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Explore South of the Clouds Yunnan with Ancient China

Travel back in time on a fantastic journey to ancient capitals of China Beijing and Xian for big-name attractions. And veer off track to Yunnan – an isolated magical land – to explore Shangri-La for lesser-known gems from old towns with loads of minority cultures and folklores, sleepy small villages, ancient Buddhist shrines to highland landscapes. Experience a unique vibe of being far away from the world, before your return trip from the last stop in Shanghai.

CCT Advantages:

  • 1. Visit China’s absolute highlights: the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, etc.
  • 2. Soak up the cultural sights, historical traces and daily sounds of Beijing hutongs;
  • 3. Discover one of world’s archaeological wonders – Terracotta Warriors and Horses;
  • 4. Marvel at the natural spectacle of Stone Forest, set amid steep limestone pinnacles;
  • 5. Relax with a boat cruise on Erhai Lake and take in views of fishing villages;
  • 6. Explore an old town on Tea-horse Road – Shaxi, for its ancient streets, dwellings, markets, etc.
  • 7. Lose your way in the old town of Lijiang and capture a perfect photo with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain reflected on Black Dragon Pool;
  • 8. Escape to the real Shangri-La from Tiger Leaping Gorge, where the Tibetan Buddhists at Songzanlin Lamasery may inspire you;
  • 9. Admire Shanghai's skyline on the country’s highest building – Shanghai Tower.

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 1, Arrive in Beijing

Meals: No Meals

Begin your China adventure in the country’s capital, Beijing. Upon arrival at the airport, be greeted by your guide and driver. Transfer to your hotel for a rest. Alternatively you can explore a bit of this charming city, a modernized urban star but also with fascinating historical monuments.

Recommended hotels:

  • Beijing luxury hotels: Peninsula, Hilton Beijing Wangfujing or similar
  • Beijing boutique hotels: Double Happiness Beijing Courtyard Hotel or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 2, Beijing – Majestic Royal Palace, Humble Alleyways

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Do you know the national symbol of China? That’s the Tiananmen Square, which connects Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Tiananmen Rostrum and the once imperial Forbidden City. Forbidden City is now better known as Palace Museum, where you can witness the greatest and largest wooden architecture complex of ancient China and hundreds of thousands of invaluable cultural relics.

To obtain a full picture of Forbidden City, climb up Jingshan Park. It was also right here the Emperor Chongzhen of Ming Dynasty committed suicide at his back garden over 370 years ago.   

In the afternoon, enjoy a pedicab ride through hutongs – those narrow alleyways are in an intricate layout like a checker-board pattern. For the past 700+ years, hutongs, with its quadrangle complex and cultural sites, have experienced long historical changes and become a unique treasure of Beijing.

Tonight you have a chance to watch a real Shaolin Kung Fu show (optional).

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 3, Beijing – Pray to Heaven, Archaeological Grandeur of Great Wall

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Explore Temple of Heaven, which honors the crucial role that worship of heaven activities have played in the life of ancient Chinese kings. Wander around this mysterious holy place to admire its splendid architectures and learn about the history.

Which is the most recommended section of Great Wall to visit? We highly recommend Mutianyu for international tourists. It was begun to be built more than two millennia ago as a military engineering project to prevent the aggression of northern nomads. Today, it is widely known as the largest man-made structure on Earth.

Enjoy a tasty local specialty dinner with Beijing Roasted Duck (optional).

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 4, Picturesque Summer Palace, Beijing to Xian

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The last morning in Beijing, visit Summer Palace, the once royal garden of Qing Dynasty kings. It is composed of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, and set against the background of the peaks of the Western hills. Walk through the corridors to find the elegance garden complex and enjoy a dragon boat cruise to take in incredible cultural and natural views.

Take a high speed train from Beijing to Xian, where centuries year-old city wall and legendary Terracotta Army await.

Recommended hotels:

  • Xian luxury hotels: Wyndham Grand Xian South, Gran Meliá Xian, Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel or similar
  • Xian boutique hotels: Grand Mercure Xi'an on Renmin Square or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 5, Xian – Tomb of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Visit the site of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, which were found and excavated in 1970s, but actually buried in the 3rd century BC. It represented the supreme power of Emperor Qinshihuang, who unified China in every aspect from law to weights and measures. This great army was built to be fealty to him in this afterlife. 

Explore Muslim Quarter, famous not only for being part of Xian’s Muslim community, but also for its gastronomy scenes. Enjoy yourself with hundreds of street foods at his bustling food center. Later briefly visit the Great Mosque of Xian to admire its architecture complex – a combination of traditional Chinese architecture and Arabic style.

Enjoy classical Tang Dynasty Music and Dance at a dumpling banquet tonight (optional).

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 6, Pagoda on Silk Road, Xian to Kunming

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Silk Road was started in 2BC, but thrived in Tang Dynasty when Xian was the capital of ancient Chinese Kingdom. Therefore, there are many Silk Road sites and ruins in this city, including Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This grand Buddhist pagoda was built by Master Xuanzang who further promoted Buddhism in China after traveling to ancient Indian via Silk Road.

Enjoy a leisurely biking trip on Ancient City Wall of Xian –an important witness of the great Silk Road, to glimpse its glorious past and see its modern development.

Fly from Xian to Kunming, known as China’s Spring City. From Kunming, you’ll delve into the wilderness of West China.

Recommended hotels:

  • Kunming luxury hotels: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza Kunming City Centre Green Lake Hotel or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 7, Kunming – Natural Wonder of Stone Forest

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today explore Stone Forest (Shilin) UNESCO Global Geopark, with a forest of karst geology that began to form 300 million years ago. Wonder at the grotesque karst pinnacles, caves, bridges and waterfalls. And also you can experience the ethnic Yi traditions in Shilin County.

Drive back to downtown Kunming and visit Yuantong Temple, one of the oldest temples in the city dating to 1200 years ago. Admire its religious buildings and see people praying, bowing and burning incense.

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 8, Kunming to Dali, Cruise Emerald Plateau Lake

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Get up early to board the bullet train from Kunming to Dali. Upon arrival, admire Chongsheng Temple and its Three Pagodas, built around the 9th Century, with the mighty Cangshan Mountain as the backdrop, Dali’s most sacred site. This Buddhist complex offers glimpse into the Dali Nanzhao Kingdom and its once harmonious Buddhist society. 

Take in the beautiful scenery of Erhai Lake on a boat, the second largest freshwater lake in Yunnan like an emerald nestled the hills. View the pristine fishing villages along the shore and cruise to an islet or a peninsula.

Wander through the well-preserved Dali Old Town – the cultural center of Dali Bai people, known for its elegant layout, traditional residential houses and laidback atmosphere.

Recommended hotels:

  • Dali luxury hotels: Hilton Dali Resort and Spa, or similar
  • Dali boutique hotels: The Linden Centre, Gurong Hotel or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 9, Xizhou Old Town, Dali to Shaxi

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Visit a thousand-year-old town habited by Bai people – Xizhou, where you can see Bai dressed in traditional costumes, speaking their own language, and admire traditional Bai dwellings, mostly built in Ming and Qing Dynasty.

Travel to Shaxi Old Town for an active walking tour of this Tea-horse Road site, discovering traces of ancient caravans, the Sideng Street, Xingjiao Temple and an old theatrical stage. Stay overnight at Shaxi to enjoy a quiet undisturbed night.

Recommended hotels:

  • Shaxi boutique guesthouse: Old Theatre Inn
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 10, Biking Shaxi Countryside / Market / Grotto Art, Shaxi to Lijiang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, bike through the small villages to discover the natural beauty and rurality of Shaxi and witness the local village life – considered as another side of China. If it is a Friday, make sure you don’t miss the local market, when the nearby villagers gather together here to sell and buy various kinds of local specialty from mushroom, honey to hand-made ham.

