Home > Discovery Tour in Tibetan Areas Kham and Amdo
15 Days Private Tour Kunming – Shilin - Jianshui – Yuanyang – Yuxi – Kunming – Dali – Xizhou – Shaxi – Lijiang – Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri-La – Benzilan – Dechen - Feilai Si / Meili Snow Mountain and Mingyong Glacier – Cizhong – Tongle - Tacheng – Shigu - Lijiang
We start this Yunnan discovery tour from Kunming. Firstly we visit the World Natural Heritage Stone Forest (Shilin). Then we drive to Jianshui to visit Shuanglong (Double Dragon) Bridge that is recorded in the bridge building history and take a walk in the Jianshui Ancient Town. We continue southward to Yuanyang, having a walk at Yuanyang Terraces and enjoying the spectacular sunrise and sunset. The innumerable terraced paddy fields stretch along the steep mountain slopes. The narrow rice fields have been cultivated by the Hani people from generation to generation for centuries and are still managed manually nowadays. It has been one of the most beautiful cultural landscapes on earth. In 2013, the Hani terraces in Honghe Prefecture were included in the list of World Cultural Heritage.

Then we continue to the north to visit Bai people and enjoy their traditional residences. Besides, we discover the ancient tea-horse-road, taste the stories of Lijiang, follow the footsteps of Josef Rock, and explore the myths of Shangri-La.

It would be our lifetime happy memory that we enjoy the beautiful sunrise and sunset of Meili Snow Mountain from Feilai Si Monastery. We hike to Mingyong Glacier and enjoy the Kawakarpo closely, the main peak of Meili Snow Mountain. We drive through the hinterland of three parallel rivers and along the valley of Lancang River (Mekong River) to beautiful Tongle Village, and visit Kangpu Monastery. Then we discovery the rare Yunnan snub-nosed monkey in Tacheng Natural Reserve. On the way back to Lijiang we visit the first bend of Yangtze River in Shigu Village.
Highlights
Discover the South of Clouds - Yunnan
DAY
1

Arrive in Kunming

Welcome in Yunnan, China

Arrive in Kunming (1891 m), transfer to the hotel. Kunming, 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

Kunming – Shilin – JianshuiKunming – Shilin – Jianshui

Bizarre Stone Forest. Double Dragon Bridge at sunset

After breakfast drive to Shilin, a county of Sani people of the Yi minority, to visit the Stone Forest. The bizarre karst stone rocks feature in various formation and some of them tower above to 30 m high. The Stone Forest is just a natural museum that was shaped by 270 million years of erosion. Walking in the forest, you’ll feel the magic power of the nature. Then keep driving to Jianshui City, an earthy city built at the earliest in Nanzhao Period (around 810 AD) and was extended as brick city in 1387 of Ming Dynasty. Visit the Double Dragon Bridge, five kilometers in western suburb of Jianshui Old Town. The bridge at the sunset has unique charm! Recorded in the history of bridge building in China, the Double Dragon Bridge was built with 3 arches during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty and 14 arches were built to connect it during the reign of Daoguang in Qing Dynasty, so it was also called Seventeen-Arch Bridge. There are three-storey pavilions in the bridge and one pavilion at each end. The bridge body is made of rock, and it has a total length of 148.26 meters and a width of 3 meters. Today, you can try roasted tofu (doufu), the special dishes in Jianshui. With long history, it has earned a very good reputation as early as since the middle and late of Qing Dynasty (1636-1912).

316 km
4 hours
Overnight at 4*Lin’an Hotel
Breakfast
Double Dragon Bridge
Double Dragon Bridge
DAY
3

Jianshui – Yuanyang

Ancient city Jianshui, Chaoyang Tower, Garden of Family, Confucian Temple. Sunset of Bada Terrace in Yuanyang

