Day 1: Arriving in Kunming. Visit the Bamboo Temple which is a Mahayana Monastery (from airport to Bamboo Temple 30 min) Set in the tranquil hills just outside Kunming, this complex dates back to the Tang Dynasty.It is famous for its 500 life sized carved Arhats or disciples of Buddha. A special local delicacy Mushroom Hot Pot will be served as your dinner. Overnight in Kunming.
Day 2: Kunming to Stone Forest (85 km, 2 hours). Leave Kunming in the morning and drive to Stone Forest. An 80 ha site of fantastic limestone formations created during the Permian Era when the sea covered this area. Shilin is in the World Heritage List and managed by the traditional owners the Yi people. It is famous in China and unique in the world. We are planning to visit the Stone Forest for 2.5 hours. Today's lunch is the Yunnan local flavour Yiliang Roast Duck. Overnight in Kunming.
Day 3: Kunming air to Dali (Bai minority area, about 45 min flight). Take flight in the morning from Kunming to Dali. Beautifully sited between the Cangshan (Azure Mountains) Range and Erhai Lake the Bai are the inheritors of the famed Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms and are justly famous for their wood and stone carvings. In the afternoon visit the spectacular Three Pagodas complex situated on the ruins of Chongsheng Monastry. In the evening stroll through the vibrant Dali Old City. Overnight in Dali.
Day 4: Dali bus to Lijiang (Naxi minority area, 153 km, 3.5-4 hours). In the morning visit Xizhou (the largest Bai village) Morning Market. Also Zhoucheng Village, famous for tie-dye craftsmanship, where you can observe how Bai people make tie-dye products at home. Then drive from Dali to Lijiang. Visit Lijiang Old Town, a lovely traditional town with beautiful wooden houses and crisscrossed with streams of mountain water. Lijiang is one of the best preserved ancient towns in China and is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. A traditional dinner will be served, followed by a presentation of Naxi music performed by very old musicians. Overnight in Lijiang.
Day 5: Lijiang. Today's journey takes you to the 3,400 meter high Yunshan Meadow and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains (cable car round trip) which is 5,596 meters above sea level. Visit Baisha Naxi Village and Baisha Ancient Mural. All of the 55 murals were masterpieces in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The biggest one is stored in Dabaoji Palace. We walk to the picture postcard Black Dragon Pool Park in the north of Lijiang. It derives its name from the waters which sparkle like jade and are as clear as spring water. Free time to explore. Overnight in Lijiang.
Day 6: Lijiang bus to Shangri-la (Tibetan people area, 180 km, 4.5 hours). Drive to Shangri-la, visit Tiger Leaping Gorge one of the deepest gorges in the world. Subject to conditions, we may visit the beautiful Bai Shui Tai or white water terraces. In the afternoon visit Songzanlin Tibetan Buddhism Monastery, designed as a smaller version of Lhasa's Potala Palace and home to 780 monks of the Yellow Hat Tibetan sect. In the evening visit Zhongdian Old Town with Tibetan old streets and houses and enjoy the local Tibetan people dancing in the middle square of old town. Overnight in Shangri-la.
Day 7: Shangri-la - Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve (145 km, 4 hours). Today we drive along the Yunnan – Tibet Road and see the First Bend of Golden Sand River (the upper reach of Yangtze). Then we visit Dongzhulin Monastery which was first built in 1667, the 6th year during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi of the Qing Dynasty. It was where the Monlam Festival of Prayer for the Emperor's birthday was held. It is one of the most important monasteries in North West Yunnan. We stop at Benzilan for lunch, after which we will continue ascending the scenic mountain range of Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve. The highest pass, is a breathtaking 4,296 meters (14,090 ft). After that we drive back to Shangri-la. Overnight in Shangri-la.
Day 8: Shangri-la-Derong –Xiangcheng - Daocheng (269 km, 8.5 hours). In the morning we drive through the high mountain country of the eastern Himalays all the way to Xiangcheng which is in Sichuan Province. It lies in the ancient Tibetan province of Kham in what was previously eastern Tibet. This beautiful countryside is dotted with Tibetan villages and temples. The town is a pleasant place to linger or to serve as a starting point for excursions into the surrounding mountain areas. Then we continuely drive to Daocheng, which is located on the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the east of the Hengduan Mountains, is a county on the southwestern border of Sichuan. It covers 7323 square kilometers and its 30000 inhabitants are mainly Tibetan people. Overnight in Daocheng.