Alternatively, explore Shibaoshan for its hillside temples and most importantly the stunning Buddhist grottoes on Shizhongshan.

Transfer to explore Lijiang Old Town this afternoon – celebrated as the Forbidden City of Lijiang with artistic Naxi dwellings lining the stone streets.

Recommended hotels:
Lijiang luxury hotels: InterContinental Resort, Hotel Indigo or similar

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 11, Lijiang – Snow Mountain, Murals, Old Town

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning, explore the holy mountain for Lijiang Naxi people - Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which offers breathtaking views of glaciers, valleys, alpine meadow and lakes and virgin forests. Besides, here’s your chance to watch the world’s highest open-air live show – Impression Lijiang.

Walk through a big wooden gate complex into the old town of Baisha, where there’re rare tourists so you’ll meet and even chat will local people. Soak up unique Naxi culture and art on a visit of Baisha Murals.

Drive back to your hotel after taking a perfect photo beside the Black Dragon Pool

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 12, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang to Shangri-La

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, you travel overland to Shangri-La, the most important destination of your China adventure. Stop en route to explore Tiger Leaping Gorge. Walk for a while to reach the observation platform to take in the breathtaking views of China’s most beautiful gorge and experience yourself again the magic of nature. 

After checking into hotel in Shangri-La, pay a visit to the old town of Shangri-La – the Moonlight City that reminds people of the utopian world created in the book Lost Horizon. Ascend the top of Guishan hill in the town to see world’s biggest Buddhist prayer wheel.

Recommended hotels:

  • Shangri-La luxury hotels: Shangri-La Resort, Songtsam Lodges, Songtsam Linka or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 13, Shangri-La – Tibetan Buddhist Shrine, Stunning Nature

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Spend the morning visiting the 17th-century Ganden Sumtsaling Monastery, which makes you feel you are amid an ancient Tibetan castle with golden-topped buildings and artistic decorated chambers. Discover many cultural relics and works of Buddhist art and see lamas live here.

For today’s lunch, if you wish, you will be invited into a local Tibetan home for a local flavor meal.

This afternoon experience the extreme serenity and take in sights at Potatso National Park, boasting a perfect eco-system of virgin forests, alpine meadows and rivers. You may encounter small cute wild animals like squirrels in the middle of the road.

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 14, Shangri-La to Shanghai

Meals: Breakfast

Say goodbye to Shangri-La, and return to the real modern world, reaching Shanghai after an air journey. Spend the rest of the day free of leisure. And don’t miss the night lift of Shanghai – its night view, bars, restaurant, shopping street…

Recommended hotels:

  • Shanghai luxury hotels: Peace Hotel, Les Suites Orient Bund, Peninsula or similar
  • Shanghai boutique hotels: Hotel Indigo on the Bund, The Yangtze Boutique or similar
16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 15, Shanghai – Museum, Garden & the Bund

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning, wander through the boardwalk of the Bund to view the striking colonial architectures – used to be banks, hotels and trade centers in the 19th Century. Be marveled by Pudong skyline when standing on Shanghai Tower, which has the highest observation deck in the world.

Visit a typical Jiangnan garden – Yuyuan Garden, a private mansion built in 1559, with more than 40 meticulously-preserved architectures and a wide diversity of plants and flowers. Then discover the cultural root of Shanghai at the Town God Temple area, where you’ll see many beautiful traditional architecture complexes and Shanghai’s most popular food street.

Thereafter admire the surprising rich collection of cultural and artistic treasures in Shanghai Museum, from the pre-historic bronze wares, Song Dynasty paintings & calligraphies to Qing Dynasty ceramics and furniture.   

After dinner, enjoy a magical acrobatics show that integrates tricks and dizzying effects (optional).

16 Days Beijing Xian Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La and Shanghai Tour

Day 16, Shanghai Departure

Meals: Breakfast

Free at leisure in the morning, so you may enjoy last minute sightseeing of Shanghai. Drive to the airport and fly back home. End of your 16 days China adventure tour.

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