Where is the “land of idyllic beauty” described by James Hilton in his significant novel “Lost Horizon”?
Shangri-La meaning the “Sun and Moon in Heart” and Daocheng Yading praised as the “Last Pure Land on Our Blue Planet” are the place narrated by James, where to easily appreciate the most idyllic landscape of towering snow mountains, dense ancient forest, shimmering alpine lakes, carpet-like flowery meadows, grazing and playing herds of sheep, cows and horses, temples & monasteries, and so forth. All the beauty, brightness, quietness, peace and harmony there is the simple and best thing for your seek of the real “Shangri-La” dreamed by anyone.
Take this 8-day Shangri-La and Daocheng Yading tour to find your own “pure land” and “Shambala kingdom” with the memorable visits to the sacred Sumtseling Monastery, tranquil Pudacuo National Park, mysterious Yading Nature Reserve, and other best essences of both dreamlands.
Day 1 Lijiang Arrival & LijiangToday's highlight: Lijiang Ancient 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 Wangu 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)Today's highlights: Yuhu Village, Baisha Mural Paintings, Shuhe Ancient Town, 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)Today's highlights: First Bend of Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Dukezong Old Town
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: 3459 meters), the Garden of Eden! Upon arrival, you guide will help you check in at your hotel.
After a short break, go 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.
Have a nice sleep in your hotel in Shangri-La!
- Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Dukezong Old Town
- Guishan Hill
Day 4 Shangri-La (B, L)Today's highlights: Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Pudacuo National Park, Local Tibetan Family Visit
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.)
After the visiting, be escorted back to your hotel and have a good rest!
- Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park
- Songzanlin Monastery
- Pudacuo National Park
Day 5 Shangri-La - Daocheng Yading (B)Today's highlights: Transfer to Daocheng Yading by Private Car
After breakfast, our guide will meet you at your hotel and then transfer you from Shangri-La to Daocheng Yading by our private car by driving for about 7-7.5 hours.
After your arrival, you will be sent to your hotel at Shangri-La Town (2,950m). The rest of the day is on your own to discover Daocheng Yading and the surrounding. Have a good rest for the following hiking experience!
Tips: Since the altitude of Daocheng Yading area is mainly over 3,000 meters, you are highly suggested not do strenuous exercise to release or avoid altitude sickness.
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Day 6 Daocheng Yading (B)Today's highlights: Yading Nature Reserve (Luorong Pasture - Milk Lake - Five Color Lake)
After an early breakfast, start your exploration of Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve, the Last Pure Land on Earth first found by Joseph Rock in 1928 and then be widely treated as the “Soul of Shangri-La” with extremely dreaming wonderland.
Take the sightseeing bus from the tourist center to Zhaguanbeng for about 1-1.5 hours and enjoy the 2-2.5 hours’ hike to Luorong Pasture (4,150m) via Chonggu Monastery (3,900m) (you can also choose to walk 20 minute to Chonggu Monastery and take the 0.5 hour battery car to Luorong Pasture if you want to save energy). Enjoy your relaxing roam at the idyllic pasture with those carefree grazing cattle and goats, layers of multicolored dense alpine forest, clear winding stream, etc. backed by the three holy snow mountains, namely Xiannairi (Mount Chianrezig), Yangmaiyong (Mount Jambeyang) and Xianuoduoji (Mount Chanadorje). You will appreciate the most beautiful appearance of Xianuoduoji snow mountain like a powerful man!
Next, take the challenging 5 km’s hike for 3-3.5 hours up to the fabulous Milk Lake (4,600m) (horse riding is available to Milk Lake and needs extra payment) and marvel at the unbelievable charm of such a holy lake like a precious blue gem that even can move one to drop tears. Continue to walk another 0.5 hour to visit Five Color Lake (4,500m) 0.3 km away to savor the impressive sightseeing with beautiful snow rock mountain in white, grey, silver and chocolate, blue and green water, various alpine plantations, clear sky backdrop, etc. particularly like an world-class oil painting.
