Days
15
Price from
FR3,025CHF

From Hong Kong to Kunming, explore Yunnan, China's most diverse province

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 Yangzi River. This is a superb fifteen day adventure that introduces many of the highlights of an amazing region, including a memorable walk through Tiger Leaping Gorge.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
From 1st January 2017 this trip will become 14 days in length. Based on feedback of the standard of accommodation in Tiger Leaping Gorge being lower in other destinations we will now visit for a day trek and return to Lijiang for the night.


Start
Hong Kong, China
Finish
Kunming, China
Country
China
Style
Peregrine
Theme
Explorer
Code
PCYE
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
7 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Explore the dramatic limestone karst scenery of Yangshuo, immortalised in endless traditional Chinese paintings

  • Get a hands-on insight into Chinese dishes and ingredients with a cooking class in Yangshuo

  • Explore the lesser-visited town of Xizhou, home to the traditional Bai tribe and their unique, photogenic architecture

  • Spend the night in a guesthouse in the traditional town of Shaxi, and be transported back to when it was a significant stop on the Tea Horse Trail

  • Enjoy two days to hike around the memorably dramatic scenery of Tiger Leaping Gorge

  • Stay in the centre of Lijiang’s Old Town and get happily lost in its culture and jumble of shop and temple-filled alleyways

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip uses a mix of transport for a local experience, including fast train, plane, private bus, and public bus.

  • We suggest packing relatively lightly for this trip, as you’ll need to be able to comfortably carry your luggage for the duration of the trip. This includes to and from accommodation, and on and off flights, trains and buses.

  • Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis, unless booking a Single Supplement.

  • With a two-day hike at altitude in Tiger Leaping Gorge, you'll need a reasonable level of fitness to complete it. Comfortable walking shoes with good support and grip are essential. See itinerary for full hiking information.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 12 April 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Start this Chinese splendours discovery in the energetic city of Hong Kong. There’s so much to do in this fusion of East and West that we recommend arriving early to explore the sights. An airport arrival transfer is included, please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or no later than 14 days prior to travel. Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm this evening. Meet with your group in the evening and perhaps enjoy a first Chinese meal together.

