Kunming to Chengdu

Kunming to Chengdu (Meili Snow Mt. to Yading) Route


Location: Northwest Yunnan and Southwest Sichuan

Description: The most attractive route in China, an exploration of ethnic minority cultures and spectacular sacred landscapes in southwest China.

Attractions: Sacred mountains, primitive forests, precious plants and animals, as well as splendid Naxi and Tibetan cultures.

Starting: Kunming of Yunna
Ending: Chengdu of Sichuan

Route A
Kunming > Lijiang > Tiger Leaping Gorge > Zhongdian > Deqin(Meili Snow Mt.)> Zhongdian(Shangri-La)> Daocheng(Yading) > Litang > Xinduqiao> Danba> Rilong > Chengdu (20~28 days)

Route B
Kunming> Lijiang > Lugu Lake > Yading Nature Reserve > Daocheng > Litang > Chengdu

Itinerary of Route A

Access: Take a flight or train to Kunming;  Map>> Kunming to Chengdu

D1-2 Explore Kunming
The rich cultural and historical heritage of the 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.   More details at Kunming.

Attractions: Western Hills Park / Dianchi / GoldenTemple/ Green Lake Park / Stone Forest (90km away)

D2-3 Kunming to Dali (392km)
Located northwest of Kunming, Dali can be reached by train or bus. It is home to the ethnic Bai people. The beautiful scenery, varied traditions and the culture of minority nationalities make Dali a well-known place of interest. Swarming with foreigners, it has become a tourist haven and can be a welcome break from the harder realities of other parts of China.

Attractions in Dali: 3 Pagodas/ Dali Old City/Cruise on Erhai Lake/ Cangshan Mt.  Link: Dali.

D4-6 Dali to Lijiang (200km)
A 4-hour bus ride gets you to Lijiang, 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

D7-9 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.

D10-11 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

D12-14 Zhongdian to Deqin (180km)
5 hours journey. Benzilan and Dongzhulinsi are on the way, where the driver may allow a short stop.
Attractions in Deqin: Meli Snow Mt./ the Kora from Feilai Temple to Hot Spring, Yubeng Village & its sacred waterfall, Mingyong Glacier, Lotus Temple.

Related links: Deqin,  Meili Snow Mt.Pilgrim to Meili Snow Mountains

D15-16 Deqin> Zhongdian(180km/5hrs)> Xiangcheng(220km/9hrs)> Daocheng(112km/3hrs)
The 512km journey to Daocheng from Deqin is complicated and takes at least 2 days if you are not traveling with a chartered van.

First take a bus return to Zhongdian. The regular bus connecting Zhongdian to Daocheng [330km/ 12 hrs] zigzags in the awesome Shangri-La Gorge. However this route is often cut by landslides. If the direct bus service is suspended, take an alternative bus to Xiangcheng(7:30am everyday) then change to Daocheng.  

Sichuan Part  

D17 Explore Daocheng
Located in the southwest border of Sichuan at an average elevation of 3800m, Daocheng is full of discovery of primitive Tibetan villages, Buddhism monasteries and pastoral scenery brought by the rolling landscapes.

Attractions: Hongcaodi(Red Grassland) / Xiongdeng Temple / Bangpu Temple / Rewu Temple / Konkaling Temple... For more details, pls click Daocheng

D18-20 Daocheng> Riwa(77km)> Yading(30KM)
Take a bus or charter a van(Y250-300/jeep) from Daocheng, about 2hrs journey to Riwa. From Riwa to Yading(Chong-Gu Temple), make it by chartering a van, riding on a mule (Y60/day with a horseman) or trekking on foot.

Yading, the "Shangri-La" discovered by Joseph Rock in 1928, is renowned for the 3 holy peaks - Jambeyang and Chanadorje of 5,958m, Chenresig of 6,032m. Chong-gu Temple is the base for travelling in the range. A small kora around takes 2~3days.

Main Attractions: the 3 Holy Peaks / Five-colored Lake / Milk Lake /Pearl Lake / Chonggu Temple / Luorong Pasture

Related links: Yading, Lugu Lake to Yading Trek

D21 Yading> Daocheng> Litang(310KM)
Back to Daocheng along the same way as you come in and get transferred to Litang. Chartering a van to Litang costs around Y400. Litang is an oasis between Chengdu and Tibet, used to be an important stage on the Tea-Horse Caravans Route, now is a stop on south Sichuan-Tibet highway, a simple pasturing area with bustling bazaar where the nomads and Tibetans gather to trade their products.

Attractions: Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling Monastery / Horse Racing Festival in August every year 

D22 Litang> Xinduqiao (217KM)
Xinduqiao features plateau pasture scenery of rolling chain of mountains, river valleys dotted with poplars, grassland, Tibetan villages. It's renowned as "the paradise of photographers", offering seasonal stunning views, especially in the autumn.

D23-24 Xinduqiao to Danba (145KM)
Danba is famous for the watchtowers, the most beautiful Tibetan villages and the charming girls("Danba Beauty"). More about Danba.

D25-27 Danba to Rilong(150KM)
Rilong is a springboard for visiting the Four Maiden Mountains, "the Oriental Alps". It takes 3 days to explore the scenic gullies at the foot of the mountains. A trek from Changping Gully to Bipenggou in Miyaluo also starts here.

Links: Siguniang Shan, Siguniang Shan to Bipenggou

D28 Rilong to Chengdu(230KM)
The bus will cross over the Balangshan of 4520m, wreathed by cloud and mist year-round. The Wolong Reserve(Giant Panda) and Dujiangyan Irrigation Project site is on the way back to Chengdu, you can pay a short visit respectively.

Link: Chengdu

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