01 October 2016
There are so many tours of China available but few are as fascinating and different as this eight day trip around Yunnan Province, in the south west corner of the country. Beginning in Kunming, known as the City of Eternal Spring, you will travel around this less visited area close to the borders with India, Burma and Tibet. Visit traditional towns and villages and shop in the local markets, travel through imposing mountains and beautiful countryside, explore the gorges of the Yangtze River and walk around historic old monasteries. This tour will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure who wants a trip off the beaten track.
On arrival in Kunming you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Tonight meet your tour leader and the rest of the group in the reception area of your hotel for welcome drinks and a tour briefing. Kunming is at an almost-tropical latitude but at a 6,600ft altitude, which gives it a very temperate climate. The air is also quite clean compared to other Chinese cities. In addition to its own charms it serves as a hub from which to explore Yunnan province.
This morning you will begin with a visit to the museum of Yunnan Ethnic minorities, a fascinating introduction to what really sets this part of China apart. We then continue with road transfer to the town of Dali. Set near Erhai Lake and surrounded by the magnificent Cangshan Mountain Range, Dali is a pretty, traditional town with a relaxed atmosphere. Explore the old town and visit the colourful Xizhou market to experience the sites and sounds of a local Bai ethnic minority village. Then spend the afternoon visiting the impressive Three Pagodas before taking the scenic chair lift up the hillside behind Dali for magnificent views of Erhai Lake. Dali is a town with beautiful vistas and is the perfect place to relax for the evening at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
This morning you'll experience Xihou market and take in the spectacle of the local Bai ethnic minority village in which your interesting hotel the Linden Centre is set. The rest of the day is yours at leisure to explore this traditional and diverse corner of China.
This morning you drive for four hours to Lijiang, stopping along the way to see some batik dyeing for which the area is famous, and to admire some truly breathtaking scenery. Located near the borders of Burma, India and Tibet, Lijiang is an enchanting town surrounded by imposing mountains. Home to a number of ethnic minority groups, Lijiang is populated by the matriarchal Naxi people, an ethnic minority group descending from Tibetan nomads. Explore the old town taking time to wander along its maze of canals, old wooden buildings, narrow cobbled streets and back street markets filled with Naxi women in traditional dress.
You start today with a local breakfast in the town with your guide. After this exciting start you will head to a traditional Baisha village to walk the narrow maze of streets untouched by modernity. Continue with a visit to Yufeng Monastery, a peaceful haven set close to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and perhaps the inspiration for Shangri La in James Hilton's famous novel Lost Horizons.
Today you drive through beautiful mountain scenery to the first bend of the Yangtze River, where the flow of water turns nearly 180 degrees, and the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is said to be the deepest in the world. Legend has it that the gorge is so narrow in places that a tiger once escaped capture by leaping across. Enjoy a relaxing walk along the gorge, descending right to the river's edge to feel the power of the mighty Yangtze and marvel at the area’s dramatic landscapes. For the keen photographer the gorge provides a stunning opportunity to record nature’s beauty. Then drive to Zhongdian, otherwise known as “Shangri-La”, to spend the night in a boutique Tibetan style hotel set amid rugged mountain countryside
Zhongdian is situated at an altitude of 10,499 feet above sea level and is very close to the Tibetan border. Visit the memorable Songzanlin Monastery, a 300-year-old Tibetan monastery complex inhabited by several hundred monks and novices. Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the rebuilt monastery offers a fascinating insight into Lamaism, the Tibetan belief system. Here you may have the opportunity to visit one of the monastery’s “Living Buddha’s”, and witness some Tibetan religious practices. You will also have time to explore a Tibetan village and get a glimpse into daily life in this remote region and visit a family in their home. A walk through the old town will give you the chance to see a little of Old Zhongdian.
Today your wonderful tour around this little-explored region of south west China comes to an end with your flight back to Kunming. The tour will finish at Kunming.
Classic fr £1653pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated