Home to over half of China’s minority groups, and more than its fair share of stunning landscapes, Yunnan is a must on every traveler's bucket list. But if you want to make the most of it, you need to go with an Insider. Experts in off the beaten track expeditions, enjoy the benefit of their knowledge of the country’s most diverse province in this six-day adventure by vintage jeep.
Day 1: Arrival in Lijiang
Head to Lijiang and enjoy dinner at your digs for the night, an ethnic Naxi farmhouse transformed into an eco-friendly designer lodge and enclosed within a lush vegetable garden, while your Insider guide for the night offers you an introduction to the region and your upcoming trip. Later on, head into traditional confluence along the Old Tea Horse Caravan Trial, Lijiang Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 2: Lijiang to Shaxi
After breakfast drive to the last village of the Lijiang Valley, situated in the shadows of the 5,600m tall Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and visit the former residence of eccentric American explorer, geographer, linguist and botanist, Joseph Rock, who lived here in the first half of the 20th century.
In the afternoon head south to remote Shaxi Valley and explore Shibao Shan, home to a collection of hidden Buddhist temples and curious Bai minority carvings, that survived the Cultural Revolution thanks to the remote location.
Ever spent the night in an 18th Century theater temple? Carefully restored, the wooden structure served as village school after the Communist victory in the Civil War, and is still run by a local teacher.
Day 3: Shaxi to Shangri-la
Drive north to the brutal-yet-stunning Tiger Leaping Gorge, a natural wonder carved out by the rushing waters of the mighty Yangtze River over the course of millennia. Leave the masses behind as you enter the gorge and hike one of the lesser known trails criss-crossing the picturesque hillsides.
In the afternoon climb higher still, ascending curvy mountain roads to 3,300 meters and the eastern edge of the Himalayas, the inspiration for the mythical Himalayan utopia Shangri-La. Part of geographical Tibet, the area provides the perfect backdrop for your Insider to give you an insight into Tibetan culture.
In the evening you will re-imagine the days of early foreign explorers and sleep under canvas in elegantly decorated canvas tents, an experience complemented by a candlelit, three course European dinner in a beautifully renovated Tibetan house.
Day 4: Shangri-la to Benzilan
Watch the sun rise above the mountains while you indulge on a scrumptious breakfast served on the farm’s balcony. Visit a small hilltop temple, frequented by local Tibetans who come to pray for their children’s well-being.
Take the scenic route along the Yangtze River and make your way to a hidden oasis near Benzilan. Drive to the last village in the valley and picnic in the high meadow with locals, before setting out for a pleasant hike amidst sacred oaks and bushy rhododendrons.
The bed for the night comes in a patiently renovated eco lodge, whose architect-owner insisted on only using traditional materials and building methods to create a homely atmosphere.
Day 5: Benzilan back to Shangri-la
Stop for panoramic views at the first bend of the mighty Yangtze River on your way to the lesser-known Dongzhulin Monastery, founded in the late 1600s. If the timing is right, you can witness typical Yellow Hat debates, which are often physical and highly charged.
Head back to Shangri-La and circle Napa Lake, where countless yak and horses roam, and wealthy Tibetans have built their giant houses. Fans of propaganda won’t want to miss the well documented Long March Museum, before you topping off the expedition with a Tibetan yak hotpot dinner.
The final night’s stay is in a boutique hotel built in a rustic-yet-luxurious Tibetan style, owned by a one-time lama, who runs a centre dedicated to preserving the ethnic Tibetan culture.
Day 6: Return Home
After a traditional breakfast, your Insider guide will take you to Shangri-La airport for your onward flight.
During the Trip: Riding Vintage Jeeps
The vintage convertible jeeps truly live up to their potential in spring and autumn, when the weather is perfect and the Insiders can take out the windows and roll up the roof for an open-air adventure!
The six-day adventure is priced at RMB12,950 per adult and RMB10,350 per child, and is all-inclusive, but does not include flights. There are four dates to choose from:
• Saturday August 19 (Day 1) to Thursday August 24 (Day 6)
• Saturday September 16 (Day 1) to Thursday September 21 (Day 6)
• Saturday October 28 (Day 1) to Thursday November 2 (Day 6)
• Saturday November 11 (Day 1) to Thursday November 16 (Day 6)
You can book right here or scan the QR code below. You can also book by emailing Leah Li on firstname.lastname@example.org or call (021) 8023 2199 * 8803 (hours: M-F, 9am-6pm).