Days
10
Price from
$2,695USD
Map of Wonders of Yunnan including China

Yunnan tastes like a mixture of exciting spices, mingle with Bai people in Xizhou market, make Tibetan friends over yak butter tea, take a short hike through the steep and awe-inspring Tiger Leaping Gorge and enjoy the mystical peace of Shangrila

Travel to one of the most stunning and diverse region in China, Yunnan province. Trace back to the ancient Tea Horse trail and learn about Bai people's culture in Dali and Shaxi, take a short hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge and enjoy its draw-dropping scenery, wander through a Tibetan village in the Shangrila region and unveil the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism in the little Potala - Ganden Sumtseling Gompa. It's a different take on China - the authentic, the rural, off the beaten track.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Kunming, China
Finish
Kunming, China
Destination
China
Style
Peregrine
Code
PCYE
Physical rating
Trip rating
18 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Travel through the best of Yunnan, one of the most beautiful and diverse regions in China. This is not the vision of mega cities and bustling streets that most picture when they think of China - be prepared to be surprised!

  • Visit our local Bai friends, learn about how they make their own special kind of cheese and enjoy a tasty, hearty home-cooked meal together.

  • Hike through the most stunning parts of Tiger Leaping Gorge, listening to the Jinsha Rver roaring through the mist capped mountains.

  • Wander through a Tibetan village in the dreamy Shangrila pasture lands. Learn about Tibetan culture over a steaming cup of yak butter tea.

  • Travel in comfort in private vehicles and a scenic flight from Shangrila back to Kunming.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Part of this trip travels above 3000 meters, where you may experience altitude sickness. Please consult your doctor before travelling and ensure you are in excellent physical health.

  • There are some long travel days as we move between destinations. The scenery is stunning though with plenty to see so no doubt you'll enjoy the journeys.

  • We stay in a local guesthouse for the night at Tiger Leaping Gorge. It's more basic than the regular Peregrine standard hotel we use given the very limited options in this area but still offers twin share rooms with private facilities.

  • While Kunming is a metropolis, this trip visits small towns outside of major cities for the majority of the trip. You may be surprised to see how popular this part of the country has become with domestic tourists! Some sights in the old towns and scenic spots can be very busy during the day, but you'll find domestic tour groups stick to strict schedules, so you'll still be able to find plenty of places away from the crowds.

  • If you'd like to combine Yunnan with some of China's other must sees like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi'an or the Yangzi River, take a look at our Splendours of China or China in Depth trips.

