A Tour Through Mystical Yunnan

With this week-long itinerary, you will see the best of China’s northwest province of Yunnan. One of the most culturally and biologically diverse provinces in ChinaYunnan is a true assault on the senses with staggeringly high mountain ranges, different ethnic minorities, and some of the best food we’ve sampled in the country.

Beginning in the historic town of Lijiang, this itinerary then takes you on a trekking tour through the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, up into the fabled town of Shangri La, and through the northern mountains by the Tibetan border. This is China like you’ve never seen it before, and you are bound to end your holiday nothing short of amazed and desperate to explore more of this wonderfully diverse country.

Day 1: Arrival into Lijiang

When you arrive at Lijiang airport, you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to the Banyan Tree Lijiang, where you can relax and enjoy a peaceful evening enjoying the spectacular views over the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Banyan Tree Lijiang was awarded Best Luxury Hotel and Best Spa Resort in China at the 2007 China Hotel Starlight Awards. Located 2,000 metres above sea level in the heart of China and 40 minutes away from Lijiang Airport, Banyan Tree Lijiang is 15 minutes from the historical town of Dayan. The majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain acts as a backdrop to the South.

Stay: Banyan Tree Lijiang

Day 2: Lijiang

Today you will explore the amazing sights of Lijiang beginning with a visit to Lijiang old town. A maze of small courtyards, cobbled streets and winding canals, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is best visited early in the day before the tourists descend. Later, your guide will take you up Jade Dragon Mountain, avoiding the crowds and taking you to the lesser visited spots for a stunning view over the glacier

Stay: Banyan Tree Lijiang

Day 3: From Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge

Today you will head to the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of the natural wonders of the world, Tiger Leaping Gorge was formed by the Jinsha River forcing its way between the towering Yulong and Haba Mountains We will tailor our time on the gorge to fit with your interest and fitness levels, but an overnight stop in one of the small local guesthouses dotted along the gorge is a truly unique experience. Here you can relax on outdoor terraces overlooking the gorge with a hot cup of tea or cold beer and chat the evening away with fellow hikers and travellers.

Stay: Local guesthouse

Day 4: From Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri La

After a good night’s sleep ad a hearty breakfast, continue your walk out of the gorge in the morning. After your hike you will be met by your driver who will transfer you up to Shangri La for a stay at the beautiful Songtsam Retreat.

Stay: Songtsam Retreat at Shangri-La

Day 5: Visiting Shangri La

Your morning will be dedicated to a visit to the Songzanlin Monastery and Dabao Temple, both important centres of Tibetan Buddhism which are still in use today. This afternoon you may wish to head to Pudacuo National Forest Park, or simply head back to the Songtsam Retreat and enjoy the views from your balcony. Relaxing with a locally produced glass of Shangri La wine in Songtsam Retreat’s cosy library or bar is a nice way to end the evening as well.

Stay: Songtsam Retreat at Shangri-La

Day 6: From Shangri La to Deqin

Today you will head into Deqin – the heart of Tibetan Yunnan with your guide and driver. As you wind your way up the mountains, you will be met by local life and staggering views around each corner. Arrive at the delightful Songtsam Meili, perched high on an isolated hill overlooking the staggering mountain range. Songtsam Meili is at an impressive height of 3,600metres with 17 guest rooms that are furnished with large comfortable beds, sofas, and timber flooring, providing a warm atmosphere that combines rustic charm with modern comforts.

Stay: Songtsam Lodges

Day 7: Deqin

You will rise at dawn and admire the sunrise over the Meili Snow Mountain range which stands as an impassable border between Tibet and China. It is dominated by the mystical Kawa Karpo, a true wonder that reaches a height of over 6700 metres, and towers over the neighboring mountains. Later you will explore Mingyong Glacier, a beautiful sight that can be reached via horseback. The evening will be dominated by a song and dance party back at Songtsam Meili. Guests and staff gather on the outdoor terrace during the warmer months where they will teach you a few traditional dance steps as well as challenge you to a sing-off!

Stay: Songtsam Lodges

Day 8: Deqin to Benzilan

Today you will head to Benzilan, an intimate green valley by the Yangtze River. On route you will visit the magnificent Dongzhulin Temple, one of the famous 13 temples in Northwest Yunnan province. You will bed down at Songtsam Benzilan, a charming little lodge with 10 spacious guest rooms and views of a small prayer house resting atop a hill. The produce at Songtsam Benzilan is as fresh as it gets, grown and picked straight from their organic garden in front of the lodge. Activities include a trip to the nearby Nixi Village to take part in traditional black pottery making, meditation with a Tibetan master, and guided mountain and forest hikes.

Stay: Songtsam Lodges

Day 9: Departure

Today you will transfer back to Zhongdian for your flight home.


Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival into Lijiang Banyan Tree Lijiang
Day 2: Lijiang Banyan Tree Lijiang
Day 3: From Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge Local guesthouse
Day 4: From Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri La Songtsam Retreat at Shangri-La
Day 5: Visiting Shangri La Songtsam Retreat at Shangri-La
Day 6: From Shangri La to Deqin Songtsam Lodges
Day 7: Deqin Songtsam Lodges
Day 8: Deqin to Benzilan Songtsam Lodges
Day 9: Departure



  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Transfers and guide
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Visa
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that this is required for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)


Banyan Tree Lijiang Songtsam Retreat Songtsam Meili Songtsam Benzilan

Price available upon request

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant