yunnan5A longer tour of Yunnan, including Kunming, famous as the "City of Eternal Spring"; the old town of Lijiang; trekking and cycling in Baisha village, the capital of the former Naxi Kingdom; Shangrila, the start of the Tibetan world.

Route: Kunming, Lijiang, Baisha, Longquan, Glacier Park, Dongba Cultural Valley, Qiaotou, The Lijiang Valley, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangrila and Deqin

  

 

check16Inclusive:

• 12 night in hotel.
• Air-conditioned coach all the way
• Entrance fee at above scenic spots (cable car at Glacier Park)
• Local guide & driver for service
• Water & some emergency support, includes:
• Water 2 bottles a day for each person
• An oxygen bottle in Deqin
• A small truck stand-by for carrying bicycles in return trip, x 2 times on 4th day and 9th day.
• Villager + 1 horse or donkey hire, x 2 times on 7th and 11th day Bicycle rental fee of RMB20.00 per bicycle per day x 2 days already included in the package price.

stop16Exclusive:

• Airfare & airport tax from Kunming to Lijiang & Shangrila to Kunming
• Tips to guide and driver
• Meals of 12 lunches and 13 dinners as stated in the itinerary
• Drinks at meals other than what is served at table (usually Chinese tea)
• Use of mini bar, laundry, phone calls in hotels and expenses of a personal nature
• International flight to and from Kunming

Itinerary

Day 1: Kunming - Arrival - Stone Forest (Dinner)

Arrive in Kunming airport, meet and transfer to city and proceed to the Stone Forest which is 90km one hour's drive from Kunming. This enables you to spend some leisure time for more exploration of the Stone Forest during those times when tour groups have departed and you have the forest virtually to yourself. But first your guide will take you on tour and show you the natural wonders of this karst area full of grey limestone pillars eroded into fanciful shapes by wind and rain. The villages in the Stone Forest are inhabited by the Sani branch of the Yi tribesmen who are friendly to visitors. Within easy walking distance is the Five-Tree Village with a Mexican pueblo. The huge rockery holds fascinating bunches of boulders named Baby Buffalo, Phoenix Combing its Wings, Stone Mushroom, Two Birds Feeding Each Other, Moon-Gazing Rhino, Wife Waiting for Her Husband, Camel Riding on an Elephant, Swan Gazing Afar and Old Man Taking a Stroll. Let your imagination run wild. At 7pm, dinner is served at the hotel.
Overnight in Stone Forest Hotel.

