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12 Days Private Tour Kunming – Dali – Xizhou – Shaxi - Lijiang – Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri-La – Lhasa – Yamdrok – Gyantse – Shigatse – Lhasa
It is a fascinating culture and nature travel in Yunnan and Tibet. We reach the Tibetan mountain region Shangri-La through the traditional trade route "Tea Horse Road". Gradually, we adapt ourselves to the altitude of the way from Kunming via Dali and Lijiang to Shangri-La before flying to Lhasa and getting to know Tibet intensively.

In Lhasa - the capital city of Tibet - we have two days for the attractions: Potala, Jokhang, Norblinka and Sera. And from Parla Lupu Monastery we'll enjoy the magnificent view of Potala Palace. We could circle around the Tibetan holiest Monastery Jokhang with pilgrims, who come from all over Tibet and the Tibetan cultural areas of Kham-Amdo of the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan. Many pious Tibetans measure the way on the Barkhor market with their body length.

On the scenic drive to Gyantse and Shigatse we will experience the magnificent scenery, pass by the turquoise Yamdrok Lake and cross over the passes Kamba La (4,794m) and Karo La (5,010m). Then visit the unique Kumbum Pagoda in Gyantse and Tashilunpo Monastery in Shigatse.
Highlights
Highlights of Yunnan and Tibet
DAY
1

Arrive in Kunming

Welcome in Yunnan, China

Arrive in Kunming (1891 m) and transfer to the hotel. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China, is also called “Spring City” due to its fine climate all year round. Yunnan in Chinese means "to the south of the clouds".

Overnight at 4*Jinjiang Hotel
Dianchi Lake
Dianchi Lake
DAY
2

High-speed train Kunming – Dali

San Ta Si, Erhai Lake, Dali ancient small town

In the morning transfer to railway station, and take a high-speed train (D8672 0924/1124, class 2) to Dali (2090 m) at the foot of Cangshan Mountain (4295 m), a city of Bai Minority. Upon arrival, meet the local tour guide and transfer to visit Dali's landmarks - the three white pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple. Especially when the ensemble is reflected in the small pond, a wonderful photo motive appears for you! Afterwards have a walk by the picturesque Erhai Lake, the shape of which resembles a huge ear, so gave "Ear Lake" as its name. With an area of 249 square kilometers, the lake is 40 km long and surrounded by high mountains such as Cang Shan. At last stroll in the alleys of the ancient small town. The well-preserved ancient city gates and the historic buildings have shown the city’s long history.

Overnight at 4*Landscape Hotel
Breakfast
Three Pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple
Three Pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple
DAY
3

Dali – Xizhou – Shaxi – Lijiang

Old towns Xizhou and Shaxi. Ancient tea horse road

After breakfast drive to visit the old town Xizhou that is best known for its houses with the remarkably well-preserved traditional Bai architecture. Continue to drive to Lijiang (2416 m), the hometown of Naxi Minority. On the way visit the old town Shaxi, most of its residents are Bai People. Shaxi was an important caravan station on the ancient tea horse trade road between Yunnan and Tibet. Salt, tea and horses were exchanged on this route and the trade brought prosperity to the region. Located at the foot of Jade Dragon Mountain (Yulong Xueshan, 5596 m), the Old Town Lijiang is famous for its old wooden houses and the layout of the town’s streets. It has been listed as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1997.

229 km
4 hours 3 minutes
Overnight at 4*Wangfu Hotel
Breakfast
Old Town Shaxi
Old Town Shaxi
DAY
4

Lijiang

Old town Lijiang, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Culture Museum, mural at Baisha Village and residence of Josef Rock at Yuhu Village

