Description - A Tour of Kunming, Lijiang, Zhongdian & the Holy City of Lhasa
Yunnan Province is unique in China for its combination of natural beauty, cultural diversity and its quaint old towns. Yunnan is also the ancient trading post & salt trading route. Explore the enchanting & multi-ethnic towns of Kunming, Lijiang & continue a journey into Zhongdian or Gyalthang, a Tibetan enclave in Yunnan & the home of the Shangri-La legend - its spectacular mountain landscapes, Tibetan towns, ethnic minorities and traditional life. From Zhongdian fly to Lhasa, the forbidden city & the ultimate pilgrim destination for Tibetan Buddhist all over.
After exploring Lhasa, you can take the option to continue via overland to Nepal including excursion to Everest Base Camp or fly out to Kathmandu/Chengdu/Kunming.
Access: Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan
Best Season:March - November
Arrive at Kunming from somewhere by train or flight. Time permits, visit around. More details at Kunming.
D2: KUNMING to LIJIANG
Explore Kunming in daytime and take late overnight sleeper bus to Lijiang. The rich cultural and historical heritage of Kunming city offers a wealth of treasures. The Golden Temple Park and the Bamboo Temple are essential stops on the tourist route. The city also boasts numerous natural attractions, the Stone Forest being the most popular, winning world fame for of its breathtaking beauty.
Another fascinating aspect of the city are the many different cultures and ethnic groups thriving here. The ethnic groups, featuring a wealth of cuisine and entertainment, practice various cultural and religious activities. Attractions: Western Hills Park / Dianchi / GoldenTemple/ Green Lake Park / Stone Forest (90km away)
Lijiang is the most beautiful ancient town in China, incredibly rich in cultural resources, home to the Baisha Frescoes (a national historical relic) and "Naxi Dongjing Music" being living examples of Tang and Song Dynasty art, and also Dongba hieroglyphs, the only existing pictographs in the world.
Dayan Old Town is a perfect base for an exploration in Lijiang, 3 days is reasonable. Link: Lijiang
Attractions in Dayan: the Old Town itself / Black Dragon Pool / Baisha Mural / Naxi Culture (folk dance and music)/ Mansion of Mu Clan...
Around Dayan: Shuhe Old Town / Lashihai / Yufeng Monastery
1. Don't waste your time and money to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the peaks in Shangri-La and Deqin are much more spectacular.
2. If you want to skip Dali for some reasons, you can go to Lijiang from Kunming directly by express or sleeper bus, 8~9hrs. To save time, spleeper bus is an ideal choice, departing at 10pm from Kunming and arriving Lijiang at 6am next day
D5-6: Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world most beautiful gorges, an unforgettable display of powerfully intense raw nature. From Lijiang, you can take an 8am Hutiao / Zhongdian-bound bus, get off at Qiaotou(Y13-15, 2hrs), leave your bag at Backpackers' Cafe(unless you plan to trek further to Baishuitai near Haba Snow Mt.), then change to a local minibus to the entrance of the gorge. Admission fee: Y50
A high trek in the gorge offers better adventure and vistas, but is recommended only to fit and experienced mountain trekkers, as it is hazardously narrow and precipitous. There is a few options of trekking routes in the gorge, takes 1-3 days.
Links: Tiger Leaping Gorge, Tiger Leaping Gorge to Baishuitai
From Walnut Grove, take a taxi (Y10-15) or walk back to Qiaotou via the low trek. From here, either hitch a bus onward to Zhongdian (last bus at 17:00) or return to Lijiang. Another more adventurous option is trekking to Haba Snow Mt. from Tiger Leaping Gorge along the trail via Jiangbian.
D7: Qiaotou / Lijiang to Zhongdian (Shangri-La) (200km)
Zhongdian is on the north of Lijiang, frequent daily buses can get you to there for around 5 hrs. It's the base of the Shangri-La tour, also the transportation, cultural and commercial center of the Diqing region. Link: Shangri-La
Zhongdian Attractions: Bita Lake / Napa Lake / Shudo Lake / Songzangling Monastry
In the morning visit the Sumsanling Monastery, which was built in 1679 by the Fifth Dalai lama. It is considered as the most important monastery of Gelukpa-sect in Yunnan province. In the afternoon visit local market & the old town of Gyalthang & Lake Napa Nature Reserve, a bird-watchers's paradise & sanctuary for rare species such as the Black-neck crane.
D9: Zhongdian to Lhasa
Transfer to Zhongdian airport and fly to Lhasa(suppose your ticket is booked in advance). Lhasa Gonggar Airport is located 98km south of Lhasa city. The airport shuttle bus, running between the airport and China Airlines Office in Lhasa costs Y20/head.
- Potala Palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, is reputed to contain 1,000 rooms, & is considered as one of the world's most remarkable buildings. Sitting at top of a mountain overlooking Lhasa, the Potala contains hundreds upon hundreds of magnificent thangkas, frescoes, and images.
- The Jokhang Temple, the principal Buddhist temple in Lhasa, known for its large gold image of Sakyamuni Buddha, first constructed in the 7th century.
- The Norbulingka, a richly decorated complex located in a beautiful garden setting, is the traditional summer palace of the Dalai Lamas.
- Drepung Monastery -one of the largest Tibetan monastic universities, used to have 8,000 monks who were taught in the traditions of Vajrayana, Mahayana and Sutrayana, the three vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism.
- The Barkor bazaar, the bustling market in Lhasa, a colorful congregating place for Tibetan merchants.
More: Lhasa Region
D12: LHASA-GYANGTSE (3990M), 350KM
Take a ride via Yamdrok, the Turquoise Lake to Gyangtse across Kampa la pass 5050 m & Karo la (5045 m)passes. Visit Kubum stupa & Pelkor Chode Monastery in Gyangtse...See more details at Gyantse
D13: GYANGTSE-SHALU-SHIGATSE (3860M), 90KM
Transfer to Shigatse. En route visit Shalu Monastery if you travel by a chartered vehicle. Upon arriving Shigatse, visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of Panchen Lama who is the 2nd in the Buddhist religious hierachy. Shigatse market is also a place of interest... More
D14: SHIGATSE-SAKYA-SHEGAR/TINGRI (4350M)
Transfer to Shegar across Tsoula pass (4500 M) & Gyatso la pass (5220 M). En route visit Sakya Monastery. Enjoy the western Tibetan Typical Nature landscape. Lodging in Tingri.
D15: SHEGAR-RONGBUK(5050 M)
Drive via Pangla pass (5200 M) to Rongbuk Monastery, world's highest monastery situated at 5200M. The road condition is so terrible that it takes 4-6 hours to arrive only by a land cruiser. Overnight at Rongbuk Guest House.
1.Documents: PSB permit, Entrance permit to the Everest Nature Reserve
2. Admission fee: Y65/head;Y405/vehicle
D16: EVEREST BASE CAMP
You have the option to hike or drive to Everest Base Camp. Lodging in a tent in the Base camp. More of Mt. Everest
After watching sunrise over Everest, move forward on to Nylam. Stay overnight at Nylam Guest House.
Drive to Zhangmu & on to Kathmandu. En route visit Milarepa Cave. Descend from the high arid Tibetan plateau into the lush greenery of Nepal.