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Farmer in rural China

Legendary Yunnan

Example 10 Day Tour
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Spend ten days exploring the rich cultural diversity of the Yunnan province on a China culture tour. Visit Kunming, Lijiang and old town Dali as you learn about the centuries-old history that has shaped the cultural landscape found in this region today. Roughly half of all ethnic minority groups in all of China are found in this tiny province. Spend ten days visiting renowned sights such as fabled Shangri-La and Tiger Leaping Gorge on this rich culturally focused Yunnan tour.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Kunming
Day 2 : On to Dali
Day 3 : Weishan County Villages
Day 4 : Xizhou Bai & Shaxi Villages
Day 5 : Lijiang
Day 6 : Baisha Frescos & Naxi Culture
Day 7 : Tiger Leaping Gorge
Day 8 : Shangri-La
Day 9 : Pudacuo National Park
Day 10 : Return Home


  • Walk along the Jade Trail on Cangshan Mountain for great views of the Dali
  • Visit the bustling Xizhou market which sells groceries & handicrafts
  • Climb Lion Hill for panoramic views of Lijiang
  • Explore Nixi Pottery Village and watch locals carry out their craft

Places Visited

  • Asia
  • China
  • Baisha Village
  • Dali
  • Kunming
  • Lijiang
  • Padacuo National Park
  • Shangri-La
  • Shaxi
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Weibaoshan
  • Xizhou Village
  • Yunnan Province


Trip Type

  • Adventure Life Exclusive

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Farmer in rural China Lijiang old town streets and buildings Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-La Tiger Leaping Gorge. Yunnan Province Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang old town Nixi Pottery Village in Yunnan Stone forest national park in Yunnan province Wooden walkway in Pudacuo National Park

Day 1 Arrive Kunming

Arrive this morning into Kunming's airport. Here you are greeted by your local guide and transfer about one and a half hours to the nearby Stone Forest. This towering collection of limestone formations creates the illusion of being petrified trees, and is part of the South China Karst and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the opportunity arises, we may stop to visit with a local Yi family, the main ethnic group found in this area.

After the visit, drive back to the city of Kunming and settle into your hotel for the evening. 

Day 2 On to Dali

Head back to the airport today for a quick flight on to nearby Dali, an old town with beautiful landscapes and a rich history. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and head out to explore Cangshan Mountain. Take a chair lift up the mountain where you set out on a two hour walk along the Jade Trail, which connects to another chairlift station. Enjoy the city views of Dali below and smell the wildflowers that often bloom in the summer months.

Next visit Chongsheng Temple, one of the most popular Buddhist shrines in southwest China. This evening explore the small and charming Dali Ancient Town. Built during the Ming Dynasty, "Old Town" Dali has been kept separated from the "new town" and other modern growth, thereby preserving its traditional architectural style.

Day 3 Weishan County Villages

Today you will drive an hour south to the old village of Weibaoshan (or Weibao). One of the most renowned scenic spots in the Dali area, it is one of China's Taoism holy mountains and the birthplace for the legendary King of the Nanzhao Kingdom, Xinluo. The mountain is home to multiple Daoist temples along the mountain sides that were built during the Nanzhao Kingdom.

After lunch visit the Dong Lianhua Village, a Hui Muslim village located near the Hong He River. The well-preserved ancient town was dubbed a national cultural village in 2008 and its preserved buildings reflect the charm and culture of the Hui people. After your visit here, drive back to Dali for the evening.

Day 4 Xizhou Bai & Shaxi Villages

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning drive to Xizhou Bai Village, an important town throughout history and the best preserved example of Bai traditional houses and Qing Dynasty architecture. Visit the bustling Xizhou market today where a range of items from groceries to handicrafts are sold. See the traditional dress of the Bai women, visit a local family's house, and see a show called Tea Ceremony of Three Courses - a tradition amongst the Bai people often accompanied with a show that includes singing and dancing.

Continue 2-3 hours to Shaxi Village. Stop en route at Shibaoshan to see the vivid grottos carved during the Nanzhao Kingdom about 1100 years ago. Arrive to Shaxi Village, a once important bustling trade station on the Tea & Horse Caravan that linked Yunnan and Tibet with Southeast Asia, and the world's only surviving example.