Itinerary

Known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ for its year-round temperate climate, Kunming is an increasingly modern city, but it still holds pockets of old-world charm in a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll need to attend a welcome meeting at 6 pm at the hotel. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you do arrive early enough to explore, maybe delve into local culture at the ancient temples and intriguing museums dotted around the area – the Buddhist Yuantong Temple dates back 1,200 years and you will uniquely enter the complex from above and descend into the elegant garden and halls.
Accommodation
  • Kunming Longteng Hotel or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kunming - Yuantong Temple - CNY6
  • Kunming - Tang Dynasty Pagodas - CNY2
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Depart Kunming by private bus and prepare for the adventure ahead as you travel through the countryside to Dali. Kunming to Dali is 340 kilometres and the drive will take about 5 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. Stretch your legs on an orientation walk with your leader, then explore in the afternoon as you’d like. Dali is a favourite among travellers in China, a place where you can soak up the fresh mountain air and observe relics from the past. The town is overflowing with places to eat and drink, so you will not have trouble finding a good meal this evening. The Ancient Town, a beautifully preserved and rebuilt part of the city with lantern-lit cafes, cobblestone streets and ancient stone houses is a great place to start.
Accommodation
  • Dali Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dali - Ancient Town walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll travel 1 hour to the nearby town of Xizhou, an authentic town of the Bai – a group 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 ago a stop on the tea horse trail, 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 'xi zhou ba ba' – a warm baked cake filled with savoury or sweet filling. For lunch you'll enjoy a unique experience when you visit a local family. You'll try cheese making with them and have a meal together. Return to Dali for the night.
Accommodation
  • Dali Lan Lin Ge Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Xizhou - Cheese making
  • Xizhou - Home-cooked Bai lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Travel to Shaxi from Dali today (approximately 4 hours). Unlike many other ancient towns in Yunnan, Shaxi has been restored rather than rebuilt, and decades of laying off the main highways mean it hasn’t seen the rapid development places like Lijiang and Dali have. Here you can still find the Yi and Bai ethnic minorities living traditional lives in farmhouses lining the country roads. You’ll see cobblestone streets, original walled town gates and a market square that prove that Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail. After you've settled in, take a leisurely walk around the town.
Accommodation
  • Shaxi Ouyang Courtyard Guesthouse or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll join a local guide to visit Shibaoshan and Shizong Temple, perhaps taking a picnic lunch with you to make the most of the beautiful danxia landscape along the way. The beautiful multi-coloured rocks are formed by millions of years of sandstone and mineral deposits, creating a rainbow effect that must be seen to be believed. The hike takes around 1.5 hours, reaches around 2,400 metres above sea level and is accessible to all travellers with a reasonable level of fitness. 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
  • Shaxi Ouyang Courtyard Guesthouse or similiar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shibaoshan - Hike to Shizong Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel to Tiger Leaping Gorge by private bus (approx. 2 hrs). 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. A memorable walk in the gorge is a wonderful way to take in its awesome beauty and today you’ll do just that. It’s a predominantly downhill five-kilometre hike that takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete at a relaxed pace, giving you ample time to soak up the sights of one of Asia’s most dramatic and photogenic hiking trails. About 15 kilometres in length, the gorge is named after a legendary tiger that leapt across the gorge to escape the clutches of a hunter. No mean feat considering the canyon’s narrowest point is still a staggering 25 metres wide!
Accommodation
  • Teahorse Guesthouse or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
We stay in a guesthouse here tonight.The guesthouse is clean and tidy with private facilities, but standard is a little more basic compared to other hotels we use on this trip. Past travellers have suggested bringing your own walking poles for this walk to assist them on the trail.
Today you’ll travel to a place so beautiful it was officially renamed Shangrila, a reference to the mythic utopia from James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. Before you set off, visit the legendary “stepping stone” the tiger used to escape across the Jinsha river, located at the narrowest point of the gorge. Make the 3-hour drive to Shangrila and feel the modern world fade away as you head higher into the mountains. This charming Tibetan town lies on an altitude around 3,200 metres, so take it easy upon arrival and give yourself some time to acclimatise. Later take a stroll on winding streets past prayer halls and pagodas in Dukezong Ancient Town. A fire tore through the area in 2014, destroying most of the town, but painstaking restoration work continues and the town remains charming. It’s also home to a towering, gilded prayer wheel – the largest in the world.
Accommodation
  • Tian Jie Shen Chuan Hotel (Paradise Hotel) or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Because of the high altitude, your leader may shuffle activities in order to suit the capabilities of the group.
Learn more about Tibetan Buddhism with a visit the Sumtseling Monastery. Located just outside the city and modelled after the Potala Palace, Sumtseling is the predominant monastery in the region and a popular destination for pilgrims. Constructed in 1681 and subsequently destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the complex was rebuilt in 1981 and the red and gold buildings now house hundreds of monks. Later travel south to Xiao Zhongdian, a village-dotted plain split by a flowing river. Here you will be invited into the home of a local Tibetan to see how they live and have a chat over a cup of yak butter tea. If time permits (and you have the energy), you may be able to visit idyllic Potatso National Park in the afternoon. If the altitude is taking its toll, why not spend the evening relaxing in Shangri-la.
Accommodation
  • Tian Jie Shen Chuan Hotel (Paradise Hotel) or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shangrila - Sumtseling Monastery
  • Xiao Zhongdian - Tibetan family visit
Optional Activities
  • Shangrila - Potatso National Park - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Return to Kunming on a roughly 80-minute flight and transfer to your hotel. If you have enough time, Green Lake Park is a lovely place to while away an hour or two. In the evening, perhaps join your group for a final dinner and toast to new friends and ancient sights.
Accommodation
  • Kunming Longteng Hotel or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kunming - Green Lake Park - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Check out today is at 12 pm, and then you're free to leave at any time. There are no activities scheduled for today.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Plane, private vehicle

Accommodation

Feature Stay Dali (2 night), Hotel (6 nights), Guesthouse (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Dali - Ancient Town walking tour
  • Xizhou - Cheese making
  • Xizhou - Home-cooked Bai lunch
  • Shibaoshan - Hike to Shizong Temple
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge - Guided trek
  • Shangrila - Sumtseling Monastery
  • Xiao Zhongdian - Tibetan family visit

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A complimentary arrival transfer is included. Please provide your arrival details to your agent no later than 14 days prior to departure
2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available for this trip.
3. Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package except for the tour leader. Please see our Tipping section of these trip notes for more information.
4. As we visit a town with an altitude of over 3000m you will need o be in excellent health to participate in this trip.

Essential trip information

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