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Home > Discovery Tour in Tibetan Areas Kham and Amdo
14 Days Private Tour Chengdu – Dujiangyan – Wolong – Siguniang Shan – Danba – Tagong – Yajiang – Litang – Daocheng – Shangri-La Town – Yading – Shangri-La Town - Qingde - Xiangcheng – Derong - Shangri-La – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Lijiang – Shaxi – Xizhou – Dali - Kunming
On the tour, we will visit the Tibetan Area Kham in west Sichuan and north Yunnan. Besides, we will meet Naxi and Bai people in Yunnan. After having an experience of the leisure life in Chengdu, we will go to Siguniang Mountain, on the way there, we will visit pandas in Wolong, the first panda reserve in China. The next destination is the Jiaju Tibetan Village in Danba, honored as the most beautiful village in China. Then we reach Tagong, the “Buddha’s favorite place”. Afterwards we pass by Litang - the culture center of Kham, go to Yading, Daocheng. In Yading we walk among snowy mountains, holy lakes and alpine valleys. Continuing to Yunnan along the Jinsha (Golden Sand) Rive. We explore the myths of Shangri-La, feel the stories of Lijiang, follow the footsteps of Josef Rock, discover the ancient tea-horse-road, and visit Bai people and their traditional residences. Finally, we arrive in Kunming, visit the stone forest and end our tour during the farewell from beautiful Ashima.
Highlights
Searching for Shangri-La in West Sichuan and North Yunnan
DAY
1

Arrive in Chengdu

Home town of panda. Kuanzhai Xiangzi, drink tea in People’s Park

Arrive in Chengdu, capital of province Sichuan, the home town of Panda. Pick up and transfer to hotel. In the afternoon stroll in the beautiful old block of Chengdu - Wide Alley and Narrow Alley (Kuan Xiangzi and Zhai Xiangzi), they are the relics of the Manchurian garrison since 1718 and consist of 3 parallel lanes with the old classical houses, which are unique in southern China just like the northern Chinese architectural style presented by Hutong. After a careful renovation in June 2008, the pubs, teahouses, restaurants and guesthouses concentrate here, and in no time at all, it becomes the "lobby of leisure capital Chengdu". A walk here gives you a first impression of the "city of loafers". Then visit the People’s Park in the city center, have a seat in an old teahouse, enjoy your covered-bowl tea in a comfortable environment with bamboo chair and bamboo table, the tea culture of Chengdu is well known throughout China.

Overnight at 4*Xinliang Hotel
Tea House in People’s Park
Tea House in People’s Park
Photo by Liu Bin
DAY
2

Chengdu - Dujiangyan - Wolong - Siguniang Shan Town

Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Panda in Wolong, Sunset of Mt. Siguniangshan

In the morning drive to Dujiangyan to visit the Irrigation System, which was built around 250 BC by Li Bin, a governor of Shu Prefecture in Qin State. The great project still works well today after more than two thousand year’s function, which not only puts an end of the water disaster to the local people but also makes Chengdu Plain “the land of abundance”. While visiting the water conservation work, you may find that the methods of harnessing the river the ancient people used are so simple but useful. In 2000, Dujiangyan became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then drive to Wolong National Nature Reserve. 52 km long from east to west and 62 km wide from south to north, the whole area is 200,000 hm². It is one of the China earliest natural reverses, which is rated the preservation zones network of “mankind and living beings” by the Organization of Education, Science and Culture of United Nations (UNESCO). The virgin forest, second bush forest and bamboo groves are very green. There are over 4,000 kinds of high-level plants, 24 kinds of them are valuable plants, such as Gongtong (Chinese dove tree), red China fir, Lianxiang and so on. There are more than 450 kinds of vertebras, 45 kinds of them are rated national focal preserved animals, such as giant panda, golden monkeys, antelopes, white-mouth deer etc. The natural beautiful scene is quiet and secluded. Visit the Shenshuping Panda Base in Wolong, about 50 pandas live here, it is the largest breeding center for giant pandas, integrating scientific research, feeding, breeding, reproduction, wildness training, etc. Then drive through the Balang Shan tunnel. If the weather is good, we can enjoy the great panoramic view of Mt. Siguniang at Maobiliang at sunset.