Day 9: Daocheng - Yading (60 km, 1.5 hours). Today we will reach the highlight of this journey - Yading Nature Reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains - Chenresig (Avalokitesvara, 6032 m), Jambeyang (Manjusri, 5958 m), and (Vajrapani, 5958 m). Tibetan Buddhists believe that making a kora (pilgrimage) around these mountains brings great merit, and that the three mountains represent compassion, wisdom and energy - attributes one must cultivate on the path to enlightenment. We visit Sangpi Temple on the way. Overnight in Yading.
Day 10: Yading – Riwa (35 km, 1 hour). We will visit beautiful Yading on foot (it is an 8 or 9 hour round trip of medium grade hiking). From the reserve entrance we will traverse a beautiful wooded pathway leading to a valley set at the foot of the spectacular Mt. Chanadorje. We'll pass piles of mani stones by the side of the pathway and at the base of the Reserve there are stunning views. We'll also visit Tshonggo Gonpa (Chonggu Si in Chinese) - a small Tibetan temple, which Joseph Rock nicknamed 'Bandit Monastery.' (Joseph Rock, an US botanist and explorer, conducted extensive explorations of northwest China and Tibet for Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and National Geographic from mid 1920’s until the revolution). We will continue our hike to the foot of Mt Chenresig, where we'll ascend a small but steep hill to view a beautiful mountaintop emerald green lake. Local lore has it that this magical lake can reveal your future if you spend a few moments in quiet contemplation by its side. Then we'll return to the meadow at the foot of Mt. Chanadorje.Then drive to Riwa County. Overnight in Riwa.
Day 11: Riwa - Daocheng - Litang - Xinduqiao (505 km, 12 hours).
In the early morning, drive via Daocheng and Litang to Xinduqiao. At an altitude of just over 4000 m, Litang is one of the highest towns in the world (Lhasa is 3700 m). Situated high on a grassy plateau, Litang has the feel of a rough and tumble Wild West town. Khampas - dressed in yak skin coats, bedecked in colorful necklaces and hair ornaments, long daggers hanging from their belts - from the surrounding areas amble into town to stock up on food and supplies, play pool on the streets and hang out in the local tea houses. This small town is great for people watching and just strolling around. Visit Litang Temple. Overnight in Xinduqiao.
Day 12: Xinduqiao - Kangding (70 km, 2 hours). After breakfast we drive to Kangding-the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the afternoon. Kangding is a busy commercial city serving the needs of Chinese and Tibetan merchants. Along the way we can appreciate the idyllic scenery and visit the local people. After dinner, enjoy the hot springs at Erdaoqiao. Overnight in Kangding.
Day 13: Kangding - Luding - Chengdu (326 km, 9 hours). Drive to Luding which is located halfway between Moxi (Hailuogou) and Kangding. A major traffic junction between western Sichuan and Chengdu, Luding is a small, bustling town with little to see in the town itself. Visit the Luding Iron - chain Bridge. In the past this was a flash point in the civil war. We drive through the Erlangshan pass on our way to Chengdu the capital of Sichuan province. Chengdu is also one of the most important economic centers, transportation and communication hubs in Southwest China. Overnight in Chengdu.
Day 14: Chengdu. Visit the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, located just 10 km (6 miles) away from downtown Chengdu, the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center has been created to replicate the natural panda habitat in order that they might have the best possible environment for breeding. We then drive to visit the Historic Irrigation System in Dujiangyan. Construction of the Dujianyang Irrigation System began in the 3rd century BC and is an ancient marvel. It continues to control the waters of the Minjiang River and distribute it to the fertile farmland of the Chengdu plains. It is 56 kilometers (34.8 miles) west of Chengdu at Dujiangyan city lying in the middle reach of the Minjiang River, which is the longest tributary of Yangtze River. And then drive back to Chengdu. Overnight in Chengdu.
Day 15: Tour finishes and departs Chengdu.
- The cost is based on 4 star hotels and best available accommodation if there is no 4 star hotel in some remote areas.
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