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.
Extend Your Trip: If you have one more day for your Yunnan tour, you are highly suggested to take the golden route with four classic destinations in Yunnan. Have a look at our 8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour (Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - Shangri-La) and make a comparison with this 7 days tour. Feel free to select your likes and tell us your ideas. Travel with China Discovery now!
Useful Itinerary Notice: As Lijiang offers much more domestic flights than Shangri-La, some travelers prefer to leave Yunnan from Lijiang easily. You can tell your travel consultant to adjust the itinerary part of "Dali - Lijiang - Shangri-La" into "Dali - Shangri-La - Lijiang" to suite your departure flight.
Day 1 Dali ArrivalPick up in Dali
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 from Kunming, Jinghong, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xian, Guilin, Guiyang, Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Zhengzhou, Lhasa, Nanning, Nanchang and more cities. Also, you can take a bullet train to Dali Railway Station from Kunming (2 hours), Lijiang (1.5 hours), Guangzhou (10.5-11 hours), Guilin (10 hours), Nanning (6.5-7 hours), Puzhehei (3.5-4 hours), etc.
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Day 2 Dali (B, L)Cangshan Mountain - Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple - Erhai Lake - Dali Old Town
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. 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…
Then, head to the famous Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), which is reputed as the "Immaculate Jade between Mountains". Normally, there are three ways to explore the lake. You can ride a sightseeing bus(default), enjoy a boat trip or try cycling. Please tell your best pick to your travel consultant before booking the tour, as the final prices will differ by activities you choose.
1) Erhai Lake Sightseeing Bus Tour (about 1 hour CNY 50/pp): There are sightseeing roads built around the lake. On the west bank of the lake, there is also a 27.5-kilometer-long Ecological Corridor with mini sightseeing buses offered. Hop on the mini bus, you will get the placid lake view while moving, with fresh air and gentle wind kissing your face.
2) Erhai Lake Boat Tour (about 2~3 hours from CNY 145/pp): 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.
3) Erhai Lake Cycling Tour (about 2 hours from CNY 50/pp): If your energy permits, you can choose a cycling tour along this picturesque Erhai Lake, which may give you a more exciting experience there than the cruise and bus.
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. 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.
- Dali Old Town
- Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery
Day 3 Dali - Lijiang (B, L)Xizhou Ancient Town - Three-Course Tea - Yan Family Courtyard - Zhoucheng Old Town - Drive to Lijiang
On this day, you’ll enjoy the specially-designed activities to experience Bai ethnic minority’s culture.
After breakfast, you’ll be driven 18 kilometers to 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 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 Courtyard 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.
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 transferred to Lijiang with 2 hours’ driving. Upon arrival, be taken to your hotel for a good rest.
- Xizhou Old Town View
- Zhoucheng Tie-dye
- Three Courses of Tea
- Yunnan Goat Cheese - Rushan
Day 4 Lijiang (B, L)Yuhu Village - Baisha Mural Paintings - Dongba Culture Museum - Black Dragon Pool Park - Lijiang Old Town
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.
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.
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.
After that, 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.)
Awesome Ethnic Cultural Experience you can choose today:
Option one: You can have in-depth cultural experience to learn how to make Baisha embroidery instructed by the local masters in Baisha Village.)
Option two: 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 three: 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 Lijiang Ancient Town
- Black Dragon Pool Park
- Baisha Mural Paintings
- Mufu Palace, the “Forbidden City” of Lijiang
- Naxi Ancient Music Appreciation
Day 5 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri-La (B, L)First Bend of Yangtze River - Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge - Drive to Shangri-La
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 6 Shangri-La (B, L)Songzanlin Monastery - Nixi Pottery Village - Dukezong Old Town
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, your guide and driver will pick you up at the 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 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.
Later, drive about 28 kilometers (within 1 hour) to Nixi Pottery Village, the most “Shangri-La” of Shangri-La. Nixi Tangdui Village is a Tibetan village well known for the two-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’s workshop and watch how they make different items of black pottery. (Optional experience: If you want to involve in the pottery making, you can follow the local master to make one by your own hands. It takes about 30-40 minutes. After that, you can view the firing process.)
After the tour, drive back to Dukezong Old Town for further exploration. 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.)
Evening Time Suggestion: The main square of the Duzekong Old Town has dancing performance organized by the local Tibetan at night between 19:30 and 21:00 which is nice to watch or even join in.
- Nixi Tangdui Pottery Village
- Songzanlin Monastery
- Tibetan People in Shangri-La
- Dukezong Old Town
Day 7 Shangri-La & Shangri-La Departure (B, L)Pudacuo National Park - Shudu Lake - Bita Lake - Local Tibetan Family - Fly off Shangri-La
After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. Today, you’ll enjoy your time to explore the earthly paradise described in the famous novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton.
In the morning, drive about 23 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.) Walk along the wooden plank road (1 kilometer for single route, about 50 minutes for a round route) to admire the satisfying alpine meadow with seasonal blossoms and immerse into the verdant scenery of the peaceful Bita Lake (altitude: 3538 meters) which has the highest altitude among lakes in Yunnan and is praised as the “pearl of the plateau”.
Important Notice: Militang Pasture (弥里塘草场) in Pudacuo National Park is 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) and Bita Lake Scenic Area (碧塔海) are 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.)
After the tour, your will be escorted to the airport for your flight (after 17:00) 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 in China.
- Pudacuo National Park in August
- Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park
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, 2023.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1=RMB 6.85. 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.
I have tried to leave the following review with tripadvisor several times now but somehow it is not accepted, I do not know why.
"Just back from our 9-day trip to Yunnan, long planned and waited for. It was our second time with China Discovery Tours. Once again they tailored the tour according to our ideas and interests - and succeeded in surprising us! Thanks to the local guides we learned a lot about history, traditions and customs, and, of course, food. We always felt in safe hands and the organization was just perfect with enough on spot flexibility. Big thanks to Jack who figured it all out so well and to the next time with China Discovery! Johannes (GER) & Elizabeth (GRC)"
Thanks again for an excellent trip, best regards, Johannes&Elizabeth
It's was great, we loved it! Our tour guide Frank was very kind, informative, and funny :) We loved how easy it was and how much we got to see in a day, I will definitely recommend to our friends!
we will be happy to when we get back to Shanghai It was a great trip and Kevin was a wonderful guide!
Absolutely fantastic trip. We enjoyed every moment and the guides were all really good.
I might only have one more year in China and I would like to see more. I believe that the best way for me is smaller trips leaving Thursday evening and returning Sunday.
Thank for our trip. Well organised. Driver & guide were super ! We have been lucky to have a sunny weather and the lantern festival! And not toooooo cold, only if you compare to the week before !
"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!
Kunming / Dali / Lijiang
Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
Kunming / Stone Forest / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
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