Tailor-Made Holiday

China - Shangri-La and Beyond

Explore Beijing, Shangri-La & the remote villages

13 days

from £4,925pp (excluding flights)

This Shangri-La holiday idea is ideal for travellers wishing to explore remote, untouched and wild regions of China.

  • Explore some of China's most iconic sites in Beijing
  • Hike village trails & mountain paths amidst the snow-capped peaks of Northern Yunnan
  • See the endangered Yunnan golden monkey
  • Witness Kawagebo peak at sunrise one of Tibet's most sacred mountains
  • Visit some of the region's most important Tibetan monasteries


The trip begins in Beijing with visits to some of China's most iconic and fascinating sites including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

The Songtsam Trail

From Beijing travel to Shangri La and begin your holiday in Northwest Yunnan, exploring this remote and stunningly beautiful region of China, whilst staying in each of the comfortable Songtsam Lodges.

Songtsam are a small group of 5 traditional Tibetan style boutique lodges, built within pristine villages, and run by indigenous Tibetans ensuring they remain part of the communities. This tight bond with local people brings guests to places less visited and captures a wealth of intimate interactions with local culture.

From the villages of Shangri La to Tacheng, Benzilan and Meili this area of China, bordering Tibet is known as the Three Parallel Rivers where the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween descend from the Tibetan Plateau into the lush valleys of Yunnan. It is also an area where many of the 25 ethnic minorities groups currently living in Yunnan can be found.

During your time here you will have the chance to spend time with local families, learn about local handicrafts and join local Tibetans at worship at holy sites. 

When to Travel to Northwest Yunnan

Winter in Yunnan gets extremely cold so it is possible to visit this region from April to November with the best months being June to October. Due to the sometimes dramatic changes in altitude you could experience four seasons in one day and within just a few hours experience snow-capped mountains and flower filled valleys. From late May through to early June hundreds of varieties of rhododendrons bloom in this area.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 4925 £ 810
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • International flights as detailed
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Beijing overnight

Day 2

Visit the Summer Palace
The Summer Palace consists of a park and several inter-connected lakes with willows and hump back bridges so often seen in Chinese paintings. It was for a long time an imperial garden but was expanded by the Empress Dowager Cixi who used money earmarked for a new navy for the building project. Of particular interest is a unique marble boat that sits immobile at the edge of the lake.

Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Full Day Sightseeing Tour
The morning will start with a visit to the vast Tiananmen Square, which is home to China's Parliament - The Great Hall of the People. Walk through The Gate of Heavenly Peace from where Mao declared China as the People's Republic in 1949, then visit the Forbidden City, the former home to many of China's Emperors. After lunch the tour continues by visiting the White Dagoba at Miaoying Temple and there will also be the opportunity to visit Beihai Park, one of the oldest and most authentically preserved imperial gardens in China.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Full Day Sightseeing to The Great Wall at Mutianyu
A full day excursion to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu, Ming Tombs and a chance to see some of rural China at close hand.
The Ming Tombs are located in a valley and number 13 in all. The valley is approached by the Imperial Way that is lined by larger than life stone figures (animals, soldiers and mythical figures). Only one tomb, Ding Ling, has been excavated and now lies empty but you will visit Changling which houses the impressive treasures from Ding Ling. Return to Beijing in the late afternoon.

The Great Wall was begun in the Warring States period (475 - 221) as a series of earthworks erected by individual kingdoms as a defence against each other as well as from invasions from the north. These walls were reconstructed and linked together much later, during the Han, Sui and Ming empires. The familiar, stone clad, crenellated wall dates from the Ming empire. The Wall is actually not one complete wall, but in fact several, and although many of these sections have been linked, many still remain separate to the others. To this end, it is almost impossible to calculate the actual length, and you may well be told a figure anywhere in between 2,400km to 5,000km.
Return to Beijing in the late afternoon.

You will be staying at Novotel Xinqiao Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Fly Beijing to Shangri-La

You will be staying at Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La, Half board

Day 6

Visit Sumsanling Monastery and surrounding area
Today you begin by visiting the Sumsanling Monastery town of Ganden Sumsanling where at least 600 Buddhist monks spend their time engrossed in Buddhist learning. Built in the 17th Century by the 5th Damai Lama, the monastery with its numerous chapels, woodcarving and paintings is a living museum of Tibetan culture. Parts of the monastery are being reconstructed and there is a regeneration of the religious spirit. In the afternoon visit the villages of Talung at the base of the Lanze Mountains. You will also visit Pudacuo National Park, Shudu Lake before finishing the day trying home-made Yak Butter Tea and Tibetan Cheese with a Tibetan family.

Shangri-La in Northwest Yunnan is often referred to as Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan and is the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the gateway to the ancient Tibetan kingdom. Here it is possible to get a real feel of Tibetan life at the 300 year old Tibetan Monastery of Ganden Sumtseling Gompa which is still home to around 600 monks.

Travel from Shangri-La to Tacheng

A journey time of approximately 3 hours.

Tacheng is located in one of the most fertile valleys in Yunnan with two crops of rice annually and many fruit trees. The semi-wild boars of the area, which feed on wild nuts before winter, make the best ham in the world. Tacheng is also famous for its rich Tibetan culture and Naxi and Lisu villages with charming distinctive black-roofed farmhouses. Tacheng is also home to the charming, endangered Yunnan Golden Monkeys who make their home at altitudes higher than any other primate except humans.

You will be staying at Songtsam Lodge Tacheng, Full board

Day 7

Full Day Sightseeing - Yunnan Golden Monkey National Park
Visit the Yunnan Golden Monkey national park and embark on a 1-2 hour trek into the nature reserve. After a picnic lunch or lunch at the hotel visit Bazhu Tibetan village and a local primary school.

You will be staying at Songtsam Lodge Tacheng, Full board

Day 8

Travel from Tacheng to Benzilan

A journey time of approximately 4 hours. En route, pass by some of the ethnic Tibetan villages in the countryside.

Benzilan lies on the banks of the Jinsha River at a relatively low altitude resulting in a surprisingly warmer climate than many of the surrounding towns and villages in the area. Full of charming traditional houses and incredibly friendly locals, the area is also famous famous for its handcrafts.

Half Day Sightseeing of Mountain Villages
Visit some of the remote Tibetan mountain villages in the area. This evening visit one of the prayer centres when locals come to pray.

You will be staying at Songtsam Benzilan Lodge, Full board

Day 9

Travel Benzilan to Meili via Dongzhulin Monastery

En route visit Dongzhulin Monastery which is balanced on a steep Cliffside with breath-taking views.

Meili, is a peaceful village located within the majestic Meili mountain range and is inhabited by just five families who still practice polyandry, a form of polygamy. This is also one of the few places where traditional Tibetan herding and farming are still practiced.

You will be staying at Songtsam Meili Lodge, Full board

Day 10

Full Day Sightseeing & Walking
See the sunrise at Kawagebo followed by a small worship ceremony. Later embark on a walking trek in the area. Walks vary in distance and difficulty and range from 3 to 8 hours in length. A picnic lunch can be taken in a scenic spot.

You will be staying at Songtsam Meili Lodge, Full board

Day 11

Travel Meili to Shangri-La

Travel from Meili to Shangri-La visiting the Mingyong Glacier en route.

Half Day Sightseeing to Nixi Village
Visit a handicraft workshop to view lacquer bowl painting. Also visit the traditional handicraft village of Nixi and see Black pottery making.

You will be staying at Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La, Full board

Day 12

Fly Shangri-La to Beijing

You will be staying at The Langham Place Airport Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Fly Beijing to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La

Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La

Songtsam Shangri-La is housed in a traditional Tibetan dwelling and situated next to Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan....

View Accommodation

Songtsam Lodge Tacheng

Songtsam Lodge Tacheng

Songtsam Tacheng is located in a fertile mountain valley in a region of Yunnan populated by minority tribes and local villages....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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