congratulations on your web site, wishing you and thosewhofollow successful travel. I hope this is of interest to your independent travellers form the Prague cafe ;-)Lijiang to Shangri La and not to forget Mei Meis cafe in Jinghong:P
Kumming to Shangri La and down to Jinghong you will love Yunnan, In kumming stay at "the Hump" if you get the bus from the vietnamese border then it will drop you on Beijing Luu "the Hump" is about 1 km up the rd on Beijing Lu on left but taxis are cheap. If you fly in then take 98 to Beijing Lu also as LP says Camelia Hotel on way. I stayed Spring city hotel on Dong Fen West rd which is just in front of the Muslim area and the Old Market graet for DVD’s of latest films etc $0.60c each also lots of tourist “Tat,” Cd’s and also do the schilling stone forest sth of Kumming [I sadly missed it] also see the monastry [Yuantong ] is a must just Nth of Kumming on Beijing Lu till Yuantong Jic, turn left and its on rt. great vege restaurant opposite with tofu dishes that taste just like meat Ha! Ha!
The bus will take you to Dali from Kumming , despite what is written about the road being under construction road was OK when I went and although yet to be tarmac’d was solid and pretty smooth. At Dali bus station watch out for the tourist touts who will take you to GH and charge them for your stay. leave bus station through front and bus stop this side of rd on left, take the number 4 to Dali old town [place1 Yuan note in the bus box.] when you see the gate and the city walls in front of you. then get off bus as it turns left. on right friends Inn [very nice people ] and opposite at side of alley across rd "Le Juan" great rooms for 30-40 Yuan for double and very clean with ensuite and sat TV [watch Da Shan teach you Chinese]the girls here are so sweet and helpful. There is no sign for the Hotel in English.
To see Dali lake trip walk through town to X rds then catch bus, 1/2 Yuan to dock then day trip on boat. It is also good to get a fishing trip with the Cormorants here. The cable car advertises for 84Yuan return but all the GH’s will get you the ret ticket for 50Yuan. bus to Lijian again outside bus station take number 11 or 3 or 1 this time cross rd head Nth on bus about 2 km you will see theatre on rt [Sun and dance of Yi people great choreography if a bit of a Kitsch plot] and get off here walk past theatre to waterwheel turn rt and walk down to old town sq I stayed Inn on the Square, bargain for all rooms ie 30Yuan.eat at Prague Café great for meeting people and also try the green curry, Also the GH’s will have have great free map for trek on Tiger leaping gorge go through park and up Red dragon mtn on cable care fantastic views 5,000m high [cable car goes up 4,500m] and although expensive a must, then on to gorge take path from that side and walk over the gorge down to Chau Tau [easiest way to do it ] then bus from there to Shangri La [Xongdian ]takes around 3hrs.
Here is great monastery, to reach it take no 3 bus direct [get on main rd, also stay old town again. from here you get the bus direct to Lhasa.6,7 hrs by road. I missed out on Lugu lake, [where the Nushe women live,] try and get to that also. I flew from Dali to Jinghong, but whether you arrive by bus or fly ask to be dropped off at Mei Meis Café, Jingde Rd ask for Orchid and also opposite there is a similar café where you can arrange trips amongst the ethnic minorities in this area also the boat from here to Thailand direct, Chang Sien, or the bus to Menghla and Mohan [border Boten in Laos] Lao visa is on arrival at Boten and from here you can get a bus direct to Oudamasai/ Non khiaw[boat to Mong Noi] or bus direct to Luam Namtha and Muan Sing. The bus station is about 500m past border café and Bank.the bus should cost $1 between the borders about 2km. There is a direct chinese sleeper bus that will take you direct from Kumming or Jinghong to LuamPhrabang in Laos or vice versa very much cheaper than doing it by the way I went. also now there is a 1 month Lao visa available at the border Boten/Mohan instead of the two week one as mentioned above. whatever you do have fun.