In the morning stroll in the old town of Lijiang. With its narrow streets, canals, bridges and wooden houses, the old town creates a cozy atmosphere. Climbing the Lion Hill, you have a wonderful panoramic view of the old town Lijiang from the Wangu Pavilion. Then visit the beautiful park Hei Long Tan (Black Dragon Pond) at the foot of the Elephant Mountain (Xiang Shan), located in the north of the old town Lijiang. The peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xueshan, 5596 m) are clearly reflected in the water of the pond. Then visit the Dongba Culture Museum. The Dongba culture is considered as the basis of the Naxi people. “Dongba” means “wisdom” and is a polite salutation for their religious priesthood. The Dongbas are highly respected, as the culture carriers and culture disseminators in terms of pictograms, music, dance of the Naxi people. With 1000-year history, the Dongba culture originated at the latest in the Tang and Song dynasties. After that drive to Baisha Village to admire these religiously-inspired murals that were painted in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Compared to other religious murals, the mural boasts an important feature that figures of Buddhism, Taoism, Lamaism, as well as the artistic styles of different nationalities, e.g. Naxi, Tibetans, Bai and Han Chinese can be found in a single image. Continue driving to Yuhu Village to visit the small museum at the former residence of the famous Austrian-American explorer, geographer and botanist Josef Rock. Finally, drive back to Lijiang Ancient Town.

Overnight at 4*Wangfu Hotel
Breakfast
Old Town Lijiang
Old Town Lijiang
DAY
5

Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge – Shangri-La

Walking in the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Old town Dukezong

Today, you can enjoy the spectacular spectacle of nature in the legendary Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiaoxia) on Jinsha Jiang (Golden Sand River) - the upper reaches of the Yangtze River (the longest river of China, 6380 km). The Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hu Tiao Xia), one of the deepest and longest canyons in the world and about 15 km long, was formed by a cliff of about 4000 meters high and was named from a legend that a tiger can jump over a canyon of 30 meters wide with one jump. Continue the journey to Tiger Leaping Gorge, soft hiking in the gorge. Keep driving to Shangri-La (3280 m, former Zhongdian) in northwest Yunnan, what is the southern gateway to Kham and Tibet. “Lost Horizon”, a novel wrote by British writer James Hilton and published in April 1933, describes a xanadu paradise in the southwest of China, a peaceful, quiet, eternal and mysterious living place for Tibetan, and there is a beautiful Lamasery, the center of “Shangri-La”. Lamasery leads the entire valley, forming a "Shangri-La" society. The author was inspired by the series of articles and photos published in “National Geographic Magazine” by Josef Rock during his expedition in northwestern Yunnan from 1924 to 1935. The word "Shangri-La" means in Tibetan “the sun and moon in heart”. Located on the old trade route to Tibet and literally called "Tea Horse Road", the region around Shangri-La is set in an enchanting landscape of snow-capped mountains, deep gorges, high mountain lakes, grassy steppes and primeval forests. Here, several nationalities, including Tibetans live in the northeast of Yunnan Province. Arrival in Shangri-La, discover the old town Dukezong.

201 km
3 hours 40 minutes
Overnight at 4*Shangri-La Old Town Hotel
Breakfast
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge
DAY
6

Shangri-La

Sumzanlin Monastery and Napahai Lake

In the morning visit Sumzanlin Monastery that was created in 1679 by the Fifth Dalai lama. Characterized by its Han-Chinese and Tibetan construction style, the monastery is the most important monastery of Gelugpa sect in Yunnan Province. Its appearance is strongly influenced by the Potala Palace in Lhasa, so it is also called "Little Potala". Today about 800 monks live here. Then drive to the Napahai Reserve. There is the most extensive highland steppe and the largest pasture in Shangri-La. Here vegetate 20% of all plant species in China, including many orchids. Surrounded by high mountains on three sides, the meadows in the valley transform into a reservoir in summer - Napahai meaning Napa Lake. In winter and spring, Napahai is a moorland - a paradise for migratory birds, including endangered species such as the black-necked crane or the bar-headed goose. You cycle and walk through villages, steppes and hilly landscapes around Napahai Lake, and you dive deep into the typical life of the nomads, as well as you can certainly taste the butter tea.

Overnight at 4*Shangri-La Old Town Hotel
Breakfast
Sumzanlin Monastery
Sumzanlin Monastery
DAY
7

Air Shangri-La – Lhasa

Welcome to Lhasa - the roof of the world. Visit nunnery Ani Sangkhung

In the morning take a flight (MU5939 1020/1225) to Lhasa (3650m), the capital of Tibet, and then transfer to hotel. In the afternoon visit the nunnery Ani Sangkhung. "Ani" means nun, and "Sangkhung" is a meditation cave. The nunnery Ani Sangkhung was founded in the 15th century by a disciple of Tsongkapa. It is located in the old city center near Jokhang. Today about 100 nuns live here. The monastery set up prayer hall, dorm, kitchen, etc. The nuns plant many plants, so the monastery looks like a garden.

