This overland trip starts in Kunming and takes you to the northwest of Yunnan to visit Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La and to Eastern Tibet known as Kham to visit the Tibetan highland with fantastic views and interesting people to discover “Shangri-La”.
Day 1, Arrive in Kunming and transfer to hotel
Kunming, also known as the Spring City, is the capital of Yunnan province, with mild weather throughout the year. It is nice to walk around the birds and flowers market in the old part of the downtown of Kunming. 100ms away from the market is the commercial center of Kunming, which is full of the modern buildings. Here you can see the different faces of Kunming.
Day 2, City tour and Stone Forest
Morning visit to the Green Lake, a very popular park for locals, many people get up early and come here to practice Taiji, take a walk or do morning exercises. Visit Yuantong Temple, a popular Buddhist Temple among locals. Drive to the Stone Forest in the late afternoon after most tourists left. Overnight at the Stone Forest.
Day 3, Drive to Dali
Six hours drive to Dali via Kunming and Chuxiong. Dali is an autonomous prefecture of the Bai ethnic group, with Cangshan Mountain on the west and Erhai Lake on the east. People just live on the fertile land between the Mt.Cangshan and Lake Erhai. The area of Dali used to be an independent country called Nanzhao Kingdom or Dali Kingdom. The Bai people created the own culture and live here for thousands of years.
Day 4, Visit Three Pagodas and Cangshan Mountain
Visit the thousand-year-old Three Pagodas and the Chongsheng Temple behind them. This is the biggest Buddhist Temple in Yunnan with hundreds of Buddhist images. Take a chairlift up to the Cangshan Mountain at 2550m where you can visit waterfalls and take a walk on the Clouds Road having a bird’s eye view of Dali and Lake Erhai.
Day 5, Drive to Lijiang and visit the Old Town
Visit Xizhou morning market where people sell food, vegetables and daily uses. Walk into the village to visit some traditional old houses of Bai people and meet up with locals. Three hours drive to Lijiang. Visit the old town of Lijiang, which was built in the traditional wooden houses, with small rivers running through the town. We will walk through the old town to see the Naxi houses, and follow up the river to Black Dragon Pool where the water of the old town comes from. Here you can see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain if the weather is fine. Most people in Lijiang are Naxi. A woman is the boss of the family, and she makes the decision. She does most of the work at home, while the man just have a very leisure life, planting flowers in the gardens and playing the music.
Day 6, Day in Lijiang to explore villages and monastery
Drive to Puji village where we start to walk through the villages and climb up the hill. Through the pine forest for an hour, then reach Puji Monastery hidden in the mountain, which is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery built three hundred years ago, with copper roofs. No tourists come here but we can meet up with a few lamas and locals who take care of the Monastery. After visiting the Monastery, we drive to Baisha village to visit this traditional Naxi village, and then carry on to Yuhu village where the explorer Dr. Rock used to live for his research. These are very beautiful Naxi villages in front of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Day 7, Visit Tiger Leaping Gorge and Drive to Shangri-La
Drive to Shangri-La, with a visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge between Mountains Haba and Jade Dragon. The Gorge is 19km long with the drop of 3900m from the top of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the Yangtze River. There are three different parts of the Gorge and the narrowest part is only 30m wide. It’s said that someone saw a tiger jumped from one side to the other, hence the name. Both sides of the Gorge are very steep, with rocky mountains. Drive up to Tibetan Tableland to see more mountains and grasslands and carry on to Shangri-La. Shangri-La is inhabited by Tibetans, and Tibetans live on the highest plateau on the earth and have a strong character and personality. From now on, we will travel through Tibetan region and meet up with them every day before arriving in Chengdu. We will learn more about them during the trip.
Day 8, Visit Ringsha Temple and Tibetan village
Visit Ringsha Temple built on a hill in the area, is the first Tibetan yellow hat sect Buddhist temple, which is small and quiet. The tourists seldom come here but it is very popular among the local Tibetans. At the Chinese New Year, thousands of people will come to worship and express their good wishes for the coming year. In the temple, we can see how Tibetans make the praying flags, and you can also learn to make some praying flags by yourself and hang them over the mountain behind the temple to get your good luck. Visit some local Tibetan villages in the area, and if you like, we can get into a Tibetan horse and try some Tibetan Tsampa(the Tibetan’s staple food made from ground roasted barley)and Butter Tea.