Notes: Should you arrive early perhaps take a scenic journey around the islands of Hong Kong on the famous passenger ferry service, the Star Ferry, watch the harbour's spectacular light show or ride the peak tram to Victoria Peak for incredible views of the Hong Kong skyline.
Accommodation
  • Metropark Kowloon Hotel or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
  • Hong Kong - Old vs New Hong Kong Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hong Kong - Around Kowloon in 8 Markets Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hong Kong - The Story of Hong Kong Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hong Kong - Star Ferry - HKD15
  • Hong Kong - Nightly Light Show - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After a delicious Dim Sum breakfast this morning you begin your journey into the Chinese mainland. Be prepared for a long day of travel today. From 2015 China cancelled the overnight trains between Shenzhen & Guilin, so our only option is to travel overland by high-speed rail and bus. You’ll take a taxi from the hotel to Mongkok Station and board the bus to Shenzhen North. Complete the immigration procedures (be patient as this could take some time) and then walk the short distance from the border to the train station. You’ll then cross border from Hong Kong to China. Travel by high-speed G train to Guilin North Station (approximately 3.5 hours). When you arrive in Guilin you’ll be met by your private transfer to continue on to Yangshuo (approximately 1.5 hours), where you’ll stay for the night. Soak up the charm of this sleepy little town, popular with the Chinese and Westerns alike, who come for the beautiful landscape and stay for the great cafe and bar culture.
Accommodation
  • Yangshuo New Li River Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The countryside around Yangshuo is immortalized in many traditional Chinese paintings – picture immense limestone karsts dotting the rural landscape and towering spectacularly over rice paddies and the meandering Li River, all celebrated on every 20 Yuan note. It's also one of the best places in the country to get a feel for local culture and traditions, while having plenty of fun at the same time. Today you'll visit the market to shop with the locals and get a feel for the regional produce. You can then put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo Cooking School. Learn to cook Chinese dishes with recipes that are easy to make and ingredients readily available outside of China, so that you’ll soon be wowing friends and family back at home. The evening is free for you to explore Yangshuo's lively cafe and bar scene.
Accommodation
  • Yangshuo New Li River Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Begin the day by focusing your body and mind with a morning Tai Chi class or Kung Fu lesson, and then maybe continue the active theme by hiring a bike. Gaining an insight into rural Chinese life on a cycle where each turn in the road brings you to another picture-postcard location. You could climb up to Moon Hill – a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole penetrating the hill – or simply stroll along the river and be immersed in the natural beauty of the valley. For something a little less energetic you could simply sit back and relax as you enjoy a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River. Later, perhaps watch an outdoor light show staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou.
Accommodation
  • Yangshuo New Li River Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
Optional Activities
  • Yangshuo - Li River Cruise - CNY100
  • Yangshuo - Bike hire - CNY20
  • Yangshuo - Zhang Yimou's Impressions Show - CNY198
  • Yangshuo - Moon Hill - CNY15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Today you’ll return to Guilin (approximately 1.5 hours) and then fly from Guilin to Kunming (approximately 1.5 hours). Kunming, known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ for its year-round temperate climate, is an increasingly modern city, but it still holds pockets of old-world charm in a relaxed atmosphere. After you arrive, in the afternoon maybe delve into local culture at the ancient temples and intriguing museums dotted around the area – the Buddhist Yuantony Temple dates back 1,200 years and you will uniquely enter the complex from above and descend down into the elegant garden and halls. Meanwhile, the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology has a number of interesting displays on artefacts of the Han and Yi people. Otherwise, soak up the unique atmosphere by wandering the ‘Old Town’ areas and people-watching in Green Lake Park.
Accommodation
  • Haikun Hotel or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kunming - Yuantong Temple - CNY6
  • Kunming - Green Lake Park - Free
  • Kunming - Tang Dynasty Pagodas - CNY2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart Kunming by private bus and prepare for the adventure ahead as you travel through the countryside to Dali. Kunming to Dali is 340km and the drive can take up to 7 hours. You’ll travel through the foothills of the Himalayas, driving through the mountains (some tunnels are kilometres long) that it used to take weeks to pass. When you arrive you’ll stretch your legs on an orientation walk with your leader, who’ll introduce the options for you during your stay here. Dali is a favourite among travellers in China, a place where you can soak up the (rare) fresh mountain air. 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 also home to the proud Bai people, a traditional minority tribe renowned throughout China for their craftsmanship. The town is overflowing with places to eat and drink, so you will not have trouble finding a good meal this evening.
Accommodation
  • Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dali - Ancient Town Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Today you’ll take a trip to the nearby lesser-visited town of Xizhou (approximately 1 hour), an authentic town of the Bai – a traditional minority tribe renowned throughout the country for their craftsmanship. Be guided around this photogenic town filled with Bai architecture, characterised by ornate gateways with elegant detailing. The town was long a stop on the Silk Road, home to wealthy merchants, officials and scholars, and during World War II, many of China’s universities decamped to this remote part of Yunnan to continue their studies. Wander around this unique town and don’t forget to try the local treat 'Xizhou Baba' – a warm baked cake filled with savoury or sweet filling. You’ll then return to Dali for the night.
Accommodation
  • Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dali - Xizhou Day Trip
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel to Shaxi from Dali today (approximately 4 hours). 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 cobblestone streets, original walled town gates and market square showing that Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail. You’ll spend the night in a peaceful guesthouse.
Accommodation
  • Huishui Guesthouse or similiar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shaxi - Shibaoshan trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll join a local guide to walk the Shibaoshan Trek to Shizong Temple (4-5 hours return), perhaps taking a picnic lunch along to make the most of the beautiful “danxia” landscape along the way (the beautiful multi-coloured rocks formed by millions of years of sandstone and mineral deposits). The hike climbs up to around 2,400 metres 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 (feel free to join in or just observe).
Accommodation
  • Huishui Guesthouse or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Another breath-taking journey takes you past the upper reaches of the Yangzi River to one of the world's deepest gorges and China's most spectacular natural scenery. The starting point of your trek is approximately 5 hours drive from Shaxi. Part of the Yangzi River (known here as the Jinsha River) thunders through Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is in turn framed by 5,000-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. Todays hike will be between 4-6 hours long and an experienced local guide will accompany you. The rewards are simply stunning, with awe-inspiring views. The first part of the trek is quite arduous – this is not flat terrain by any means. Some paths along the mountainside are extremely narrow, with a steep drop down and few protective barriers, so if you suffer from fear of heights then this walk is not for you. For the brave though, it's an exhilarating walk. After a slow and steady climb, you will reach the 24 bends (the most challenging part of the trek), a steep and twisting path where you really gain some altitude. After stopping for a break, continue along a flatter section of the gorge to your guesthouse.

