This is an unique off-the-beaten path tour of Yunnan, southwest of China. Despite the same names of destination: Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La, CCC Travel explores the authentic areas of these three famous Yunan regions, visiting the tucked away villages and minorties, boating on the wetland and cycle along paddy fields, hiking in stunning highland meadows and through Tibetan villages, and eating local family homemade food. Unlike most other itineary, Dali will be fully explored while the touristy Lijiang will be shortly visited, and Shangari-La will invovle side trips and hiking. So we leave some short time for those "must-see" old towns and attractions.
The trip aims to offer you a chance to explore, research, and interact with the rich local culture in a more intimate and in-depth way.
South of the Clouds Yunnan Tour: Dali, Lijiang & Shangri-La
In Shangri-La, we will reach heights of up to 3,200 meters above sea level. While two days stay in Lijiang (at 2,400 meters above sea level) prior to Shangri-La will allow some time to acclimatize to the increase in altitude.
People respond to an increase in altitude differently. You may response general discomfort, breathlessness, poor sleeping patterns or limited capacity for physical exertion. Please consult with your local travel clinic or physician for specifics about altitude sickness and your personal health.
Day 1 Fly in Dali
Beijing departure: 3 hours morning flight Beijing - Dali
Shanghai departure: 3 hours morning flight Shanghai Hongqiao - Dali
Other locales: If you go from other locale, we will check the available flights from your locale to Dali or via Kunming to Dali.
- Fly into Dali in the early morning (3 hours).
Situated between the Tsangshan Mountain on the West and the Erhai Lake to the East, the Old Town of Dali was once the ancient capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom as well as an important trading town on the Southern Silk Road.
- Lunch in a Bai minority flavor restaurant,
- Free time in the afternoon.
- Stay overnight in the old town of Dali.
Day 2 Taoyuan
- Drive to Taoyuan, a peaceful and pastoral village in the suburb of Dali.
- Check into the boutique lakefront resort with rooms facing the vast Erhai Lake. (Note: Only double bed rooms have the lake view.)
- Free time to stroll or cycle along the paddy fields by the lake. Or savor Yunnan's famous Dianhong tea (black tea) on the lakefront platform.
- Dinner with local flavors in the village.
- Enjoy the beautiful sunset on the lake right in your resort room.
- Stay overnight in the tranquil traditional Chinese style boutique resort.
(B, L, D) (Boutique lakefront resort 4+ star )
Day 3. Taoyuan / Eryuan
- Sunrise over the lake and breakfast on the lakefront platform.
- Explore the surrounding villages and paddy fields.
- Check out and drive 1.5 hours to Eryuan, another hidden village in the suburb of Dali, featuring untouched wetland and villages.
- Lunch in a family run resort by the wetland.
- Take a walk along the bank of the wetland, where many farmers busy working their fields by the wetland, and row the boats to the field on top of water in the heart of the wetland, as well as fishermen casting net on their boats
- The dusk is stunning at the mountain surrounded wetland and village houses - misty clouds, rainbows, lots of birds and busy farmers.
- Dinner in the courtyard of the small resort.
- Explore the dark but interesting night life of the local village: barbeque for locals, people squatting around in the front of the courtyard door playing cards and casting dices, sitting on the threshold watching DVDs.
(B, L, D)
Day 4. Eryuan / Shaxi
- The morning scene is fascinating: fantastic down and sunrise over the wetland, lots of big birds, and villagers carrying barrels of fresh milks, loading garlic on to vans to sell in the market, ladies herding a flock of ducks out of their home and walk into the wetland, fishermen is preparing their net on the boat, and ladies washing their clothes by the swamp.
- Ride on the local family's boat to go into the heart of wetland to see fields on the swamp, and across the lake to the other village at the foot of the mountain.
- Lunch in the courtyard.
- Depart Eryuan to Shaxi (2.5hours)
- Check into nice boutique hostel within the ancient town of Shaxi.
Shaxi is a market town which was once a bustling trade station on the Southern Silk Road that linked central China and Tibet with Southeast Asia and on to Europe, and which was the only surviving example of a Southern Silk Road trade center. It has been listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. Shaxi has old town gates and an intact ancient theater.
- Visit guesthouses where merchants en route to the Tibet stayed and the old town of Shaxi.
- Free time to enjoy the peaceful and pristine ancient township of Shaxi.
- Stay overnight in Shaxi.