200 km
4 hours
Overnight at Yunshang Hotel
Breakfast
Pandas in Wolong
Pandas in Wolong
Photo by Liu Bin
DAY
3

Siguniang Shan Town – Danba

Sunrise of Mt. Siguniang, Shuangqiao Valley, Wori Tusi Manor, Tibetan village Jiaju

If the weather is good, you’ll get early to enjoy the great panoramic view of Mt. Siguniang (Four Sisters Mountain) at Maobiliang at sunrise. The Siguniang Shan Mountain (also Four Sisters Mountain, Four Girls Mountain, Four Maidens Mountain) has four over 5000 m peaks, legend has it that each peak represents a girl of the 4 sisters. The highest peak, Yaomei Feng, the youngest girl and at 6250 m, is also known as the “queen of Sichuan's peaks”. Soft hiking in the Shuangqiao Valley (Double-bridge Valley) of the Siguniang Shan Mountain, the scenery is concentrated and charming. Afterwards drive to visit Wori Tusi Manor, the former official residence of the local Tusi, a kind of imperial kingship leader. After that drive to visit Tibetan village Jiaju, the most beautiful village of China. In Danba, the local people are called Jiarong (Gyarong) Tibetans. Walking and visit in the Jiaju village. There are more than one hundred buildings with the same architectural style, a complete and unique character of Jiarong Tibetan residences. Under the blue sky, the Tibetan residences decorated in red, white and black are strewed at random but also in school from the bottom to the middle slope of the valley.

110 km
2 hours 26 minutes
Overnight at Mantuoluo Hotel
Breakfast
Sunrise of Mt. Siguniang
Sunrise of Mt. Siguniang
Photo by Min Zhao
DAY
4

Danba - Bamei - Tagong - Yajiang

Tagong Si, Gyergo Nunnery, Grand mani wall of Hepingfahui

In the morning drive to Yajiang via Bamei and Tagong, take the view of Huiyuan Monastery from the distance in Bamei, then go to visit Lhagang Monastery (Tagong Si) of Sayka Sect, which is surrounded by three hills symbolizing three Budhisattvas. It is said that the blessing of a reserved Jowo Shakyamuni image left by Wencheng Princess in this monastery to the pilgrims resembles the Lhasa Jowo Shakyamuni image in Lhasa. Then visit the impressive Gyergo Nunnery and the grand mani wall of Hepingfahui. From the hillside next to the Muya Golden Pagoda, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Zhara Lhatse (5.820 m, also Jara or Yala), when the weather is good, the scenery at sunset is especially spectacular.

210 km
4 hours 36 minute
Overnight at Yidu Hotel
Breakfast
Nunnery of Hepingfahui in Tagong
Nunnery of Hepingfahui in Tagong
Photo by Liu Bin
DAY
5

Yajiang - Litang - Daocheng – Shangri-La Town

Litang monastery

Today drive to Litang, visit Litang monastery lying in the western suburbs of the city. The monastery was originally under the control of the Bon religion but converted into a Gelug Sect monastery in 1580 in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) by the third Dalai Lama. Keep drive over Mt. Haizi and pass by Daocheng to Shangri-La Town, where the highlight of this journey is - Yading nature reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains - Chenresig (Xiannairi, Avalokitesvara, 6032m), Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong, Manjusri, 5958m), and Chanadorje (Xianuoduoji, Vajrapani, 5958m). The scenery here easily rivals that of national parks of the west such as Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of spectacular, pristine mountain scenery.

355 km
6 hours 12 minutes
Overnight at Holiday Inn Express Daocheng Yading
Breakfast
Litang Monastery
Litang Monastery
Photo by Liu Bin
DAY
6

Shangri-La Town - Yading - Shangri-La Town

Walking to the three holy mountains in Yading Nature Reserve

Full day explore the natural beauty of Yading. Drive 30km to Longlongba – the entrance of Yading Nature Reserve. Start trekking tour to Chonggu Monastery and next proceed to Xiannairi Mountain with a mystery Dumu Lake at its mountain foot. Then trek to Luorong Cattle Farm, which is located among Yangmaiyong, Xianuoduoji and Xiannairi Mountains. Finally, back to Longlongba and drive back to hotel.

69 km
1 hour 45 minutes
Overnight at Holiday Inn Express Daocheng Yading
Breakfast
Mt. Xialuoduoji
Mt. Xialuoduoji
Photo by Wang Lei
DAY
7

Shangri-La Town – Qingde - Xiangcheng - Derong

Traditional Tibetan white houses of Xiangcheng

Drive via Qingde Town and Xiangcheng to Derong, enjoy the beautiful landscapes on the route and take photos of the traditional Tibetan white houses nearby Xiangcheng.

