Unique Yunnan 12 Days

$2,999.00 $2,799.00

Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Kunming

Extensions available to: Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, and Hong Kong! Ask our consultants for details.

This is a small group tour that takes you from the by now well-known cities of China. Bordered to the south by Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, and to the West by Tibet, lies Yunnan province. Long considered a wild borderland of exotic animals and populated by communities that resisted integration into the rising and falling empires of the 'Middle Kingdom', Yunnan remains a land of myth and of legend. Home to the cities Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and 'Shangri-La', Yunnan is perhaps China's most ethnically-diverse province, with more than 25 groups represented. From ancient towns and grand old temples, to limestone 'forests', soaring mountains and deep gorges, to indigenous crafts and unique food, you will absorb the many marvels of nature and culture on this tour.

Tour Highlights:

  • Visit Dali city and explore the ancient streets and markets of the Old Town Quarter, and the famous Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple.
  • Explore Lijiang and it's stunning natural surroundings, home to the Nakhi ethnic group, and once a prominent stop on the ancient Southern Silk Road
  • Get up close to the 16 peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, set in a dramatic geological park.
  • Discover Zhongdian – now known as Shangri-La, and see Ganden Sumtsenling Tibetan monastery, set in one of the hidden corners of the world, and the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan.
  • See Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, which is home to many China's 55 ethnic minorities.
  • Experience the poetically-named Tiger Leaping Gorge, and the incomparable UNESCO-listed Limestone Forest.

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Dates (minimum 4 passengers/departure)

2018 Economy Business Class
04 Apr 05 Sep 17 Oct From $2,999
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Package Inclusions:

  • Economy class international airfares, taxes and fuel surcharges departing Sydney flying China Eastern Airlines (subject to availability)
  • Internal airfares (operated by a local carrier)
  • 9 nights hotel accommodation (twin share)
  • Daily meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • Coach transportation
  • Round trip airport and hotel transfers
  • Entrance fees to scenic attractions
  • English speaking tour guide(s)

Package Exclusions:

  • Tipping prepaid in Australia: $140
  • China visa application fees
  • Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Personal expenditure and anything not stated

Impression Lijiang

Impression Lijiang is a cultural show which demonstrating the traditions and lifestyle of local Naxi, Yi, and Bai ethnic groups of the area. It is the second outdoor production of famous film director Zhang Yimou, and is performed at an open-air performance at the foot of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain), about 3500 meters above sea level. The performance stage is specially designed to showcase the mountain as the best backdrop of the show. More than 500 local people from ten ethnic groups have been selected from over 16 towns and villages nearby to take part in the performances for tourists, which include folk songs, dances, and rituals.

Important Information

While many ethnic minorities and the abundance of unique natural attractions help make this province rich and colourful, Yunnan is one of the more remote and underdeveloped parts of China and the cities here cannot be compared to mega-cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, or Chengdu, with their luxury hotels, fine restaurants and well-built roads. A journey to Yunnan is a unique experience which should be approached with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the unique cultures and traditional lifestyles of the various ethnic minorities who populate this land.

Tour Extensions

Nepal Stopover Holiday 5 Days From $999

Situated between China and India, Nepal’s façade is dramatically given away by the magnificent mountain ranges of the Himalayas, with the jagged snow-capped summits of Mount Everest soaring skywards into the heavens above. Down below, cities appear as painted canvasses of labyrinthine streets flecked with a stunning array of medieval-style pagodas, stupas, and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Myanmar Stopover Holiday 5 Days From $1,457

Practically closed to tourism for over 50 years, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is an increasingly popular destination in Southeast Asia. Known for a myriad of awe-inspiring temples, monasteries, and other religious sites, tourists are also attracted to the colonial architecture of the cities and the everyday lifestyle of the people.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Hanoi Stopover Holiday 4 Days From $720

Welcome to Hanoi, one of Asia’s most enchanting cities, full of history, culture, cuisine, and the fascinating contradictions of a rapidly-developing yet deeply traditional society. Few travellers to Vietnam are willing to miss beautiful Halong Bay from their itinerary – so we’ve included an overnight cruise on the bay for you!

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Bangkok Stopover Holiday 4 Days From $897

Known and loved by generations of travellers, the capital of Thailand has so much to offer. From temples and palaces, to markets and what many consider to be the world’s best street food scene, you’ll see many of Bangkok’s most important attractions on this exciting stopover holiday.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Chiang Mai Stopover Holiday 4 Days From $692

Northern Thailand is, in the famous Thai phrase, ‘same-same but different’ from the world of Bangkok and the the central plains, from the ‘Lao’ Northeast, and from the steamy south. With a cooler climate, mountainous terrain, and a diverse population of minority ‘hill tribe’ communities, this region has it’s own distinctive place in the Southeast Asian mosaic.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Laos Stopover (Luang Prabang) 4 Days From $625

Laos is a unique, landlocked nation, sandwiched in the midst of the Southeast Asian mainland. This package takes in the charming traditional cultural and architectural highlights of the former royal capital Luang Prabang, and the surrounding area, visiting local natural attractions and providing immersive cultural experiences.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Laos Stopover (Luang Prabang & Vientiane) 6 Days From $972

In many ways, Laos has remained a slow-moving backwater into the 21st century. This package takes in the charming traditional cultural remnants of the former royal capital, Luang Prabang, and visits today’s capital city Vientiane, with its vivid traces of the French colonial period.

For details, tap the image above or click here.


Hong Kong Stopover from $389

Once a sleepy fishing village, Hong Kong has developed into one of the premier financial powerhouses of the Far East. It is a city which boldly blends modernity with Chinese heritage and British colonial influence. A safe, well organised, fast paced shopping paradise, it also offers up some unmatched cuisine experiences.

