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Yunnan Journey

16 days

Kunming - Dali - Shaxi - Lijiang - Zhongdian/Shangri-La - Jianshui - Yuanyang

Yunnan has a vast variety of landscapes and peoples. This tour visits some of the best of them north and south of its capital, Kunming. Includes Lijiang, Dali, Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Yuanyang rice terraces.

Yuang Rice Terraces, Yunnan City Gate, Dali

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester on flights with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong.

Day 2  Arrive Kunming, capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan. Met on arrival and transfer to 4-star Cachet Boutique Hotel, or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Private sightseeing excursion to the Stone Forest at Shilin - a striking landscape of eroded sandstone spires - and Golden Temple, in fact a 17th-century shrine created from copper. (B, L)

Day 4  Morning: travel to Dali by high-speed train. Private sightseeing visits to the Three Pagodas and Dali Old Town. Stay at the Sky Valley Heritage Boutique hotel in the small town of Xizhou, just outside Dali. (B, L)

Day 5  Private excursion to Weishanbao, one of the sacred mountains of Taoism, and the neighbouring well-preserved town of Weishan, the birthplace of the medieval Nanzhao kingdom (B, L)

Day 6  Boat cruise on Erhai Lake, the large freshwater lake backed by mountains, visiting mid-lake islands en route. Disembark and visit Zhoucheng village, noted for its batik production and visit one of the mansions in Xizhou town, once home to rich merchants. (B, L)

Day 7  Travel by road to Lijiang, the centre of the Naxi minority, via the small town of Shaxi, once an important stop on the ’Tea Horse’ trade route to Tibet, with a mixed population of Bai and Yi peoples (about 2 hour journey). Break the journey in Shaxi to see its old streets and wooden houses. On arrival at Lijiang stay at 4-star Ivy Resort (B, L)

Day 8  In the morning take the chairlift up the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the high alpine meadows. In the afternoon visit Baisha village, once the capital of the Naxi kingdom and which has unique frescoes in its village temple. Return to Lijiang and explore the old town at your leisure (B, L)

Day 9  Visit the picturesque Black Dragon Pool before travelling by road to Zhongdian, stopping en route at Tiger Leaping Gorge, where the river forces its way through the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range in a deep canyon. On arrival at Zhongdian/Shangri-La stay at 4-star Hilton Garden Inn. (B, L)

Day 10  Visit the Songzhulin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan, founded by the Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Then visit the Pudacao National Park, a nature reserve of high alpine meadows, forests and lakes, ringed by mountains. Visit Shudu Lake and take a 2-hour trek through the park. Free time to explore Zhongdian old town in the evening (B, L)

Day 11  Transfer to Diqing airport for flight to Kunming. Transfer to Cachet Boutique Hotel (B)

Day 12  Travel by road to Jianshui (about 2-hour journey). Private sightseeing visits to the Confucius Temple, one of the largest in China; the Zhu Family Garden - a mansion that belonged to a wealthy family; and the town’s 14th-century East Gate. Stay at Ting Zi Yun Boutique Hotel (B, L)

Day 13  Private sightseeing visit to the Swallow Cave. Then cross the impressive Double Dragon Bridge and proceed to Tuanshan village, a well-preserved Yunnanese walled compound that prospered in the late 19th century from the development of the railway from Kunming to French Vietnam. Continue by road to Yuanyang. Stay at Clouds and Terraces Hotel (panorama room) (B, L)

Day 14  Spend the day travelling around viewing the Yuanyang rice terraces and surrounding Hani villages (B + L)

Day 15  Return to Kunming (about 5-hour drive) direct to airport for exit flights via Hong Kong, arriving UK morning of Day 16 (B)

Can break journey in Hong Kong in either direction - please ask for quote and details.


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