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Southwest China: Yunnan's mountains & minorities

16 days from £4,840pp

Includes flights
What is tailor made? Customised itinerary | Every trip is unique | Flexible accommodation options | Designed to your budget

Itinerary highlights

  • Stroll around the charming old towns of Dali and Lijiang.

  • See the endangered snub-nosed monkey.

  • Journey to Shangri-La to discover stunning scenery and Tibetan culture.

  • Visit Yuanyang’s rice terraces, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

  • Meet the diverse ethnic minorities of Yunnan Province.

Price includes

Scheduled international and domestic flights
In destination transfers
Activities and excursions as detailed
All accommodation
  • Kunming
  • Dali
  • Shaxi
  • Lijiang
  • Zhongdian
  • Kunming
  • Yuanyang
  • Jianshui
  • Kunming

Itinerary idea in detail

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Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Day 1 International outbound flight

International outbound flight

Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Kunming.

Day 2 Kunming

Kunming

Upon arrival into Kunming you're met at the airport by your private guide and driver, and driven to your city hotel by private transfer. You have the evening at leisure to explore the city, if you wish, or simply relax in your hotel after your journey. You may like to take a stroll to Green Park Lake, ringed with teahouses and criss-crossed by traditional bridges.

Day 3 Kunming

Kunming

This morning you will visit the Stone Forest with your private guide. The forest has a stunning array of natural stone peaks, stalagmites, stalactites, subterranean rivers and underground caves. Return to Kunming after your excursion and you will have the afternoon free to explore the city independently. You may wish to visit Green Lake Park where you can enjoy views of the lake and witness locals doing their exercises, or you can take a stroll in Kunming’s small old quarter.

Day 4 Dali

Kunming , Dali

Early morning private transfer to Kunming railway station with your guide and take the high speed train to Dali, a journey of approximately two hours. On arrival, you will be met by your private guide and driver and you will begin your tour of Dali. Dali is well known for its colourful people, its embroidery, rich agriculture, famous marble and excellent breed of horses. You will explore Dali's walled town and then drive out to visit the historic Three Pagodas area, one of the town's most famous sights.

Day 5 Dali

Dali

In the morning drive out to the pretty Cangshan Mountains, where you can enjoy some guided walking to take in some of the pretty panoramic views of Dali and Erhai Lake below. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the hillside this afternoon before continuing with your walk. On your return to your hotel, you can stop the produce market in Xiaguan, where you can spend some time discovering local fruits and vegetables as well as minorities handicrafts.

Day 6 Shaxi

Dali , Shaxi

Today you leave Dali for Shaxi. You will make a short stop at Xizhou, which was always favoured by the rich tea merchants who built fabulous homes in this little lakeside town. Afterwards, your private driver takes you to the village of Shaxi, a two-hour journey through deep countryside, weaving through villages and rice paddies. Once you have checked in to your hotel, you have time to explore this sleepy rural village. Stroll around its market square and along the river, admiring its 14th-century Ming Dynasty buildings.

Day 7 Lijiang

Shaxi , Lijiang

You will have more time to explore Shaxi this morning before departing for Lijiang. There is a stop en route to visit the grottoes and temple complex of Shibaoshan before your guide and driver take you further north to Lijiang, a town in the shadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The drive with the excursion takes approximately 4 hours, and you usually arrive in Lijiang in the late afternoon to check in to your hotel.

Day 8 Lijiang

Lijiang

This morning, you will travel out of Lijiang to visit Zhiyun Monastery, one of five most important lamaseries in the region with a 300-year history, where you may be able to witness the monks praying and studying. Continue to Shuhe village to meet a Naxi Shaman and his family. The Shaman will show you around the village and give you an introduction to his faith and ceremonial practices before you join his family for lunch. Return to Lijiang in the afternoon and take a tour of Lijiang’s ancient streets tightly packed with slate-tiled houses and latticed with mountain streams and waterways. Later take a short visit to Black Dragon Pond Park for some of the best views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Day 9 Tacheng

Lijiang , Tacheng

Today you take a private transfer to Tacheng, gateway to the Snub-Nosed Monkey National Park. You will first visit the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world's deepest gorge where you'll admire the gorge from a viewing platform. If you wish, you can take a steep walk down steps to the Jinsha River at the bottom. You then continue to Tacheng, a journey of approximately four hours through mountains and valleys. Check in to your lodge accommodation upon arrival.

