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BT-05 Yunnan Explorer


12 nights from UK £ TBC per person

Price based on 2 people travelling. This price is to give guidance and final quotes vary by date, exchange rates and are subject to availability. Trip runs year round.
Please note that this is a private tour (not a group tour). It can be tailored to your requirements and we can also book your international flights if required.

This trip covers the main highlights of the much loved province of Yunnan, a favourite amongst China travellers, with the trip starting and finishing in KUNMING.

Along the way you will be visiting the stunning rice terraces of YUANYANG, the relaxed lakeside town of DALI, the ancient town of LIJIANG and SHANGRI LA perched high up on the edge of the Tibetan plateau.

China Trip Guidebook
This trip includes our exclusive 200+ page guidebook personalised to your trip - an invaluable resource!
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BT-05 Yunnan Explorer map


Day 1 - Arrival Kunming

Arrival in Yunnan Province’s Capital, Kunming

We will be greeting you at the airport from where you will be transferred by private car and English speaking guide to your hotel. Kunming, at 1,890m, is one of those rare Chinese cities that is good to visit all year round. Renown for its greenery and a degree of prosperity it is also more relaxed than many Chinese cities.

The rest of the day is free to relax from the long flight or start to explore the city with the help of your personalised Trip Guidebook we send you before the trip.

Meals Included: None today.

Day 2 - Kunming

Visit the Unique Limestone Karst Formations of the Stone Forest

Today’s tour leaves the city driving 85 km south east to the extraordinary and unique Stone Forest or “Shilin” in Mandarin. This area of unusual and photogenic Karst formations covers a vast 2,670 sq km and is believed to have been formed over 270 million years ago. You see some of the Greater Stone Forest, Lesser Stone forest, the edge of the wild outer Stone Forest and the Stone Forest Lake.

Return to your hotel in Kunming with the rest of the day free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 3 - Kunming to Jianshui

Drive to Jianshui to Visit the Confucian Temple & Zhu Family Courtyard

Begin a 4 day adventure to the stunning rice terraces of Yuanyang. Today we drive to Jianshui located 220 km from Kunming. This town was an important stop on the trade route to Vietnam and became wealthy on this trade which has left an impressive architectural legacy you see today.

In the afternoon we will visit the huge Zhu Family Garden built in the late Qing dynasty and Confucian temple, second only in size to the main temple in Shandong province.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 4 - Jianshui to Yuanyang

Visit the Beautiful Zhang Family Courtyard & Impressive Chaoyang Pagoda

After breakfast we continue our tour of Jianshui visiting the Zhang Family Garden and the Chaoyang Pagoda, a 600 year old entrance to this town attesting to the defensive role the town played along the trade route.

In the afternoon drive on the 117 km to Yuanyang. With luck you will have stunning views of the rice terraces as the sun sets in this unique corner of China.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 5 - Yuanyang

The Rice Terraces & Traditional Minority Villages of Yuanyang

Today is usually the highlight of this trip with a full day exploring the terraces and the colourful local villages and minority people of the Hani and Yi who created and farmed the terraces over the centuries.

There will be plenty of opportunity to take in and photograph the terraces from a wide range of vantage points with the no two views being the same and changing with the weather.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 6 - Yuanyang to Dali

The Drive Back to Yunnan’s Provincial Capital of Kunming to Catch a Bullet Train on to Dali

Today we make the long 270 km drive back to Kunming arriving in the afternoon. Transfer straight to the station to catch a bullet train to Dali.

Early evening arrival in Dali, an ancient capital of both the Bai Kingdom during the 8th and 9th centuries, and the Kingdom of Dali, which reigned from 937-1253. This relaxed town has a backdrop of the beautiful Cangshan Mountains that peak 4,200 meters and is situated close to the shores of lovely Erhai Lake.

Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel with the rest of the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 7 - Dali

Scenic Erhai Lake, Guanyin Temple, Butterfly Spring & the Village of Xizhou

Today we leave the city to visit some of the surrounding sights of interest. We head to Erhai lake for a boat trip to some of its islands ad Guanyin Temple. From the lake you can really appreciate Dali’s position nestled in between the Cangshan mountains and the lake shore. Continue by car to the village of Xizhou 20 km away and well known for its Qing Dynasty architecture. The Xizhou craftsmen who built these houses plied their skills throughout Southeast Asia including Vietnam and Burma before returning home to build their own masterpiece. Most houses are still occupied by local families. We also visit Butterfly Spring, famed for its park and the butterflies that flock to the shallow pools.

Return to Dali with free time in the evening.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 8 - Dali to Lijiang & Shuhe

Explore the Old City & the Magnificent, Tang Dynasty Three Pagodas Before Driving to Lijiang & Shuhe

This morning a tour of Dali including the Old City and Three Pagodas. The relaxed Old City is well preserved and known for its architecture and being the cultural centre of the local Bai people. The Tang Dynasty Three Pagodas are some of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China and are set in a beautiful location reflecting in a lake with a mountain backdrop.

This afternoon depart Dali by car and driver for the picturesque 3 to 4 hour journey to Lijiang with opportunities to stop for photos along the route. Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage city of cobbled streets and tiled roofs set against the magnificent backdrop of the 5,596 meter high, 13 peaked Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Arrival in Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage city of cobbled streets and tiled roofs set against the magnificent backdrop of the 5,596 meter high, 13 peaked Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. For your accommodation we have selected the Shuhe area about 3km from Old Lijiang. This areas has some lovely traditional style hotels and is reminiscent of a less touristed Lijiang yet still has easy access.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 9 - Lijiang

The 13 Peaked Jade Snow Dragon Mountain & Lijiang Old City

Today we drive the 15 km through beautiful countryside to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the 5,596 meter, thirteen peaked massif clearly visible from Lijiang but much more impressive up close. We take a cable car up to a high grassland plateau on the mountain from where the snow covered peaks tower above.

Descend by cable car and visit Lijiang’s Old City including the fabulous palace of the Mu Clan who ruled over this area for 400 years. This large complex is a superb example of local Naxi architecture. You also visit the Black Dragon Pool, a beautiful park containing traditional architecture and one of the most famous views in China of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain – stunning if the weather cooperates!

Return to your hotel in Shuhe with the rest of the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 10 - Lijiang

Free Day to Explore Lijiang & the Surrounding Villages & Landscape

Today is free to either relax in lovely Shuhe or continue to explore the labyrinth of the Old City which throws up surprises at almost every turn. Renting bicycles and exploring the surrounding countryside is another option perhaps making the ride to Baisha Village about 40 minutes away.

Either way there is plenty to do around Lijiang including settling in one of the numerous cafes and watching the world go by!

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 11 - Lijiang to Shangri La

Drive to Shangri La Stopping at Dramatic Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Way

Depart Lijiang for the journey by car to Shangri La (previously called Zhongdian). On the way stop at the dramatic Tiger Leaping Gorge, a contender for the deepest gorge in the world being 3,900 meters from the river at the bottom to the top of the peaks of Haba Shan to the west and Yulong Xueshan to the east. You will see the gorge from several vantage points and have time to walk around to get more of a feel for this awe inspiring landscape.

Continue climbing up through the hills entering a land of distinct Tibetan influence. Its relative remoteness and moderate altitude has kept mass tourism at bay and it is easy to find peace and quiet outside the town in the stunningly beautiful lush countryside. Settle in to your hotel with the rest of the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 12 - Shangri La

The Songzanlin Temple, Tibetan Family Home & Pudasuo National Park

Full day tour of Shangri La and surrounds, including the Songzanlin Temple – the second largest Lama Temple in China – also known as “the little Potala Palace” or “Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery” by local Tibetans. We visit a local Tibetan family home and see the traditional way many of the people of this region live. In the afternoon we leave the city for the lush and majestic scenery of Pudasuo National Park including beautiful Bita Lake.

Return to your hotel with the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 13 - Shangri La to Kunming

Return to Kunming to Finish the Trip or Continue With Additional Tours

After an early breakfast a transfer to the airport for a flight back to Kunming or ask us about other destinations.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.


The hotels & accommodation used for this trip are from our hand picked selection and all are excellent for their class. We also offer upgraded hotels in most locations. Click here to explore additional hotel options and let us know of any changes you wish to make.


What is included?

Transport between destinations as described.

All accommodation as specified under the accommodation tab

All private transfers and any other transportation as described

All meals as specified in the itinerary

All tours as specified in the itinerary

All entrance fees to sights toured in the itinerary

24 hour emergency assistance

Visa Paperwork required in order to obtain the visas

Financial Peace of Mind as your trip is protected

What is not included?

International Airfare to / from the start / finish of your trip – we can book these flights on request

The Chinese visa – we can advise and partner with VisaCentral

Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment – we recommend Citybond Suretravel (UK residents only)

Discretionary gratuities to drivers and guides

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