Highlights of Yunnan: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Itinerary
If you are visiting Yunnan for the first time and have about a week, we recommend the following route: Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - Zhongdian (Shangri-La).
If you are visiting Yunnan for the second time, you can delve deeper into the travel experience. For example, you can consider activities like a 2-4 day trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge, climbing Mount Haba Snow Mountain, forest hiking in Zhongdian, trekking in Meili Snow Mountain, visiting the Red Land in Dongchuan near Kunming, exploring the terraced fields in Yuanyang, or visiting the Gaoligong Mountain Scenic Area, among others. Private Yunan tours »
What our clients say
"I would have to say Lynda and Michelle, in different ways were outstanding tour guides. Michelle took the time to explain us so many things. Her English was really good and also her knowledge of Xian and culture. In this aspect, I must also highlight Murphy in Kunming..." read more »
9 Days Best Itinerary of Yunnan
Kunming - Dali - Shaxi - Lijiang - Shangri La
Day 1: Arrival in Kunming
Depending on your arrival time, you can spend some time exploring the city. Some popular attractions include Green Lake Park, Yunnan Provincial Museum, and Yuantong Temple. For dinner, try some local Yunnan cuisine known for its spicy and flavorful dishes.
Day 2: Kunming to Dali
Take a morning flight or high-speed train from Kunming to Dali (about 1-2 hours). Check in to your hotel in Dali and spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town, which is filled with traditional Bai architecture, cobbled streets, and ancient temples. For dinner, try some of Dali's famous cheese, or sample some of the local Bai cuisines.
Day 3: Dali
Take a day trip to Erhai Lake, one of the most scenic spots in Dali. You can take a boat ride, rent a bike, or hike around the lake to see the surrounding mountains and villages. In the evening, head back to Dali Old Town and explore some of the local shops and restaurants.
Day 4: Dali to Shaxi
Take a morning bus or private car to Shaxi Ancient Town (about 3-4 hours). In Shaxi, check in to your hotel and explore the well-preserved old town, which was once an important trading stop on the Tea Horse Road. Try some local Shaxi specialties, such as Shaxi ham and Naxi-style fried cheese for dinner.
Day 5: Shaxi to Lijiang
Take a morning bus or private car to Lijiang (about 3-4 hours). In Lijiang, check in to your hotel and spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its canals, bridges, and ancient buildings. For dinner, try some local Naxi cuisine known for its sour and spicy flavors.
Day 6: Lijiang
Take a day trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, one of the highest mountains in Yunnan. You can take a cable car up to the mountain, hike around the glaciers, and enjoy the stunning views. In the evening, head back to Lijiang Old Town and enjoy some live music and drinks at one of the local bars.
Day 7: Lijiang to Shangri La
Take a morning bus or private car to Shangri La (about 3-4 hours). In Shangri La, check in to your hotel and spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town, which has a mix of Tibetan and Han Chinese architecture. For dinner, try some Tibetan cuisine, such as momos (steamed dumplings) and yak meat dishes.
Day 8: Shangri La
Take a day trip to Pudacuo National Park, which is known for its alpine lakes, forests, and wildlife. You can hike around the park, visit the Tibetan villages, and see the famous "Three Parallel Rivers" (where the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween Rivers run parallel to each other). In the evening, head back to Shangri La Old Town and enjoy some hot tea or coffee at one of the local cafes.
Day 9: Departure from Shangri La
Depending on your departure time, you can spend some time exploring Shangri La or relaxing at your hotel before heading to the airport or train station for your next destination.
Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking
Day 1: Lijiang to Qiaotou
Take a morning bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou (about 3-4 hours). In Qiaotou, check into a guesthouse and explore the town. For dinner, try some local dishes such as yak meat or vegetable hotpot.
Day 2: Qiaotou to Naxi Guesthouse
Start your trek early in the morning and hike from Qiaotou to Naxi Guesthouse (about 5-6 hours). Along the way, you'll pass by stunning views of the gorge, including the "24 Bends," which is a series of switchbacks that offer panoramic views of the valley. In the evening, check in to the Naxi Guesthouse and enjoy a hearty dinner.