Accommodation

Day 10 Zhongdian

Tacheng , Zhongdian

The Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey is an endangered species native to this part of Yunnan province. Located about 30 minutes from Tacheng, the Xianggujing Golden Monkey National Park works to protect this species and educate visitors about the monkeys. You will spend the day at the national park with your private guide to learn about these monkeys, watch them eat and play in the misty forest of this well-managed, sustainable park. In the afternoon, you will leave Tacheng for Zhongdian with your private guide and driver on a three hour journey. Also known as ‘Shangri-La’ and sometimes called ‘Gyalthang’ in Tibetan, it is located at 3,200 metres above sea level and you will experience a unique blend of Tibetan and Han cultures here. Upon arrival you will check in to your hotel.

Day 11 Zhongdian

Zhongdian

Today you’ll discover Shangri-La’s Tibetan culture with a visit Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in China which has great views over a valley, to give you an insight into the day-to-day life of its monks, and by exploring some of the fascinating surrounding Tibetan villages. Later, take in the beautiful scenery of Napa Lake, where there may be opportunities to spot some wildlife and birds.

Day 12 Yuanyang

Zhongdian , Kunming , Yuanyang

Morning private transfer to the airport for your one hour flight to Kunming. You will be met by a private guide and driver upon arrival and transferred to Yuanyang, five hours south of Kunming. Located in Honghe Prefecture, along the Red River, Yuanyang is well-known for its spectacular rice terraces, part of which now forms the 45th UNESCO World Heritage Site in China. Check in to your hotel for an overnight stay in town..

Accommodation

Day 13 Jianshui

Yuanyang , Jianshui

You will spend most of today exploring Yuanyang with your guide. You may wish to begin with a visit to a lively morning market for a chance to witness various ethnic minorities such as the Hani, Yi, Miao, Dai and Zhuang in their colourful costumes gather to sell their produce or to buy supplies, if your visit coincides with a market day. Afterwards head out to explore the region's rice terraces, made by the Hani people over centuries they look like stairs leading to the sky. Later you will be driven to the town of Jianshui, a historic centre in Yunnan province and an important transportation crossroad today. The journey takes approximately two and a quater hours.

Accommodation

Day 14 Jianshui

Jianshui

Today your private guide and driver will take you on a tour of Jianshui. Start with an excursion to the Qing Dynasty Family Zhu Gardens, followed by a visit to Jianshui's centrepiece, the Ming Dynasty Chaoyang Gate, and China's second largest Confucian temple. This afternoon drive out of the city to visit the photographic Twin Dragon Bridge before heading to Tuan Shan Village to see some beautiful courtyard architecture. Lastly, you will visit Swallow Cave with its karst formations and hundreds of swallows and return to your hotel.

Accommodation

Day 15 International return flight

Jianshui , Kunming , International return flight

Today you will be taken by a three hour private transfer to Kunming Changshui International Airport in time for your return flight.

Day 16 International return flight

International return flight

Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Audley Travel specialist Chris
Audley Travel specialist Nick

Contact a specialist

The specialist who designs your trip to China will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip. Your dedicated specialist will take the time to understand your preferences and build them into an itinerary to match, working to your budget. He or she will keep perfecting it until you’re completely happy and ready to book.

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When to go

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Place Daily Max Temperature Monthly Rainfall
Kunming
 
 
 
Dali
 
 
 
Shaxi
 
 
 
Lijiang
 
 
 
Zhongdian
 
 
 
Yuanyang
 
 
 
Jianshui
 
 
 

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