Day 2: Kunming (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Morning call and breakfast at 8am. Drive to Kunming and begin a tour of the Western Hills. In this area on the western side of Lake Dian is a series of famous temples the foremost being the Sanqing Taoist Temple and at the summit is Dragon Gate containing a bunch of grottoes, sculptures, corridors and pavilions with magnificent views of Lake Dian. At the foot is Huating Si the former residence of a Yuan prince turned into a temple for worship - a large and old temple with some fine statues, stupas and well-landscaped gardens. Trekkers would be delighted with the trails from Lake Dian up to the summit at Dragon Gate for the fabulous aerial views. Break for lunch. After lunch, free to walk-and-shop at the Flea Market in Jin-ma-bi-ji street before returning to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. Kunming is succumbing to modernization and many interesting buildings are being replaced by squat blocks. But in pockets of the city among the narrow lanes and hidden in the old alleys is the old Kunming still with its charming wooden houses and flagstone streets. The city is surrounded on three sides by mountains and Lake Dian in the south. At an elevation of 1890m, Kunming has a cool climate the whole year round. There are a few architecturally interesting temples like the West Pagoda and the East Pagoda but the best of them all is the Yuangtong Si of 1200-year-old Tang dynasty design containing among many pavilions, ponds, courtyards, bridges and walkways is the Buddha image presented to the temple by the King of Thailand and housed in a new hall. The city has an interesting museum and zoo, mosques and Cui Hu (Green Lake) Park well-known for its "English Corner" on Sundays and red-beaked seagulls in winter. Kunming has limited shopping. Much sought-after items are herbal medicines (Yunnan White Medicine, the baiyao, is a blend of over 100 herbs and is a craze among Chinese throughout the world), tea (smoked green tea, tuocha, of Marco Polo's time; leafy black tea giving a run of the best Ceylon teas; and other blends found in the Tianfu Mingcha shop); jade and mushrooms. Dinner is at 6.30pm.
Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 3: Flight to Lijiang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel at 8am. Check out of the hotel to transfer to the airport for the flight to Lijiang by HU7389, dep.1105/arr.1150. At Lijiang airport meet and transfer to city, a 35-minute drive of the 30km, for lunch before checking into our hotel. Afternoon, trekking to Black Dragon Pool Park (30 minutes trek) and to Lion Hill. The view of Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain from here is most photogenic. Nearby is the Dongba Research Institute perched on the hillside dedicated to studies on the Naxi native minority and their ancient culture. Then you begin a fascinating tour of the Lijiang ancient city with your guide until dinner-time at 7pm. In 1999 the UN put Lijiang county on its World Heritage Site list, impressed by its traditional Naxi architecture and culture. The old town is a delightful maze of granitestone lanes running alongside gurgling canals and lively markets, stone bridges spanning the streets criss-crossed by waterways, wooden houses and a living Naxi culture you can experience everywhere in Lijiang. Scattered among the ancient temples just outside the old city are Lijiang's famed temple frescoes mostly painted by Tibetan artists of the 15th and 16th century. Return to your hotel or walk about in the old town. Nobody touring old Lijiang skips visiting the Market Square. By mid-morning the square fills up quickly with Naxi women in traditional clothes selling their embroidery and striped cloths. In the evening old Naxi men and women gather to dance their ancient folk dance and welcome anyone to join in. .
Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 4: Trekking & Cycling in Baisha - Longquan (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Morning call and breakfast at 8am. Full-day trekking about in the lovely Baisha and Longquan village areas famed for their ancient temples and Tibetan-inspired frescoes, besides extraordinarily beautiful scenery. In Baisha visit the imposing Yufeng Tibetan monastery and the Dabaoji Palace where among the best frescoes in Lijiang are found; and in nearby Longquan, the Dajue Temple has also the best. Here was the capital of the Naxi kingdom before Kublai Khan annexed it in the late 13th century. It was settled by descendants of Tibetan nomads practising the matrilineal social system. Much of it today is as it was before the Mongols came. We will poke our heads into grottoes, visit Jade Peak Lhama Temple and Jade Water ethnic village, and take a leisurely stroll through meadows and woodlands beneath Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This mountain has special spiritual meaning to the locals. This trip is within easy trekking distance from Lijiang, but we will do it on bicycles – or have a combination of both to enjoy this circuit trek. A small truck and 2 bottles of water per person will be the supports we will provide for the trekking circuit. The truck will wait at Jade Water village in case you need it. A box lunch will be served. Return to Lijiang old town and back in our hotel. At 6.30pm dinner. Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 5: Glacier Park & Trekking in the Dongba Cultural Valley (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

At 8am you get a morning call and go for breakfast. Drive to the foothills of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to take a cable car up to Glacier Park (4680m above sea level) to be as close to this breathtaking glacier as though you are actual mountaineers. The cable car is the highest and longest in the world. The climb up to the lookout, though very taxing, is well worth the fascinating view of a glacier up close. We will also look around the forested base of the mountain with its rivers and glaciated valleys to catch our breath. At noon it is lunch time among the mountain peaks. In the afternoon experience the trekking route yourself in the Dongba cultural valley where Mild-Seven had it as part of its international trekking route. The Dongba (shamans of Naxi animist religion) learned in their ancient script of picture-words, witchcraft and medicine spread this culture throughout the length of the Lijiang valley system – a disappearing culture as the forceful Han culture becomes more and more pervasive. Trekking through the valley brings us closest to this endangered culture as we see their homes and interact with the Naxis. Then a hearty dinner at 6.30pm before returning to our hotel. Free to stroll about in the old city in the evening.
Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 6: Qiaotou & The Lijiang Valley (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

