8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour
If you are planning your first Yunnan tour, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La should be in your list.
From notable limestone "forest" formations to one of the world's deepest canyons, from ancient towns to snowy mountains, from colorful minority cultures to delicious food. The most magnificent scenery and cultures of Yunnan are waiting to be explored.
In this 8-day classic Yunnan tour, we will help you go beyond the popular sights to see what few people see and to get a real encounter with the local culture and people.
Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La Tour Map
Lose the crowds in less-visited dark karst landscapes of the Stone Forest.
Take a cable car to the snow-capped zone of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (4,500+ m, 14,700+ ft).
Soar on the Wind of the Erhai Lake
Have a bike ride alongside Erhai Lake. Feel the wind, enjoy the flowery meadows and rice fields, and see the clouds floating above the majestic Cangshan mountians.
Check out the power of water below the towering mountains in nerve-tingling Tiger Leaping Gorge.
China Highlights' Special Discovery Experiences
Learn to make a Naxi pancake in a local restaurant.
Visit a shaman, a local wise man of Baisha Village, and learn some mysterious Dongba characters.
Visit a lamas' dormitory in Songzanlin Lamasery, and talk with a lama seeking enlightenment from Tibetan Buddhism.
Lijiang Tour with Alice
My husband and I arrived in Lijiang after Dali. We met Alice, our new tour guide for the next two days. Alice is a compassionate person with a heart full of love and care. She makes sure we dress warmly before taking our tours to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.Alice is well-spoken about the culture of local people in Lijiang. During our visit to the Naxi ethnic community, we learned how to make and sample the Naxi pancake and tea with Yak butter. We felt it was a rewarding experience to learn about the livelihood of people as we tour.Many thanks to China Highlights for arranging our traveling itinerary in Lijiang.more
Nov 2023, AL
Our trip to Yunnan
Alice is very personable, warm, friendly and shared with us many of their cultures and stories. Pema is very energetic and accompany us for the half day hike in the tiger leaping gorge.We would definitely recommend China Highlights to anyone for their holiday in China!more
Nov 2023, TAN YIDA
Our trip to Li Jiang and Shaxi Yunnan
We arrived at Lijiang on 9/8. We enjoyed the time in Lijiang a lot with good hotel selection and a well planned program. We went onto Shaxi for the local singing festival of the local minority groups. It was a fantastic experience. What makes the trip most memorable is our guide Alice. She took excellent care of us, anticipating our every need. She was personable, warm and very knowledgeable. We shared many laughters and traded stories. She brought smiles to us during the entire trip. We will specifically ask for her again when we come back to Yunnan. Five star service.more
Sep 2023, Consumer
Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-la
We would like to thank China Highlights Travel for planning and organizing our China hiking trip. Roger Li (Trip Planner) was really prompt in all correspondences and helped us to fine tune our travel details. We are a party of 4 and had multiple hiking destinations in mind in the beginning. Roger gave us details of each option and we finally decided to go hiking in the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. In addition, Roger helped us to add itinerary in Lijiang and Shangri-la after the hiking. Really looking forward to our China hiking trip in October!more
Sep 2023, Joyce Lee
We love China
From the beginning we had a trustfull knowlegeable base of communication, started with Lukas the tour advisor and guide around Guilin and continued with the other guides in the other locations. Shanghai FU, Zhangjiajie Emili, Xián Juanli, Kunmimg Nen ,Lijiang Luzhuoying, Chongqing ??, Yangtze, Haikou ?? and Beijing Chengang. We were totaly positivly impressed about the overall service during our time in China. We felt save and wellcomed at any time. We had every day our individual highlight. For example, breathless nature, extraordinary hotels, historical buildings and places, well tasting food and social contacts on the streets. All our tour guides and drivers made a professional customer orientated job and supported us in the best possible way. Even if we want to make changes on short notice they made it happen. We spent a remarkable and unforgetable time in China and been very thankful to China Highlights to create this moments in time for us.more
Jun 2023, Karlheinz Potuznik
Jack Li , our tour guide at LiJiang, took great care of us when we climbed Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and suffered high altitude issues. At Dali, our tour guide Nancy Li doubled up as our photographer and speaks excellent English and entertained us with her rich knowledge of Chinese history. We had a wonderful time.more
Apr 2023, April Lee
Thank you for such a wonderful traveling experience!
We have Jack Lee in our Lijiang trip he was such a considerate and kind tour guide. He is very knowledgeable and he accommodated all our requirement. We were fortunate to have such a nice local tour guide. I had altitude sickness and he really cared. Our private driver Mr Tang is very safe and patient. He is compliant and cares for our safety all the time. He is very humorous and gave us so much laughter. He was also very caring towards me.more
Apr 2023, Hazel T
Cultural and scenic beauty second to none!
I would highly recommend this tour to Lugu Lake to everyone and anyone! The tour guide Jack taught me more in two days about minority cultures, Chinese history, and the amazing natural history and geography of Yunnan and the Lijiang area. As well, the drive to Lugu Lake requires an expert - and Mr Wang is an expert! (From someone who has crossed the Rockies at least 20 times) As a single woman travel who still doesn’t have great Chinese it was a flawless experience - from the communications, accommodation and breathtaking scenery and cultural experiences. Please book and go!more
Feb 2023, Connie VH
We have been travelling around Yunnan…
We have been travelling around Yunnan Province for 8 days and it’s been amazing. The culture, the food, the people’s kindness, all these things made our trip unforgettable. Especially our guide Nancy! The most helpful and friendly guide we could have. We really appreciate her knowledge about the local history and the culture. She’s really amazing and we strongly recommend her services.more
Mar 2022, Danielle Toledo
Awesome Yunnan trip with Nancy
We had a 6-day tour with guide Nancy around Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La in Yunnan. She’s very professional and experienced guide that made our tour far exceed expectations. It was a pleasure to have her as our tour guide. We strongly recommend her. Thank you!more
Mar 2022, Rodrigo
One of the best things I’ve done in China
One of the best things I’ve done in China. Being that I am pretty well traveled in China this Experience was so different from the others. Each city provided a different aspect of the culture, local traditions and beauty that China has to offer. Our Tour guide Nancy was amazing as she made our itinerary very well constructed and organized. She was there to make sure we were comfortable and happy. Her hyper energy and cheerfulness made us feel enthusiastic for the day. We are very satisfied with this trip and Nancy’s services that we will be sure to book again.more
Feb 2022, RoshR
Lijiang Trip July 2021
Kudos to Alisa Liu from the agency who I must say was on hand almost 24/7 for requests and queries. Even though our trip was marred with the onset of the Typhoon In Fa with various flight and train cancellations but Alisa was quick to arrange for alternative solutions under the circumstances and made the most effort to make our journey as comfortable as possible whilst we made our way back to Shanghai. As for the itinerary, Alisa understands her clientele’s different needs very well and for the most part my expectations were met. I love private tours with a very relaxed itinerary and comfortable accommodation and some of us prefer more exclusive accommodation vs a packed itinerary trying to go to a hundred location type of tour.more
Aug 2021, Ida Suriani
Summer holiday in Yunnan
After spending 5 nights in Dali visiting sights in our own time, Alice who was very friendly and helpful, accompanied us on our drive from Dali to Lijiang. She shared interesting facts about the local area and the things we had done. In Lijiang, we met our guide Peter. Peter did an amazing job taking care of us and showing us the beautiful sights for our 3 days. He was so kind, providing us with snacks each morning and always ensuring the food met my dietary requirements. He even picked up our last minute NAT results that we did before our departure late at night! His passion and dedication to his job was very impressive, and we would highly recommend him to our friends.more
Aug 2021, O6866ZGlaurag
Amazing experience in Yunnan
Please bear in mind that booking tickets and actually getting to the sightseeing point is very challenging, especially during peak season. But with the help of our guides everything went smooth and silky. Thank you, China Highlights, for making our first trip to Yunnan an unforgettable and carefree adventure. It was a true relaxation without any headache or stress. We had nothing to worry about, except enjoying breathtaking beauty of Yunnan.more
Jul 2021, olya84
Natural landscapes are everything
I visited Lijiang during the Spring Festival and I thought it was gonna be packed with people but my guide always knew were to take me to avoid crowds. I had a great time, my guide was very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions with gusto. I’m very happy with my trip. --lunarcicles，Buenos Aires, Argentinamore
Feb 2019, lunarcicles
China is the most beautiful country inthe world
Great job,Glad chose China Highlights,Everything is top rate.Lodging,restaurants and tours,But what is so special are the great guides.Doyle and Sophie (Kunming)Li(Dali) and Eleanor (Liji.ang).Knowledgeable,kind and thoughtful.Five stars all rhe way.Great job guys.Love Yunnan.Recommend China Highligtsvto kith and kin.more
Nov 2023, philip Sardar
Kunming - well worth a visit.