Overnight at the 3*Yak Hotel
Breakfast
Nunnery Ani Sangkhung
Nunnery Ani Sangkhung
DAY
8

Lhasa

Potala Palace – landmark of Lhasa, Jokhang and Barkhor Street

In the morning visit Potala, which was originally constructed in 637 by Songtsen Gampo, the first king of the united Tibet, and later expanded and served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas as well as the religious-political nexus of traditional Tibet. The crowds of pilgrims, innumerable magnificent murals, Buddhist statues, scriptures and rare treasures altogether create a dense religious and art atmosphere that impresses every visitor. In the afternoon visit Jokhang Monastery, the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers where thousands of pilgrims come for worship everyday. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Walk on the Barkhor street surrounding Jokhang, a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialties.

Overnight at 3*Yak Hotel
Breakfast
Potala Palace
Potala Palace
DAY
9

Lhasa

Panoramic view over Potala, Norbulingka, Debate in Sera

In the morning visit Parla Lupu Cave Monastery, located on the slopes of Yaowang Mountain, was built in the 7th century. It is 22m high and from here you can have a wonderful panoramic view over Potala palace. Afterwards visit Norbulinka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. In the afternoon visit Sera Monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. It is also one of the six master monasteries of the Gelugpa. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. You have the opportunity to experience the famous monks' "Buddhism scriptures debates". Public religious debates are part of the education of monks.

Overnight at 3*Yak Hotel
Breakfast
Debate in Sera Monastery
Debate in Sera Monastery
DAY
10

Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse

Karo La Pass and Glacier, holy lake Yamdrok, Palkhor with Pagoda Kumbum

Drive to Gyantse. On the Kamba La (4796 m) have a fantastic view of the holy lake Yamdrok (4,441 m), one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and the largest habitat of waterfowls in south Tibet. On arriving, visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby. Both of them were built in the 15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse. This typical Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the only one large building complex in Tibet that old monastery and stupas are completely preserved and characterized as a monument. It is recorded that 14,000 kilograms of copper was used to make the 8-meter-high sitting statue of Sakyamuni Buddha housed in the grand hall of the temple. The 8-storey stupa is 42 m high and 62 m in diameters and contains a total of 76 chapels with wonderful murals revered by art scholars around the world. Afterwards drive about 90 kilometers to Shigatse (3880 m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang.

356 km
6 hours 41 minutes
Overnight at 4*Mulunlazong Hotel
Breakfast
Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake
DAY
11

Shigatse – Lhasa

Tashilunpo Monastery in Shigatse, traditional manufacture for Tibetan incense

In the morning visit Tashilunpo Monastery of Gelug Sect, the seat of the Panchen Lama built in 1447 and one of the six grand monasteries in Tibet. The monastery houses a giant statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the biggest gilded statue of Maitreya (Buddha of the future) in China, and a tomb of the 4th Panchen Lama containing masses of jewels and gold. In Tibet Buddhism, Panchen Lama is just the reincarnation of Maitreya Buddha. In the afternoon drive back to Lhasa. On the way visit a traditional manufacture for Tibetan incense in small town Tunba by the Yarlung Tsangpo River.

273 km
4 hours 58 minutes
Overnight at 3*Yak Hotel
Breakfast
Tashilunpo Monastery
Tashilunpo Monastery
DAY
12

Leave Tibet

Travel to next destination

Today transfer to airport or railway station, leave Tibet.
Breakfast
Pilgrims on Barkhor Street
Pilgrims on Barkhor Street
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More Impressions
Barkhor Street | Photo by Liu Bin
Barkhor Street | Photo by Liu Bin
Barkhor Street | Photo by Liu Bin
Jokhang Temple | Photo by Liu Bin
Potala Palace | Photo by Liu Bin
Norbulinka | Photo by Liu Bin
Debate in Sera Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Yamdrok Lake | Photo by Liu Bin
Karola Glacier | Photo by Liu Bin
Palkhor Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Palkhor Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Tashilunpo Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Bai Minority in Dali
Old Stage of Shaxi
Shaxi Old Town
Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang
Naxi Woman in Lijiang
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Sumzanlin Monastery
Tibetan in Shangri La
Village of Shangri la