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Southwest China: Yunnan's mountains & minorities

12 days from $4,875pp

What is tailor made? 100% custom | Exceptional experiences | Hand-picked guides | Lodging with character | Designed to your schedule, budget & interests

Itinerary highlights

  • See the Tibetan town of Zhongdian, high on the Tibetan plateau.

  • Experience rural Chinese life in the village of Shaxi.

  • Visit the historic Naxi town of Lijiang.

  • See the Bai minority town of Dali with its Ming Dynasty-era Three Pagodas.

Price includes

In destination transfers
Activities and excursions as detailed
All accommodations
  • Kunming
  • Dali
  • Shaxi
  • Lijiang
  • Zhongdian

Itinerary idea in detail

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Ask us if you would also like us to arrange your international flights at our preferred rates.

Day 1 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 2 Dali

Kunming , Dali

This morning you're driven by private transfer, with your private guide accompanying you, to Dali. The drive takes around five hours. The town of Dali is the starting point for exploring the mountains of the northwest of the province. After checking into your hotel, you have the rest of the day at leisure. If you're staying in Dali's nearby village of Xizhou, you can spend the rest of the day exploring its vibrant Bai culture, excellent markets and Bai architecture.

Day 3 Dali


Today spend the day exploring Dali's old town with your private guide and driver. Walk around its willow-lined waterways and visit the markets that cluster round the gate towers on the old city walls. You could also visit the Buddhist site of the Three Pagodas. Your guide will explain about their architecture and their place in the region's history. These elegant structures have stood in the same spot for over one thousand years and have miraculously survived earthquakes.

Day 4 Dali


You have today at leisure to further explore Dali's cobbled streets. You may wish to take the 20 minute walk from Dali's central hub to Erhai Lake. This crescent of alpine lake is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in China.

Day 5 Shaxi

Dali , Shaxi

Today you leave Dali. Your private driver takes you to the village of Shaxi, a two hour journey. Drive through deep countryside, weaving through villages and rice paddies en route. Once there, you have the rest of the day at leisure to explore this sleepy rural village. Stroll around its market square and along the river, admiring its 14th-century Ming Dynasty buildings. You'll see vignettes of daily life, such as villagers taking their oxen into the surrounding fields.

Day 6 Lijiang

Shaxi , Lijiang

After another morning spent exploring Shaxi independently, your private driver and guide take you further north today to Lijiang, a town in the shadow of a huge mountain. The drive takes several hours, as you stop off en route at the holy Buddhist mountain of Shibaoshan. Your private guide will show you the intriguing carvings of the Stone Bell Temple and the site's other highlights, before continuing on your journey. You usually arrive in Lijiang in the late afternoon.

Day 7 Lijiang


Lijiang has a very well-preserved old town where many Naxi minority people live. Today potter around under your own steam, exploring streets tightly packed with slate-tiled houses and latticed with mountain streams and waterways. You're likely to see Naxi minority culture, with local people wearing their distinctive traditional dress and women buying embroidery and striped fabrics from the town's markets.

Day 8 Lijiang


Another day at leisure in Lijiang. You may wish to stroll around Black Dragon Pond Park for some of the best views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the peak that dominates the skyline of the town.

Day 9 Zhongdian

Lijiang , Zhongdian

Today take a private transfer to Zhongdian, two hours' drive away from Lijiang. Accompanied by your private guide, en route you stop at the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world's deepest gorges. 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 on to Zhongdian, driving through more gorges and valleys before reaching the relatively flat Tibetan plain.

Day 10 Zhongdian


Today your guide accompanies you to Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in China. It's a 15 minute private transfer from the town of Zhongdian, unless you choose to stay at a hotel nearer the monastery. Your guide leads you around this functioning 300-year-old monastery which has great views over a valley, and give you an insight into the day-to-day life of its monks.

Day 11 Zhongdian


You have today at leisure to explore the town of Zhongdian and its surrounding landscape independently. We recommend meandering around the old town with its prayer flags and small hill with a revolving prayer wheel. Wandering around, you see that Tibetan culture is predominant here. If you're feeling more energetic, we suggest going for one of the many good low-level hikes through the surrounding valleys and forests.

Day 12 Return home


Today you're driven by private transfer to Zhongdian Airport, around 40 minutes away, to catch your flight to Kunming. From Kunming you can catch your onwards flight.

Enjoying hand pulled noodles
Audley Travel specialist Virginia

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