yunnanA brief introduction tour to Yunnan. The provincial capital is Kunming, known as the "City of Eternal Spring" because of its year-long cool climate, and native cultures are everywhere in Kunming. Lijiang is a cluster of stone houses and gushing canals forming the wonderful old town of Dongba culture. It is free of traffic and easy to walk around to marvel at the many interesting shops and small restaurants. The stunning Jade Dragon Snow Mountain backdrop against the old city is too picturesque for words. Zhongdian (Shangrila) marks the start of the Tibetan world. Here is a potential boomtown based on Tibetan culture and tradition. Stroll in the monastery garden and get a taste of a Tibetan monastery lived in by 600 red-robed monks.

Route: Kunming, Stone Forest, Lijiang and Shangrila




check16  Inclusive:

• 8 nights in hotel
• Air-conditioned coach all the way
• English, Thai or Chinese speaking guide
• Entrance fees and cable car and train fares
• Two-way airfare Kunming-Lijiang, Shangrila-Kunming and airport taxes of Lijiang & Shangrila
• Government taxes in Yunnan

stop16 Exclusive:

• Tips to guide and driver
• Meals (lunches & dinners) as stated in the itinerary
• Drinks at meals other than what is served at table (usually Chinese tea)
• Use of mini bar, laundry, phone calls in hotels and expenses of a personal nature
• China visa fee.


Day 1: Kunming - Arrival (Dinner)

Arrive in Kunming airport or jetty, meet and transfer to hotel. Kunming has a freshness of air to delight anyone, and wherever the eye roves there is something natural and wondrous to see. The old buildings with character are largely gone to be replaced by ugly concrete blocks; but small enclaves of old Kunming still exist in the interesting alleyways. On the way to our hotel for check in you will see sights of the modernizing city of 3.5 million Yunnanese including Yunnanese Muslims and Buddhists, and ethnic groups found nowhere else in the world. Free to amuse yourself until 6.30pm when we gather for dinner at the New Canton restaurant for your introduction to Yunnanese cuisine. Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 2: Kunming - Stone Forest (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. A full-day excursion to the Stone Forest, one of China's most remarkable natural phenomena, located 98km southeast of Kunming, a short scenic drive of one-and-a-half hours. It consists of 80 hectares of innumerable fanciful-formed limestone cliffs and peaks created by wind and water erosion some 270 million years ago. Marine fossils found here indicate that it was once under the sea. The Stone Forest area (Shilin) is home to the Sani minority group, a branch of the Yi tribe reputed for their diligence, valour, wisdom, exquisite embroidery, melodious songs and graceful dances. They put on a nightly performance showing their cultural activities. Lunch at Ashima Great Hotel. After lunch we enter the Stone Forest National Park for sightseeing. At about 4pm we drive back to Kunming to a Yunnanese restaurant for the Sani show with dinner of Yunnan rice noodle and pot-steamed chicken. Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 3: Kunming - Lijiang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning flight to Lijiang, the well-loved ancient city of Naxi culture. Upon arrival in Lijiang airport, meet and transfer to hotel before dashing into the old town for sightseeing. This lovely old town is a gem of northwest Yunnan and high in popularity among visitors. It is a world heritage site criss-crossed by canals of rushing waters, quaint bridges and a labyrinth of narrow granite streets. The focal point of interest is the Market Square full of old Naxi women in their traditional dress around mid-morning. In the evening Naxi men and women gather to dance their traditional dances and welcome all to join in. Old Lijiang town has a majority population of Naxi (descendants of the Tibetan Qiang tribe), traditional houses of wood surrounded by a profusion of flowers and decorative plants, cobbled streets and flowing canals between them and criss-crossing one another, spanned by stone and wooden bridges, combined with a gracious people and wonderful scenery to make it a tourist destination not to be missed. In the afternoon, tour the Black Dragon Pool Park and visit the famous Dongba Research Institute to learn something about Naxi shamanism culture and see the real ancient Naxi script. Later in the afternoon, go on a guided tour of Unesco's "Ancient City of Lijiang" for about 2 hours and be fascinated by this world heritage site. In a recent earthquake when the new buildings in Lijiang new town collapsed all those in the old town remained standing. Dinner in a restaurant. Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 4: Lijiang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 9am we depart from our hotel to drive one-hour to Yulong Snow Mountain National Park. A two-way cable car goes to Love-Suicide Hill (where horses can be hired to ride up to Dragon Spruce Meadow, but we won't go there). We will ascend by cable car to Glacier Park farther up the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain – the highest chairlift in Asia. The views of glaciers (if not melted) 4,700 metres high at such close quarters are mesmerizing. Snowy peaks glitter in the sun before our eyes. A ski-resort is in the making here. The air is cold and thin and any exertion would require the use of an oxygen bottle for the elderly and weak. Descent is also by cable car. Proceed to White-water River where we will stop for 30 minutes to take in the scene and perhaps pose on a yak for a photo before going to lunch at the Snow Mountain Villa. At 1.30pm we proceed to Jade Peak Lhama Monastery for an encounter with Tibetan monks and talk to them through your guide or if you speak Tibetan or Chinese then directly. At Baisha village we make a photo-stop to view some ancient Tibetan frescoes. Naxi dinner with Chinese classical music show will keep us entertained at Huangshan village. For those people who have not have enough of music and shows they can pay US$15 to see the "Splendid Lijiang Show" at Li-shui-jin-sha. The others are free to walk in the Unesco-adopted "Ancient City" - a better proposition. Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 5: Lijiang - Free Day (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Free day for your own exploration of Lijiang's old and new cities, both within walking distance of your hotel. Take in a cultural performance at the Naxi Concert Hall in the old city. Sample Naxi snacks. Enjoy a coffee or sip tea at a sidewalk cafe beside a flowing canal. Shop for herbal medicines. Have a massage. There are many things you can do on your own today. Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 6: Lijiang - Shangrila (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure by road through fantastic scenery to Zhongdian, recently renamed "Shangrila". After an hour's drive we arrive at the small town of Shigu at the first bend of the Yangtze River. Here we will stop for half-an-hour to admire the beauty of the river-and-rapids and ponder on the great significance of this little place. If not for a hill of rocks (Cloud Hill) blocking the southward flowing Yangtze River thereby diverting it north and eastwards, the Yangtze would not be flowing through the heartland of China - with disastrous consequences to Chinese civilization. Proceed to Stone-Drum village to see how the rural Yunnanese live. Tour the awesome Tiger Leaping Gorge, a deep-sided ravine twisting with the furious rush of frothing water to form a spectacular scene of sheer beauty and power. A two-hour drive takes us to Shangrila, the fabled land that captured the imagination of millions who read and heard about the book "The Lost Horizon" written by James Hilton in 1933. Dinner of western food in Shangrila. Overnight in hotel, Shangrila.

Day 7: Shangrila - Free Day (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Free day for your own enjoyment of this Tibetan-dominated town.
Overnight in hotel, Shangrila.

Day 8: Shangrila - Kunming (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Free until time to transfer to the airport for your flight to Kunming. In 50 minutes we arrive at Kunming airport and be taken to the Western Hills on the western side of Lake Dian for sightseeing. We go up to the mountain top by cable car and see the Dragon Gate grottoes, sculptures and pavilions gouged into the cliff-face by a Taoist monk in the late eighteenth century and have a bird's eye view of Lake Dian. Visit the Taoist Sanqing Temple (actually a group of temples, shrines and pavilions which was a country villa of a Yuan prince) before taking the mini-train back to our waiting coach. On the way to the airport, we stop at Huating Temple for a 30-minute visit. It was the most important temple of the ancient Nanzhou kingdom of the Thai displaying fine statues, stupas and superbly designed gardens. Then have a leisurely lunch of pot-steamed chicken and Yunnan wild mushrooms. Free for the rest of the afternoon. Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 9: Kunming - Departure (Breakfast)

Breakfast at your hotel. Free until time to transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

End of Programme