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adventure travel trip to China
You may meet the "Naxi" women of Lijiang in Yunnan.
  • Oct 24-Nov 3, 2014
  • Oct 12-22, 2015
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 11 days
    Group Size 6-12
    Land Cost $3,295 Details
    Single Supplement $425
    Lodging 2 stars-3 stars
    Grade I
    Best Time

    Yunnan Jade Dragon Journey

    Fables and foods, peoples and pleasures, in the Land of Eternal Spring

    Day 1      Arrive Kunming

    Upon arrival in Kunming, you are met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Kunming, called the City of Eternal Spring, is more than 2,200 years old. After checking into your hotel, you may have the chance to take a short walking tour across the city to a local bird and flower market, followed by a welcome dinner at a fine restaurant.

    Meals: Dinner
    Lodging: Centrally located 4 star hotel

    Enjoy the delicious local cuisine
    Day 2      Ancient Dali/Mt. Cangshan

    Fly from Kunming to Dali, a city first opened to foreigners in 1984. Set beside a lake and against a backdrop of mountains, you will observe the local agriculture, enter small temples, and visit local markets. Visit Dali Ancient City and Three Pagodas, a landmark on a hillside northeast of Dali. The tallest of these ancient temples tops 200 feet. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to take a chairlift up Mt. Cangshan and enjoy the fresh air, wildlife, and the bird's-eye view of the Dali area. If you like, you can do some hiking at a relaxed pace. This evening, browse around the ancient part of town on foot. Dali's historic quarter, with its stone houses and narrow streets, offers a rare look into what old China must have looked like. Overnight at a hotel with typical Bai architecture located in the old town.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Centrally located hotel

    Visit the Three Pagodas of Dali
    Day 3      Chouchen, Grottoes & Shaxi Village Stay

    You depart Dali and drive along the foot of Cangshan Mountain to Jianchuan County. Along the way, visit Chouchen village, known for its tie-dyed fabric weavers. You also visit Stone Bell Hill, an ancient complex of cave grottoes nestled on the edge of the pine-forested mountains. It is here that the monarchs of Dali's Nanzhou Kingdom chose to build their Buddhist temples between the seventh and ninth centuries. Explore the grotto temples while appreciating their fantastic frescoes depicting Nanzhou Kings meeting  with Persian envoys and Indian Buddhist teachers. These frescoes also reveal aspects of Nanzhou life at that time. You spend this night at Shaxi village, allowing you the chance to explore an ancient town untouched by modern development or tourism. Your accommodations will be a hundred-year-old house converted into a guesthouse with modern facilities.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Local guesthouse

    Absorb the rhythms of ancient village life
    Day 4      Sideng Street & Timeless Lijiang

    After breakfast, you visit Sideng Street, which is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the heart of rural Yunnan as you wander around "Old Tibet" roads of tranquil scenes of mud brick villages, bamboo groves, rivers, and paddy fields. You will get a true sense of timelessness as the way of life here has remained unchanged for centuries. After lunch, you head out on the road for Lijiang. Set at a refreshing altitude of 7,800 feet, Lijiang is the capital of the Naxi Autonomous prefecture. Its charming old center is a world of cobbled streets, canals, and stone bridges that date from the Ming Dynasty. Arrive in time for dinner. Overnight at a Naxi style hotel, converted from a hundred-year-old courtyard, located in the heart of the Old Town.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Local guesthouse

    Meet the Naxi people and observe their old-world ways
    Day 5      Lijiang Heritage & Jade Dragon Mountain

    Lijiang is the capital of the Naxi people, a small but fascinating ethnic minority known for their matriarchal society, their pictographic language, and their distinctive music. They are believed to be descended from the Qiang, a Tibetan tribe that once lived in the northwest mountains of Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai. Traditionally, Naxi women have managed trade and commerce, while men have been musicians, gardeners, and child-rearers, and today Naxi society is largely run along those lines. You may be able to recognize the Naxi women by their traditional embroidered capes, blue blouses, and trousers covered with blue or black aprons. The Naxi language is completely pictographic and only Naxi shamans are taught how to write it. Famed botanist Dr. Joseph Rock prepared the first dictionary of Naxi language during the decades he lived in Lijiang and he also became the world's expert on Naxi culture. You will visit his old home which has been turned into a museum of his works. Another worthwhile stop is the Naxi Dongba Museum. Visit the Black Dragon Pool Park and enjoy beautiful views of 18,000-foot-high Yulong Shan (Jade Dragon Mountain) reflected in the waters of Black Dragon Pool. Visit Black Dragon Park, explore Lijiang Old Town and the Square Market. Attend a concert of traditional Naxi music. The Naxi are the last people in China to play Song Dynasty tunes derived from Taoist scriptures.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Local guesthouse

