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Route 1

Route 1: Kunming-Dali-Lijiang- Shangri-La      By train or bus      7 or 8 days     from  600


Dali Ancient City is 13 kilometers (8.1 miles) away from Xiaguan in Dali City, Yunnan Province and is one of the 'Three Ancients' (Ancient Cities, Ancient Pagodas and Ancient Steles) of the Dali Scenic Spot. It can be dated back to the year 1382 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and has been among the top listed historical cities of China since 1982. With Erhai Lake to the east, and Cangshan Mountain to the west, its grand city wall, traditional Bai ethnic minority folk houses and marvelous scenery have been attracting many visitors.

  According to literature, Dali Ancient City was a gateway to the Silk Road in Southwest China, and also served as a seat of government and a major military barracks for Yunnan Province in ancient times. It enjoyed magnificent scale, with a wall length of 6 kilometers (3.73 miles), a height of 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) and a thickness of 6 meters (19.7 feet). There were four city gates facing west, east, north and south, upon which sat a gate tower. Four further towers were also placed at the four corners of the city wall. As it underwent many phases of prosperity as well as decline, only the city base remains till today. We can explore the mystery belonging to that period of history, especially through witnessing some parts of the city wall, the North City Wall Tower and the South City Wall Tower which were restored in 1982. The city layout was uniform, with five main streets from south to north and eight main streets from east to west, while marketplaces were neatly arranged within the city, which has remained unchanged to this date.

  When people walk along the cobble-paved streets in the ancient city, a sense of primitive simplicity and elegance will be invoked. Besides the Bai ethnic minority traditional folk houses, the houses all with grey-green roof tiles, peculiar workshops, temples, schools and churches with an antique flavor are scattered. Traditional artworks made of marble, such as pencil vases, striped screens, and a variety of woven handicrafts made of fine straw are laid chockablock on both sides of the street to be appreciated and purchased. Foreigner Street is also a must-see, providing snacks with the traditional flavors of the Bai ethnic community, as well as the famous 'Three-course Tea' ceremony for receiving guests that includes “bitter tea”,“sweet tea” and “final tea”.

The Ancient City of Lijiang

At the foot of Yulong(Jade Dragon)Snow Mountain in northwestern Yunnan Province is the ancient town of Lijiang. In the remote past. It was already inhabited with tribal people. In 1253 , Kublai Khan,the Mongol chief,stationed his troops here on his southward march to conquer the State of Dali. For the next 500 year,to the early days of the Qing Dynasty、the place was ruled by a hereditary succession of chieftains from the Mu clan of the Naxi people、under the jurisdiction of the imperial court.

Lijiang is a mystical and beautiful town on the center of Lijiang valley,2410 meters above sea evel,with about 25 000 residents on an area of 3.8 square kilometers. It is the gateway to northwest Yunnan region, and No. 214 National Road runs through the city to Tibet in the north or to Dali City in the south , capital of the autonomous prefecture.

The inhabitants of Lijiang are mainly of Naxi minority .and the city is the only autonomous city of the nationality. It has long been known world wide for its grandiose snow clad mountain,the steep gorge,the elegant Mt. Laojun,the clean Lugu Lake, and the colorful  and various customs of the minorities. The outside world is surprised by its ancient and simple sense of “identity of Heaven and Man” and its excellent culture,amazed by the ancestors of the minorities who built a city without a wall on the beautiful land of Lijiang at this southwest frontier. In December of 1997,World Heritage Committee registered it on World Heritage List,and this “city forgotten gods” was since unveiled to the world with its oriental mystery and charm like pearl hidden among the mountains

Lijiang city is among rivers and mountains. northeast are Mt Elephant,Mt Golden Rainbow,and in the northwest is Mt Lion,and the city links them up .The mountains enclose the Lijiang valley in which stands the Lijiang city. The city was named Dayan,because it shapes like an ink stone,and“yan" has the same pronunciation of and can mean“ink stone”in Chinese. The valley surrounds the ancient city with the verdure of crops and vegetation in solemn silence; its villages scattered all about are  ;its lakes are clear and deep peaceful,quiet,and at ease. Near around the city are over a dozen tourist resorts of the region,the province, or the state, among which Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Jin sha River are the most glorious.

Classical Naxi music is described as the “living musical fossil” because of its long history. More surprisingly,the Dongba script is the world's only living hieroglyphics still in use. More than 20 000 volumes of ancient books in Dongba writing,rare and valuable documents,are now collected by libraries in China as well as some European and American countries. 


In the year 1893, James Hilton described an eternally peaceful and quiet place among mountains in the East—— "Shangri-La" in one of his novels for the first time. In the novel "Lost Horizon", an English diplomat Conway and his brother Gorge scattered the English citizens and helped them leave the dangerous region. On their way home, their plane was hijacked and fell down into the mountain in the an region. Some lucky survivors were taken to Shangri-la where Conway found lots of fantastic things in such a state founded nearly 200 years ago, in which the local people lived up to more than one hundred years old and lived peacefully and harmoniously with the other people, animals and everything here. The place was called “Shangri-La” by the local folks. James Hilton located “Shangri-La” in a mysterious valley which was surrounded by snow capped mountains; near where there were snow-clad peaks, blue lakes, broad grassy marshlands, and lamaseries, Buddhist nunneries, mosques, Catholic Church, the human beings and the nature were in perfect harmony, several religions and varies of nationalities exited at the same time; the temples looked splendid in green and golden; though people contacted the outer world by caravan for a long time, many foreign experts and scholars had come here to investigate and remained much relics……

Obviously, that is not only a beautiful scenery, but also a kind of artistic conception.With the novel and the film coming out, Shangri-La became very famous in western countries. Later, a Chinese named Guo Huonian used the name of this place and set up “Shangri-La” Hotel Group which has become one of the most successful hotel group in the world.

This is one of recommend tour guide route 

The more detail information you can visit the  or consulting Local tour guide (  Ms. Wang jie)

Day 1

Arrive in Kunming, the Spring City of China. Meet your guide at the airport and transfer to the featured hotel to check in. After a little rest, free to explore around Kunming city, such as the "Kunming 's Jade" - Green Lake Park, Kunming's symbol building - Phoenix Archway, and the vibrant Flowers and Birds Market. Tonight you will stay at the featured hotel in Kunming.

Day 2

In the early morning we take you to visit the Yunnan Stone Forest, which is one of most remarkable natural phenomena of China. You will wonder at the innumerable bizarre-shaped ancient limestone cliffs and peaks, which is created by wind and water erosion some 270 million years ago.

After lunch you will proceed to explore the Guandu Old Town, which is one of the historic and cultural towns in Kunming area. The ancient Shaolin Temple and Vajra Pagoda are the must-see of this old town. You will spend a lazy afternoon without the hassle of leaving the city. You can sit down for a cup of tea and chat with local people. A designated food street on the old town's east side offers a wide selection of local eats. Tonight you will stay at the hotel in Kunming.

Day 3

After breakfast in the hotel, you will go to visit the Western Hills where Taoist temples and Buddhism Temples could be found. A very beautiful lake view of the Dianchi Lake comes into your eyes if being on the top of the Hills - Dragon Gate. The elevation of the Dragon Gate is over 2,300 meters, 300 meters higher than the water surface of the Dianchi Lake. It consists of the Sanqing Temple and the Dragon Gate Grotto which was accomplished through 72 years of hard work (1781-1853). The 3rd March of lunar year is a festive time in the Western Hills, when it is considered the best time for Kunming residents to climb the mountains and look into the distance, to admire the spring flowers and appreciate the feeling of new life.

After lunch, transfer to Dali city, the economic and cultural center of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. Overnight at the hotel in Dali.

Day 4

Today, enjoy your one-day day city tour. You will first take a visit to the famous Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery. Then continue to explore Cangshan Mountain that made up of 17 peaks, among which, Malong Peak is the highest one that reach the height up to 4122m. You will catch a cable way up the mountain. On the mountain top, you can enjoy the fantastic view of Erhai Lake.

Afterwards proceed to Xizhou Village which is located about 18 kilometers north of Dali. Xizhou Village is one of the Bai ethnic minority villages around the Erhai Lake and has historic prominence with a cluster of over 100 protected buildings. You will be escorted to visit the house of local residents which is characterized by a traditional Chinese rectangular courtyard with a screen wall facing the gate. You will be greeted with the show of Three Courses of Tea which is the genuine tea ceremony of the Bai minority, and treated to a song & dance performance by local Bai people. In the late afternoon transferred to Lijiang. Enjoy a leisure stroll in Lijiang Old Town in the evening.

Day 5

After breakfast at hotel, start your visit to the Mu Mansion which is famed as Forbidden City of Naxi people. It is once the residential and working site of the Naxi rulers of Lijiang in the ancient time.

Then you will enjoy beautiful natural scenery in Black Dragon Pool Park which is located at the foot of Elephant Hill. It was built in 1737 during the Qing Dynasty and offers a spectacular view on the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Proceed to tour the Dongba Culture Exhibition Museum, which represents the Dongba Pictographic Characters and Naxi Minorities mysterious Culture, some of which still use the matriarchal social system up till today. In the late afternoon, transfer back to the Lijiang Old Town. You are free to explore this ancient town.

Day 6

In the morning drive to Shangri-la. On the road, you can enjoy the spectacular view of the First Bend of Yangtze River at Stone Drum Village. Also you will view the deepest gorge in the world - Tiger Leaping Gorge. Its magnificent scenery will be among the best of your whole trip. What's more, you can admire the fascinating meadow scenery on the way.

Day 7

In the morning you will take 2 hours to visit the fascinating Napahai Lake, the largest grassland in Zhongdian. Napahai is in fact a seasonal lake. When summer comes, snow on the adjacent mountains melts and flows down into about ten rivers forming a vast lake. You will appreciate a grand area of peaceful lake surrounded by snow mountains. In the dry season, Napahai becomes a boundless green grassland where you will find flocks of yaks, horses and sheep. Also you have chance to see the precious black-necked cranes, of which only 6,000 remain in the world. During the dry season, this grassland is an ideal place for horse-back trekking. You can hire a horse from local people with a reasonable fare.

After lunch visit the ancient Songzanlin Monastery, which is the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monastery in southwest China. In the main hall you will appreciate a series of precious Buddhism-related objects like scriptures written on palm leaves, the Shakyamuni statues, etc. Standing on the roof of the temple, you will amaze at the magnificent landscape of front meadow and the town. The blue sky is so close to you as if you can reach it with your hand. Downhill along the hill slop, you will find smaller temples and monk's residences where about 700 monks live. If you want to deeply experience the Buddhists' life, you can join in the morning class or evening class. You will have a peacefull mind and remain in deep thought.

On the way back, explore a local village and be a guest in a Tibetan family with a taste of Tibetan specialities such as yak butter tea, yogurt & Tibetan barley. Then you head for the ancient Gyalthang Town, which was established in Tang Dynasty. Though it is small, the old town is quite different form others in Yunnan. You can find many Tibetan cultural facts such as Buddhist paintings and Tibetan residences side by side. A peaceful cobble path guide you to the Daguishan Hill where you can turn the biggest praying wheel in the world and take a birds-eye view of Shangri-la.  Tonight you will stay at the hotel in Zhongdian.

Day 8

Free at leisure until transfer to the airport for next destination. Wish you a happy journey!