In the morning, take a pleasant stroll in the ancient city of Jianshui and visit Chaoyang Tower. Built in 1389 of Ming Dynasty and preserved completely, Chaoyang Tower is the symbol of the important border town in Chinas old time. Then visit the Garden of Family Zhu that was built in Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) and keeps glorious till now. Then visit Jianshui Confucian Temple. Built in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it is the third biggest Confucian temple next to the Qufu Confucian Temple in Shandong and the Confucian Temple in Beijing. Many ancient music programs with large scale are performed here every weekend. The programs are divided two fields in the morning and in the afternoon and performance time are 9:00-11:00 and 14:00-16:00. Then drive to Yuanyang Terraces. The Hani terraced fields in Honghe Hani Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province has been listed in the world culture heritage list by UNESCO in 2013. Located in the south of Ailaoshan Mountain in south Yunnan, Yuanyang Terraces are the core area of Honghe Hani Terraces. Hani Terraces are agriculture civilization wonder that are cultivated by Hani people and all other ethnic groups from generation to generation, through taking advantage of the special geographical environment and climate. Walking and sightseeing at Bada Terraces, famous scenery for enjoying sunset, terrace, sea of clouds and Hani village. If the weather is well, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset of Bada Terraces in the late afternoon and evening (usually at 18: 00-19: 30 o’clock). Attention: the best season for photographing Hani Terraces is winter and spring, namely, from November to April of the following year. There is no rice in it and Hani Terraces are horizontal and bright, which produce terrific light and shade effects.

134 km
3 hours 39 minutes
Overnight at Yunti Hotel in Shengcun Village
Breakfast
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
DAY
4

Yuanyang

Sunrise at Duoyishu Terraces, Blue Terraces, Colorful Terraces at Eagle’s Beak, Tiger Mouth Terraces

Get up early, don’t miss the wonderful sunrise at Duoyishu Terraces in the morning (usually at 06:30 – 07:30 o’clock). Duoyishu Terraces are the best place for enjoying the beautiful sunrise. And then visit Blue Terraces in Aichun Village. Only at 9:00-10:00 AM you can enjoy the “blue” and every January to February is the most beautiful period of Blue Terraces. The combination of clear water in the fields, the angle of the terraces, and the clear blue sky formed the beautiful Blue Terraces. Besides, the beautiful Blue Terraces, golden ridges, distant Hani villages, scattered trees, and Hani women carrying baskets make up a magic grand spectacle. Afterwards, go to Colorful Terraces at Eagle’s Beak (Laoyingzui) that is near Mali Village. The beauty of Colorful Terraces is due to its rich color. Especially the blood-red terraces are very attractive, the blood-red of which is red algae floating on the surface of the fields. Finally, walking along the Tiger Mouth (Laohuzui) Terraces. If the weather is well, you will enjoy the beautiful sunset at Tiger Mouth Terraces in the late afternoon and evening (usually at 18:00-19:30 o’clock). Tiger Mouth is the best place for enjoying the beautiful sunset of Yuanyang Terraces.

Overnight at Yunti Hotel in Shengcun Village
Breakfast
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
DAY
5

Yuanyang – Yuxi – Kunming

Drive back to Kunming

If you are interested in the sunrise, you can get up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise of Duoshuyi Terraces again. Then drive back to Kunming via Yuxi.

302 km
4 hours 41 minutes
Overnight at 4*Jinjiang Hotel
Breakfast
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
Rice Terrace of Yuanyang
DAY
6

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. The lake with an area of 249 square kilometers, 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
7

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 (2600 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
8

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 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
9

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 (Hutiaoxia)
Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiaoxia)
DAY
10

Shangri-La

Bike trip to Sumzanlin Monastery and Napahai Lake

In the morning bike to 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 cycle 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.

Biking about 40 km
Overnight at 4*Shangri-La Old Town Hotel
Breakfast
Sumzanlin Monastery
Sumzanlin Monastery
DAY
11

Shangri-La – Benzilan - Dechen – Feilai Si

Benzilan Village, The first bend of Jinsha Jiang, Dong Trubling Monastery, sunset of Meili Snow Mountain

Drive through the Hengduan Range along the Jinsha Jiang (upper reaches of Yangtze) to Meili Snow Mountain (6740 m, Kawakarpo), a famous holy mountain of the Bon Religion and one of the greatest holy mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. At first, cross the 4292-meter mountain pass and look at the Baima Snow Mountain (5430 meters). Have a break in the beautiful small town Benzilan and enjoy the panoramic view of the “first bend of Jinsha Jiang (Golden Sand River)”. Before reaching Dechen, visit the Dong Trubling Monastery. Finally, reach Feilaisi. If the weather is well, you can enjoy the panoramic view of sunset of Meili Snow Mountain.

