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11 Days Ethnic Odyssey in Tibet & Yunnan

Tour Route: Kunming-Dali- Lijiang-Shangarila-Lhasa

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Trip Overview:

It might be one of the most overused cliches in the travel universe but the idea of a kingdom deep in the Himalaya’s inspired by James Hilton’s classic Lost Horizon has thousands of backpackers and jet setters alike grabbing their warm coats and hiking boots in search of this mystical kingdom. If you have already read it and want to believe it, you should take this Ethnic Odyssey in Tibet & Yunnan to see how people there live stress-free and in moderation. We arrange this itinerary for people who would like to experience some totally different lifestyles which may provoke deep thought.

  • Tour Code:
    TTO-TT-YL11
  • Max Altitude:
    3700 m
  • Tour Type:
    Private tour with private guide and vehicle
  • Phisycal Demand:

    Phisycal Demand Level Guide:
    1. Easy (1 point) - suitable for all level of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
    2. Moderate (2-3 Points) - suitable for those having average level for fitness, family with kids bigger than 12 years.
    3. Moderate to Strenous (4 Points) - suitable for those physically fit and have experiences of high altitude trekking.
    4. Strenuous (5 Points) - suitable for adventures and individual with physically fit and healthy.

  • Season:
    springSpringSummerSummerautumnAutumnwinterWinter

Hightlights:

  • Tour Qiongzhu Temple and Stone Forest
  • Visit
  • Move to Lijiang where tourists can tour Bai Minority Traditional Houses and Square Street of Lijiang Old Town and famous tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • As you travel to Shangri-La, you will enjoy First Bend of the Yangtze River, The Stone Drum Town, and Songzanlin Temple, etc
  • Fly to Lhasa and visit the renowned religious sites like Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Drepung and Sera Monastery

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kunming

Our guide will pick you up outside the arrival hall at Kunming Airport and transfer you to the hotel in downtown area. The remainder of the day is on your own to explore the city.

Day 2: Kunming Sightseeing

Your tour will begin with a visit to the Qiongzhu Temple, which is located on wooded Yu'an Mountain and surrounded by verdant plants. The temple is famous for exhibiting five hundreds painted arhat sculptures. Then, you will travel to the Stone Forest, a typical model of China's Karst landforms. Walking through the Stone Forest, you will be astonished by the extraordinary workmanship of nature. Stones in the figure of plants, animals and even humans can be found here, some elegant, some rugged.

Day 3: fly Kunming to Dali

Today, you will take an early morning flight to Dali. Our guide will pick you up at Dali airport and escort you to tour the Erhai Lake Park first, which is the best place to appreciate the beautiful Erhai Lake scenery. The lake is shaped like an ear, hence its name, which means ear shaped sea in Chinese. Afterwards, pay a visit to the Three Pagoda Temple that faces Erhai Lake. As its name implies, there are three ancient independent pagodas standing in a symmetrical triangle inside the temple.

With a history of more than 1,800 years, Three Pagodas have been symbolic constructions of the ancient Dali City. The last stop of the day is the primitive and tranquil Dali Ancient Town, where you will see limpid streams passing through the town and local people wearing their ethnic costumes. A street that goes through the South City Gate to the North City Gate is now a prosperous market street, selling marble, tie-dyeing and other souvenirs.

Day 4: Drive Dali to Lijiang

Today, escorted by our guide, you will travel from Dali to Lijiang, which is about three to four hours' drive. On the way to Lijiang, you will pay a visit to the Bai Minority Traditional Houses in Xizhou. The layout of these houses is distinctive with the features of wood and stone carvings and painting on lime powdered walls. Xizhou is the place where the best and most of Bai Minority Traditional Houses are preserved. Then you will go to nearby Zhoucheng to visit the traditional hand-made Tie Dyeing in the local people's home.

Upon arrival at Lijiang, you will first check in at the hotel in the old town. After a short rest, our guide will take you to visit the Square Street of Lijiang Old Town. The street is paved by the local bluestones, with numerous souvenir shops, unique bars and delicate restaurants scattered around. The most charming part of the street is at night. When red lanterns along the street are all lit up, all people here including tourists will enjoy a relaxing but exciting night life.

Day 5: Lijiang Sightseeing

You will first explore the Baisha Village and visit a local Naxi family in the morning. Basha Village was once the political, economic and religious center of Lijiang. Nowadays, it is famous for the murals and the old town built about 600 years ago. A visit to a local Naxi family will help you know more about Naxi people's living habits and customs. Then, continue the trip to visit Baisha Murals. These murals, combining the Han, Tibet and Naxi culture together, are a wonderful art form of minorities in west Yunnan, and vividly unfold the life of the minority people to us.