An excellent visit to Kunming. The stone forest was spectacular, though there were a lot of steps and even with my hiking poles I has to give up on some areas. The city itself is vibrant and really interesting. Many thanks to my brilliant guide, Sophie, who understood my limitations and adapted the itinerary accordingly.more
Nov 2023, Hilary P
Impressive Experience with China Highlights
My recent experience with China Highlights, with Roger Li as liaison on my inquiry for Yunnan tour, confirms to the overwhelming positive reviews posted here, about their excellent prompt services, flexible accommodation for tour itineraries, and hardworking tour guides. I am very impressed and will most definitely look up to China Highlights for future tours to China and beyond. Thank you Roger Li for your personal attention, hard work and prompt services. Bravo!more
Sep 2023, A Tan
Can't wait for my Kunming Trip!
I've been working with Roger Li on my Kunming, China trip for the past month. Roger has been very knowledgeable and responsive to all my questions. Furthermore, he has been very helpful in making sure our itinerary makes sense and is able to make changes per our needs. I am looking forward to the upcoming trip!more
Aug 2023, T. Lee
This is the second time that I engage China Highlights to plan for my vacation to China.The Travel Advisor, Roger Li, attended to my enquiry and followed through my questions diligently. He was responsive to making recommendations regarding the itinerary and assisting with my application for the China visa.more
Jul 2023, Sal
After your flight lands at the airport, your tour guide will wait for you with a welcoming smile at the arrival hall. Transfer to your hotel by a private car and driver. The rest of the day is for you to acclimatize and explore the city, or relax and recoup ready for the tour tomorrow.
Kunming New Era Hotel (4-star)
Green Lake Hotel (5-star)
After a 1½-hour drive, visit a fantastic natural phenomenon located 90 kilometers southeast of Kunming — the Stone Forest. The various shapes of limestone were formed due to millions of years' movement of the Earth. The Stone Forest area is the home of the Yi people, and their folk customs have become a spectacular scene. The colorful embroidery and minority dances combined with the natural scenery will surely leave you with a lasting impression. Enjoy a local lunch in a quaint courtyard with the Stone Forest Park in the background.
Take a 2-hour bullet train ride to Dali in the morning. Upon arrival, your Dali guide will be waiting to start a colorful day with you. First, visit the houses of the Bai minority people in Xizhou Village. You will see typical Bai traditions and dresses. Some buildings are old and have typical ancient architectures, and are the 'real local' houses.
Have a bike ride along Erhai Lake in the afternoon. Enjoy the wind, the flowers, the blue lake, and the gorgeous Cangshan Mountain view. Have lunch at a popular local restaurant.
Good to know:
The Three Pagodas between the Cangshan Mountain and Er'hai Lake are considered the landmark of Dali. Towering aloft in a triangle shape, the Three Pagodas were built more than 1,000 years ago. It's recommended if you have extra time or interested in landmark photography.
Gurong Hotel (4-star)
The One Hotels & Resorts (5-star)
Your personal guide and driver will transfer you directly from Dali to Lijiang. Enjoy lunch and start the tour in Lijiang. Lijiang Ancient Town is the best-preserved minority ancient city. Most of the people living there belong to the Naxi minority, some of whom still make a living by making handicrafts of silver, leather, textiles, and some local snacks. Enjoy the quaint city scenery and see plenty of handicrafts in a distinctive style only found in this area of China. You can climb up to Lion Hill to have a bird's-eye view of the whole town.
Then pay a visit to the Black Dragon Pool Park, where the view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is one of the most famous postcard-perfect sceneries in southwest China. Stay overnight in Lijiang Ancient Town.
Ivy Garden Resort Hotel (4-star)
InterContinental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort (5-star)
Welcome to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the holy mountain of the Naxi people. Use the cable car and find yourself in a real paradise as you overlook stunning and variant natural beauty, including spruces, meadows, pines, and clouds.
On your way back to Lijiang, enjoy lunch in a restaurant run by a local Naxi family. You will make your own Naxi pancake (Naxi baba) as the main dish for your lunch. A Naxi lady from this restaurant, who is a master of making baba, will give you a demonstration. The waitress will fry the pancake for you and then you can try it with some other Naxi dishes for lunch.
And then see the mysterious Baisha Murals at Baisha Village. Painted over 1,000 years ago, the murals display the life stories of China's main religions, including Confucianism, Taoism, and Tibetan Buddhism.
Visit a shaman (called Dongba in Naxi language) of the Naxi nationality in Baisha village. You will have a chance to understand more about the mysterious Naxi culture, its words and music, and the Naxi people's understanding about the relationship between nature and humans. Learn some Dongba characters and enjoy a piece of Naxi music. You will be impressed by the Naxi people's passion for their lifestyle, homeland, and love.
Your guide and driver will escort you from Lijiang to Shangri-La. Along the way, visit one of the world's deepest and most marvelous gorges — Tiger Leaping Gorge. The dashing water from the magnificent Jinsha River flows into the narrow valley with a stone in the center. There is an ancient saying that the gorge is so narrow that a tiger was able to leap over to the other side of the river, hence the name.
After lunch, continue the 2-hour drive to Shangri-La. Have a good rest in hotel to adapt the high altitude of 3200 meters.
The 5th Meteorite · Light-year Hotel (4-star)
Songtsam Shangri-La Hotel (5-star)
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty and holy religious atmosphere of the unspoiled Shangri-La. Visit the largest Tibetan Buddhist Lamasery in Yunnan Province — Songzanlin Lamasery — which was built in the style of Potala Palace in Lhasa and represents the Tibetan culture, housing Buddhist statues and many precious cultural treasures.
After visiting the lamasery, your guide will take you to a dormitory. The lamas who live there will show their hospitality and will be happy to talk with you in their study room. If you are curious about their lifestyle, religious beliefs, and discipline, this is a great chance to get close to and interact with them. If you are lucky, you might meet a living Buddha.
Pudacuo National Park retains a well-preserved ecosystem within the virgin forests. The must-see scenery in this park includes Lake Bita and Lake Shudu. 'Bita' means 'a place with a dense oak forest' in the Tibetan language and 'Bitahai' means 'a quiet lake'. The Bitahai Lake is surrounded by mountains covered with ancient pines, oaks, and rhododendrons, and appears like an emerald in the heart of the mountains. Shudu Lake is surrounded by a forest of fir, spruce, and silver birch, and is home to lots of wild animals, such as squirrels, golden cats, and pheasants. Stay overnight in Shangri-La.
As your journey concludes, your tour guide, driver, and car will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport. They will assist you with your luggage and check-in, and accompany you until the security checkpoint to wave goodbye.
1. Tailoring Your Tour
This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, and extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest, and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we will be happy to help you arrange a tour using our professional knowledge and experience. We promise a "No Shopping Policy".
2. Getting There and Traveling Away
Kunming is a convenient transportation hub. There are domestic flights to most of China's major cities, such as Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, Chengdu and Shanghai. International routes include flights between Kunming and Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Rangoon and Singapore.
Shangri-La is a good choice to connect Lhasa in Tibet. There is a daily flight from Shangri-La to Lhasa: MU5939 (10:45-12:45) (schedule for reference).
3. About visiting Lama's dormitory
This visit cannot be arranged in March, October, or November due to the religious activities of the lamas during these times. It could also be suspended at other times if the lamas need to attend to some activities, such as being invited by villagers to host a ceremony.
Hotels with a convenient location, regional features and good reviews are recommended in the itinerary. If you prefer other hotel options (luxury hotels, boutique hotels, or economical choices) or would like to book the hotels on your own, please feel free to inform us and we will be happy to adjust the details.
Note: The boutique hostels in Yunnan offer good value for money: a decent environment, local-style decoration, and a convenient location, but most of them only have 10–20 rooms and there may not be any English-speaking staff. Early booking is highly recommended.