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11 Days Highlights of Yunnan Tour Enquiry

Explore Yunnan’s stunning natural beauty and gain a better understanding of some of China’s ethnic minorities on this tour.

Kunming – Dali – Lijiang – Shangri-la

Kunming Western Hills, Dragon Gate, Green Lake Park, The Stone Forest, Dynamic Yunnan Performance, Dali Old Town, Three Pagodas, Houses of Bai People in Xizhou, Lijiang Ancient Town, Black Dragon Pool, Baisha Murals, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Songzanlin Temple, Pudacuo National Park, Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town

Itinerary Day By Day

Day 1- Arrival in Kunming

Our guide will meet you at Kunming Airport and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Kunming enjoys a temperate climate and is often referred to as the ‘Spring City’.

Meals: No meals provided.

Day 2 – Kunming

Attractions: East Pagoda and West Pagoda, Yunnan Provincial Museum, Western Hills, Dragon Gate

You will start today’s tour with a visit to the East Pagoda and the West Pagoda. These two pagodas are not far apart and date from the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). Like most ancient structures in China they have been rebuilt a few times, the East Pagoda was toppled by an earthquake around 1300 while both were damaged in a Muslim uprising in 1868.

Next you will head to the Yunnan Provincial Museum which houses an exhibition centered on Yunnan’s ethnic minorities, as well as a collection of artifacts from tomb excavations at Jinning on the southern rim of Dianchi Lake.

Afterwards you will continue on to The Western Hills with its natural environment and great views of Dianchi Lake. Soar silently above the treetops as you ride the cable car up the mountain. High above the lake you will discover that tunnels and tracks have been carved into the face of the cliff and the Dragon Gate is located several hundred metres above the lake. The project was begun by Wu Laiqing, a Taoist monk who commenced work in 1781. After his death other monks continued chiseling until the final cave was finished in 1853.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 3 – Kunming

Attractions: Green Lake Park, Flower and Bird Market, The Stone Forest, Dynamic Yunnan Performance

After breakfast, you will visit Green Lake Park, which is located just opposite Yunnan University and is one of the most picturesque parks in downtown Kunming. Here you may take a leisurely walk and enjoy watching performances of Chinese Opera or Taichi by the local people. Every winter in November and December huge flocks of black headed gulls migrate here from Siberia and are greeted with various celebrations.

Kunming Flower and Bird Market was originally the site for selling flowers, birds, pets, insects and goldfish. As business prospered and attracted more and more visitors, various tour operators began to bring tour groups to visit the market, and it gradually developed into a bustling shopping and sightseeing center with a true local flavor.

In the afternoon you will drive to The Stone Forest, a fantastic natural phenomenon located about 90 kilometres southeast of Kunming where the tall rocks look like trees made of stone. A combination of weathering and erosion has created this strange landscape of rock. The Stone Forest area is the home of the Sani people and their folk customs present a spectacular scene with colorful embroidery and minority dances.

The evening’s entertainment is a grand, original ethnic dance musical known as the Dynamic Yunnan Performance. It fuses the beauty of Yunnan ethnic minorities dance and songs with the power of modern stage exhibition. Through the artistic director’s reorganization and recreation of the essence of traditional songs and dance with the most classic style of folk dance, the richness of the culture of Yunnan minorities is born again on stage with startling effects.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel.

Day 4 – Kunming to Dali

Attractions: Dali Old Town

After breakfast our Kunming guide will see you off on the Kunming to Dali express bus. The journey takes about four hours and passes through spectacular scenery. Our Dali English speaking guide will be waiting for you at the Dali bus station and you will be taken to your hotel.

Later your guide will take you on a walk around Dali Old Town where you will see local people wearing their ethnic costumes. The street that goes from the South City Gate to the North City Gate is now a prosperous market street, selling marble, tie-dyeing and other souvenirs.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel.

Day 5 – Dali

Attractions: Erhai Lake, Three Pagodas, Houses of Bai People in Xizhou

Today you will visit Erhai Lake near Dali Old Town. The lake is shaped like an ear, hence its name, which means ‘ear shaped sea’ in Chinese. Nearby are the Three Pagodas. As its name implies, there are three ancient independent pagodas standing in a symmetrical triangle inside the temple. With a history of more than 1,800 years, the Three Pagodas have long been the symbol of the ancient Dali City.

In the afternoon you will pay a visit to the Houses of the Bai People in Xizhou, which is a typical commercial town of the Bai people. The houses there are among the best examples of traditional Qing architecture in China and are exquisitely detailed. About two hundred of them are National Heritage listed. During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) Xizhou prospered on the Southern Silk Road and Bai merchants travelled all over Asia trading in tea, horses, marble and other goods.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel.