Day 5 Lijiang

This morning continue to explore Shaxi before driving two hours north to Lijiang. The road ascends to the higher altitude of Lijiang and offers great countryside views of Yunnan. Lijiang received its name (Beautiful River) by Kublai Khan in 1254 and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is comprised of an orderly system of bridges and canals and the townspeople still use the water to wash the ground everyday as has been done since the town's founding.

Upon arrival stop for lunch, then spend some time to see some main sights, such as the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain which dominates the northwest horizon and the Museum of Naxi Culture. Explore the ancient town of Lijiang and learn about the history of this town. Climb up Lion Hill and enjoy a panoramic view of the ancient city before turning in for the day.

Day 6 Baisha Frescos & Naxi Culture

Today drive to Baisha Village, located in the oldest zone of the city of Lijiang, to see 44 frescos (murals) that were carved during the Ming Dynasty. Most of the paintings depict religious stories from Taosim, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism and exemplify the artistic talent of the Naxi, Tibetan, Han, and Bai ethnic groups.

Visit next Yuhu Village, a lakeside town fed by melted snow in the mountains. The mountain is considered holy by locals, and thus the holy water that reaches the village gives it a layer of mystery. This picturesque spot also claims to have been home to the first foreign resident, National Geographic explorer Joseph Rock, who came to live here in 1922 and introduced the outside world to the Yunnan province through his photographs and writing.

Drive next to Shuhe Old Town, a UNESCO component of Lijiang, and an example of a well-preserved town along the tea route. Lijiang is one of the earliest settlements of the ancestors of the Naxi people. Explore this town and enjoy an evening concert of ancient Naxi music, considered to be a "living fossil" of the Chinese civilization. Naxi music is also known as Dongjing music and highlights mystery, calmness, and a detached mood.

Day 7 Tiger Leaping Gorge

Today drive towards Tiger Leaping Gorge. En route, stop to admire Stone Drum Town located at the First Bend in the Yangtze River. This near 180 degree bend is a world-famous geological phenomenon. Enjoy the panoramic vistas and learn of the strategic importance of this site throughout history.

Continue on to Tiger Leaping Gorge, a scenic canyon along the Jinsha River and one of the longest and deepest river canyons in the world. Hike along the upper trail of the canyon here and peer down to the river flowing below. See the Tiger Leaping Stone, where according to legend a Tiger jumped across the river to escape a hunter, thereby giving the canyon its name.

This afternoon continue on to Gyalthang, a Kham Tibetan area that was renamed Shangri-La by the government in order to promote tourism due to its beautiful scenery and similarity to the fictional Himalayan paradise as written about by James Hilton in 1933. The true inspiration for Hilton's portrayal is a subject of hot debate amongst towns in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, with many claiming to have been the basis upon which he wrote. Visit the ancient town before retiring for the night.

Day 8 Shangri-La

Set out today to visit Songtsam Monastery, a spiritual haven for Gelukpa Tibetan Buddhists built in the style of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This monastery houses more than 700 monks and lamas and is open for visitors to wander its colorful buildings around the multi-leveled grounds.

This afternoon visit Nixi Pottery Village, famous for its black pottery, most of which are fire pans, pots and kettles. The traditional pottery-making technique has been passed down for thousands of years and is still employed by locals today. Using only simple wooden tools such as bats and hammers, the pottery-making process is very complex. Around seventy percent of the families remaining in the village practice this traditional art. Watch the locals carry out their craft during your visit today.

Day 9 Pudacuo National Park

Today explore the Pudacuo National Park, the first of its kind on mainland China. Hike along the path and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Shudu and Bita Lakes and centuries-old oak trees, spruces, and firs. Enjoy a picnic lunch during your hike. The month of May also allows for a variety of azalea species in bloom. After your return explore Shangri-La town some more on your own on your last evening in the region.

Day 10 Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Return to the airport for a domestic flight to connect with your international flights home.

Dali - Hotels

Kunming - Hotels

Laomadian Lodge

Lijiang - Hotels

Shangri-La - Hotels

Per person starting at


Rates based on current exchange rate CNY/US dollars. Please contact us for exact quote in US dollars.


  • 9 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
    • 7 Nights Hotel
  • 8 Days Private Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.


  • International Flights
  • China Visa Fee
    • US citizens must obtain visa prior to arrival

Recommended Budgeting

  • $100 Meals not Included
    • Alcoholic Beverages ($3-$10 ea) are not included with meals
  • $80 Optional Excursions
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Jenna F

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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