For details, tap the image above or click here.

Hotel Accommodation

Dali Zhong He Fang Jiu Dian Hotel or similar local rating
Lijiang Guangfang Hotel Lijiang Garden Villa or similar local rating
Shangri-la Hilton Garden Inn Shangri-la or similar local rating
Kunming Kunming Kai Wah Plaza International or similar local rating
Board your overnight flight to Dali city via a connecting city.
Arrive in Dali, and be transferred to your hotel to rest after your flight.
Today, you will be taken on a boat tour of Erhai Lake (reputed to be shaped like a Buddha’s ear), followed by a visit to Chongsheng Temple. This landmark temple is famous for its three pagodas, the central and tallest tower was built around 1200 years ago. Next, embark on a tour of the Dali’s Old Town, visiting the South Gate of old town castle. Exploring the popular Foreigner Street and Peoples Road, both ideal locations to purchase souvenirs and local crafts (such as metalwork and tie-died cloth) or antiques.
Today we drive to Lijiang, stopping on the way for a meal. Lijiang was once an important stop on the ‘Tea Horse Caravan Trail’, that transported Yunnan-grown tea into India, and brought back Buddhist texts and pilgrims along this ‘Southern Silk Road’. On arrival, we visit the renowned Old Town, a 600-year-old town featuring stone walls, grey-tiled roofs, doors and windows carved with dragon and phoenix patterns, and also beautiful gardens. The distinctive architecture of the local Nakhi people combines influences from Tibet and Ming-era China with their own flourishes, and the wooden decorations carved by the local Bai craftsmen. You may find carved window frames available for sale. Optional activity (at your own expense): Visit a local tie-dye workshop and try your hand at this traditional craft.
From your hotel in Lijiang, you will visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yu Long Xue Shan). In the vicinity of the mountain are a number of natural attractions, such as Whitewater (Baishui) River in Blue Moon Valley. This geopark region boasts blue pools, coloured by copper ions in the water, and semi-circular ‘yak baths’ formed by the mineral-rich glacial waters (with some human assistance). Yaks really can be seen ‘bathing’ in the pools. You will also visit Dry Sea Meadow, a pasture formed in the bed of a dried-up lake, and an ideal place to view the dramatic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. In the afternoon, see the dramatic large-scale outdoor performance Impression Lijiang, devised by famous director Zhang Yimou, and starring 500 of the local Yi, Bai, and Nakhi minority peoples. This concludes the day’s activities.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
This morning, we visit Baisha (White Sand) Village, which is famous for the Ming-era murals inside Dabaoji Palace. These pained frescoes depict a combination of esoteric Buddhist deities, historical figures such as Guru Rinpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) Daoist sages, and everyday people going about their daily lives. Unfortunately, they were damaged during the cultural revolution, but the murals remain a unique fusion of Nakhi, Han Chinese, Tibetan, and Bai painting styles and subject matter. You will also visit a local embroidery school and have an opportunity to purchase some local crafts. After refreshments we return to Lijiang.
Baisha Fresco
Drive to ‘Shangri-la’ (formerly Zhongdian, and called Gyalthang in Tibetan) this morning, and visit one of the deepest and most dramatic gorges in the world, Tiger Leaping Gorge. Legend has it that a tiger escaped capture by leaping across at the narrowest point, which is 25 metres across! Arrive at Shangri-la, (renamed in reference to the hidden paradise from James Hilton’s novel ‘The Lost Horizon’), and be transferred to your hotel for free time at leisure (and to acclimatise to the high altitude). This distinctive town is populated by Tibetans, Han Chinese, Bai, Nakhi, and Hui (Chinese Muslims). You may visit a Tibetan family (at your own expense) and taste Tibetan specialities of yak butter tea, local yogurt, and Tibetan barley.
Today we visit Shika Snow Mountain. Shika refers to the red deer, an auspicious animal in Buddhism. One of the eight sacred snow-capped mountains, Shika provides amazing views of the surrounding area. You may see Tibetan houses, sheep and cattle. Visit Yala Qingbo Meadow and see profusions of flowers in the spring and summer months. Afterwards, we visit Ganden Sumtsenling Temple. Commissioned by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1679, and based on the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The temple and monastery were severely damaged in during the cultural revolution and then rebuilt from 1981 to 1983. It is is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan – more than 1500 monks gather in the mail prayer hall on ceremonial occasions.
Today we visit the White Water Terraces, located at the base of Haba Snow Mountain, and covering an area of around three square kilometers. This scenic area with its terraced pools formed by calcium carbonate in the water, is reminiscent of Pamukkale in Turkey, and is significant in the spiritual beliefs of the Nakhi people. Round off the day by exploring Zhongdian Old Town. You may find Tibetan silver jewellery, Yi lacquer ware, or other local crafts for sale.
After arrival in Kunming, you’ll be transferred to the Stone Forest – one of the most popular tourist attractions in Yunnan. This is a huge (500 sq. KM) collection of limestone ‘trees’, ‘mushrooms’, and other dramatic shapes, that were formed by erosion over a period of 270 million years. Experience sampling Pu’er tea. Pu’er tea is a speciality of Yunnan and is named after a town in the province’s south. It is made from broad-leafed tea varieties which are roasted in a hot pan, then moistened and blended and pressed into hard discs to develop flavour through fermentation. It is usually sold labelled with a production date and location, and is sought out and enjoyed by connoisseurs like a good wine or aged scotch.
Enjoy the day at leisure before departing Kunming for home, or begin your post-tour extension.
Pictured: A temple guardian in Kunming’s Western Hills.
Arrive home in Australia.