If a picture tells a thousand words, then perhaps ink may be in short supply after a visit to Yunnan.
Arrive in Lijiang and meet your guide and transfer to hotel in old town
Leisure time by yourself Lijiang ancient town
Overnight in Lijiang
Lijiang used to be a pivotal stop for the horse caravans traveling along the “Tea and Horse Route”. We take a stroll through the apparently countless and, on first sight, confusing narrow lanes and canals crisscrossing the picturesque old town. We climb Lion Hill to get a bird’s eye view over the roof tops of the old town. Visit the local fruit and vegetable market and relax at one of the many tea and coffee shops. You visit the “Black Dragon Pool” park with beautiful views of the Jade Dragon Mountain.
In the afternoon drive to the village of Yuhu, a romantic village where the Austrian-American Botanist Joseph Rock used to live from 1922 to 1949. His house has been transformed to a small museum about the life and work of Joseph Rock. Head back to Lijiang. Time at leisure.
Scenic drive from Lijiang to Qiaotou. Qiaotou is located at the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia). Reputedly the deepest canyon in the world, the Tiger Leaping Gorge measures 16km long and a staggering 3900m from the waters of the Jinsha (Yangtze) River to the snow-capped mountain tips of the Haba Mountain Range to the West and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the East. It got its name from a story describing how a tiger escaped its hunters by leaping across the Yangtze River in one go.
Our driver will drop you on the road that leads up to the Tea Horse Guesthouse. You walk uphill along the gravel road for about 1.5 hours. Along the way you will enjoy spectacular view of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the “5 Fingers” of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. You can have lunch at the Tea Horse Guesthouse. Your driver will then pick you up for your drive to Shaxi (2 hrs). Check-in at your hotel. Take a walking tour through the village.
In the morning there is time to explore Shaxi Old Town on your own. Drive to Xizhou. Along the way you make a stop to the Shibao Mountain. The impressive rock carvings of Shibao Mountain are over 1300 years old and are testimony of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism from Tibet in the region. You can walk along the former Tea and Horse Road for 1.5 hours to Shaxi. (Easy walk). Continue to Xizhou. The village of Xizhou is famous for its well preserved Bai architecture. Visit the magnificent residence of the once wealthy family Yan. Check-in at the hotel.
In the afternoon by either horse cart or rental bike you drive to Erhai Lake. You enjoy the calm, the clean air and the magnificent views of the lake.
Overnight in Xizhou.
Xizhou – Dali – Xizhou (Breakfast)
A 20 minute drive brings us to Dali. Dali is situated on the eastern shores of the stunning Erhai Lake on the foot of the 4000m high Cang Shan mountain range. During the 9th century Dali served as capital of the once powerful Nanzhao and later the Dali Kingdoms, before the historical town was overrun by the Mongols about 400 years later. We take a stroll around the Old Town, visit the local market and the unique Catholic Church built in Bai style. Continue to the recently renovated 3 Pagodas of the San Ta Si Monastery (Chongsheng Temple) from the 9th century. The Chongsheng Temple with its characteristic three Pagodas (San Ta Si) is located about 3km north-east of Dali old town. The Monastery was built in the 9th Century, when Dali was the capital of the once powerful and influential Nanzhao Kingdom. During the Nanzhao Kingdom the Chongsheng Temple was a significant religious centre for the fast expanding Buddhist religion in the region.
Drive back to Xizhou.
Overnight in Xizhou.
Xizhou – Dali – Flight to Kunming – Stone Forest of Lunan (Breakfast)
Continue to the Stone Forest of Lunan, the most popular tourist attraction in Yunnan which is located about 110km east of Kunming. Years of rain and erosion left behind a bizarre and impressive landscape of limestone pillars which, with a little imagination, indeed resembles a forest. We have a walk through the maze of paths and walkways leading through this natural wonderland and learn more about the Sani people, an ethnic minority populating the area. Head back to Kunming.
Overnight in Kunming.
After breakfast drive to the Ethnic Minority Museum near the Dianchi Lake with a nice exhibit of the colorful costumes of all the 26 ethnic minorities in Yunnan.
Continue to Western Mountains (Xi Shan) across the lake. You climb up the stairs to the Dragon Gate and enjoy the beautiful view over Dianchi Lake and Kunming.
Continue to the secluded Bamboo temple with an array of over 500 clay sculptures of ‘Arhats’, former monks that have reached Nirvana.