Day 6 – Dali to Lijiang

Attractions: Scenery between Dali and Lijiang

Today will be another bus journey through rural Chinese countryside as you travel from Dali to Lijiang. Your Lijiang guide will be waiting for you and help you check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Lijiang. The tour guide will give you some recommendations of where to eat and information about Lijiang.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 7 – Lijiang

Attractions: Lijiang Ancient Town, Wangu Tower, Black Dragon Pool, Baisha Village, Baisha Murals, Shuhe Ancient Town

The morning will be spent exploring Lijiang Ancient Town which is the cultural center and capital of the Naxi people and is now a Unesco Heritage Site. It was built more than 800 years ago and the original water supply system is still in place. It is a veritable rabbit warren of small alleyways, cobbled pavements and running streams supplemented by innumerable shops, restaurants and guest houses. At the center of the ancient town four main streets radiate in four directions and are connected by many narrow lanes. While walking through the old town, you will immediately get overwhelmed by small bridges, swift streams, cobbled streets and the grey tiled roofs of the local houses. You will also see many local Naxi people wearing traditional costumes and headgear.
Behind Lijiang is Lion Hill where you climb up past more than forty ancient cypress trees which are more than 800 years old. At the top is the Wangu Tower, the landmark building of Lijiang Ancient Town. This pure wood building is thirty-three meters tall, overlooking the scenery of Lijiang at its foot, and looking out to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance. From here it is only a short walk to the incredibly stunning Black Dragon Pool where once again the imposing snowcapped peak of Jade Dragon Mountain dominates the skyline.

Nearby is the village of Baisha which was the original capital of the Naxi Kingdom before the 12th century. Here you will view the famous Baisha Murals which are a combination of Naxi, Tibetan, Bai and Han artistic designs. Most of the murals vividly describe the religious stories of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. One of its characteristics is combining several religious stories and having them in one painting. Therefore Baisha murals are quite unique from murals elsewhere.  Figures of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism might appear in one mural and 100 portraits at least would be in each of the murals.  The portraits in these paintings include not only the religious figures but also ordinary people.

End your visit at the Baisha Naxi Embroidery Institute with its amazing double sided embroideries. The mission
of this institute is to protect, develop and promote the Naxi traditional hand-made embroidery.
Finally you will visit Shuhe Ancient Town which is regarded as a living specimen of the Naxi ancestors’ transition from an agricultural civilization to a commercial culture. Similar to Lijiang Ancient City, Shuhe is surrounded by a murmuring river and interlaced with smooth flagging.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 8 – Lijiang to Shangri-la

Attractions: The Stone Drum Town (Shigu Town), Tiger Leaping Gorge

After breakfast you will leave Lijiang and follow the Yangtze River north on the Yunnan Tibet road. The scenery here is very spectacular as we travel through huge gorges dotted with small villages. You will stop along the way and view the first bend of the Yangtze and see the historical village of Shigu which is named after a drum shaped marble plaque. Many historic and significant events have taken place in this area. Kublai Khan crossed the Yangtze River here and in April, 1936 the Second Route of the Red Army also marched through the town.

You will stop at the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge and view this incredible sight. The Gorge is situated in between two large mountains, Jade Dragon Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain, and at one point drops three kilometers to the river below. After passing Tiger Leaping Gorge, the road follows a spectacular valley to a high plateau and on to Shangri-La.

Shangri-la was formerly known as Zhongdian but was renamed in 2001 after the fictional land in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon. Located at 3,200 metres it is a primarily Tibetan region.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 9 – Shangri-la

Attractions: Songzanlin Temple, Pudacuo National Park, Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town

Today’s tour will begin with a visit to the biggest Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Yunnan, Songzanlin Temple. Constructed in 1679 it is often called the little Potala Palace because of its traditional Tibetan architectural style. The most famous treasures in the lamasery are the eight gold-covered sculptures of Sakyamuni, bronze sculptures, the Ganzur scriptures hand-written in liquid gold, gold lamps, and many exquisite gilded silver incense burners.

Then you will travel to Pudacuo National Park which is the first national park in China to meet International Union of Conservation of Nature standards. You can stroll along the planked pathways surrounding Shudu Lake and maybe see the cracked stomach fish so called because there appears to be a crack line along their stomachs. Nearby are the green pastures where the Tibetan locals graze their yaks between May and October. The second lake, Bitahai Lake, is surrounded by dense deciduous forests. If you wish you can take a boat ride around this lake and visit the small island in its centre.

In the late afternoon you will visit Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town with its authentic Tibetan style houses. You can climb up to the top of Guishan Hill or Tortoise Hill where you will see the largest Prayer Wheel in the world and have a panoramic view of Shangri-La county and Dukezong Ancient Town.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 10 – Shangri-La to Lijiang

After breakfast your tour guide and driver will pick you up to go back to Lijiang which is about four hours’ drive. The rest of the day is at your leisure. You might like to buy some souvenirs for your family and friends back home or just walk around and enjoy the beautiful old town.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 11 – Depart Lijiang

Our guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel