7-Day Window of Yunnan Sightseeing Tour

This is a great trip for those who want to see the variety of Yunnan while enjoying some creature comforts. You will visit the historical towns of Dali and Lijiang, drive through the rugged Tiger Leaping Gorge and sightsee the Tibetan centre of Zhongdian. However, as with all Backroads of China tours, you will also be taken off the regular tourist trail- hiking up Cangshan Mountain, taking part in local Bai minority market, spending a night in a small Hui minority village and enjoying a meal with a local Tibetan family.

Tour starts/finishes: Dali/Lijiang
Fitness level required:
Time of year available: Anytime
Time of year recommended: March-early June, mid-September to November

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Dali- Cangshan Mountain (L, D)
Visit one of the local markets (if market day). Then drive out to Cangshan Mountain. Ride the cable car up to Zhonghe Temple and have a late lunch at the Higherland Inn. Then spend the afternoon walking along the Cloud Pass enjoying incredible views over Erhai Lake and Dali city. Come down the mountain in the late afternoon. Overnight in Dali.

Day 2: Erhai Lake- local Bai villages (L, D)
Visit the Bai villages around Erhai Lake including Zhoucheng and Xizhou where you will sample the Bai people’s famous “3 course” tea. Then after lunch take a 2 hour boat cruise on Erhai Lake visiting Golden Shuttle Island, a summer resort for the royal family of the Nanzhao kingdom. Overnight in Dali.

Day 3: Dali-Lijiang (L)
Travel from Dali to Lijiang. After settling into your guesthouse in the old town, take a bike ride out to Shuhe or Baisha Naxi Villages, both recognised as World Cultural Heritage sights for their 1000 year long histories. These villages were the first settlements of the Naxi ancestors when they crossed over the Jinsha River and came down Jade Dragon Snow Mountain into the Lijiang Basin.  Soak up the old world charm of their streets, alleyways and market squares. That night, enjoy dinner by the canals of Lijiang Old Town.

Day 4: Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Haba Village
(L, D)
Drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge (2 hours) via the First Bend of Yangtze River. Take a short hike through the Gorge, being dwarfed by the peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on one side and Haba Snow Mountain on the other. Drive on to Haba Village for overnight stay.

Day 5: Haba-White Water Terraces-  Zhongdian (B, L, D)

Visit the Yi and Muslim villages near Haba. Then drive to the White Water Terraces, a series of spectacular terraced pools formed from minerals deposited by spring water. Have an hour’s walk around the pools, then continue drivingto Zhongdian (3.5 hours) or “Shangri-la” as it was officially named by the Chinese government in 2001. Have a walk around Zhongdian old town, and see the gigantic prayer wheel on the hill. That night see the local Tibetans kick up their heels in the town square. Overnight in Zhongdian.

Day 6: Songzanlin Monastery- Shangbala Nature Reserve (L, D)

Enjoy a dawn visit to the Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhism monastery in Yunnan province. It was built over 320 years ago on a site chosen by divination by the 5th Dalai Lama, and is now home to over 700 monks and lamas. Have a late breakfast, then journey out to Shangbala Nature Reserve where you will spend the rest of the day enjoying the Tibetan countryside- having lunch with a local family and hiking/horseriding through Tibetan grasslands and yak pastures.

Day 7: Zhongdian- Lijiang (L)
In the morning visit the Zhongdian market to see the Khampa Tibetans in their traditional ethnic dress buying and selling their local wares: everything from yak cheese to noodle soup to black clay cookware. Then visit the newly opened Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Museum, which explains the history and culture of the region’s Tibetan minorities. Drive back to Lijiang (4 hours). Tour concludes.

Note: If you would like to hike the Upper Trail of the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Total distance: 28km) this itinerary can be extended by a day. Please contact us for the adjusted itinerary.

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 5200 CNY 3950 CNY 3650 CNY 3250 CNY 3000 CNY 1000 CNY
Comfortable 6500 CNY 4800 CNY 4200 CNY 3800 CNY 3600CNY 1600 CNY

Price inclusions

  1. Accommodation: Budget: 4 nights in guesthouses, 2 nights in 3 star standard hotel; Comfortable: 1 night in local guesthouse, 5 nights in 3 star standard guesthouse/hotels
  2. Entrance tickets: Cangshan Mountain (80 CNY), Erhai Lake (80 CNY), Lijiang Ancient Town Protection Fee (80 CNY), Tiger Leaping Gorge (50 CNY), Tiger Leaping Stone (10 CNY), White Water Terraces (30 CNY), Songzanlin Monastery (85 CNY), Shangbala Nature Reserve (40 CNY), Zhongdian Provincial Museum (10 CNY)
  3. All transportation: Budget: Transportation is in a mix of hired vans and public buses; Comfortable: Private transportation by 2WD or Ruifeng business vehicle is provided for the duration of the tour
  4. Meals : 1 breakfast, 7 lunches, 5 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 Chinese breakfast foods (noodles, steamed buns, eggs).
  5. Guide: An experienced English speaking tour guide

Price exclusions

  1. Horseriding fees
  2. Snacks, drinks and western food
  3. Travel insurance
  4. Personal expenses such as phone calls, laundry or porters’ fees


  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.

Travellers’ feedback

Anne Hall writes…

Anne HallJust wanted to let you know that my trip in Yunnan was wonderful. I enjoyed it and found it interesting and fascinating. I have visited China before in the big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Xian so it was great to be back and see more of the natural beauty and the smaller villages and towns. Both guides, Bamboo and Stephen, were excellent. Steven has a wonderful personality and sense of humour and his knowledge, history and pride in his culture shone through.

The stay in Baishuitai was a highlight for me. Whilst the accommodation was basic I had the best sleep of the entire trip and the evening home cooked meal was delicious. Steven cooked the breakfast of apple and walnut pancakes and a fried egg and coffee which was also delicious. It was wonderful to be able to see the village come to life and everyone including the dogs set about their daily activities.

Thankyou for all your help, information and arranging which made this holiday so successful and so enjoyable.

Anna Roche writes…

‘This was the first time we had done a tour like this and we were not entirely sure how it would work out, but it was everything we had hoped for! Jonathan was charming, helpful and a good companion, even putting up with our terrible attempts at speaking and reading Mandarin. We had some wonderful and memorable experiences with him and have brought home some great memories and thousands of photos.

We also really appreciated the opportunity to see and experience more than just the ‘sights’ – we will never forget the lunch with the Yi minority woman who was working in her field of potatoes as we walked into the village and who then agreed to cook us lunch in her home. When we return to China, we definitely be back in contact and we will recommend Backroads of China to anyone who is planning a trip to China.’

Sue Lucas writes…

‘We had been living in Shanghai for a year and wanted to experience the ‘real China’. Tania and Wang proved to be the perfect couple to show us. Now we have done two trips with them, one from Zhangjiajie to Guilin in central China, and this trip in Yunnan in western China. Both were certainly experiences that won’t be forgotten for many years. So much care and attention went into the planning of these tours, from accommodation in local guesthouses to eating in local cafes….but not before Tania or Wang had checked the cleanliness of the bathrooms.

Our best memories are of water wheels and Rice Terraces but most exciting of all was Tiger Leaping Gorge.’

Joan McQuaid writes…

‘The whole tour was the trip of a lifetime for me. I very much enjoyed the places we visited and the variety of activities that were offered to us. Tiger Leaping Gorge was astounding and even more grand than I had anticipated it would be. I also found it very moving to witness the nightly dance of the Tibetan residents and tourists in the town square at Zhongdian. I really enjoyed our guide, Jonathan. He has such a kind spirit and is so good natured. He worked very hard to accommodate each person’s needs (quite difficult to do because 7 tourists may have seven wishes for just one activity!)
In summary, I could not have enjoyed the tour more than I did. It was fantastic. I cannot wait to join another Backroads of China tour one day soon. Thank you so much for making it such a memorable and enjoyable trip.’

Svetla Alexova writes…

‘We had a fantastic trip in Yunnan! Everything was perfectly organized and the scenery there is amazing. Jonathan was additional blessing to us, he is a great guide and extremely nice person. We will recommend you guys to all our friends and colleagues.’


You are enquiring about the 7-Day Window of Yunnan Sightseeing Tour. Please tell more about your travel plans and we’ll reply to you in the next 48 hours. If you are making a more general tour enquiry then please fill in our Contact Us form.

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