Notes: 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. 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. There is the possibility of opting out of the trek but you will need to talk to your leader at the group meeting on Day 1 to make arrangements, and there may be extra costs involved for transport, accommodation or activities that you will need to pay locally. Large backpacks/luggage will be stored for two nights, so please ensure you bring along a daypack (carried by you for the whole course of the trek) to store the most basic essentials. On the trek, accommodation is in simple but comfortable guesthouses with all meals included. It is necessary to bring warm clothing, especially for the evenings, and for the cooler months in general. Please note that the standard of rooms may differ and only some of the rooms may have private bathrooms, while others will have with shared facilities.
Accommodation
  • Tina’s Guest House or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided Trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today is your second trekking day, and the duration of the hike will be around 4 hours. Start out after breakfast with a nice easy flat section featuring incredibly spectacular views. There are then only a few uphill battles and one last long, slippery downhill stretch before you reach our destination for the night, where there are more hiking options to lookout points for those who still have the energy. Otherwise, it's a tranquil place to simply sit back, relax, enjoy the scenery and rest your weary legs.

Notes: In recent years, Tiger Leaping Gorge has become a very popular tourist attraction for both local and foreign travellers. The area is rapidly developing with more guesthouses and cafes being built every year and major construction of a highway and local roads taking place, which will bring more travellers to the area. The local tourism authorities strictly control tourism here, which means that tour groups such as ours need to stick to approved routes. So be prepared - you will see other tourists here and this is not the remote experience it once was. But with this in mind, Tiger Leaping Gorge is still very much a rewarding travel experience and one travellers continually list as a highlight of their time in China. Tiger Leaping Gorge is subject to dramatic and unpredictable weather conditions. We have scheduled departures in the more stable seasons, but the possibility still exists that conditions may make travelling through the gorge dangerous. If our local partners advise us in advance that conditions are likely to be unsuitable for trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge, we'll spend an extra night each in Shaxi and Lijiang. Should your leader and guide deem the weather as too rainy or foggy to safely complete the trek once in the gorge area, we'll be required to reroute this section of the itinerary or travel between stops by minivan instead of trekking.
Accommodation
  • Tina’s Guest House or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Travel south to Lijiang and explore the former capital of the Naxi kingdom (approximately 3 hours). 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. Take a walking tour of the ancient town and wander up to the Wangu Pagoda on Lion Hill, which 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 with the rooms containing all of the facilities that one would expect at home. In the evening, maybe take the opportunity to witness a performance of the local Naxi orchestra, a unique and entertaining musical experience. The musicians play Taoist temple music, a style that has been lost to the rest of the country. This was due in no small part to the Cultural Revolution, with instruments having to the buried to hide them from authorities.
Accommodation
  • Sanhe Naxi Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lijiang - Ancient Town Walking Tour
  • Lijiang - Wangu Pagoda
Optional Activities
  • Lijiang - Naxi Orchestra - CNY120
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day for you to further explore Lijiang. Soak up the atmosphere as you wander the jumble of cobblestone streets of the Old Town, crossing canals and bridges and popping into wooden shops selling everything from silverwear, handicrafts and pastries to dried yak meat. Sample the local street food (like tofu or dumplings) with a bottle of the local beer, then walk out to the Black Dragon Pool. The pool looks just like a Chinese painting, with a white marble bridge, lake-centre pagoda, and mountain in the background. That mountain is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and, though it can be touristy, it’s possible to take a 40-minute bus ride out and a cable car up to the top for spectacular views. You could also hire a bike to cycle out to the picturesque surrounding villages.
Accommodation
  • Sanhe Naxi Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Fly from Lijiang back to Kunming (approximately 1 hour) and explore any sights you might have missed the first time around – there are a number of fascinating little markets hidden in the backstreets of the old warehouse area. Kunming is a perfect place to relax as your journey comes to an end. This evening maybe join the rest of your group for a final farewell dinner to celebrate the end of your China adventure.
Accommodation
  • Haikun Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private Bus, Public Bus, Bullet Train, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Guesthouse (4 nights)

Included Activities

  • Yangshuo - Cooking School & Market Tour
  • Yangshuo - Tai Chi/Kung Fu class
  • Dali - Ancient Town Walking Tour
  • Dali - Xizhou Day Trip
  • Shaxi - Shibaoshan trek
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided Trek
  • Lijiang - Ancient Town Walking Tour
  • Lijiang - Wangu Pagoda

Reviews

Our South West China trips score an average of 4.71 out of 5 based on 7 reviews in the last year.

South West China, May 2016

Phillip Hammer

Yunnan Explorer, May 2016

Kathryn McMahon

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A complimentary arrival transfer is included.
2. A Single Supplement is available for this trip. Overnight train nights and some guesthouses are excluded from this.
3. Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package. Please see our Tipping section of these trip notes for more information. .
4. A challenging form is required to be filled out by all passengers, due to high altitudes reached on this trip. Maximum altitude on this trip will be 2650m above sea level.
5. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Peregrine's Beijing office can be reached on Tel: +861064067328
6. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.