11-Day Best of Yunnan Tour

This tour offers an amazing variety of experiences: trekking up to the base of the world’s fasting moving glacier, watching the sun rise over the Meili Snow Mountains, canoeing on a beautiful highland lake, sampling wine in the Catholic village of Cizhong, and witnessing the Tibetan monks morning prayer rituals. Every day will reveal a new aspect of the incredible diversity that Yunnan has to offer in its landscapes and minority peoples.

Tour starts/ends: Lijiang
Fitness level required: Moderate
Time of year available: March-November
Recommended time: March-June, September-November

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Lijiang Old Town-Wenhai Naxi village (L, D)
Take an early morning walk around the streets and alleyways of Lijiang Old Town. Have breakfast at the local fresh produce market. Then drive up to Wenhai Naxi Village, a quaint village situated on a plateau above the hills of Lijiang. Explore the village and have lunch at the Wenhai Ecolodge before visiting an Yi village in the afternoon. Return to Lijiang for overnight.

Day 2: Lijiang-Qiaotou-Naxi Family Guesthouse-Teahorse Trade Guesthouse (L, D)
Set off early for the 2 hour drive to Qiaotou, the gateway to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Walk for 2 hours to Naxi Family Guesthouse for a morning tea stop. Then hike for a further 3 hours, first braving the 900 metre ascent through the ’28 Bends’ then enjoying the panaroma of Yulong Snow Mountains from the summit as you hike along a flatter path to the Teahorse Trade Guesthouse. Have a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon at the Teahorse Trade Guesthouse.

Day 3: Teahorse Trade Guesthouse-Tina’s- Haba (B, L, D)
Hike for approx 3 hours from Teahorse Guesthouse to Tina’s Guesthouse, passing some beautiful cascades on route. Have lunch at Tina’s, overlooking the Middle Rapids of the Jinsha River. In the afternoon there is the option of a slightly dangerous 2 hour return hike to visit Tiger Leaping Stone. Drive onto Haba Village for overnight at the Haba Snow Mountain Inn.

Day 4: Haba-White Water Terraces-Zhongdian
(B, L, D)
Visit the Yi and Muslim villages around Haba. Then drive to White Water Terraces (Baishuitai), a series of spectacular terraced pools formed from minerals deposited by spring water. Have an hour’s walk around the pools, then continue driving to Zhongdian. Explore the old town, and in the evening, join with the local Tibetans as they kick up their heels in the town square. Overnight in Zhongdian.

Day 5: Zhongdian-Songzanlin Monastery-Feilaisi
(L, D)
Enjoy a dawn visit to Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in Yunnan province. Then drive from Zhongdian to Deqin, traversing several mountain ranges. Stop for lunch at Benzanlin, a small Tibetan town by the river and have a wander around the streets. Further up the road, you will pass what is commonly referred to as the “Omega”, the first bend of the Jinsha River. As you near Deqin, enjoy your first views of the Meili Snow Mountains. Overnight at a guesthouse in Feilaisi.

Day 6: Mingyong Glacier-Cizhong (B, L, D)
Get up early to watch sunrise over the Meili Snow Mountains, then proceed onto Mingyong Glaciers. To reach the viewpoint, you have the option of a 3 hour trek through the forest, or a 1.5-2 hour horse ride. After coming back down from the glacier, drive for approx 4.5 hours to Cizhong, a Catholic wine-growing village set amidst a beautiful mountain valley, down by the Lancang Jiang. Overnight at The Red Wine Guesthouse where you can taste delicious wine made by the church’s caretaker.

Day 7: Cizhong-Tacheng
(B, L, D)
Visit Cizhong Catholic church, built in 1909, and now used for worship by Catholics from Tibetan, Naxi, Han and Li villages in the nearby area (services are in in Tibetan dialect on Saturday and Sundays). Climb to the top of the tower for breathtaking views. Then drive for 5 hours from Cizhong along the Mekong River to Tacheng, traditionally an important town of the Tea Horse Trade Caravan from Yunnan to Tibet and India.  Overnight in Tacheng in a simple guesthouse.