Day 9, Drive to Xiacheng via Derong
With a bird’s eye view of the Napa Lake during the drive, Napa is a seasonal lake not far from Shangri-La. There are a lot of Tibetan villages around it, and many birds from the north would come here for winter. It’s a good place for birds watching in the winter as well. After visiting the Lake, we will drive up and down the hills on zigzags, with good views of the mountains and villages. Down to the valley, we will see the Yangtze again. We follow up the Yangtze through Sichuan province into Derong. Derong is a small Tibetan town hidden in the mountains and here the sun rises three times a day. Drive up to the mountain at 4100m and carry on to Xiacheng, and it is a pretty small Tibetan town near the Dingqu River.
Day 10, Visit Monastery and drive to Litang
Visit Sanpiling Monastery. It was first built in 1654, and it’s one of the most mportant yellow hat sect Tibetan Buddhist Temples in Kham. In 1811, one of the ninth Dalai Lama’s assistant worked here as the head monk of the monastery and made the monastery famous throughout the area. The Monastery nowadays is rebuilt and much bigger than it was, and some more construction work is still going on. After visiting the monastery, we will drive to Litang on a mountain at 4,580m where you can hike up to a hill top and see many snow mountains in the distance. Carry on to Litang via Mt. Haizhishan, with many huge rocks and lakes in the mountain.
Day 11, Litang
Visit the town and Litang Monastery which is the biggest Yellow Sect monastery in south part of Kham. Drive to the grasslands and visit the Tibetan nomads, with their yaks and goats there. We can see them milk from the yaks and make butter. Nomads move from one place to another during the different time of the year according to the temperatures. When they move on, they not only move their tents but also a Buddhist shrine with them to set up a movable temple, so they can pray everyday.
Day 12, Drive to Tagong
Drive to Tagong with visits to nomads along the way via the Yajiang valley and the mountain passes. We can see Minya Konka, the highest mountain in Sichuan(7556m). Visit Tagong Buddhist Collage, enjoy the sunset of Yala Mountain on the grassland.
Day 13, Visit Tagong and Drive to Luding
Visit hundreds year old Tagong Monastery and walk along the Monastery as locals do, drive on the grasslands and up to the Zheduo Mountain at 4,520m, and we will stop here to walk up to the hill top where you can see the mountains hidden in the clouds. Down the hill through the valley to Kangding Carry on to Luding where the Red Army crossed the Luding Bridge during the Long March.
Day 14, Drive to Chengdu
Drive to Chengdu the hill through the Erlan Mountain tunnels, and down to Ya’an. Carry on to Chengdu on the express way. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan. It is a modern city but still has some old streets, tea houses and temples in the town. Chengdu is very famous for its food such as the hot-pot and hundreds of local snacks.
Day 15, Visit Wenshu Temple & Pandas.
Visit Wenshu(Manjusri) Temple, and it’s one of the well protected Buddhist temples in Chengdu, which was built in 1697. It’s very popular among the locals and you can still see a lot of local people who come here every day to pray and worship. Most people who come to the temple are not really Buddhists. They just come for different reasons like praying for health, good luck, property and anything you can think about. Visit an old street with tea houses and local handicrafts shops and give you some ideas of how the old Chengdu looks like. In the afternoon, we will visit the Panda Research Center, here you can not only see the giant Pandas but also learn something about them through the Panda Museum and introductions. Overnight hotel and tour ends.
Seasonality: May to October
Departures: Jul.17th to 26th, 2016
Price: US$ 1,970.00 Per person
US$ 380.00 Single Supplement
Group Size: 6 – 8 Persons
The price includes:
Sightseeing Programs & entry fees
English Speaking Guides
Transfers and transportation by private vehicles