A complete tour in Yunnan South and North
This trip of 16 days on the spot is ideal for a first visit of Yunnan.
We recommend it for a first approach of the province.
Some destinations can be explored, including the discovery of rice fields and markets around Yuanyang where you can add a day, also the Dali region with a nice day trip to Weishan and Weibaoshan, or the discovery of the region from Benzilan to the north of Shangri La, to name only possible excursions for an extra day.
If spring and fall are the best times, this program can be done all year long. There will be some extra rain in the summer, but nothing too troublesome for this circuit. Winter will be a little colder, especially in Shangri La, but we will make sure that the hotel is well heated!
Daily program: Landscapes and Minorities of Yunnan (16 days)
Day 1: Paris (or province) - China
Take off, destination China!
Dinner and overnight on board.
Day 2: Arrival in Kunming ~ 50 minutes transfer. Altitude: 1800m
Breakfast and arrival in China, for your transit before taking your flight to Kunming.
Arrival at Kunming International Airport. Welcome by your driver (he will have a poster with your name) in the arrivals hall after immigration and baggage claim, then transfer to the Moon & Chalice Boutique Hotel ideally located in the heart of the dynamic and commercial center of the city with its old quarters housing the bird and flower market. End of the day free. Easy walking tour to the emerald lake where the locals, alone, as a couple, with friends or family like to stroll, sing, dance and play music from morning to night, especially on weekends; serene and jovial scenes of life for a warm first approach to China, its people and their culture. Welcome to Yunnan! Not far from there, possibility of extending on foot towards the superb Yuantong temple (entrance: 6 RMB per person), close to which you can also very easily, if it has not been done before, withdraw cash from automatic terminals of ICBC banks or Bank of China. Free dinner. Overnight in Kunming.
Day 3: Kunming - Shilin (Stone Forest) - Tuanshan (B / L) ~ 5h30 drive.
Breakfast and meeting with your driver and your French-speaking guide for a departure at 08:00. Road to the city of Shilin, located near Kunming. The site is famous for its Stone Forest, curious karst formations which extend over an area of 500km². Discovery of the Stone Forest site. Take the time to stroll through the paths of the site, taking care to get away from the groups of Chinese tourists who stay most of the time near the entrance of the park.
Continue to the village of Tuanshan, which has stood the test of time, and most of whose buildings date from the Qing dynasty. Installation at the charming Jielu Inn, in the heart of the old city. Free dinner and overnight in Tuanshan.
Day 4: Tuanshan - Jianshui - Yuanyang (B / L) ~ 4h drive. Altitude: 1800m
Early breakfast and stroll through the heart of the village. Then continue to Jianshui, one of the most remarkable old towns in southern Yunnan, located 15km from Tuanshan. Stop along the way at the double dragon bridge. In Jianshui, discover the temple of Confucius, which is the second largest in China after that of Qufu, the hometown of the master. The complex consists of a large park with a pond, several interior courtyards, superb porticoes, temples and pavilions. Walk through the old town of Jianshui, in particular in the gardens of the Zhu family and up to the Chaoyang arch, which shelters a small bird market.
This afternoon, continue your road to the Yuanyang region. During the journey you will have to pay the entrance fees to the region. Installation at the superb Twelve Manor hotel: you can enjoy a magnificent view of the rice fields from your rooms. Terraces on the roof of the hotel have been fitted out with deckchairs for moments of contemplation and serenity. Free dinner.
Day 5: Yuanyang (B)
Enjoy your breakfast with a view of the rice fields often bathed in the morning mist, for a relaxing mystical atmosphere. You will go to the local market (variable location depending on the lunar calendar). You can meet the Yi and Hani minorities still wearing their traditional costumes. Then this afternoon, 2 to 3 hours of walking through beautiful landscapes of rice terraces. You will cross small picturesque villages. Arrival at the hotel, and short transfer to the viewpoint over the spectacular rice terraces in Bada for sunset.
Free dinner and overnight at Twelve Manor.