273 km
5 hours 25 minutes
Overnight at Dawang Hotel
Breakfast
Village in Xiangcheng
Village in Xiangcheng
DAY
8

Derong – Benzilan - Shangri-la

Welcome in Yunnan. The first bend of Jinsha River at Benzilan, old town Dukezong

Drive through the Hengduan Range along the Jinsha Jiang (upper reaches of Yangtze River) into Yunnan Province. Have a break in the beautiful small town Benzilan, and enjoy the panoramic view of the “first bend of Jinsha Jiang (Golden Sand River)”. Afterwards you head for Shangri-La (former Zhongdian, 3280 m), a Tibetan region in northwest Yunnan, the southern gateway to Kham and Tibet. On the way visit the first bend of Jinsha Jiang (Golden Sand River) at Benzilan. “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.

142 km
3 hours 22 minutes
Overnight at 4*Shangri-La Old Town Hotel
Breakfast
The First Bend of Jinsha River
The First Bend of Jinsha River
Photo by Peng Jiansheng
DAY
9

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
Photo by Peng Jiansheng
DAY
10

Shangri-la - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang

Hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge, old town Lijiang

Drive to the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hu Tiao Xia) on the 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. Sightseeing and soft hiking in the gorge. Keep drive to Lijiang (2416 m) at the foot of Jade Dragon Mountain (Yulong Xueshan, 5596 m), the hometown of Naxi Minority. The Lijiang Old Town 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. 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.

181 km
3 hours 17 minutes
Overnight at Wangfu Hotel
Breakfast
Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hu Tiao Xia)
Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hu Tiao Xia)
Photo by Peng Jiansheng
DAY
11

Lijiang

Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Culture Museum. Biking trip to Baisha Village and Yuhu Village with half day

In the morning 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. Afterwards drive to Shuhe village, and then biking 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 to bike 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.

Biking about 20 km
Overnight at Wangfu Hotel
Breakfast
Old Town Lijiang
Old Town Lijiang
DAY
12

Lijiang – Shaxi - Xizhou - Dali

Old towns Shaxi and Xizhou. Ancient tea horse road

After breakfast drive to 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. Continue to drive to Dali (2090 m) at the foot of Cangshan Mountain (4295 m), a city of Bai Minority. On the way visit the old town Xizhou that is best known for its houses with the remarkably well-preserved traditional Bai architecture.

229 km
4 hours 3 minutes
Overnight at 4*Landscape Hotel
Breakfast
Old Town Shaxi
Old Town Shaxi
DAY
13

High speed train Dali – Kunming

Dali ancient town, three pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple, Erhai Lake

In the morning stroll in the alleys of the ancient town of Dali. The well-preserved ancient city gates and the historic buildings have shown the city’s long history. And 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. In the afternoon transfer to railway station to take high speed train (C9803 1650/1908) to Kunming (1891 m), the capital of Yunnan Province, 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
Breakfast
Three Pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple
Three Pagodas of Chong Sheng Temple
DAY
14

Kunming – Shilin - Kunming

Bizarre Stone Forest. Travel to next destination

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. Drive back to Kunming, transfer to airport, tour ends.
Breakfast
Stone Forest (Shilin)
Stone Forest (Shilin)
Photo by Liu Bin
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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.

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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
Panda in Wolong | Photo by Liu Bin
Siguniang Shan | Photo by Liu Bin
Jiaju Village in Danba | Photo by Liu Bin
Jiaju Village in Danba | Photo by Liu Bin
Siguniang Shan | Photo by Min Zhao
Huiyuan Temple | Photo by Liu Bin
Sunset of Yala Mountain | Photo by Liu Bin
Gyergo Nyunnery in Tagong | Photo by Liu Bin
Gyergo Nyunnery in Tagong | Photo by Liu Bin
Tagong Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Tagong Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Tagong Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Tagong Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Tagong Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Litang Monastery | Photo by Liu Bin
Luorong Pasture Xialuoduoji | Photo by Wang Lei
Yangmaiyong in Yading
Xiannairi Tara Lake in Yading
Three Pagododas in Dali
Lijiang Old Town