Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan | Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, reflected in the waters of Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, reflected in the waters of Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool.

Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan Province

See the highlights of Lijiang and Shangri-La: cobbled streets and watercourses of ancient towns, Naxi and Tibetan culture, plus views of snow-capped mountains. A five-day trip with a cultural focus, nothing too strenuous.

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Hikes and walks at reasonably high altitudes. (Can I do it?)
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Booking info

Private tour: Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan Province

For groups of 6+

For cost details please see the table of prices and inclusions

See the highlights of Lijiang and Shangri-La on this five-day trip—cobbled streets and watercourses of ancient towns, country roads and fields around small settlements, Naxi and Tibetan culture, and views of snow-capped mountains.

As well as riding horses on an ancient tea trail, you’ll take an excursion by boat on the scenic Lashi Lake, and visit the Songzanlin Temple in Shangri-La. Of course, you’ll also get a quite a bit of walking about done—on peaceful country lanes near Lijiang, on the cobblestone streets of the towns we’ll visit, and at the lower end of the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Trip overview

Day One main activities Fly to Lijiang, explore Lijiang Old Town, overnight in Lijiang Old Town.
Day Two main activities Black Dragon Pool and culture museum; visit Baisha Old Town, see frescoes, hike in countryside; explore Shuhe Old Town; drive to Shangri-La; overnight in Shangri-La.
Day Three main activities Hike up to Shangri-La’s Songzanlin Temple; lunch at local guesthouse; tour of the temple; explore Shangri-La local market and old town; overnight in Shangri-La.
Day Four main activities Hike up to “Hundred Chickens” temple; see the huge prayer wheel in Shangri-La’s old town; drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge, hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge park, overnight in Lijiang Old Town.
Day Five main activities Visit Lashi Lake, boat ride, horses, ancient tea trail; free time to explore Lijiang Old Town; drive to Lijiang Airport, fly back to Beijing.

Prices and inclusions

Prices

* Price on request for smaller groups. Includes return flights from/to Beijing.
Group size 6–7 8+ Kids price
Price
per person
Price TBC ¥9,800 ¥8,600

Inclusions

Return flights from/to Beijing • Transport in private vehicles during the trip • Accommodation at hotels • Main meals, drinks with meals, bottled water • Tickets and entry fees • Beijing Hikers staff guide • Local guides as required

Not included: surprise shopping trips.

Highlights

Folk dances in Lijiang's town square
Folk dancers in Lijiang's town square. (Click for larger image)

Lijiang Ancient City

We’ll explore the cobbled streets, alleyways, and canals of old Lijiang.

Lijiang has a history of more than 800 years, and, like Pingyao, is a very well-preserved example of what cities looked like in China, a long time ago.

We’ll do some exploring at ground level, and then climb up Lion Hill to visit the pagoda. From the top of Lion Hill we’ll get an excellent view of the city below. Note: in Beijing, this would be an easy stroll – here, at near to 3,000 metres above sea level, it’s a bit more difficult!

Lijiang gets quite busy during peak travel season, and at that time there are often a lot of people there.

A street scene in Shuhe, near Lijiang
A street scene in Shuhe, near Lijiang. (Click for larger image)

Shuhe and Baisha Old Towns

Not far from Lijiang are two other old towns with a similar history, but comparatively less development for tourism.

Baisha is just starting to see a bit of development, but remains an example of the more pastoral side of life in Yunnan.

Shuhe is a little bit further along the road of development than Baisha, and is quite a bit quieter than Lijiang, but just as interesting to look about.

We’ll drive up to Baisha for a look about, and then we’ll take a stroll on to Shuhe, passing through the lanes and fields between the two villages.

Shangri-La

Renamed (from Zhongdian) to entice tourists, Shangri-La has a Tibetan feel to it, and a large, active monastery called Songzanlin Temple. Lijiang has more of the Naxi ethnic group, and Shangri-La has more Tibetans.

Songzanlin Monastery, in Shangri-La
Songzanlin Temple, in Shangri-La. (Click for larger image)

Songzanling Temple

Songzanlin Temple is an active lamasery of the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism. It’s the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan. It was established in 1679, bombed in 1959, sacked a little bit during the Cultural Revolution, and has since then been restored quite nicely.

As with Lion Hill in Lijiang, what would be a relatively easy walkabout at lower altitude could feel a bit tougher at 3,300m above sea level, with a steep flight of stairs to climb on the way to the temple’s prayer hall.

On the ancient Tea and Horse trail near Lijiang
On the ancient Tea and Horse trail at Lashi Lake. (Click for larger image)

Lashi Lake and Tea and Horse trail

We'll make a visit to the Lashi Lake wetlands area, a conservation zone that's becoming more and more well known for beautiful scenery. We'll use our feet, horses, and boats to get around while we're there.

Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge. (Click for larger image)

Tiger Leaping Gorge

On the way back from Shangri-La to Lijiang, we drive past Tiger Leaping Gorge, and why not visit while we’re in the area? We’ll just have time for a stroll at the lower, slightly touristy section of the gorge, but will be able to spot the location of the fabled tiger’s leap, and see the powerful flow of the river down the gorge.

Dancers in Lijiang's town square
Dancers in Lijiang's town square. (Click for larger image)

Ethnic culture

Yunnan is home to at least 25 of the various ethnic groups of China. On this trip we see a lot of Naxi and Tibetans, and possibly Dai, Yi, and Mosuo.

High altitudes

Some places near Lijiang are around 2,500m above sea level, and Shangri-La is 3,200m above sea level. Hikes may feel more difficult than usual, and you may experience symptoms of altitude sickness.

More photos

Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool, with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain seen in the distance
Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool, with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain seen in the distance. (Click for larger image)
An excursion by boat at Lashi Lake
An excursion by boat at Lashi Lake. (Click for larger image)
Folk dances in Lijiang's town square
Folk dancers in Lijiang's town square. (Click for larger image)
Folk dances in Lijiang's town square
Folk dancers in Lijiang's town square. (Click for larger image)
Dancers in Lijiang's town square
Dancers in Lijiang's town square. (Click for larger image)
Folk dances in Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool park
Folk dancers in Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool park. (Click for larger image)
Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool park
Lijiang's Black Dragon Pool park. (Click for larger image)
Views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, near Lijiang
Views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, near Lijiang. (Click for larger image)
A vegetable market in Lijiang
A vegetable market in Lijiang. (Click for larger image)
A market stall in Lijiang
A market stall in Lijiang. (Click for larger image)
Part of Lijiang's Old Quarter, seen from Lion Hill
Part of Lijiang's Old Quarter, seen from Lion Hill. (Click for larger image)
Lijiang local snacks
Lijiang local snacks. (Click for larger image)
A snack stall in Lijiang's old quarter
A snack stall in Lijiang's old quarter. (Click for larger image)
A street scene in Lijiang's old quarter
A street scene in Lijiang's old quarter. (Click for larger image)
A street scene in Lijiang
A street scene in Lijiang. (Click for larger image)
A street scene in Lijiang
A street scene in Lijiang. (Click for larger image)
A street scene in Shangri-La's old town
A street scene in Shangri-La's old town. (Click for larger image)
The giant prayer wheel in the middle of Shangri-La's old town
The giant prayer wheel in the middle of Shangri-La's old town. (Click for larger image)
A Tibetan family restaurant in Shangri-La
A Tibetan family restaurant in Shangri-La. (Click for larger image)
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge. (Click for larger image)
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge. (Click for larger image)

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