Uncover the southern heart of China, traversing Himalayan mountains, picture perfect valleys, majestic canyons, lakes and spiritual kingdoms. From peaceful Kunming to historic Lijiang, surreal Shangri-la and cultural Chengdu – temper your tour of Southwestern China with leisurely picnics, cultural explorations, outdoor activities and rewarding visits with the country’s beloved Giant pandas.
Kunming has the distinction of being one of the country’s most liveable cities with its pleasant climate and laid back vibe. Given the peaceful co-existence of the traditional with the modern here, there are plenty of attractions and activities to suit all types of travelers.
Picnic at the Stone Forest Explore the historic region around Kunming on this all-day tour, understanding the cultural heritage and natural history of the land. After an early breakfast at your hotel, drive over from Kunming to Lunan in the company of your English speaking guide. Wander through the fascinating Stone Forest, also known as Shilin, which locals have always believed to be ‘The First Wonder of the World’. Soak in the tranquil ambiance of this huge, natural landscape of spectacular stone structures. Stroll through a rocky maze, taking in your surroundings and picking up trivia from your guide on this natural wonder. Enjoy a delicious luncheon spread in the shadows of this unusual forest. On your way back to Kunming, stop at a section of the running train tracks built by the French. Discover a bit of colonial history attached to this ambitious project before returning to your hotel. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Picnic lunch included; Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
Lijiang in China’s Yunnan province is home to historical sites, snow-capped mountains, majestic canyons, lakes, and the Naxi and other ethnic minority groups.
Experience Naxi Culture Get a glimpse into the lives of the Naxi ethnic group on a fascinating tour of their small yet authentic village. Stroll around the hamlet clicking pictures and taking in the unique stone houses. Pass by men, women, and children dressed in colorful clothes going about their daily chores. Step into the compact home of a local family and join them in making tofu the traditional way. Also known as bean curd, tofu is prepared by coagulating soy milk and comes in various textures. Sip a cup of freshly brewed tea as you learn all about the intricate art of ancient Naxi calligraphy. After exploring to your heart’s content, return to your hotel enriched by this immersive experience. (Half Day; Private Activity; Fitness Level: Easy.)
Soft Trekking at Tiger Leaping Gorge Today you’ll be transferred to the major highlight sport of Yunnan: the Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of the deepest gorges in the world, this natural crevice separating the Jinsha River has staggering variations in altitude (nearly 4000m). As such, it has become a playground for global trekkers keen on defying this unforgiving terrain. Prepare to enjoy a leisurely 2-3 hour trek through the spectacularly beautiful gorge area. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Lunch included: Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
The Shangri-La (or Zhōngdiàn) of today may have very little to do with James Hilton’s 1930s bestseller, but the name still fires a traveler’s imagination. An isolated Tibetan world of Buddhist monasteries, it has preserved humanity’s wisdom and knowledge for thousands of generations.
Tibetan Experience: Songzanlin Monastery, Thangka Painting & Family Lunch Discover the secrets of the legendary Shangri-la on this extensive tour of this Tibetan corner of the country. After an early breakfast, set off with your English speaking guide to visit the iconic Songzanlin Monastery (Ganden Sumtselling Gompa). Watch the faithful line up at this venerated Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage site. Capture a timeless image of the tranquil Lamuyancuo Lake, fluttering prayer flags in colorful shades, smiling monks in flowing robes and the golden roofs of the Gompa glittering in the sunlight. Visit a local Tibetan family and join your gracious hosts for lunch as you learn about their precious cultural heritage. Over gentle conversations, relish a simple meal of typical Tibetan barley bread and dried pork, washed down with cups of Tibetan butter tea. After a satisfying lunch, learn the art of Thangka painting at a nearby school. A religious art, original Thangka works are delicately painted on precious silk scrolls and involve the use of gold paint. Return to your hotel after the trip. (Full Day; Time: 0800 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Lunch included; Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
Napahai Lake Biking Tour Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the impossibly blue glacial lakes and high altitude grasslands around Shangri-la. After breakfast or lunch at your hotel, head out towards the Napa Lake region with your local English speaking guide. Choose your bike and make the most of a wonderful trip, riding along the Himalayan landscape of rugged mountains and verdant grasslands. The Napa Lake lies in a valley lined with snow-covered peaks on all three sides. It is completely blanketed in snow through the long winter and spring months, but come summer, the valley transforms into an Alpine flowery meadow. Expect to find herds of local yaks and horses grazing peacefully in meadows. Ride along the picturesque lakeside, taking in the local Tibetan villages along the way. Don’t forget to stop for a gorgeous photo op or a selfie at this roof of the world. (Half Day; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Easy; Please dress comfortably).
The capital of the Sichuan province, Chengdu, in the foothills of the Himalayas, is renowned for its giant pandas, flavorful cuisine, and a laid back vibe. The city is a mix of downtown skyscrapers and well preserved ancient neighborhoods.
Enjoy a Sichuan Opera Show Spend the evening watching a fascinating Sichuan opera performance unique to the region. Tracing its origins to the 18th century, this operatic style is distinguished by its face-changing moves and flashy stunts. Head backstage to see the actors put on make-up as they get into character. Get a look at the different patterns in various colors that the actors use to portray the characteristics of each persona. Watch mesmerized as dancers, fire-eaters, acrobats, and other artists put up a riveting 90-minute show. Soak in the rich cultural ambiance created by the ornate set designs and the dazzling costumes of the performers. Lose yourself in the tales adapted from the classics, folklore, and legends that are depicted by the artists with the help of visual aids and special effects. (Half Day; Private Activity; Fitness Level: Easy).
See the Pandas at Chengdu Panda Breeding Center Set out to spend time with adorable pandas at the Panda Breeding Center situated on the outskirts of the city. Wander around the facility that is the largest center for captive pandas in the world with a population of nearly 100 animals. Learn all about the habits and breeding of this endangered species that has been at the center of conservation efforts by the Chinese government and numerous NGOs. Get a closer look at the country’s famous residents and see how the conservation efforts have borne fruit with the population of the species increasing by about 50 percent. Click photographs of these charming creatures as they frolic and relax in their natural habitat before you head back. (Full Day; Private Activity; Fitness Level: Easy.)
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and accompany you to Chengdu airport in a private vehicle
Price & Inclusions
Option 1 From $ 3,290 /person
Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.
Accommodation and meals, as specified in the itinerary
Activities and excursions, as specified in the itinerary
Transportation services, as specified in the itinerary
Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact supporting you during your trip
Entrance fees and meals, unless mentioned in the itinerary description