Day 8: Tacheng-Shigu-Shuhe (B, L, D)
Visit the Tacheng Monkey Reserve where you will have the opportunity to see up-close in the wild two of Yunnan’s endangered monkey species: the Yunnan Golden Monkey and the Yunnan Black Snub-Nosed Monkey. Then drive from Tacheng back to Lijiang (4 hours) along the beautiful Jinsha River. Stop in Shigu (Stone Drum) town where the Yangtze River bends for the first time after flowing uninterrupted in a thousand-kilometre arc from its source on the Tibet/Qinghai border. Have lunch then drive onto Shuhe arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight in a small guesthouse in Shuhe Ancient Town, a very well-preserved town along the ancient tea route and one of the earliest settlements of Naxi people’s ancestors.

Day 9: Shuhe Old Town- Lugu Lake
(B, L, D)
Today we embark on the long (approx 6 hours) but spectacular mountain drive from Lijiang to Lugu Lake, a beautiful highland lake (Elevation: 2700 m) located on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. The Mosuo people living in the area retain their traditional customs of a matriarchal society. Overnight in Lige village by the lakeside.

Day 10: Around Lugu Lake (B, L, D)
Spend the day exploring the Lugu Lake area. You can hike between the small Mosuo villages dotting the lake, sightsee around the lake by vehicle or take a small canoe to visit some of the islands. Have lunch with a local family in their home to learn more about the unique customs and lifestyle of the Mosuo minority. Overnight in Lige village.

Day 11: Lugu Lake-Lijiang (B, L, D)
Drive from Lugu Lake back to Lijiang. Tour concludes.

Tour prices

The following table shows the price per person for groups of varying sizes. The budget and comfortable options differ in terms of transportation and accommodation. Please see price inclusions below for details.

2 people 3 people 4-5 people 6-7 people 8 + people
Single supplement
Budget 8450 CNY 6400 CNY 5600 CNY 5000 CNY 4650 CNY 900 CNY
Comfortable 10250 CNY 7500 CNY 6500 CNY 5600CNY 5350 CNY 1400 CNY

Price inclusions

  1. Accommodation: Budget: 9 nights in guesthouses, 1 night in a 3 star hotel; Comfortable: 5 nights in guesthouses, 5 nights in 3 star standard guesthouses/hotels
  2. Entrance tickets: Tiger Leaping Gorge (50 CNY), Tiger Leaping Stone (10 CNY), White Water Terraces (30 CNY), Songzanlin Monastery (85 CNY), Omega bend of Jinsha River (30 CNY), Mingyong Glacier (80 CNY), Shuhe Ancient Town (30 CNY), Lugu Lake (80 CNY)
  3. The following activities: Canoeing on Lugu Lake
  4. All transportation: Budget- For Days 1-3 and 9-11 we use a combination of public buses and hired vans, from Days 4-8 we use private transportation by 2WD or Ruifeng business vehicle; Comfortable- private transportation by 2WD or Ruifeng business vehicle for the duration of the tour
  5. Meals : 8 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners as indicated on the itinerary. Lunches and dinners will be standard Chinese food including rice and a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Breakfasts will be a combination of Chinese breakfast foods (noodles, steamed buns, eggs) and western food (pancakes, fried eggs) where available.
  6. Guide: An experienced English speaking tour guide

Price exclusions

  1. Horse hire in the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Mingyong Glacier
  2. Snacks, drinks and western food
  3. Travel insurance
  4. Personal expenses such as phone calls, laundry or porters’ fees
  5. Entrance fee to Lijiang Ancient Town (80 CNY)


  1. Surcharges will be charged for peak travelling times such as Chinese New Year, May Day (May 1st-7th) and National Day (October 1st-7th). For tours at these times please contact us for a customized quote.
  2. The prices quoted are to be used as a guide only. A final tour quote will be provided to you at the time of enquiry which may be higher or lower than the price listed above.


Below are some images from previous tours in this area. Click to view larger images.


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