yunnan4A longer and fuller tour of Yunnan, covering Kunming, a modern city with great food and good sights; the southern province of Xishuangbanna; the old towns of Dali and Lijiang; Tiger Leaping Gorge, a short trek amid dramatic cliffs and waterfalls; and Shangrila, the next best thing to Tibet.

Route: Kunming, Stone Forest, Jianshui, Simao, Jinghong, Lijiang, Shangrila and Dali





• 13 nights hotel accommodation
• Air-conditioned coach all the way for transfers and sightseeing
• Daily breakfasts
• English, Thai or Chinese speaking guide
• Entrance fees and cable car and train fares
• Government taxes in Yunnan


• Domestic airfares Jinghong-Lijiang & Dali-Kunming
• Tips to guide and driver
• Meals of 12 lunches and 13 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
• International flight to and from Kunming


 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 4 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. (Check out the herbal medicine stores for the efficacious herbs and teas that Yunnan is rightly reputed for.)
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 in Shilin 98km southeast of Kunming, a short scenic drive of one-and-a-half hours. It consists of 80 hectares of innumerable fanciful-shaped ancient 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 seawater. The Stone forest area 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. The huge rockery holds fascinating bunches of boulders named Baby Buffalo, Phoenix Combing its Wings, Stone Mushroom, Two Birds Feeding Each Other, Moon-Gazing Rhino, Wife Waiting for Her Husband, Camel Riding on an Elephant, Swan Gazing Afar and Old Man Taking a Stroll. Let your imagination run wild. Return to hotel and be free until dinner time at the hotel. (Suggest you stroll about in the Stone Forest Lake area.) Overnight in hotel, Stone Forest.

Day 3: Stone Forest - Jianshui (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Depart from the hotel at 8.30am to drive one-and-a-half hours to Milei county. Visit the Golden Summit Buddha, and then have lunch in a restaurant. Our tour of Milei ends with a visit to Shuanglong Bridge reputed to be exquisitely designed. Drive to Jianshui county through picturesque forest, over hills, down valleys and across streams for 3-4 hours, arriving in Jianshui city at about 6.30pm. Dinner at the hotel. Jianshui is probably the most traditional town remaining in Yunnan with many old-style architecture, many interesting tourist sights like the Confucian Temple, Zhu Family Garden, Zhilin Si, and friendly folks. Overnight in hotel, Jianshui.

Day 4: Jianshui (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Again at 8.30am we leave our hotel to go sightseeing for the day in Jianshui city. Your guide will take you around Jianshui's old city quarter pointing out the quaint and historical landmarks, and escort you to the Zhu's family garden. Lunch will be in a Jianshui restaurant. Free late afternoon for your own exploration of Jianshui ancient city. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in hotel, Jianshui.

Day 5: Jianshui - Simao (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. As usual, at 8.30am we leave our hotel to go to Mojiang, a drive of about 4-5 hours, again through lovely countryside and undulating hills. As we drive deeper south into Xishuangbanna province the scenery changes to rainforest type. People look like the Thai of Thailand. Their cuisine is similar. Folk culture is more ethnic. Lunch will be in a restaurant along the way. Banna's specialty is the expensive bird's nests gathered from the hundreds of thousands of swifts in the Swallow's Cavern, an enormous limestone cave half-way between Jianshui and Gejiu. By about 4pm we should be in Simao city which was once the headquarters of Dai chieftains. Visit Meizi Lake park. Check into hotel and have dinner in its restaurant.
Overnight in hotel, Simao.

Day 6: Simao - Jinghong (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Today we depart half-an-hour earlier to drive to Jinghong in Xishuangbanna prefecture, the original place from where the present Thai people of Thailand emigrated over a thousand years ago and various Tai groups to northern Vietnam and Laos. Thai is spoken everywhere. During the traditional New Year, 13-15 April every year, the Dai celebrate their Water Splashing Festival by throwing water at everybody like the Thai do in Thailand during the Songkran Festival (also 13-15 April). Of the 800,000 population of this province, one-third is Dai (Thai); another one-third is of other minority peoples; and the other one-third is Han Chinese. Thai and Chinese styles architecture intertwine. The morning's sightseeing will be of the Three-River National Park which is virgin forest. We ascend by cable car and have lunch in this national park and enjoy the environment. From here to Jinghong is only an hour's drive. Upon arrival we check into our hotel and take a rest. Dinner will be at the hotel. Overnight in hotel, Jinghong.

Day 7: Jinghong (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Jinghong is a growing town and the capital of Xishuangbanna, the ancient homeland of the Thai people of Thailand. Its houses-on-stilts are gone, replaced by concrete blocks partially obscured by palm trees lining the streets. Only in the villages outside Jinghong do you still see the Dai traditional houses-on-stilts. Depart from our hotel to drive one-and-a-half hours to Menglun, following the scenic Mekong River as it flows southwards. The most remarkable piece of construction is the new bridge over the Mekong River. We will pay a short visit to the Tropical Botanical Gardens before lunch, which will be along the way. Over 2,000 types of tropical plants are growing here, labeled in Chinese and Latin. In the afternoon, we enter the Dai nationality village and are free to wander about in its market. A cultural performance will be put on for your enjoyment, including a water-splashing ceremony. Dinner tonight of Dai nationality cuisine. Overnight in hotel, Jinghong.

