10 days

Yunnan Explorer

Yunnan Explorer

Yangtze River and Tiger Leaping Gorge

Lijiang - former capital of the Naxi Kingdom

The Bai traditional minority tribe of Dali

Songzanlin Monastery - a place of homage for Tibetan Lamaism

Kunming's flower and bird market

Trip rating
  • China’s Yunnan Province is widely regarded as the country’s most culturally diverse and scenically spectacular region. Sharing a common border with Vietnam, Laos and Burma, Yunnan is home to a multitude of fascinating minority groups, each with their own distinct characteristics. The origins of these people are as varied as their languages and costumes. Many migrated from the mountains of Tibet, whilst others came from the Muslim regions along the ancient Silk Route.

    The scenery also changes dramatically across the province from the dry, windswept plains of the Tibetan plateau to the spectacular gorges surrounding the early stages of the Yangtze River. This is a superb ten-day adventure that introduces many of the highlights of an amazing region, including a memorable walk through Tiger Leaping Gorge.

    Why we love it

    • China’s Yunnan Province is widely regarded as the country’s most culturally diverse and scenically spectacular region.
    • Sharing a common border with Vietnam, Laos and Burma, Yunnan is home to a multitude of fascinating minority groups, each with their own distinct characteristics.
    • The origins of these people are as varied as their languages and costumes. Many migrated from the mountains of Tibet, whilst others came from the Muslim regions along the ancient Silk Route.
    • The scenery also changes dramatically across the province from the dry, windswept plains of the Tibetan plateau to the spectacular gorges surrounding the early stages of the Yangtze River.
    • This is a superb ten-day adventure that introduces many of the highlights of an amazing region, including a memorable walk through Tiger Leaping Gorge.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Kunming

    • On arrival in Kunming you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
    • You will meet your tour leader and other group members at a pre-tour briefing, then head out for an optional group dinner.
    • Local specialities are a highlight, with dishes such as cross-the-bridge noodles and other similarly intriguing Yunnanese fare.
    Haikun Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Dali

    • Depart Kunming by bus and prepare for the adventure ahead as you travel through the countryside to Dali (approx 6 hours).
    • Your leader will take you on an orientation walk on arrival and introduce the options for during your stay here.
    Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Dali

    • Dali is a favourite among travellers in China. Resting near the banks of Er Hai Lake with the Cang Shan mountain range forming an impressive backdrop, the town's cobblestone streets, ancient stone houses, and laid-back charm make it a wonderful place to relax.
    • Dali is home to the proud Bai people, a traditional minority tribe renowned throughout China for their craftsmanship. There is much to explore in your two free days in Dali.
    • There is a chance to go boating on Er Hai Lake and travel across to the village of Wase, or spend a day catching a chairlift up and hiking in the mountains behind Dali (stopping at the occasional monastery along the way). You will also have the option to cycle to nearby villages or just stroll around town. Several small stone hamlets lie close to Dali and make for a highly rewarding half-day trip by bicycle or local bus.
    Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4-5 - Shaxi

    • What makes Shaxi so special is that unlike many other ancient towns in Yunnan, it has been restored rather than rebuilt and being off the main highways it hasn't seen the rapid development of the tourist industry as other places like Lijiang and Dali have. Here you can still find the Yi and Bai ethnic minorities living their traditional lives, farmhouses lining the country roads, and the original walled town gates and market square proving that Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail.
    • Walk the mountain trails with a local guide to Shizong Temple (4-5 hours return), perhaps taking a picnic lunch along to make the most of the beautiful "danxia" landscape.
    • The hike takes up up to around 2400m above sea level and is accessible to all travellers with a reasonable level of fitness. Bring your walking poles if you have them as these will also be useful for the more challenging Tiger Leaping Gorge hike. For those travellers who wish to sit out this activity there is the option to stay in Shaxi for the day instead.
    • In the evening, take the opportunity to mix with the locals on the town square where it's not rare to see impromptu dancing, singing and games happen that we are welcome to join in or observe!
    Huishui Guesthouse or similiar
    Breakfast

    Day 6-7 - Tiger Leaping Gorge

    • Another breath-taking journey takes you past the upper reaches of the Yangtze River to one of the world's deepest gorges and China's most spectacular natural scenery.
    • Part of the Yangtze River (known here as the Jinsha River) thunders through Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is in turn framed by 5000-metre-high mountains. In the gorge, a sheer cliff face rises from the raging torrents.
    • A memorable walk in the gorge is a wonderful way to take in its awesome beauty, passing local villages such as enchanting Ben Di Wan. The facilities in the village accommodation are basic, as we are visiting a remote area frequented mainly by adventurous travellers.
    • Please note that this walk is geared towards travellers who enjoy physical activity, but it is not an extreme trek for advanced mountain walkers. The walk can be quite challenging for some people depending on the weather conditions, and good footwear, preferably hiking boots, is essential.
    • It is necessary to bring warm clothing, especially for the evenings, and for the cooler months in general.
    • The degree of difficulty on the particular trail that you take will vary greatly, depending on the time of year. Your tour leader will advise you in advance and help you to prepare.
    • As we stay in 2 different guesthouses and use a combination of walking and our own transport to get between them, travellers will need to pack a day pack each day and leave our main luggage in storage.
    Tina’s Guest House or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8-9 - Lijiang

    • Lijiang is a former capital of the famed Naxi Kingdom. The Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets, narrow canals, and decorative wooden houses, a wonderful place to wander around and imagine being part of a bygone era.
    • A walk up to the Wangu Pagoda on Lion Hill offers an impressive view of the rooftops of the Old Town.
    • Your accommodation is located right in the middle of the Old Town and set up like a local Naxi house, but the rooms contain all of the facilities that one would expect at home.
    • In the evening, you can witness a performance of the local Naxi orchestra (optional), a unique and entertaining musical experience.
    Sanhe Naxi Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 10 - Kunming

    • You will fly back to Kunming today where the tour will come to an end upon arrival at Kunming Airport at approx 11am.
    • A hotel is not included tonight, but if you would like to extend your stay please speak to your Booking Agent as additional accommodation is available.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • An experienced, English-speaking local Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Authentic Accommodation: 3 nights comfortable hotel, 6 nights local guesthouse
    • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 dinner
    • Arrival transfer
    • Trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shaxi with overnight stays in local villages and towns
    • Two free days in Dali for optional cycling, boat trips and exploration as well as in Lijiang
    • Local flight from Lijiang to Kunming
    • Chinese visa support

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip
    • Accommodation on Day 10 - this trip concludes on arrival at Kunming Airport

    Safety Information

    China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safetly concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, laptops, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark.

    There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint.

    Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so.

    Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

    Fire protection standards in Chinese accommodation are not always the same as at home. Check fire precautions including access to fire exits.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Yunnan Explorer

    Jill - Australia, 5 May, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    An excellent trip and a different perspective on China from where I had been previously.

    Yunnan Explorer

    Les - Australia, 28 Apr, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    The Yunnan Explorer tour gives a great variety of experiences: modern cities, rural areas, ancient canal towns, beautiful scenery, ethnic minority encounters, invigorating trekking and so much more.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCYE
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Kunming
End City: Kunming

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