    Explore old town Lijiang's heritage
    Day 6      Lijiang's Mu Palace

    You spend the morning visiting Mu Palace, the mansion of King Mu that also served as a palace for the Naxi headmen. It is a magnificent tribute to Naxi culture. In the afternoon, you will be free to explore Lijiang Old Town and the Square Market. You may also walk to the Wangulou Pagoda, said to be the highest wooden pagoda in China, rising above the old town.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Local guesthouse

    Wander around Lijiang, meeting its people and learning its ways
    Day 7      Tiger Leaping Gorge

    Head further north today, driving though Naxi farmlands and villages and enjoying the extremely picturesque backdrop of Jade Dragon Mountain. Tobacco, apples, rice, corn, beans, and sorghum are grown in this region. Visit the village of Stone Drum, or Shigu, at the First Great Bend in the Yangtze River. Here you can see the marble plaque shaped like a drum that commemorates a 16th century Naxi victory over a Tibetan Army. Also stop at famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world, where you have the option of hiking three to five hours, depending on which section you choose. If you prefer not to hike, your driver will stand by and take you by road to your hotel located in the middle of the gorge. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Local guesthouse

    Stay at a guesthouse in the middle of deep, picturesque Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Day 8      Crossing the Tibetan Plateau

    After breakfast, you drive out of the gorge and proceed to the Tibetan Plateau to Shangri-La. This road journey takes you higher and higher, where you'll spend some time at altitudes of over 9,000'. The road travels through mixed forests, then up into alpine and rhododendron forests, then into a rich grassland valley on the Tibetan Plateau. You will stay at a Tibetan style hotel with modern facilities.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Tibetan style hotel

    Tibetans of Yunnan
    Day 9      Shangri La

    Shangri La (formerly known as Zhongdian) is the capital of Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is located in the southernmost part of Kham, or East Tibet, traditional land of the tall, turbaned Khampa horsemen. Today, Shangri La is principally a Tibetan township but has Han Chinese people as well as a smattering of Bai, Hui, and Naxi minorities. Historically, the town was a trading center between Tibet, Burma, and India. Mule caravans once made journeys to conduct commerce between the regions. One of the major trade items was "brick tea" from Yunnan, in demand by Tibetan nomads and farmers. You will visit the spectacular Ganden Sumsanling Monastery, built at the instruction of the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Currently, there are over 800 monks still living and practicing here. This picturesque site, located on the top of a hill, is very similar in style to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Afterwards, visit Ringha Temple, with its Five Wisdom Buddhas, built on a sacred hill thought to have healing powers. You can take a walk around the hill and enjoy the incredible views of the Shangri La Valley. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to take a leisure walk through the Old Town.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Tibetan style hotel

    Visit amazing Ganden Sumsanling Monastery (photo by Colegota)
    Day 10      Shangri La/Kunming

    Fly back to Kunming and spend the day visiting some of the local attractions, including the fifth century Bamboo Temple  (Qiongzhu Si). This temple houses figures of some 500 arhats that were carved between 1883 and 1890 by Sichuanese sculptor Li Guangxiu and his apprentices. Each arhat, like the Terra-cotta warriors in Xian, were given a different facial expression and pose. It is thought that some of these arhats were carved in the images of the sculptor's friends and enemies. Also visit the Minority Museum, a great place to learn about the history of Yunnan and where you will find ethnic relics and handicrafts as well as colorful costumes from the 25 minority nationalities in Yunnan.   You may also consider an excursion to Stone Forest (Shilin), located about 40 miles outside of Kunming (additional cost of around $175 per person depending on group size) This 96,000 acre stone forest contains an interesting assortment of karst formations of all shapes and sizes that jut out the ground.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Centrally located 4 star hotel

    Visit Kunming's 5th century Bamboo Temple (photo by Rolf Mueller)
    Day 11      Kunming/Onward

    In the morning, you will have the opportunity to do some last minute shopping. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight home.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None

    Leave this special part of China with fond and vivid memories

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