Day 1: Arrival, Kunming. Arrive in Kunming, your gateway city of this tour. Be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for a good rest.
Day 2: Kunming
Depart from hotel in the morning to visit the Stone Forest created by ancient winds and water erosion over millions of years. Drive back to Kunming in the late afternoon. The Stone Forest is about 120 km from Kunming City. It covers an area of 400 square kilometers and includes both large and small stone forests as well as many other scenic spots. It has been known since the Ming Dynasty as the first wonder of the World. As the local says going, if you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time. Approximately 270 million years ago this region was a vast ocean.
Over time, the waters retreated and the limestone landscape was left. Due to a process of weathering and erosion, nature has created an art gallery of stone sculpture- present-day Stone Forest. The magnificent, strange and steep landscape creates labyrinthine vistas around each corner. Each formation has a story about animals or people associated with it. Some formations are elegant, some are rugged, and each has its own distinguishing characteristics. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3: Kunming - Plane - Dali
Be transferred to the airport for a short flight to Dali, the ancient political, economic and cultural center of Yunnan area. Upon arrival, visit Dali Ancient Town and Three Pagodas, the symbol of the history of Dali. Dali is located in the northwest of Yunnan Province, and it has the population of Han, Hui, Bai, Yi and Tibetan. In ancient times, Dali is the political, economic, and cultural center of Yunnan area. As a result, Dali is the cradle of traditional culture of Yunnan, best represented by the Three Pagodas. The history of Dali can be dated back to 1382 during the Ming Dynasty, and the city has been listed among the top historical cities of China since 1982. With a sub-tropical monsoon climate, it has sunshine of 2276 hours annually and not much difference between four reasons.
Dali Ancient Town, 13 km away from Xiaguan, nests between Mt. Cangshan and Erhai Lake. The town layout was uniform with five main streets from south to north and eight main streets from east to west, while marketplaces were neatly arranged within the city. The Bai's traditional houses with gray-green roof tiles, peculiar workshops, temples, schools and churches are scattered. Traditional marble artworks, like pencil vases, striped screens, and variety of woven handicrafts are laid on the both sides of the streets. Unlike any other cities in China, Dali is endowed with the distinctive feel by traditional Bai people's houses, its grand city wall, marvelous scenery and brilliant red camellias.
Three Pagodas, located about 1 km northwest of Dali Ancient City, has a history over 1800 years. It is the symbol of Dali, and the witness of the development of Buddhism in the area. The main pagoda is 69 meters high, while the other lower two previously could be climbed by ladder from the inside. Three Pagodas together with Zhaozhou Bridge in Hebei Province and Great Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an are known as the three curiosities of Chinese ancient architecture. Study of Three Pagodas and the cultural relics excavated at the site will provide important data in exploring the history, religion and art of the region. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Dali
Be transferred to the pier and embark the Erhai Cruiser after breakfast. Erhai Lake is one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. Disembark in the afternoon, then visit Butterfly Spring and Xizhou Bai's Houses(Yan's Courtyard included) where you can see what the Bai people's houses like. Erhai Lake is the largest lake second to Dianchi in Kunming and one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. The name means the sea with the shape of an ear in Chinese. In those sunny days, the crystal water of the lake and the snow mantled Mt. Cangshan radiate with each other. This beautiful scene is commonly described as silver Cangshan and jade Erhai. The surrounding isles, temples and villages of Erhai Lake are also worth visiting. The Golden Shuttle Island and the nearby fishing community of Bai people with the attractive Bai's culture and lifestyle do deserve a visit. You also get the chance to try the Three Courses Tea of Bai people on the isles.
Locates 27 km south of Dali Ancient Town, Butterfly Spring was named as the spring rises to form a pool which was shaped by the dense leaves. Above the pool there is an ancient tree known as the Butterfly Tree, because its fragrant blossom attracts thousands of butterflies in the short interval of spring turns to summer. These colorful creatures fly around the pool and settle on the tree in great clusters as they sip the nectar from the blossoms. This spectacular sight has given rise to a local festival when Bai people gather around the tree on 15 April for the Butterfly Meet. Then the youth will seek to engage with their loves.
The Bai's houses are much in evidence at Xizhou, 18 km north of Dali. Green mountains. Winding creeks and fertile land make people here a lyrical and carefree life. The history of Xizhou dates back to the Sui Dynasty. At that time, it was called the city of Dali. It was later conquered by General Shi Wansui during the Sui Dynasty, so it also enjoys the name of Shicheng. People nowadays regard Xizhou as a town famous for the Bai culture. The old houses and streets are well preserved. Visitors may still find traces of past glory. The houses of local residents are characterized by a traditional Chinese rectangular courtyard with a screen wall facing the gate. On the screen wall there usually are four Chinese characters reading "Qingbai Shijia"or "Ziqi Donglai". Around them are landscape paintings and decorations with colors in profusion. The doors and windows are full of grills with auspicious paintings. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Dali - Bus - Lijiang
Be transferred to Lijiang (176 km, about 4 hours) in the morning and visit Lijiang Ancient Town to walk down the cobblestone streets over 700 years and see the Naxi way of life which chained little over time. Lying in a broad and fertile valley dominated by the snow-mantled peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang was founded as Dayan, a large Naxi settlement first built during the Southern Song Dynasty eight centuries ago. Once you are in Lijiang, a small and quiet city newly constructed outside the ancient town, you'll find hard to return to the hustle and bustle of the large cities and can not wait to explore the ancient town.
