Type: Discovery Tour
Duration: 13 Days
Best Time to Travel: October – April
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Yunnan Discovery - Itinerary
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Kunming – Jianshui
Drive to Jianshui (130kms). On the way stop at Tonghai where we visit Mount Xiushan with an array of traditional Temples and Pavilions in various styles of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism some of which are from the late Jin Dynasty (265-420).
Upon arrival in Jianshui visit the recently renovated Confucius Temple „Wen Miao“. Continue to the “Eastgate”. Stay overnight at the former residence of the once wealthy and influential Zhu family (depending on the booked category).
Jianshui – Yuanyang Rice Terraces
Drive to the traditional Zhuang-Village of Tuanshan with its unique and well preserved architecture. On the way you also visit the "Twin Dragon Bridge", an ancient stone bridge from the Qing Dynasty. After lunch we leave Jianshui towards the Swallow’s Cavern, a magnificent cave that has been dug out by the Lu River. The Lu River still runs through the lower part of the cavern. During spring and summer hundreds of thousands of Swallows can be seen flying around inside and outside the cave.
Continue through magnificent scenery towards Xinjie, the gateway to the stunning and spectacular rice terraces of Yuanyang. The Yuanyang rice terraces have been carved out of the Ailao Mountains over hundreds of years by Hani farmers living in the area
Yuanyang Rice Terraces
We leave the Hotel early (around 6 am) to witness a magnificent sunrise over the rice terraces. (Depending on weather condition; In winter the Rice terraces are often engulfed in fog). After that if possible we will visit one of the bustling weekly local markets in the area where we can observe the local people from various ethnic groups (Hani, Yi, Zhuang, some Miao) doing their weekly shopping. Many of them still wear their traditional costumes. In the afternoon we make a hike (about 2.5 hours) through the magnificent rice terraces of Yuanyang to a nearby Hani village.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces – Lunan Stone Forest – Kunming
After breakfast we leave Xinjie and the Yuanyang Rice Terraces and drive north towards Mile. The fertile land and the mild climate make this part of the Yunnan province ideal for cultivating tobacco. Apart from the cigarette production, Mile is also well known for its many hot springs.
Continue via the newly constructed highway through an ever changing landscape towards Lunan and the nearby Stone Forest of Lunan, where we arrive in the afternoon. Late afternoon we visit the Stone Forest. At this time of the day we have the park almost for ourselves. Years of rain and erosion left behind a bizarre and impressive landscape of limestone pillars which, with a little imagination, indeed resemble a Forrest. We have a walk through the maze of paths and walkways leading through this natural wonderland. Continue 1.5 hrs. to Kunming.
Kunming – Yunnan Yi – Weishan
Drive from Kunming to Weishan. Along the way we stop at Yunnan Yi. The picturesque village of Yunnan Yi played an important role during WW II when the Allied Forces where operating an Air Base nearby. The Airbase of Yunnan Yi served as a stop-over for planes flying the "Hump" route, a 530 Miles long treacherous flight passage over the Himalayan Mountains between India and Yunnan. It also served as a base for the Flying Tigers. Visit the Flying Tiger Museum. Yunnan Yi was also an important trading post on the "Tea and Horse Road" for tea on the way from Southern Yunnan to Tibet.
Continue to Weishan. Located 52 kilometres south of Dali, the picturesque town of Weishan used to be an important and wealthy trading town during the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom throughout the 8th and 9th century. Weishan is not often visited by tourists and managed keep its original way of life. Overnight accommodation is at Weishan.
Weishan - Dali
In the Morning we make an excursion to Weibao Shan (Weibao Mountain). Weibao Shan is considered as one of the 14 sacred Daoist Mountains in China. Weibaoshan is also regarded as the birthplace of Xinulou, the founder of the Nanzhao Kingdom. Visit Wencheng Temple, which was renovated and is now home to an exhibition about the Nanzhao Kingdom and its various Kings.
After lunch drive to Dali. Along the way, you make a stop at the Village of Dong Lian Hua. This idyllic village is mainly inhabited by the Hui Muslim ethnic minority group. Most of them are descendants of Muslim soldiers who conquered the Yunnan province for the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan in the 13th century on their way to Burma. After the fall of the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty (1386) many of these soldiers were cut off from their homeland and remained in Yunnan. The former horsemen became gradually farmers and merchants and the village Donglianhua developed into an important trading point of the Tea and Horse Road and later it controlled large parts of the trade for goods from Burma along the Burma Road. Continue to Dali.