At 8am breakfast at the hotel. Depart from the hotel to visit Longtan Naxi ethnic village, an authentic traditional village still holding fast to their disappearing culture and craft. Time has stood still in this village since a few centuries ago. We pass through the lovely Lijiang valley, splash with wheat fields and drying hay stacks to enter the Tiger Leaping Gorge area. We stop for a picnic lunch at the deep and narrow Tiger Leaping Gorge. Legend has it that back in those days when tigers roamed this part of Yunnan, they crossed the gorge by leaping from one side to the other over the fast flowing river deep down below. We will see stunning views and experience the roar of the rapids, as the river plunges and splashes through this magnificent natural area. Tiger Leaping Gorge is in a spectacular mountain area. This is one of the deepest and most dramatic gorges in the world and is quite wild despite the enormous efforts to tame it. You will stand on the narrow spot of the gorge where it takes its name – an adventurer's goal. It is a powerful spot with the whole of the Yangtze River confined to a 20-meter (70-foot) width. What you see will remain a vivid picture in your mind for always. Arriving at Stone Drum village (Shigu) in the Qiaotou gateway (at the other end of this track is Daju) we trek down along the Yangtze River to a little town to check into our simple hotel and prepare for dinner at 6.30pm. Shigu sits on the dramatic First Bend of the Yangtze Kiang, China's greatest river. Its fish is the tastiest in the area. Here also is Cloud Hill, a massive pile of rocks that halted the southern rush of this great river and threw it up north and east to flow through the heart of China to the Pacific Ocean, thus making the Chinese civilization as we know it today.
Overnight in the Tiger Leaping town hotel (no-star) where the bathroom has hot water only in the morning and evening. (Ask the times at the hotel so as not to miss a hot bath.)

Day 7: Trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Morning call and breakfast at 8am. At 9.30am we begin our full-day trek of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is an enchanting trek along part of the 16km stretch of the Yangtze River and the deepest gorge in the world. The best time is in May and June when, as someone says, "the hills are afire with plant and flower life." From the First Bend at Shigu the Yangtze River surges through the deep gorge between Haba Mountain and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a dizzy 3900m from the snowcapped mountaintops to the frothing waters way down below. We will take the "high road", a mountain path, to track to Bendiwan and Walnut Grove, and take the "low road", an actual road, to cycle back to our hotel, or you can hop onto the truck that brought you the bicycles. We have our box lunch at the top of the gorge to enjoy the splendid views as we munch. Some support for the trek takes the form of a villager with a mule to carry goods at the beginning and a small truck at the end to stand-by for those whose legs have given way under them after the mountain trail; bottled water; bottled oxygen; and of course the guide "whose advice must be sought and acted upon" by everybody. This trek is of middle-grade difficulty. At the Middle Rapids along Tiger Leaping Gorge after emerging from the bamboo forest and meadows of wild herbs, we end the trek, but not your enjoyment of the great scenery and wonderful mountain air. Return to hotel. Dinner.
Overnight in Tiger Leaping Town hotel.

Day 8: Shangrila (Zhongdian) (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Depart from our hotel at 9.30am on the two-and-a-half hours drive to fabled Shangrila (its original prosaic name is Zhongdian) about 200km northwest of Lijiang, sightseeing along the way. By noon we arrive in Shangrila to check into our cozy hotel, and in time for lunch. You stand at the start of the Tibetan world at the height of 3400m above sea level. You should be quite acclimatised to the high altitude from Kunming at 1890m and Lijiang at 2450m by now. Here the social fabric is heavily overlaid by Han Chinese with a sprinkling of Muslim Hui, Naxi, Bai, Tibetan and Yi native minorities. As in Dali and Lijiang, Shangrila also has a bland new town while preseving its interesting old town. From mid to late June Shangrila holds a three-day horse racing festival accompanied by dancing, singing and eating. Good and varied food is confined to a few restaurants in Shangrila. Tibetan wares like crafted bowls of azalea wood, hammered copper kettles, "singing bowls", rugs, musk and long yak-fur coats are abundant in the shops. Its matsutake mushroom is a craze with the Japanese. The highlight of visiting Shangrila is to get a taste of Tibet by visiting the monastery. We will visit the Songzanlin Si (Ganden Sumtseling Gompa), the 300-year old Tibetan monastery complex that is home to 600 monks. Experience a Tibetan hada dinner with a Tibetan family and be entertained by a Tibetan cultural show to end a pleasant day in Shangrila.
Overnight in hotel, Shangrila.

Day 9: Shangrila (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. You are surrounded by loveliness in Shangrila. To enjoy it fully, visit the countryside. Most of the mountain passes are above 4000m high. Two lakes are worth cycling to in summer: the 7km-away Napa Hai northwest of Shangrila to where rare bird species migrated for the warmth, and the 25km-away Bita Hai to the east covered with flowers in summer and golden foliage in autumn. In summer an unusual sight is seeing befuddled fishes floating unconscious on the lake after a feast of soporific azalea petals. Have a picnic lunch by the beautiful lakeside. Cycle to the end of the track where a small truck waits in the Park's parking area to carry you and bicycles back to your hotel if you don't wish to cycle back. Dinner at 7pm.
Overnight in hotel, Shangrila.

Day 10: Shangrila - Deqin (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Depart our hotel at 9.30am on the four-and-a-half hours drive to Deqin, sightseeing along the way. Natural beauty is all along the route. Farther on at the upper stretches of the Yangtze River are more photo-compelling views to warrant a 30-minute stop. Half-way to Deqin is the sleepy Tibetan village of Benzilan, across the river is Sichuan province. It is famous for its wooden bowls fashioned from quality azalea wood. Lunch will be in a small town along the way. About 22km northwest from Benzilan village along the main road is a very important monastery called Dongzhulin Si (Dhondrupling Gompa), built in 1667. Today there are 300 monks with the remaining four "living Buddhas" residing there. Around mid-afternoon we arrive at Baimang snow mountains for another 30-minute stop. Here is Yunnan's largest plant and animal nature reserve - the living habitat of several endangered species and dotted with botanical gardens. We arrive at our hotel with still a couple of daylight hours for your ambling in the woods along marked paths. Deqin on the Mekong River is the last Yunnanese town and northern-most county before the border of Tibet, nestling at an altitude of 3550m. Views of majestic snow-mountains are all around – the most magical and Yunnan's highest peak being Kawa Karpo (Meili Xueshan) standing 6740m high straddling the Yunnan-Tibet border. The area is inhabited mostly by Tibetans with a sprinkling of about a dozen other minority groups. Stone houses in scattered hamlets on mountain slopes are the homes of Tibetans who have spilled over the border from Tibet. Dinner is served at 7pm.
Overnight at Deqin Hotel (2-star – the best there), Deqin.

Day 11: Deqin (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 9.30am we make an excursion to the Meili snow mountains at Mingyong village, half-an-hour away, where among a row of chortens you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Meili mountain range – Kawa Karpo to the north and an even more beautiful Miacimu (6054m) to the south. To one side of Kawa Karpo is the 12km-long Mingyong Glacier (China's lowest glacier) suffusing the villages around with dense mists in spring and summer. From the village's central square trails lead up to a glacier park. It's a two-and-a-half hour trek to the top. But you have your box lunch with you. At the second temple called Lianhua Miao (Lotus Temple) on this trail you get to see wonderful views of the glacier made alive by fluttering prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels. You will have similar trekking supports of villager and horse, bottled water and a bottle of oxygen for this middle-grade difficulty climb. As evening falls we visit Feilai Lhama Temple dedicated to the spirit of Kawa Karpo. Return to the hotel for dinner. Overnight in Deqin Hotel, Deqin.

Day 12: Deqin - Shangrila - Kunming (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Depart from our hotel at 9.30am to Shangrila, with lunch along the way. At 2.30pm arrive in Shangrila and have free time to move around the city until dinner-time at 6.30pm. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kunming, departing at 22:00 hours. Arrive in Kunming at 22:55 hours, meet and transfer to your city hotel.
Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 13: Kunming - Departure (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Check out of hotel beforee 12 noon and be transferred to Kunming airport for your departure flight.

End of Programme