(B, L, D) * Shaxi Cultural Center (a boutique guesthouse), Shaxi Guesthouse, or Laomadian boutique guesthouse ( 4 star level) -- housed in a traditional courtyard complex.
Day 5 Shaxi / Lijiang
- Breakfast and visit the suburb of Shaxi: old villages with ancient architecture and wood carvings and cows, sheep and fields. You may see people planting tobaccos and carrying fresh tobacco leaves to the kilns.
- After lunch, depart for Lijiang, the beautiful ancient township with narrow cobblestone streets, delicate bridges, hundreds of black tile roof houses. Melted snow water canal runs through the town.
- Check into a traditional Naxi courtyard style hotel.
- The afternoon will be your free time to scroll around the town, including ascending the Lion Hill for a bird' s eye view of the town.
- Explore your own favorite food for dinner.
- Note: Lijiang old town is already touristy now, but it is still interesting and worthwhile for many people to stay for one single night. It is your free time in the evening to go shopping, hang out in the bar or enjoy a concert of Naxi music.
(B, L) (Zen Garden or Lijiang Shishan House -- boutique hotel in traditional Naxi ethnic style. )
Day 6 Tiger Leaping Gorge / Zhongdian (Shangri-La)
- Head north of Lijiang and pass the multiple peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Range.
- Drive north for 2.5 hours till arriving at the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Pull over for photograph. The river with 34 rapids runs in the gorge is named Jinsha River, one section of Yangtze River.
- Another 1.5 hour's drive, the journey ends at Zhongdian, Tibetan ethnic area with barley fields and yaks.
- Stay overnight.
(B, L, D) (Jiantang Hotel (4 star built in Tibetan style)
Day 7 Zhongdian (Shangri-La) / hiking / Tibetan family visit
- Take a moderate hike (2.5hours) through the highland pasture - spectacular view!
- See high mountains surrounded by alpine meadows and wildflowers and a temperate rain forest.
- Visit a Tibetan family and learn the local life.
- Free time to explore the Shangri-La Old Town.
- Stay another night in Zhongdian.
(B, L) Songtsam Hotel (boutique hotel) (built in Tibetan style)
Day 8 Zhongdian/ Songzanling Monastery / Thangka / Fly out
- Climb up to the Songzanlin Monastery, one of the largest Tibetan monasteries in Yunnan.
- Learn to make the Thangka.
- Transfer to Shangri-La airport, fly to Kunming or Chongqing, then connect flight back to Beijing, Shanghai or other locales.
Zhongdian - Kunming - Beijing (arrival around 6pm)
Zhongdian - Kunming - Shanghai Hongqiao (arrival around 7pm)
- Please note that the flights or timing of flights mentioned in the above itinerary may change subject to ticket availability and airline scheduling. Alternative hotels of similiar standards will be used if any of the hotels mentioned in the itinerary is unable to provide enough accommodation.
- Fly into Dali in the early morning (3 hours).
8-day bespoke tour prices
10% discount for children under 12
Single supplement RM3,200 for 7 nights
Private English-speaking guide(s) (selected by CCC)
Experienced Chinese-speaking driver and quality, air-conditioned vehicle
All accommodations based on double-occupancy (Five-star hotels or equivelant boutique hotels)
All admission fees and activity expenses, as noted in the itinerary
All meals as noted in the itinerary
What's Not Included:
Domestic flights and relevant taxes
(If you want us to book your domestic flights in this itinerary, please let us know.)
Meals apart from those included in the itinerary
Expenses of a personal nature
Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
Travel, health and trip cancellation insurance
We offer our itineraries as suggestions only; all of our tours can be tailored to your individual interests.The above prices may change based on any specific requirements you may have. The extended trip is available upon request.
Prepayment is necessory so we can book your flights/train tickets/car transportation and guides.
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- Off-the-beaten rural Dali of Yunnan
- Off-the-Beaten Path Dali, Lijiang & Shangri-La of Yunnan
- Shangri-La, Deqin & Meili Snow Mt.& Lakes
- Yunnan's Yuanyang (Hani Rice Terrace) & Tropical Xishuangbanna
- Western Yunnan's Tengchong - Volcanoes & Hot Springs
- Nujiang Gorge in Northwest Yunnan
- Yunnan's Lugu Lake & Mosuo People
- Wintercamp: Nature & minority Immersion in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna