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Prayer Beads, Tibet

China – Shangri-La and Beyond



12 Days

Prices Start from

£4,950pp (ex. flights)

Exploring the far north western region of Yunnan, this holiday to Shangri-La is ideal for travellers wishing to experience remote, untouched and wild regions of China.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

The Great Wall, Beijing, China 1


Explore some of China’s most iconic sites, from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall.

Snow covered peak of jagged mountain against bright blue sky. 2

Mountain walking

Hike village trails and mountain paths amidst the snow-capped peaks of Northern Yunnan.

Golden Monkey, China, Paul Craven 3

Yunnan golden monkey

See the endangered Yunnan golden monkey.

Prayer flags in Songzanlin Monastery, Shangri La, Yunnan, China 4

Tibetan culture

Visit Tibetan villages and some of the region’s most important Tibetan monasteries.

Why we like it

This holiday to China opens a window into the ancient kingdom of Tibet, travelling overland between the villages of Shangri La, Tacheng, Benzilan and Meili. A fertile and dramatic area known as the Three Parallel Rivers, where the Yangtze, Mekong and Salween rivers descend from the Tibetan Plateau into the lush valleys of Yunnan. Immerse yourself in local communities staying in peaceful Tibetan villages surrounded by spectacular scenery, spending days interacting with local families, walking and learning about Tibetan culture.

Explore the itinerary

Internal Flight
  • Day 1
  • Day 2 - 3
  • Day 4
    Beijing - Shangri-La
  • Day 5
    Shangri-La - Tacheng
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
    Tacheng - Benzilan
  • Day 8
    Benzilan - Meili
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
    Meili - Shangri-La
  • Day 11
    Shangri-La - Beijing
  • Day 12

Now for the details

Exterior and Grounds, Songtsam Tacheng Lodge, Tacheng
Songtsam Lodge Tacheng

A Slice of Tibetan Life

Songtsam are a small group of traditional Tibetan style boutique lodges, built within charming 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 it is also an area where many of the 25 ethnic minorities groups currently living in Yunnan can be found.

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

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Tibetan Monastery town against blue sky, reflected in river.
Sumtseling Monastery in Shangri La

In the Footsteps of Tibetan Pilgrims

Sumtseling Monastery is the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan province and was built in the 17th Century by the fifth Damai Lama. Home to at least 600 Buddhist monks who spend their time engrossed in Buddhist learning, the monastery has numerous chapels, woodcarving and paintings and is a living museum of Tibetan culture. Explore on foot following a pathway formerly used by Tibetan pilgrims.

Golden Monkeys, China
Golden Monkeys, China

Yunnan Golden Monkey

Visit the Yunnan Golden Monkey National Park and embark on a one to two hour trek into the nature reserve. These monkeys are one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world and make their home at altitudes higher than any other primate except humans.

Local woman and child, Yunnan, China
Tibetan woman and child

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.


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

Songtsam Lodge Tacheng £££££

  • China
  • Boutique

Songtsam Tacheng is located in a fertile mountain valley in a region of Yunnan populated by minority tribes and local villages. The nine simple rooms have been decorated in a traditional style using local artwork and furnishings and each has a spacious balcony offering views of the surrounding terraced fields. Guests can dine on a range of home-cooked meals made from organic ingredients, many grown in the neighbouring villages. Organic rice is produced from the fields in front of the lodge and the region is well known for the range of fresh vegetables, fruits, local ham, rainbow trout and wild honey. Additional facilities include an outdoor swimming pool.

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. The cosy organic restaurant fuses traditional Tibetan and Western flavours using local produce. Relax in the pretty courtyard, indulge in a sauna or massage or soak up the views from the rooftop terrace.

View Property

Let’s chat

Speak to our experts

Our team is waiting to help you tailor a trip that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. Call us on

01285 601 784

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Complete our enquiry form and start your next journey.


The design and operation of this holiday was excellent and took us to places that we had hardly heard of. A great experience and opportunity to sample " Old China" before it becomes overcrowded. We were very happy with the whole procedure.


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 £4,950 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 sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. 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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