Dali is situated on the western shores of the stunning Erhai Lake on the foot of the 4000m high Cang Shan mountain range and is mainly inhabited by people of the Bai ethnic group, which is renowned for their handicrafts. Visit the 3 Pagodas of the San Ta Si Monastery from the 9th century.
Dali - Shaxi
In the morning, drive by private car through an ever changing landscape towards Shaxi. The village has been renovated with the help of the Swiss government in the 1990s.
In the afternoon the car will take you to the Shibao Mountain. The impressive rock carvings of Shibaoshan are testimony of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in the region. You can either walk back to Shaxi (2 hrs.) or take the car back to the hotel.
Shaxi - Lijiang
After breakfast drive to Lijiang. The lovely ancient Naxi town of Lijiang is located in a fertile valley 2’400 meters above seal level at the foot of the 5’596 meter high Yulong Shan or Jade Dragon Mountain.
In the afternoon we take a first stroll through the apparently countless and, on first sight, confusing narrow lanes and canals crisscrossing the old town. We also learn more about the secrets of the mystic Naxi Dongba culture. An earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1996, and after its reconstruction, part of the old town of Lijiang was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site
In the morning we visit the wonderful "Black Dragon Pool" Park from where one has a spectacular view of the 5'596 Meter high "Jade Dragon Mountain". Continue to nearby traditional village of "Baisha", the former capital of the Naxi kingdom. Visit the Liu Li Temple, with its beautiful wall paintings. Continue to the village of Yuhu, a romantic village where the Botanist Joseph Rock used to live from 1922 to 1949. His house has been transformed to a small museum about the live and work of Joseph Rock.
The rest of the afternoon is at your disposal for the exploration of the old town.
Lijiang – Tiger Leaping Gorge - Zhongdian
The road to Zhongdian offers spectacular views of the Yangtze valley. Visit Shigu village, to see the Yangtze’s famous "First Bend", where the Yangtze River makes an abrupt 180 degree turn and flows for several kilometres, parallel to itself towards the north again. We take a stroll through Shigu village before continuing our trip along the Yangtze River towards Zhongdian. From the bottom of the Yangtze valley at 1'800 metres above sea level, the road climbs steadily onto the Tibetan Plateau towards Zhongdian located at 3'200 metres. We arrive in Zhongdian in the early afternoon.
Zhongdian is situated on the eastern Tibetan plateau at about 3300 meters above sea level. It recently changed its name and is now called "Shangri-La". We visit Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a 300 year old impressive Tibetan Monastery which was inaugurated in the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, the Monastery is now again one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the area. We climb Turtle Hill and spin the giant prayer wheel three times for a good karma. Time at leisure to explore the ancient town on your own.
Transfer to Zhongdian Airport for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by air-conditioned vehicle
- Experienced English speaking Yunnan guides
- Daily breakfast and meals as mentioned in itinerary
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- International Flights
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- China visa
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities
|Kunming||Camelia Hotel **/* Standard||New Era Hotel 4* Standard||Sofitel Kunming 5* Deluxe|
|Jianshui**||Zhu Family Garden 3* Qing Dynasty||Linan Hotel 3* Superior||Ting Zi Yun Hotel 4* Standard (Boutique)|
|Yuanyang**||Flower Residence 2-3* Standard||Yun Ti Shengcun 3* Standard||12 Manor Inn 3-4* Standard|
|Weishan||Weishan Hotel** Standard||Xiong Shao*** Standard||Xiong Shao*** Standard|
|Dali||Fairyland Hotel 3* Standard||Outfitting Inn 3* Standard||Dali Gurong Hotel Deluxe|
|Shaxi**||Chris & Inn G.H. 2-3* Standard||Shou Wang 3* Standard||Fancy Holidays 3+* Twin Standard|
|Lijiang||First Bay Inn 2-3* Superior||Manxin Hotel 3* Standard||Lux Resort 4-5* Deluxe|
|Zhongdian||Outfitting Inn 3* Standard||Arro Khampa 3-4* Superior||Songtsam Retreat 5* Junior Suite|