Day 3: Naxi Guesthouse to Halfway Guesthouse
Continue your trek from Naxi Guesthouse to Halfway Guesthouse (about 4-5 hours). This part of the trek is a bit more challenging, as you'll be hiking uphill for a few hours. Once you reach Halfway Guesthouse, check-in and relax for the evening.
Day 4: Halfway Guesthouse to Walnut Grove Guesthouse
Continue your trek from Halfway Guesthouse to Walnut Grove Guesthouse (about 3-4 hours). This part of the trek is less strenuous, and you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the stunning scenery along the way. In the evening, check in to the Walnut Grove Guesthouse and relax.
Day 5: Walnut Grove Guesthouse to Tina's Guesthouse
Continue your trek from Walnut Grove Guesthouse to Tina's Guesthouse (about 2-3 hours). Along the way, you'll pass by the famous Tiger Leaping Stone, which is a large boulder in the middle of the river where a tiger is said to have leaped across the gorge. Once you reach Tina's Guesthouse, check-in and relax for the evening.
Day 6: Departure from Tiger Leaping Gorge
Depending on your departure time, you can spend some time exploring the gorge or relaxing at your guesthouse before heading back to Lijiang or your next destination.
Day 1: Arrival and Lige Village
Arrive in Lugu Lake and check in to your accommodation. Visit Lige Village, a traditional Mosuo village, where you can see wooden houses built on stilts, and experience Mosuo culture, including the "walking marriage" tradition. Take a boat ride on Lugu Lake and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Day 2: Heiwawu Island and Liwubi Island
Take a boat ride to Heiwawu Island, where you can hike to the top for a panoramic view of the lake. Visit Liwubi Island, a small island with a temple and beautiful scenery. Enjoy a traditional Mosuo hot pot dinner in the evening.
Day 3: Nisai Village and Khubeka Nature Reserve
Visit Nisai Village, another traditional Mosuo village, and learn about Mosuo culture and history. Visit the Khubeka Nature Reserve, where you can see rare plant and animal species and enjoy the natural scenery. In the evening, attend a bonfire party with Mosuo singing and dancing.
Day 4: Departure
Depart from Lugu Lake and head to your next destination.
Meili Snow Mountain
Day 1: Arrival and Mingyong Village
Arrive in Deqin and check in to your accommodation. Visit Mingyong Village, located at the foot of Meili Snow Mountain, and explore the traditional Tibetan houses and cultural relics. Hike to Mingyong Glacier, one of the main attractions in the area, and enjoy the stunning views of the glacier and surrounding mountains.
Day 2: Yubeng Village
Take a car or minivan to Xidang Village and start your hike to Yubeng Village. Hike through beautiful forests, waterfalls, and streams to reach Yubeng Village, a remote Tibetan village nestled in the valley of Meili Snow Mountain. Explore Yubeng Village and its surrounding natural scenery.
Day 3: Sacred Waterfall and Ice Lake
Hike to the Sacred Waterfall, which is believed to have healing powers by the local Tibetan people. Continue your hike to Ice Lake, a stunning glacier lake with clear blue water surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Enjoy a picnic lunch and take in the beautiful scenery before heading back to Yubeng Village.
Day 4: Return to Deqin
Hike back to Xidang Village and take a car or minivan back to Deqin. Visit Dongzhulin Monastery, a famous Tibetan monastery in the area, and learn about the local Tibetan Buddhism culture. In the evening, enjoy a hot pot dinner and relax at your accommodation.
Customize Your Unique Yunnan Tour
If you are interested in any of the Yunnan itineraries mentioned above, please contact us, and we will be happy to customize it and provide a quote tailored to your preferences.
Informative Articles for Your Yunnan Trip
- Yunnan Travel Guide: the best time to go, what to do, what to eat, etc.
- Travel itineraries: best itineraries for your reference
- Weather: the best time and seasons to visit Yunnan
- Attractions: what to visit
- Activities: cultural immersions
- Unique perspective: top things to do
- Food: what to eat while traveling in Yunnan
- Hotels: where to stay
- Tours: tailor-made Yunnan Tours for your reference
FABULOUS TOUR COMPANY
CHINA OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2019 We researched several companies and studied reviews on Trip Adviser before contacting who did a very China Culture Tour with an initial query. Right from the outset Grace who owns the company was excellent. She emailed detailed with pictures information and a suggested…read more details
Karen from US
Ready to Create a Unique Dream Travel?