Then, you will pay a visit to the Rock Joseph's Former Residence in Yuhu Village. Rock is the earliest foreign scholar who has introduced Lijiang to the western world most comprehensively. His former residence is also the former base of Yunnan Expedition of the National Geographic Society. We remain the whole afternoon free for you to stroll along Lijiang old town. The small bridges, running streams, cobbled streets, traditional fashion shops and some hand-made artwork stores make this small town a paradise for people who want to escape from the bustling cities.

Day 6: Drive Lijiang to Shangri-La

Today, we will drive you from Lijiang to Shangri-La for about four to five hours. Along the way, you will visit one of China's deepest and most beautiful gorges, Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge has a reputation of being dangerous: one is the dangerous mountain with high peaks, steep cliffs, jagged rocks and winded gigantic old creepers; the other is dangerous water with a high drop, fast water current, numerous rocks, dangerous shoals and cascading waterfalls. All these form a rare spectacle in the world.

Then you will come to the First Bend of the Yangtze River. It is named so because a sudden V-shaped bend has been formed when the Yangtze River flowing by. The nearly 180-degree turn creates marvelous and astonishing views. The Stone Drum Town, the town where the First Bend of the Yangtze River located, is the last stop en route. There is a drum-shaped marble monument in this town, hence the name. The town has for long been an important town for Han and Tibetan people to do business transactions. Upon arrival at Shangri-La, you will check in at the hotel.

Day 7: Shangri-la Sightseeing

Today's tour will begin with a visit to the biggest Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Yunnan, Songzanlin Temple. This temple collects the elite of Tibetan religious culture and presents splendid architecture. Because of its similar appearance and layout to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, it is also reputed as 'small Potala Palace'. Then, you will travel to the Bitahai Lake.Fed by small streams from the snow-capped mountains encircled, the lake shapes just like a trumpet shell. In the color of azure with snowy mountains and trees reflecting in it, the gorgeous lake is a wonderland to appreciate the beauty of nature. There is also another lake of beauty and peacefulness, Shudu Lake. The plants around the lake are lush and the wild animals are various.

Day 8: fly Shangri-la to Lhasa

Take morning flight to Lhasa, our guide will welcome you with a warm Tibetan style greeting and present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). Then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. For most of the way, you follow the Kyichu River, you could see Tibetan homes with their trapezoid shaped windows and fluttering prayer flags, and Tibetans walking beside the roads wearing their distinctive national costumes.

Do have a comfort stop near Nietang Buddha where a giant statue of Buddha has been carved out of a stone cliff-face centuries ago. One of the first buildings you could see as you enter the city is the Potala Palace, sitting majestically on a hill dominating Lhasa. Stay at the hotel after arrival for adapting to the high attitude. It is helpful to take things easy for the first few days, and try to drink some water just and now.

Day 9: Lhasa highlights escorted tour

After breakfast, we go to the Potala Palace, a golden feather upon the roof of the world, which Tibetans proudly claim to be the prime miracle since the creation of this world. It is visible from any distance, with the golden roof shinning in the sun, spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and the many Buddhist icons within.

In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang. The Jokhang, like most of the larger temple structures have numerous individual temples within it dedicated to specific enlightened beings, protectors, high lamas, or saints. Images, both sculpted and painted, are everywhere. Every inch of wall and ceiling is brightly painted with images of clouds, beings, mandalas, or decorative patterns. Colorful silk banners, three stories high, hang in various places. Color, pattern, and images crowd in around you. The central image inside the building is a 30-foot high gilded image of Maitreya Buddha. Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor area of Old Lhasa. The streets smelled of yak butter and incense while hordes of pilgrims shuffled along the main Kora (circumambulations) around Jokhang Temple. If someone just walked at a normal pace, one kora would take about 15-20 minutes.

Day 10: Drepung and Sera Monastery

In the morning have a tour for Drepung, the ever largest monastery with more than 10 thousand monks, Buddhist debates often occur there. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given its name which, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.

The afternoon is spent touring Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there, in the afternoon, visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning back to Lhasa.

Day 11: Finish this unforgettable tour

Free time at your disposal this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, our guide will pick you up from the hotel and send you to the airport so that you can board the flight out after this pleasant tour. Alternatively, should you wish to stay on rather than return home right away, you could contact us and choose our other City Packages as an extension to your memorable adventure!

What’s included?

1.Tibet Entry Permit

2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;

3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;

4. Professional English speaking tour guide;

5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.

6.All measl listed in the itinerary;

7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance

What’s not included?

1. International flight to and out of China;

2. Chinese Visa

3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)

4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;

5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish

6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.

Trip Notes:

1. Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.

In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.

2. Accommodation

Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.

We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.

3.Guiding and Tipping

Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.

Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.

4. Toilet

Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.

However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.

5. Tibet Weather

One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.

Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.

6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude

For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.

7. Other Dos and Don'ts

Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.

As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.

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