Day 8: Jinghong - Lijiang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. It's a 2-hour drive to Menghai where we will visit the famous Jingzhen Temple. Menghai is famed for its "pu'er tea" beloved by Chinese emperors since the Qing dynasty. Wild tea trees as old as 1,500 years grow everywhere. Interesting villages and lovely pagodas are scattered about this area. There is also an interesting mosque with an elegant minaret. Its Sunday market attracts many hill tribe folks in the morning. Lunch will be en route. In the afternoon see the villages and markets along the way. At 3.30pm we go to the airport for our flight to Lijiang, departing at 6.30pm. In one hour we arrive in Lijiang airport where we are met and transferred to the city. This lovely old town is a gem of northwest Yunnan and ride side by side with another lovely old town, Dali, in high popularity. 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 Naxi women in their traditional dress around mid-morning. And in the evening old Naxi men and women gather to dance welcoming anyone to join in. Old Lijiang town has picturesque Naxi (descendants of the Tibetan Qiang tribe) traditional houses of wood and stone, cobbled streets and gushing canals combined with a gracious people and wonderful scenery to make it a tourist destination not to be missed. Check into hotel and come down for dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
Overnight in Hotel, Lijiang.

Day 9: Lijiang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 8.30am we depart from our hotel to drive one-hour to Yulong (Jade Dragon) Snow Mountain National Park. A cable car goes up to Love-Suicide Hill (where horses can be hired to ride up to Dragon spruce meadow). We take the cable car up to Glacier Park farther up the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain – the highest chairlift in Asia. Exertion in climbing the many steps to the summit of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain makes it necessary for many people (except the young and fit) to use an oxygen bottle or two. This can be bought only at the bottom chairlift station. The views of glaciers (if not melted) are mesmerizing. Snowy peaks glitter in the sun before our eyes. A ski-resort is in the making here. At White-water River we will stop for 30 minutes to take in the scene and pose on a yak for a photo if you like, 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 and view 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 USD20 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. Certainly you should walk about the old city in the evening before returning to your hotel. Join the crowd of old folks doing their folk dancing in the town's central square everry evening. Overnight in hotel, Lijiang.

Day 10: Lijiang - Shangrila (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 8.30am we leave our hotel to go sightseeing in the Black Dragon Pool Park at the northern end of town where its view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (5596m) is the best in southwest China, including the Dongba Research Institute. We tour the ancient city of Lijiang and then have lunch in a restaurant. Drive one hour to Shigu (Stone Drum) sitting on the first bend of the Yangtze River where we will stop for half-an-hour to catch our breath and admire the beauty of the river-and-rapids. If not for a hill of rocks (Cloud Hill) blocking the southward flowing Yangtze thereby diverting it north and eastwards, the Yangtze would not be flowing through China with disastrous consequences to Chinese civilization. Then proceed to Stone-Drum Village to see how the rural Yunnanese live. A short drive farther takes us to a small town with the dramatic name of Tiger Leaping Gorge where we will be awed by the view of a 16km long gorge 3900m below the snowy peaks. Sightseeing of the gorge and its national park follows. At about 5pm we drive onwards to Shangrila (Zhongdian), arriving at about 7.30pm. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight in hotel , Shangrila.

Day 11: Shangrila (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. At 8.30am we begin our sightseeing to the Ganden Songzanlin Monastery where 600 red-robed monks and a few 'living Buddhas' live. Here is 'little Potala". Lunch in a local restaurant and then proceed to Napahai Lake Reserve for the afternoon's sightseeing of this beautiful place. Tonight's dinner will be in a family home. Be entertained tonight by participating in a visit to a Tibetan family and enjoy their cultural activities. Return to hotel filled with wonderment by this Tibetan "hada", an event that has to be experienced.
Overnight in hotel, Shangrila.

Day 12: Shangrila - Dali (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. Today's sightseeing along the way to Dali will be long but enjoyable. We will have the chance to see a Bai nationality village and sample their typical lunch of fish from the Erhai Lake and beancurd. Board a boat to cruise Lake Erhai stopping at 2 islands in the lake. At tea-time we have Bai nationality tea with show. It would be about 6pm when we arrive in Dali and check into our hotel. Dinner in the hotel. Drink in the views of a stunning mountain backdrop, Erhai Lake, and the enchanting historical town inhabited by Bai people - the second largest minority group in Yunnan. Overnight in hotel, Dali.

Day 13: Dali - Kunming (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Breakfast at the hotel. We leave our hotel at 8.30am to go to Cangshan mountain for sightseeing. We will use the two-way cable car to go up the mountain. Here is the popular Chongsheng Temple that locals worship in. In front of this temple are the famous Three Pagodas (Qianxun Pagoda of 16 tiers erected in the 9th century flanked by two smaller pagodas of 10 tiers that are musts for photographing.) Proceed to Dali and have lunch in the ancient city. In the afternoon go on a guided tour around Dali and its ancient city. We spend our time to walk around this ancient village-town and take a boat ride to visit one of the colourful markets around the lake until dinner in a restaurant. Then transfer to Dali airport for the flight to Kunming, departing at 8.30pm. In 40 minutes we arrive in Kunming where we will transfer to our hotel for check-in. Overnight in hotel, Kunming.

Day 14: Kunming - Departure (Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. We do a last-minute sightseeing of the Western Hills of Kunming, a 35-minute drive away on the western side of Lake Dian. 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 displaying fine statues, stupas and superbly designed gardens. Then have a leisurely lunch of pot-steamed chicken and Yunnan wild mushrooms while your pre-check in is arranged for you. Proceed to Kunming airport to board your departure flight.

End of Programme