The Ethnic Discovery of Yunnan
Duration: 8 days/ 7 nights
Destinations: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La
Highlights: There are so many extraordinary places waiting for you to discover in Yunnan. In 8 days, you can feast your eyes on the wonderful natural beauty as well as the historic and cultural heritages in Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La. The Stone Forest, Three Pagodas, Lijiang Old Town, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Ganden Songzanlin Monastery and Nixi Village of Tibetan will highlight your trip.
• Day 1 Kunming
Arrival in Kunming, meet your guide at airport and transfer to hotel.
The capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming is one of China’s noted historical and cultural cities. The city is located in central Yunnan at the elevation of 1894 meters above sea level and is praised as the city of eternal spring.
Rest of the day at leisure
Kunming Grand Park Hotel
• Day 2 Kunming
Drive along the new express way to the Stone Forest. Stone Forest is 75 kilometers from Kunming and is accessible by a bus ride of 70 minutes. The Stone forest belongs to the typical Karst geomorphology, it consists of innumerable bizarre-shaped ancient limestone cliffs and peaks created by wind and water erosion some 200 million years ago, and this area is praised as the “First Wonder Under Heaven”. It’s inscribed as Nature Heritage by UNESCO.
Drive back to Kunming by the old road, visit a village en route.
Visit the Green Lake Park in the afternoon. Attractions in the neighborhood of Green Lake Park include the former Yunnan Army Academy, believed to be the biggest quadrangle building of China, and people in Kunming enjoying their leisure life in the afternoon.
• Day 3 Kunming - Dali (by public express bus)
Overland drive with seat in public bus from Kunming to Dali, 360 kilometers, or about 4.5 hours.
Standing against the Cangshan Mountains in the west and adjoining the Erhai Lake in the east, embraced by undulating hills around, Dali was the capital of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdom as early as 1,300 years ago. It is home to Bai minority.
Upon arrival in Dali, proceed to visit the Three Pagodas, followed by a guided stroll in Dali old town.
Standing in a way of a tripod on the outskirts of old town, the Three Pagodas were constructed in about 850 and 1050 following the model of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an. For centuries, they are considered landmark of the region.
The Dali Old Town of weathered gray granite stands at 2,100 meters on a long, narrow rice plain between the Cangshan Mountains and the Erhai Lake, a natural configuration that seems specially designed for a good, bountiful life. Format of the old town is like a chessboard with four gates guarding in the directions of east, south, west and north, a design that was adopted by most towns in ancient China.
Dali Landscape Hotel
• Day 4 Dali - Lijiang (by automobile)
In the morning, overland drive of 180 kilometers, or 3.5 hours, along the new road on private vehicles to Lijiang.
Visit the Bai minority village Xizhou on the way.
23 kilometers north of Dali, Xizhou village has a more mixed population and cosmopolitan background. It grew and flourished in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) along with the fortunes of Dali’s renowned tea merchants that traded to Tibet. Family Yan’s courtyard is a good example of traditional Bai houses. And each morning, villagers in Bai dresses gather in a small market to buy and sell their produce and daily wares.
Then continue driving to Shaping. Shaping Market is a local market on every Monday. The local people come to the market from surrounding villages to exchange their daily wares, farming products, traditional clothes, or simply foods and vegetables.
Upon arrival in Lijiang, check in at hotel. Afternoon will be free for your first visit of the old town.
A gathering place of rugged mountain people with the Naxi forming the majority, Lijiang is a small mountain town of stone and tile, laced with swift canals, which was enlisted as an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1999.
Old town of Lijiang is a big area with its center, or Si Fang Jie (Square Street) in the form of an official ink stone, hence its name Dayan (ink stone) Town. It enjoys a long history of over 800 years and unlike most of the old towns in China, there is no city walls due to a superstitious belief of the local ruler whose family name is Mu (tree), when encircled by walls, would be Kun (besieged). Wooden structures, mountains, small rivers and lanes integrate harmoniously in this mountain town.
Hexi Hotel Lijiang (or similar)
• Day 5 Lijiang
In the morning visit the Black Dragon Pond with Dongba Museum. The Pond provides you opportunity of taking great pictures of the crystal clear pond with backdrop of snow mountains in a distance.
Then, drive out to the Naxi minority villages at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountains.
Visit the Yuhu Village, a simple village of Naxi minority with the Former Residence of Dr. Joseph Rock. Dr. Rock, an Austro-American botanist and explorer who lived here off and on from 1922-1949, is best remembered for the introduction of innumerable plant species to the West and his rigorous works on Naxi ethnology.
Transfer back to your hotel after lunch. Rest of the day for your own discorvery in the Old Town.
Lunch at local Chinese restaurant, dinner at leisure.
• Day 6 Lijiang - Shangri-La (by automobile)
We drive to Shangri-La with stops and visits to the First Bend of the Yangzi River and the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the way.
The village of Stone Drum stands at the First Bend of the Yangzi River, some 70 kilometers west of Lijiang. Approaching to Stone Drum offers a dramatic view of the Yangzi's near-180-degree turn, where the wide, swift waters perform a miraculous about-face. For nearly 20 kilometers the river, first flowing south, then north, runs parallel to itself. Locals say if it were not for their village standing guard at the bend, China would lose the water of the Yangzi to Southeast Asia, like that of the adjacent Mekong and Salween Rivers.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge, or Hutiaoxia in Chinese, is the Yangzi's best-known gorge after the Three Gorges in Sichuan and Hubei. Wedged tightly between titanic cliffs, the river is so narrow here, as legend tells us, that a hunted tiger made his escape to the other side in a single bound. Here, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains and the Haba Snow Mountains lean close to each other and a large volume of torrent moving between them cutting deeper and deeper into the bottom of the gorge. In some places there is a drop of 3,000 meters to the water.
Arrive Shangri-La in the late afternoon, check in at hotel.
Shangri-La lies in a landscape of rolling hills, snow-capped peaks, virgin forests of spruce, pine and meadow dotted with wild flowers and tranquil lakes. The old town, still entirely in local Tibetan style, is to the south of Shangri-La.
Shangri-La Moonlight City Hotel (or similar)
• Day 7 Shangri-La
Visit Ganden Songzanlin Monastery in the morning.The Ganden Songzanlin Monastery was founded in the 17th century during the reign of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama only 2 kilometers to the north of county proper. Being one of the thirteen Tibetan monasteries in the Kangba Region, where Tibet, Yunnan and Sichuan join, Ganden Songzanglin Monastery is nicknamed by local the Lesser Potala Palace. Holding about 700 monks and one living Buddha, the monastery is a must-go in the region.
Then make an excursion to Tukawa Village to visit a Tibetan family where the Tibetan builds their houses by wood with big sitting room and Buddhism hall.
Late afternoon at leisure for your own visit of the old town and local market in Shangri-La.
• Day 8 Shangri-La
Free at leisure and departure transfer to airport for next flight.
-- Arrival flight to Kunming and airport tax;
-- Departure flight from Shangri-La and airport tax;
-- All dinners, other meals, drinks and personal expenses;
-- Tips to the guide and driver;
-- Any program other than mentioned in our program.
Attractions Visited in This Tour
- Shilin (Stone Forest)
- Dali old town
- Black Dragon Pond Park
- The first band of Yangtzi River
- Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Songzanlin Monastery, Shangri-la