Day 6: Yuanyang - Mile - Dali - Xizhou (B) ~ 4 hours by road + 3 hours by train.
This morning, early departure and discovery if possible of a new market (variable location depending on the lunar calendar). It will also be an opportunity to meet the farmers from the surrounding area. Do not be surprised if the locals seated with friends spontaneously invite you to share a glass of rice alcohol! Then take the road to Mile station for your fast train to Dali.
Arrival in Dali, welcome by your driver and transfer to the old town for a little free time. Possibility to dine on site (free), in one of the many restaurants offering barbecue, a real local specialty! Then continue to the Bai village of Xizhou.
Installation at the superb and comfortable charming Linden Commons 4* hotel, built in a beautiful traditional Bai residence. Overnight in Xizhou.
Day 7 : Xizhou (B)
Free day in Xizhou. You can explore the morning market (daily) and the village on foot, then cycle or even walk around the village through the rice fields (bikes available at your hotel). Your hotel has a very decent restaurant, however we also advise you to let yourself be tempted by a few simple restaurants located on the main village square, ideal for observing the local life that takes place here in the evening. Families gather in the square, the children play, the elderly drink tea and chat. The alleys are not lit after dark, remember to bring the flashlight that is in your room, or use that of your phone! Overnight at Linden Commons 4 *.
Departure to the Weishan region, with your French-speaking guide. On the way, stop at the Hui village (Muslim minority) of Donglinghua, to discover in particular its mosque. Still unspoiled by tourism, Weishan is home to a very charming and smiling population for a very pleasant free stroll through its small alleys. Discovery in the afternoon of the Weibaoshan mountain, located at 2500m above sea level. Being part of one of the 13 sacred Taoist mountains of China, the site is calm, exudes a certain serenity, and it is good to walk there to discover its small temples where Taoist monks reside. Return to the Dali Valley for your evening.
Supplement: 490 RMB per person based on 2 participants / 290 RMB per person based on 4 participants / 225 RMB per person based on 6 participants.
Day 8: Xizhou - Zhoucheng - Shaxi (B / L) ~ 2h30 drive.
Breakfast and departure at 8:30 am, direction Shaxi valley. On the way, stop at the large Bai minority village of Zhoucheng, notably known for its craftsmen making batik fabric. Installation at your charming inn, in the heart of the old city of Shaxi. Discovery of the village. Stroll the picturesque alleys of the old town, a former large trading center on the road of tea and horse caravans. Many cafes will be the opportunity to sit around the large square for a little rest and savor the atmosphere of the place at the end of the day. Free meals. Overnight at Aoding Courtyard 3*.
Day 10: Shaxi - Shangri La (B / L) ~ 3 hours drive. Altitude: 3200 meters.
Breakfast, and take the road to the Tibetan region of Shangri La. On arrival, installation at the Arro Khampa Boutique Hotel 4* , located in the heart of the old city. This afternoon, take the time to stroll through the alleys, to the small Da Gui Shang temple facing a giant Tibetan prayer wheel overlooking the city: Superb, and even more at sunset when the place s ‘light up! Free dinner. Overnight in Shangri La.
Day 11: Shangri La / Ringha Valley (B)
Day trips to Shangri La and its region, starting with the impressive Tibetan monastery of Songzanlin. If the weather permits, do not hesitate to go around the lake on foot, for breathtaking views of this majestic building. Walk to the local market with its stalls of local products such as yak cheese and its many species of freshly picked mushrooms, then walk through the old town, in particular to the Bai Ji Si temple offering beautiful views of the surroundings of Shangri La and the Shika Mountains. In the afternoon, discover the Tibetan countryside. You will have the opportunity to visit a Tibetan family, to discover their habitat, to taste Yak butter tea, “Tsampa” and of course let’s not forget the yak butter cheese, all specialties local and basic daily food. Venture towards the pretty Temple of Ringha, in the heart of a beautiful green valley. This temple is considered one of the 5 most important Tibetan monasteries in Yunnan. The places are peaceful, and little frequented, an ideal moment of meditation.
