Welcome to China! With exotic Burma, Laos and Vietnam on one side and Tibet on the other, culturally diverse and ethnically rich Yunnan is one of China's most fascinating regions. No place in China offers as much diversity, both geographical and cultural as Yunnan!
Day 1: Arrive Kunming, China
Welcome to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. After clearing customs and immigration formalities at Kunming International Airport, you will be met by a local iExplore representative and privately driven to your hotel, the Kunming Hotel.
Kunming Hotel is located in the commercial and shopping district. With many famous department stores nearby, the hotel is one of Kunming's most cosmopolitan areas. Built in 1958, it underwent major renovation in 1999. This is a 4-star hotel centrally located in Kunming.
The hotel itself is the most impressive structure in the area and the location makes it very convenient to get to and from the railway station and the airport (only 5 and 7 kilometers respectively).
The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore your surroundings.
Jinjiang Hotel- 4*
Day 2: Kunming
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, sits at 6,500 feet above sea level off the northern shore of Dian Chi, the province's largest lake. Despite its growing population of almost 4 million and its development as a business center, the city retains much of its old-fashioned charm and atmosphere. The altitude makes Kunming pleasantly cool in the summer months and winter days are sunny and mild.
After breakfast at your hotel today, meet your guide to visit one of the most dramatic of Yunnan's attractions, the Stone Forest. Formed by karsts between 2 and 30 million years ago, the fantastic stone pinnacles rise abruptly from the ground to resemble a huge, dense forest. It covers an area of 96,000 acres and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. An old local saying says that "If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time." Truly, the Stone Forest is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan.
Walking through the Stone Forest, visitors marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are bewitched by the intricate formations. The magnificent, strange and steep landscape creates countless labyrinthine vistas, including:
Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest, all of which feature stones in various formations. Animals, plants, and even human figures can be found here. Some are elegant, some are rugged, and each is lifelike with its own distinguishing characteristics.
Jinjiang Hotel (B)
Day 3: Kunming- Lijiang
After breakfast today, transfer to the airport for your flight to Lijiang, a place blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snowcapped mountains, and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by the friendly Naxi people.
Visit the Old Town and the Black Dragon Pool.
Nestled on the mountains of the northwest, the high plains of Lijiang are dominated by Yulongxue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain), 18,359 ft in altitude and the best-known mastiff in the province. Yulongxue Shan is clearly visible from the city and is best seen in the Heilong Tan (Black Dragon Pool), where it is reflected in the water between an arched marble bridge and a three story Chinese Pavilion. Within the park is the Dongba Research Institute, where retired Naxi scholars translate the old religious manuscripts. There is also a cultural exhibition hall and the Five Phoenix Tower, which houses a museum and a statue of the Naxi war god, Sanduo.
Besides the scenery, Lijiang's big draw is the 750-year-old Naxi part of town called Dayan, which still retains its original layout and architectural style. Then, check into your hotel.
Palace Hotel- 4* (B)
Day 4: Lijiang- Daju- Bendiwan
In the morning after breakfast, we will take a 3.5-hour drive along the Yunnan-Tibet Road to Daju and trek from Daju to Bendiwan. En route we will stop and visit Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is the longest, deepest and narrowest gorge in the world.
Tonight we will overnight at a guesthouse in Bendiwan. Please note there are only public showers here.
Hiking details: In the morning, an overland drive of 90km, or 3.5 hours to Daju (altitude 5,280 feet). Hike for 1 hour to Old Pier (altitude 4,950 feet). From Old Pier trek 40 minutes to Yongke Village (altitude 5,460 feet). From here you will take another vehicle for a 40 minute drive to Walnut Grove (elevation 5,850 feet). Another 1.5 hours hiking to Yi Xian Tian (elevation 5,340 feet), and another 30 minutes trekking to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge (elevation 5,100 feet). Another 1 hours hiking to Da Shen Gou (elevation 6,180 feet), and the last 1.5 hours hiking to Bendiwan (elevation 7,230 feet). The total trekking distance is about 14kms or 6 hours, including rest periods.
