Pay a visit to a Tibetan family and watch how they make different items of black pottery.

Next, 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.)

After the tour, drive back to Dukezong Old Town with 1300-year-old history. Climb up to the top of Guishan Hill (or Tortoise Hill) to have a panoramic view of the old town and Shangri-La County and join in the tourists to turn the largest Prayer Wheel in the world. (Please note: In Jan. 2014, a huge fire broke out destroying most of the town. After several years’ restoration, you can visit the area around Guishan Hill and most part of the town.)

Evening Time Suggestion: The main square of the Duzekong Old Town has dancing from the locals at nights between 7:30pm and 9:00pm which is nice to watch and listen to or even to try and join in. 

  • Nixi Pottery Village Nixi Pottery Village
  • Songzanlin Monastery Songzanlin Monastery
  • Tibetan People in Shangri-La Tibetan People in Shangri-La
  • Dukezong Old Town Dukezong Old Town

Day 7 Shangri-La & Shangri-La Departure (B, L)

After breakfast, you’ll explore the earthly paradise described in the famous novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Drive to the first national park in China - Pudacuo National Park which is mainly comprised of Shudu Lake, Militang Grassland, Bita Lake. Shudu Lake is a famous pasture, herds of yak and goat grazing beside the lake. Militang Grassland is located between Shudu Lake and Bita Lake with lush grass in meadow. Bitahai Lake, regarded as a pearl of the Plateau, is an intact natural attraction with outstanding landscapes.

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 hr) and Bita Lake (hike 4.2 km, about 1.5hrs), stand at the viewing spot to enjoy Militang Grassland stretching to the horizon and seek for a real paradise in this natural wonderland. (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. Please contact your travel consultant to adjust your itinerary.

After the tour, your guide and driver will escort you to the airport for your flight to next destination.

Departure Ideas: Travelers can take flights from Shangri-La to Kunming, Lhasa, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and more cities.

  • Pudacuo National Park in August Pudacuo National Park in August
  • Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park
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