176 km
3 hours 22 minutes
Overnight at Paradise View Hotel at Feilaisi (3400 m)
Breakfast
Jinsha River
Jinsha River
DAY
12

Feilai Si – Mingyong Glacier - Feilaisi

Meili Snow Mountain, hiking to Mingyong Glacier

The word "Meili" is transliteration of Dechen Tibetan “mainri”, meaning “herbal medicine mountain”, which is named for its rich variety of valuable medicinal materials. With an altitude of 6740 m, Kawakarpo is the main peak of Meili Snow Mountain, and the highest peak in Yunnan Province. “Kawakarpo” is in Tibetan “the white snow mountain”. The Lancang River and the Nujiang River flow from the foot of the mountain to the east and west sides. The warm and humid air on the river valley meets the cold air, which makes the climate unpredictable. Local Tibetans call it "the god of snow mountains". Today’s aim is the Meili Snow Mountain and its Mingyong Glacier. Get up early. If the weather is well, you can enjoy the glorious panoramic view of sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain. At this time, Kawakarpo Peak looks like covered in gold when the sun rises in the east, just like James Hilton wrote in "Lost Horizon". Then drive to Mingyong Glacier. First, hike about 8 Kilometers from the scenic area gate (2230 m) at the mountain foot through forests to Prince Temple (Taizi Miao, 2720 m). The Kawakarpo Peak and the magnificent Mingyong Glacier that is winding down the mountain are standing in behind of the Prince Temple and are occurring to your eyes. Continue walking up about 2.5 kilometers, you will reach Lotus Temple (Lianhua Si, 3100 m) and glacier observation platform (3000 m) where you have a wonderful and close view of Kawakarpo Peak and glacier landscape. Finally drive back to Feilai Si.

Overnight at Paradise View Hotel at Feilaisi (3400 m)
Breakfast
Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Xueshan)
Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Xueshan)
DAY
13

Feilaisi - Cizhong Village – Tongle Village - Tacheng

Cizhong Catholic Church, beautiful village Tongle of Lisu minority, Kangpu Temple in Lancangjiang River Valley

In the morning drive to Cizhong Catholic Church which was built by French missionary a hundred years ago. And it was rebuilt in 1900 after being ruined in 1892. “Ci” means village and “Zhong” means six in Tibetan. Then drive to Tacheng Village. On the way visit the beautiful Tongle village of Lisu Minority and the Kangpu Monastery in Lancangjiang (Mekong) River Valley.

248 km
4 hours 36 minutes
Overnight at Cicheng Guesthouse
Breakfast
Snub Nosed Monkeys
Snub Nosed Monkeys
DAY
14

Tacheng - Shigu - Lijiang

Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey at Xianggujing Nature Reserve in Tacheng, the first bend of Yangtze River at Shigu village

In the morning visit the Xianggujing Nature Reserve of Golden Monkey in Tacheng. That is one of the three national forest parks in Diqing Prefecture and one of the important scenic spots in Yunnan. The scenery in the park is pleasant: all kinds of wild flowers, all kinds of wild fruits can be seen everywhere, and the harmony atmosphere of nature spreads everywhere. Then drive back to Lijiang. On the way visit the first bend of Yangtze River (Changjiang) at Shigu Village.

178 km
3 hours 45 minutes
Overnight at 4*Wangfu Hotel
Breakfast
The First Bend of Yangtze River at Shigu Village
The First Bend of Yangtze River at Shigu Village
DAY
15

Lijiang

Travel to next destination

Transfer to airport, fly back home or travel to next destination.
Breakfast
Old Town Lijiang
Old Town Lijiang
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Private travel, great experiences! Please contact us for your tailor-made travel offer.

With individual China Tibet travel, you can decide when, where and how you go on tour by yourself. What's more, you can choose the length of travel and whom you go with.

Information
Hotel, program and itinerary are subjected to change with prior notice.
We must point out that you counter a basic tourism infrastructure in this region. You stay overnight mostly at simple hotel/guesthouse. Long journeys on bad roads and on high altitude and delays require good physical fitness, resilience and flexibility of the participants. Program and route changes due to unforeseen events are expressly reserved. If you desire the unknown and have an understanding of contingency, this is the right trip for you.
More Impressions
Double Dragon Bridge in Jianshui
Jianshui Ancient Town
Jianshui Ancient Town
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Three Pagodas in Dali
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Yuanyang Terrace | Photo by Min Zhao
Lijiang Old Town
Lijiang Old Town
Sunrise of Meili Xueshan