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11 Days Ethnic Odyssey in Tibet & Yunnan

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

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

  • Trip Level:

  • Tour Type: Private tour with private guide and vehicle

  • Time to Visit:

Highlights:

  • Tour Qiongzhu Temple and Stone Forest in Kunming
  • Visit Three Pagoda Temple and North City Gate in Dali
  • 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

Daily 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. How to Get the Tibet Travel Permit?

    The Tibet Travel Permit is essential for any Tibet tour. We help to obtain this permit free of charge when you book your Tibet tour through us. Simply send us copies of your passport and China visa at least 20 days in advance. Once we receive your documents, we will promptly process the permit application with the Tibet Tourism Bureau. After obtaining your permit, we will notify you and send it to your hotel in mainland China.

    In exceptional cases, our staff can personally deliver the permit to you at the airport or railway station. With years of experience in handling Tibet Travel Permit, we assure you a smooth visit to Tibet by ensuring the acquisition of your permit.

  • 2. Where to Stay in Tibet?

    Accommodation facilities and services in Tibet might not match those found in the coastal and central parts of China. However, there's a diverse range of hotel options available. However, you can choose from a wide range of hotel options. In big cities like Lhasa and Shigatse, from cheap and clean youth hostels to distinct Tibetan-style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotels, you will find one that suits your interests and budget.

    As you travel to remote areas of Tibet, such as EBC and the Mount Kailash region, the accommodations tend to be more basic. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel, while others may only offer electric blankets in the guesthouses. Nonetheless, we always handpick cozy and safe accommodations for you along your itinerary in Tibet, ensuring a pleasant night's stay for your Tibet tour.

  • 3. How about the Guiding and Tipping in Tibet?

    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 monitor your health and provide prompt assistance to you. If you encounter any trouble, please do not hesitate to contact them or our customer service manager.

    Travelers' tipping to Tibetan guides and drivers is seen as extra gratitude for their excellent service, much like what you do in the West. Normally, a tipping amount of 7 USD per day is acceptable. The basic principle is rewarding good service with fair pay.

  • 4. How are the Toilets in Tibet?

    Undoubtedly, for many Western tourists, using toilets in Tibet can be a challenging experience. Therefore, it's advisable to moderate your expectations. If you travel to Lhasa by Tibet train, both western-style and squat toilets are available onboard. Staying in hotels rated above 3 stars in cities like Lhasa and Shigatse ensures access to standard Western flush toilets, eliminating any discomfort.

    However, when visiting attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso or outdoor sites like EBC, you're likely to encounter smelly and unclean pit toilets. It's recommended to carry sufficient toilet paper for such occasions.

  • 5. How is the Weather in Tibet? What to Pack for Visiting Tibet?

    One of the notable weather features on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the significant temperature fluctuation between day and night. In Lhasa, the annual temperatures range from -2℃ to 12℃ (spring), 9℃ to 22℃ (summer), 7℃ to 19℃ (fall), and -7℃ to 9℃ (winter). Ensure proper clothing, such as thermal tops, a fleece jacket, breathable underwear, a down jacket, jeans, a beanie, and other essentials.

    Moreover, essentials like sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are crucial to shield yourself from the intense, blinding sunlight of the plateau. Staying hydrated by drinking more water and including vegetables in your diet is advisable to prevent dehydration during your travels in Tibet.

  • 6. How to Prevent from Altitude Sickness in Tibet?

    For first-time visitors to Tibet, whether arriving by flight or train, allowing ample rest is crucial for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Avoid rushing to explore the streets or attractions independently. Walk at a slower pace and refrain from exerting yourself by running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa before venturing to places like Shigatse or Namtso allows for better acclimatization. If you experience any discomfort, inform your guide, and they will assist you.

  • 7. Are There some Dos and Don'ts while Touring Tibet?

    Photography is generally prohibited in monasteries. If you wish to capture images of Tibetan pilgrims, kindly seek their permission or maintain a considerable distance while taking photos. Swimming and fishing are prohibited in the sacred lakes of Tibet. Avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics. According to policy, international tourists are not permitted to travel alone in Tibet.

    While navigating Barkhor Street, adhere to the custom of walking clockwise. Refrain from exploring unfamiliar trails. Take proactive steps to preserve Tibet's delicate ecosystem.

    Given that Tibetan Buddhism profoundly influences the lives of Tibetans, always show reverence and respect for their unique customs. If uncertain about any practice, it's advisable to seek guidance from your tour guide before proceeding.

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  • Explore Mount Kailash

    Authentic Exploration of Tibet's Rich Culture

    Discover the real Tibet with us! We're dedicated to showing its true spirit and exploring its lively culture. Our aim is to give you an authentic experience, sharing the beauty and richness of Tibetan traditions. Come along for a journey deep into the heart of Tibet!

  • Leisurely explore Lake Yamdrok

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  • Photo with Mount Everest

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  • Pleasant trip in Tibet

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    Join us for amazing travel adventures! We keep making our trips better every year, improving quality wherever we go. We're dedicated to giving you the best service possible. Come with us on unforgettable journeys where every detail shows how much we care about making you happy!

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What Our Customers Say

  • My Tibetan tour

    I just returned from my 8 day Tibetan excursion with my guide Kelsang Dorje I had a wonderful trip seeing fantastic places - there Jokhong Temple ,Potala Palace , the base camp of Everest. Kelsang was a wonderful guide and very informative about all the visits...More reviews

    May 2024 teri
  • Amazing trip with Pasang as the best guide ever!

    This was a great tour! Tibet is of course amazing but what really made this trip special is our guide Pasang! I feel we could not have been more lucky with him as our guide...More reviews

    May 2024 Celine C
  • Wonderful experience in Tibet

    Really enjoyed visiting the monasteries and Everest base camp. Our tour guide Keldor was very good with arranging everything for us in the trip. Our experience wouldn’t be as great as it is without Keldor.More reviews

    May 2024 Nathan N
  • If you go to Tibet you will never forget

    This trip was one of the most amazing I have ever taken! I experienced the most unique way to learn about Tibetan culture and people. And nature is just mind blowing. No words can describe beauty of Tibetan nature, you must see yourself to believe it...More reviews

    April 2024 Juris U
  • Amazing experience

    Amazing experience, thankfully to our guide the young Kunga, whose knowledge is amazing! Superb experience, highly recommended...More reviews

    April 2024 Tim Starcic
  • Best Tibet trip ever

    Such an amazing trip! Having the opportunity to visit this lovely part of the world is very eye-opening:) our guide, Tenzin, was very knowledgeble and kind. A 10/10 experience...More reviews

    April 2024 Crete
  • Truly memorable experience

    We did a private trip actually, after a thorough research of numerous agencies we decided to go with Tibet Vista as they seem very experienced in Tibet tours and they are also very responsive. It was well-made decision, we loved our tour and our guide Kungga was excellent, he was attentive and accomodating to us...More reviews

    Apr 2024 Denira K
  • Once in a life time

    14 days from Beijing to Tibet and Nepal. The reality was beyond my expectations. A trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. The trip was arranged in an exceptional way! Laura Tang did an amazing job! She responded to all my questions immediately, she supported and solved any problems very quickly. The hotels she arranged for me were amazing!! ...More reviews

    Jan 2024 nico k
  • Nice view in winter!

    The view was magnificent. got to see snow and snow capped mountains. Thanks to Gemma Wei for helping with all the planning. Also thanks to Kunchok and Tsering for going accomodating to my needs as i was not used to the altitude. They also helped alot with the trek up the hills! ...More reviews

    Dec 2023 Benjamin X
  • Tibet is beautiful

    The tour was great! We visited amazing places and could feel the sacred atmosphere in all the temples. The nature is breathtaking with beautiful mountain and lake views. Our guide Jingme told us all about the history and showed us great places. All the hotels were much better than what I expected...More reviews

    Nov 2023 Krisyna H

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