Guest House in Bendiwan (B, L, D)
Day 5: Lijiang- Zhongdian
Continue trekking from Bendiwan to Qiaotou. En route you will visit the Haba Mountains, Zhongluoyu Village and the "24 Bands.
The Haba Mountain, its main peak 5,396 meters in height, stands 120 kilometers to the southeast of the seat of Zhongdian County. And its domain of 21,908 hectares, covered with a vertical distribution of forests, is rich in wildlife and plant resources. The attraction of the Sanba Tourist Area is attributed to the towering peaks of the Haba Mountain and its alpine morainal lake, endless tracks of azalea flowers, and cluster of waterfalls cascading down snow-covered cliffs
After trekking, drive to Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La. In Tibetan, Shangri-La means a place of good fortune and luck. Check into your hotel.
Hiking details for the day: Bendiwan- Qiaotou- Zhongdian. Continue trekking from Bendiwan to "Two Families" (elevation 6,960 feet) for about 2 hours. Another 1.5 hours to 24 Bends (elevation 7,950 feet), another 1.5 hours to Zhong Luo Yu Village (elevation 6,750 feet), then the last 1.5 hours trekking to the small village of Xia Luo Lu, from where your driver will take you and drive 6kms to Qiaotou (elevation 5,550 feet), also called Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge. Then continue driving to Zhongdian (Shangri-La). The total trekking distance is about 15 km or 6 hours, including rest time.
Shiner Hotel- 4*(B, L)
Day 6: Zhongdian
Today enjoy a full day visit to the Ganden Songzanglin Monastery. The Songzanlin Monastery, often called Ganden Sumtseling Monastery or Guihua Monastery, is located at the foot of Foping Mountain near Shangri-La County in Yunnan Province. The monastery is built on a hillside and looks like an ancient fort. The Songzanlin Monastery is often called the little Potala Palace because of its traditional Tibetan architectural style. The two main halls of the monastery are magnificent and feature colorful frescos depicting Buddhist stories on the interior walls. The roofs of the Monastery are gilded copper and can be seen for miles away shining in the sun. The exterior walls are painted in a variety of colors including white, red, and tan making the entire complex appear even more magnificent. The monastery is home to the largest prayer wheel in the world. Although smaller than Lhasa's Potala Palace, the Songzanlin Monastery is magnificent, and its picturesque location and beautiful buildings make this an important stop for any visit to Yunnan Province.
Also visit Pudacuo National Park, which includes Bita Lake, Shudu Lake and Xiage Tibetan Village. You will also visit a local Tibetan family in the evening and enjoy a Tibetan dancing show.
Shiner Hotel (B)
Day 7: Zhongdian
Today you'll trek or enjoy horseback riding on Mt. Rotuopo, protector god mountain of Shangri-La. For lunch, you will enjoy a Tibetan Barbeque prepared on the mountain.
Your trekking destination is the Ringha Temple (Five Wisdom Temple), the oldest and most holy Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Shangri-La.
Later, return to the hotel by car.
Shiner Hotel (B, L)
Day 8: Zhongdian- Depart Kunming
This morning you will be transferred to Diqing Airport for your flight back to Kunming and then to connect with your onward flight.
The package is not available in October 2013. Hotels in Zhongdian are closed December through March due to cold weather. You can depart any other day April- November, contact an iExplore rep for details!
April to November (excluding October):
$2,899 per person double occupancy (2-5 passengers)
$4,334 solo traveler
$500 single room supplement
- Accommodations in 4* hotels as per the itinerary, or similar, including daily breakfast.
- Tours and transfers on a private basis.
- Flights Kunming/Lijiang and Zhongdian/Kunming in economy class, including tax.
- All admission fees.
- Services of local English-speaking guides.
- International airfare and airport taxes
- Meals, unless otherwise indicated
- Items of a personal nature
- Gratuities and Porterage
- Travel insurance
- Visas (if required)
- Holiday surcharges
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.