After the visiting, walk down and take the car and bus back to the entrance. And our guide and driver will send you back to your hotel at Shangri-La Town. Have a good rest!
- Yading Luorong Pasture
- Yading Milk Lake
- Yading Five Color Lake
Day 7 Daocheng Yading (B)Today's highlights: Yading Nature Reserve (Chonggu Monastery - Chonggu Meadow - Pearl Lake - Poplar Forest - Benbo Monastery)
Today after breakfast, go to Chonggu Monastery as the same way on Day 2 by sightseeing bus and hike. Have a stop at the temple to admire the sacred Gelug Buddhist temple architecture in white, red, yellow and black and learn the interesting story about the temple and Joseph Rock’s stop by. From such unbeatable location, you will easily take the excellent photo of the brilliant temple and the three pure white holy snow mountains. After some short walk, embrace the lovely Chonggu Meadow (4,020m) that can be paralleled with the fairyland on earth. Stroll on the vast grassland like a thick and soft carpet in yellow and green in each season. Play along the particularly appealing transparent chanting river with clearly visible little stones like countless grains of gold sank to the bottom. Do not miss the best angle to admire the Xianuoduoji snow mountain like a powerful man.
Then, continue to hike for 30 minutes to visit Pearl Lake (4,120m) that is super fascinating to admire the picturesque landscape of surrounding snow peaks, green and orange dense forest, iridescent prayer flags, and their dazzling reflection in the shimmering clear lake. Also, it is the best location to admire the holy Xiannairi snow mountain.
After that, go back and be transferred to Bang River to appreciate the ten thousand acre of poplar forest (3,740m) from the best location. The wide spread of poplar trees are so charming in pure green in spring and summer and orange and golden in autumn under the frequent azure sky in Daocheng. Then, go to visit Benbo Monastery (3,940m) to have a close look at the striking claret-red Kagyu Buddhist temple cluster of over 900 years old, learn the interesting story of its establishment and the creator, and feel the sincere Buddhist pursuit and persistence of local Lamas.
After the visiting, our guide and driver will send you to your hotel in Daocheng County (3,700m) and help you check in. Have a good rest!
- Yading Chonggu Monastery
- Yading Pearl Lake & Mount Chianrezig
- Chonggu Meadow
- Benbo Monastery
- Yading Poplar Forest
Day 8 Daocheng Yading Departure (B)Fly off Daocheng Yading
After breakfast, your local guide and driver will send you to Daocheng Yading Airport for your flight to Chengdu or other destinations. Tour ends.
Departure Idea: Daocheng Yading Airport has direct flights to Chengdu, Chongqing and Xian, and very few connecting flights to Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Kunming.
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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 6.45. 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.
the trip is going good. Our guide is magnificent and we are enjoying ourselves.
Feedbacks: Vivien was exceptional with the level of customer service she provided during mine and my partner’s three week stay in Sanya. There was a late minute change but Vivien handled it professionally. All our travel needs were met. We have recommended Vivien to our friends and will be contacting her for future travel plans.
all good. Enjoy the trip!
so far it’s been amazing! I’ve taken a lot of photos Hope all is well with you. Nice weather, nice people. Enjoy the trip!
I had an amazing time on the trip. The tour guides and drivers were amazing. Mohammed for the first 3 days in Kashgar was an amazing tour guide. He was charismatic and very knowlegeable with lots of interesting stories to tell. I think he is a very good guide. Very organised trip and the hotel in Urumqi was fantastic. Can you pass on my good feedback about Mohammed to the company. Everyone in my group really liked him as our guide
"Highest Standards of Quality and Honesty" is the core value of each specialized team at China Discovery.
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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.
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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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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 / Shangri-La
Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Lhasa
Chengdu / Dujiangyan / Mount Siguniang / Danba / Tagong / Xinduqiao / Hailuogou / Chengdu
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