Return to Shangri La. Free dinner. Attend or even participate in the evening in the spontaneous dances of the locals in the main square. Do not miss ! Overnight at Arro Khampa Boutique Hotel.
Day 11: Shuhe - night train to Kunming (B) ~ 30min transfer
Bike ride in the Lijiang Valley, including the Naxi minority villages of Baisha and Yuhu, located at the foot of the jade dragon mountain. Numerous possibilities for stops and visits along the way, to discover the rural lifestyle around Lijiang. Do not miss the Mu Family Silk Embroidery School and Dr. Ho’s traditional pharmacy in Baisha. Back to Shuhe, a leisurely stroll through its bucolic and festive old town. Dinner (not included), then transfer to Lijiang station for the night train to Kunming (soft berth) departing at 21:30 (times may change slightly). The hotel has a security guard for your luggage.
Day 12: Shangri La - Tiger Leaping Gorges (BDP) ~ 2h30 hours drive.
Today, early departure towards the essential Tiger Leaping Gorges (entrance: 45 RMB per person), among the deepest in the world at the bottom of which flows the majestic Yangtze River, particularly powerful and roaring at this precise place, strangled between the Haba mountain (summit at 5400m) and the Jade Dragon mountain (summit at 5600m). Installation at Sean’s Guesthouse, a simple, clean, family address, and go on a magnificent hike on the heights of the Gorges. You will reach the Tea Horse Guest House by car, then take a first walk of around 1 hour to the Halfway Guest House for lunch (free), or simply relax and enjoy the view. Continuation in the afternoon for a 3 hour walk offering superb views of the Gorges, to Sean’s Guest House. Free dinner. Night in the gorges.
Hiking can be optional. You can simply decide to sit on the terrace of your guesthouse and contemplate the extraordinary landscapes that surround you, rocked by the dynamic Yangsté River. It is also possible to get to some viewpoints by car, with your guide (terraces of Tea Horse Guest House, and Half Way Guest House, where you can have a snack).
Day 13: Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang - Shuhe (B) ~ 2h drive.
Wake up early. Take your breakfast with a breathtaking view of the high peaks. Then for the bravest, hike 2 to 3 hours below the gorges, to reach the banks of the river. It will then be time to hit the road along the gorges, before heading to Lijiang. Discover the old town on foot, and venture to the beautiful Black Dragon Pond park with the mountains as a backdrop reflected in the clear waters. Transfer and installation at the charming 4 * The Bivou hotel located in the peaceful old town of Shuhe, away from the sometimes too busy paths of old Lijiang without being far from it (6km). Free dinner and overnight in Shuhe.
Day 14: Lijiang / Shuhe Valley (B)
Quiet breakfast at your hotel, why not on the terrace, and today it’s off to explore the surrounding Naxi villages, including Baisha and Yuhu from where you will have a superb view of the snow-capped peaks of the Massif du Jade dragon which peaks at 5600 meters. Yuhu is also the village that explorer Joseph Rock chose to settle in; you can visit his house there.
Return to Shuhe and end of the day free. End of the services of your guide and your driver. Remember to save time to stroll through the heart of the old town on foot. Do not hesitate to move away from the center and venture down its hillsides on the hillside lined with vegetable gardens and towards its shaded park (behind the Hotel The Bivou) where rivers and ponds with particularly clear waters mix.
Free dinner and overnight in Shuhe, at the Bivou hotel.
Day 15: Shuhe - Lijiang / departure (B / L) ~ Transfer 45mn.
Breakfast and last free moments before your transfer to Lijiang airport for your return flight. Transit in China, and continuation for your long-haul flight to France. Dinner and overnight on board.
Your room must be vacated by 12 noon. Your luggage can be kept at the hotel.
Day 16: China - Paris (or province) (B)
Breakfast, and arrival in France in the morning.
End of our services.
Our teams wish you a pleasant return home!