Yunnan Jade Dragon Journey

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

overview

Visit one of the least-traveled and most diverse regions of China. This is a very different and wonderfully scenic corner of the country. Yunnan Province, "Land of Eternal Spring," is located in the southern part of the country just north of Burma, adjacent to Tibet and bordering the eastern Himalayas. Yunnan is home to 25 different cultures and diverse landscapes. Over the years, this JOURNEYS trip has evolved to include more traditional hospitality in small inns, guesthouses, and lodges as a way to offset and avoid the mass group feeling resulting from growing Chinese domestic tourism, which favors large luxury hotels. Your experience begins on arrival in Kunming with a visit to beautiful local museum where you learn about the city’s 2,200-year history. Fly to historic Dali, home of the Three Pagodas, before embarking on a leisurely boat ride on legend-rich Erhai Lake. Learn about the ways of the Bai people, and develop an understanding of their easygoing way of life. Hike to the waterfalls of Mt. Cangshan, and enjoy spectacular views, bird and wildlife watching, and refreshing mountain air. Spend a few days in Lijiang, the architecturally-restored capital of the colorful and artistic Naxi people, before exploring the edge of the Tibetan Plateau on your way to Zhongdian, now officially called Shangri La. You will enjoy local food,  fine climate, friendly people, and great Himalayan scenery.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Kunming
    Enjoy the delicious local cuisine

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Ancient Dali/Mt. Cangshan
    Visit the Three Pagodas of Dali

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Chouchen, Grottoes & Shaxi Village Stay
    Absorb the rhythms of ancient village life

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Sideng Street & Timeless Lijiang
    Meet the Naxi people and observe their old-world ways

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Lijiang Heritage & Jade Dragon Mountain
    Explore old town Lijiang's heritage

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Lijiang's Mu Palace
    Wander around Lijiang, meeting its people and learning its ways

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Stay at a guesthouse in the middle of deep, picturesque 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
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Crossing the Tibetan Plateau
    Tibetans of Yunnan

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Shangri La
    Visit amazing Ganden Sumsanling Monastery (photo by Colegota)

    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
  • Day 10: Shangri La/Kunming
    Visit Kunming's 5th century Bamboo Temple (photo by Rolf Mueller)

    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
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Kunming/Onward
    Leave this special part of China with fond and vivid memories

    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
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Oct 12-22, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,295
Flights within China add $395 (estimated) -does not include flights to/from Kunming
Single Supplement:
$425
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

China is a developing country whose infrastructure, values, customs and standards differ from what you are used to at home. Please bear this in mind as you are traveling in this exciting country and respect the fact that you cannot impose your standards and expectations on the culture there.

This difference in standards also means that you might, at times, be inconvenienced by some things are beyond our control, such as train delays (although these are rare). The easiest way to overcome any problems that might occur is to be open minded.

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
2
charming guesthouses to 4 * hotels
Group Size:
6-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
1
JOURNEYS grading system from I to IV will help you choose an experience with physical demands which match your motivation. 1. Active Active exploration with optional day hikes, easy walking, leisurely bicycling or light canoeing. Comfortable travel by vehicle. 2. Vigorous Experience may include regular hiking or physical exercise in varied environments. Travel by vehicle may be long or over rough terrain. 3. Challenging Parts of trip will involve physical challenge. Daily hiking in rough terrain, high altitude, rough road travel and remoteness from modern medical care may be unavoidable circumstances. 4. Demanding Extended foot travel in very remote areas. Previous wilderness travel experience advisable. Doctor's certification may be requested.

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Beijing Essence Tour

Duration: 5 days

This extension takes you on an exploration of all the major sites in and around Beijing. Visit the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, all fine examples of exceptional Chinese architecture. See one of the 7 Wonders of the World at th... read more

Shanghai Excursion

Duration: 3 days

Shanghai is the largest city in China with over 24 million people and the largest city proper in the world.  This is an exciting way to begin or end your China adventure. A highlight will be an exciting high-speed bullet train ride from Beijing.

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