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Prayer flags in Songzanlin Monastery, Shangri La, Yunnan, China

China – Highlights of Yunnan



13 Days

Prices Start from

£4,500pp (ex. flights)

Yunnan is one of China’s most diverse and naturally beautiful provinces with terrain ranging from snow-capped and alpine mountains to tropical rainforests. Travel from Kunming to Dali and Lijiang to Shangri-La experiencing fascinating cultures and beautiful scenery en route.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Black Dragon Pool Park, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang, China 1

Jade Dragon Mountain

In Lijiang view Jade Dragon Mountain reflected in the waters of Black Dragon Pool.

Man dressed in Naxi Nationality Outfit, Lijiang, China 2

China's minority groups

Yunnan is home to nearly a third of China’s minority groups.

Erhai Lake, Dali, China 3

Erhai Lake

Take a boat out on Erhai Lake where fishermen still fish with cormorants.

Prayer Wheels, Tibet 4

A slice of Tibet

Visit Shangri La and Sumtseling Monastery for a taste of Tibet.

Why we like it

Yunnan is scenically spectacular and culturally fascinating and this holiday covers the highlights of this region. Travel between the main cities by train or car gives the trip a relaxed feel with plenty of time to take in the dramatic scenery. Additional opportunities for slow travel include a boat trip and explorations on foot, from walking a section of Tiger Leaping Gorge to the sacred hill of Ringa in Shangri La. This colourful region is also home to many of the countries minority groups with opportunities to interact with locals and learn about their diverse and unique customs and traditions.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1


  • Day 2 - 4


  • Day 5

    Kunming - Dali

  • Day 6


  • Day 7

    Dali - Lijiang

  • Day 8 - 9


  • Day 10

    Lijiang - Shangri-La

  • Day 11 - 12


  • Day 13


Day 1


Day 2 - 4


Man dressed in Naxi Nationality Outfit, Lijiang, China

Yunnan is home to nearly a third of China’s minority groups.

Day 5

Kunming - Dali

Day 6


Erhai Lake, Dali, China

Take a boat out on Erhai Lake where fishermen still fish with cormorants.

Day 7

Dali - Lijiang

Day 8 - 9


Lijiang old town, Lijiang, Yunnan, China

In Lijiang view Jade Dragon Mountain reflected in the waters of Black Dragon Pool.

Day 10

Lijiang - Shangri-La

Day 11 - 12


Prayer Wheels, Tibet

Visit Shangri La and Sumtseling Monastery for a taste of Tibet.

Day 13


Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Lijiang old town rooftops, Lijiang, China

UNESCO Lijiang

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang is the cultural centre and capital of the Naxi people, a small matriarchal tribe with a rich culture. Lijiang has existed for at least 800 years and has its own Tibeto Burman language with a distinctive pictographic script and its own unique music. Women run the market and businesses and inherit property through the youngest daughter. The men are gardeners, musicians and child rearers. Lijiang was at one end of Tibet’s trading route and had trading ties with far flung cities of Burma, Tibet and India.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang, Yunnan, China
Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most stunning gorges in the world. Here the Yangtze River is forced through a relatively small crack in the mountains resulting in tremendous downward erosion. Measuring 16 kilometres in length dramatic cliffs rise from the turquoise river waters at its base to almost 4,000 metres on either side. The name of the gorge is said to have come from the ancient story of a hunter in pursuit of a tiger which leapt across the gorge at its narrowest point, so escaping the hunter. Journey between Lijiang and Shangri La stopping to walk a section of the gorge and enjoy a picnic lunch in a scenic spot.

Third Courtyard, Linden Centre, Dali, China
The Linden Centre

Step Back in Time

Located approximately 25 minutes from Dali and a short distance from Erhai Lake this holiday includes a stay at the Linden Centre, a traditional courtyard building. This historic hotel is set amidst rural landscapes within a Bai minority village. The owners have endeavoured to preserve the local Bai heritage so allowing guests the chance to step back in time. During your stay it is possible to explore the surrounding area on foot or bike and there are lots of cultural activities available from calligraphy to table tennis and local cookery classes.

Head Dress, Yunnan, China
Traditional head dress, Yunnan

Minority Tribes of Kunming and Dali

Yunnan province is home to almost half of the country’s 56 minority groups and this holiday offers a window into the world of four of these ethnic groups. The village of Qixing, close to Kunming offers a chance to see the way of life of the Yi people. The largest of China’s minority groups they are experts at creating terraced fields and are the creators of famed rice fields such as those in Yuanyang. Often accomplished musicians they have a love of music and dancing. Dali is the capital of the region and the historic home of the Bai, extremely hospitable people who are known for their bright, traditional clothing.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Linden Centre £££££

  • China
  • Boutique

The Linden Centre is a traditional courtyard complex set in a Bai minority village, surrounded by mountains and paddy fields. Once a family residence, a hospital, military barracks and a children’s nursery it has been restored to its former dynastic elegance. Accommodating up to 28 guests this boutique hotel offers comfortably furnished rooms in a traditional style. The painted beams, courtyards, carved wooden panels and restaurants serving local dishes, give a real sense of how life may once have been.

View Property

Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La £££££

  • China

Songtsam Shangri-La is housed in a traditional Tibetan dwelling and situated next to Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. The 75 rooms and suites have all been decorated in a traditional style using antique furniture, Tibetan carpets and hand-made features.

View Property

Banyan Tree – Lijiang £££££

  • China

Banyan Tree Lijiang is located a short hop from the cobbled streets of old town Lijiang, with views towards the towering Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Each of the 55 villas is furnished in a local style and are set in their own private garden with either a heated pool or plunge pool. Additional facilities include a spa, gym and tennis court.

View Property

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Paul put together our trip very quickly, within a month of leaving! He did a great job and we loved the little add ons such as a cookery class and fan making. All of the guides, drivers and vehicles were amazing.


A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £4,500 Per person

When to travel

China in January

Around Beijing and the mountainous areas such as Tibet, winter can get very cold, with some snow. However, there are also many crisp days with clear skies across the country.

China in February

Chinese New Year takes place in late January or Early February, and is the biggest event in the calendar. Fireworks and lanterns light up the night sky, but be aware that public transport and accommodation may be hard to come by.

China in March

The start of spring see temperatures rise across the country and fruit trees start to blossom. Although not as widespread as Japan, the blossoms in rural China can still be stunning.

China in April

The spring blossoms are in full swing, and the countryside is lush. The north and mountainous areas may still be chilly, but generally, spring is a good time to visit most places.

China in May

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in June

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in July

The ideal time to get out into the mountains of Tibet and Yunnan province. The alpine landscape is verdant and enjoys long hours of sunshine. Temperatures can be sweltering, especially in the south.

China in August

The hot weather prevails throughout the country as it is the peak of summer. Many places, especially in the south are unpleasantly hot and humid to travel. The mountains are the perfect place to escape the heat.

China in September

Temperatures decline gradually, but it is less humid and wet than summer in many regions. The mountains are still a good place to hike in, especially as snow has receded as far as possible. This makes it an excellent time for journeying along the Silk Road.

China in October

The majority of October is perfect for travelling, with widespread mild temperatures and little rain. However, it is worth avoiding the first week of October, as it is a national holiday.

China in November

This is the time to take in the beautiful autumn colours, especially in the northern and central regions. Snow may begin to fall in the north, but the tourist hotspots are much less busy as locals don’t tend to travel at this time.

China in December

It is cold in most of China at this time, but it is a great time to visit Beijing and surrounding areas. There are many cold and crisp days, and the tourist hotspots will be much quieter. Western China is bitterly cold though and Southern China is milder but damp.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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