Lijiang Ancient Town is a well-preserved one known for Naxi people's brilliant culture. With a history more han 800 years, the town was firstly built at the interval of the Song Dynasty changed to the Yuan Dynasty, and occupies an area of 3.8 square kilometers. It is built alongside the lie of mountains and the flow of rivers with the ancient water-supply system which still in use today, providing a vary precious sample of the research on ancient architecture.
As a result of the multi-culture and the progress of Naxi ethnic group, the buildings in town incorporate the best parts of the architectural traits of Han, Bai and Tibetan into the unique Naxi style. The layout of the town is free and flexible, the houses are close and diverse and the lanes are narrow and meandering. Along the both side of the lanes, there are shops selling superb handicrafts. Here you also have the chance to trace the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. All meals are included.
Day 6: Lijiang
In the morning drive about half an hour to visit Jade Dragon Sown Mountain. After lunch, visit Yufeng Temple and Baisha Mural in the ancient capital of Naxi Kingdom in Baisha village. It will take about half an hour to reach Jade Dragon Sown Mountain which is located at 15km north of Lijiang Ancient Town. It is the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere, consisting of 13 peaks with the highest one at an altitude of 5600 meters. Looking from the town, the mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence the name. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a sanctuary for rare animals and wild plants. About one fourth of all the plant species in China can be found here and 20 primeval forest communities shelter a big family of 400 types of trees and 30 kinds of animals which are protected by the state. These species living in different temperature levels create different kinds of views of the mountain. The peaks of the mountain are covered by snow all year around and gain the name of natural glacier museum. You can find rivers and pools formed by the thawed snow flowing along the valley and through the forests.
Continue our visiting after lunch. First built in 1756, Yufeng Temple is located at the southern foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 13km from Lijiang Ancient Town. The temple is surrounded by the flourishing forest and river with the snow mountain at its back. It displays a distinctive architectural style of Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism and local Naxi Dongba Religion. It is also the witness of the peaceful coexistence of multinational cultures and religions. Today it still plays an important role in local residents religious life.
Baisha Mural is located at Baisha Villages, 10km north of Lijiang Ancient Town. Although the traditional houses do not look impressive, the place was the cradle of Naxi people and ancient capital of Naxi Kingdom. The valuable mural are protected inside Dabaoji Palace and the colored glaze temples. The originality and figures of the mural reflect the different religious cultures and artistic forms of Buddhism, Lamaism, Taoism and local Naxi Dongba religion's development into Naxi School. Each painting includes at least one hundred portraits are not only Buddha but also ordinary people such as bureaucrats, criminals and so on. Many of the scenes and subjects are drawn from people's daily life showing fishing, riding horses, weaving, dancing and casting iron. The photography is forbidden. All meals are included.
Day 7: Lijiang - Bus - Shangri La
In the morning drive about 178km to Shangri La, which will take about 4 hours. It's a place with stunning scenery, the azure sky and the hospitality of unsophisticated people. Visit Dukezong Ancient Town upon arrival. The town of Shangri La has gain the current name in 2001 by Chinese authorities. With the endless miles waiting to be discovered, this region offers unique hiking and trekking advantages who making journey down to northern Yunnan. At an altitude of 3200 meters, Shangri La is the start point of the Tibetan world in northern Yunnan. The small town once was the frontier trading post on the doorstep of Tibet. Dukezong Ancient Town is located at the southeast corner of Shangri La, meaning the town of moonlight in Tibetan language. Dukezong was built against the mountain according to the Utopia in Buddhism. With a history more than 1,329 years, its bumpy roads paved by large stones has so many stories waiting to be uncovered. All meals are included.
Day 8: Shangri La. Today should be started off earlier from hotel in the morning. First drive to visit Songzanlin Lamasery-the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, then visit Potatso National Park (green vans available in scenic area) after lunch. All meals are included.
Day 9: Shangri La - Plane - Kunming. Fly back to Kunming and take a visit of Western Hill, Dragon Gate and the Village of Ethnic Culture. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Departure, Kunming. Bid a fond farewell to Yunnan and be transferred to the airport for the flight to your next stop.
Service Ends. Includes: (B).
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