15 days Yunnan Tibet tour to Kathmandu
Travel from Yunnan to Tibet is one of the most fabulous journey in China. Stop at several dreamlike places: Kunming, Shangri-la, Lhasa and Mount Everest to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and the plain and sincere folkways. Mixed with a Tibetan cultural tour as you explore the magnificent Potala Palace and other famous monasteries in Tibet. This fantastic tour ends with an overland trip to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
Your fabulous journey gets started upon your arrival in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province. You will be warmly greeted at the airport or railway station and assisted to the downtown hotel by your local guide and driver. Have the rest of the day to relax or explore this city on your own.
Start today's trip with a visit to the Bamboo Temple in the western outskirts of Kunming city. The temple is noted for over 500 colorful and lifelike arhat statues built during Qing dynasty. These arhats were famous monks who had achieved great attainment in Buddhism. Learn about their stories from your guide while wandering in the temple.
In the afternoon, immerse yourself into the fabulous world of the Stone Forest located southwest of Kunming. Known as the world’s Karst landscape museum, the stones in the forest appear numerous unique shapes including swords, mushrooms or towers, representing the greatest miracle that nature could make.
In the evening, you may choose to enjoy an impressive dance musical 'Dynamic Yunnan' as optional sightseeing (ticket fee is not included) before driving back to your hotel.
Take a morning bullet train to Dali, a great place for romantic relationships. It’s four views, namely, wind, flower, snow and the moon are long celebrated by Chinese lovers.
Upon arrival, you’ll head to the Three Pagodas, a symbol of the history of ancient Dali city. It was once a temple that contained three independent pagodas forming a symmetrical triangle. Walk around the pagodas and the Reflection lake (Juying Chi) behind them. Bed sure to check out the reflection of these pagodas.
Afterward, enjoy a cruise on Erhai Lake, where you will enjoy the blue and peaceful water long known as Pearl at the Plateau. Appreciate the breathtaking scenery of old Dali city along its banks. Lastly, sock into the old town of Dali.
Take a 3.5 hours' drive to Lijiang this morning, a fantastic place noted for romantic encounters. On the way, stop at Xizhou to visit Yan's Compound of Bai Minority, one of the most representative of Bai-style residences in Yunnan Province. Then take a short stop to visit Shaping Bazaar, a long-historical market located in Shangguan Town, where you can buy souvenirs like the jade article, embroider, multitudinous curios and many more.
It is noon when you arrive at Lijiang. After getting settled into your hotel, make an excursion to Dongba Museum to learn about the splendid Dongba culture in Lijiang.
The rest of the day is left open for you to walk around and explore on your own or with your guide. Rest in one of the local tea houses or explore the narrow streets in Lijiang ancient town.
Spend much of your time today on enjoying the natural scenery and rich local culture in Lijiang. The first destination will be Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a 5,596 m. (18,539 ft.) glacier made up of 13 magnificent peaks. Ride a cable car up to a high grassland meadow, where you can witness the 13 peaks lively in distance. As you descend the mountain, every step will reveal a breath-taking view.
Afterward, head to Baisha Village, an ancient settlement of Naxi culture where you can explore the local architectures. The village is noted for the Mural painted during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 A. D.), blending with the artistic styles of the Naxi, Tibet, and Bai minorities. Spend some time to visit one local family in the village, learn about their ancient culture that is still in practice today.
In the afternoon, drive back to the Black Dragon Pool to enjoy an outstanding view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong mountain) in distance and explore traditional stone buildings and bridges here.
Morning drive to Shangri-la and stop to visit the First Bend of Yangtze River, Stone Drum Town, and Tiger Leaping Gorge along the way. While arriving at the First Bend of Yangtze River, you will see an extraordinary turn which forces the Yangtze to make a sudden V-shaped bend and flow to the northeast, presenting numerous beautiful and marvelous views. Stone Drum Town is the second famous spot along the way. The town got its name from a drum-shaped marble plaque, which is a monument commemorating the victory of Lijiang's Naxi ruler over an invading Tibetan army.
Head to the Tiger Leaping Gorge before arriving Shangri-la. From the top of the gorge, it offers spectacular sightseeing of the steeply angled mountain siding to the rushing Golden Sands River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 m. (700 ft.) below. Upon arrival in Shangri-la, take a rest in your hotel to prepare for the next day.
Spend the whole day on visiting the highlights in Shangri-la, a mystical and harmonious place that was firstly described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Start the trip by heading to Sumtseling Monastery, which is regarded as the largest Tibetan Buddhism Temple in Yunnan. The monastery was constructed imitating the design of the Polata Palace in Lhasa, and hence came the alias 'the little Potala Palace'.
Afterward, drive to Pudacuo National Park, the park well preserves many classic features of China’s southwestern region together with various aspects of traditional nomadic Tibetan plateau life. Bitahai Lake is also called the pearl of the Plateau because of its intact natural landscape, while Shudu Lake is famous for the various wild animals and plants around the lake. Visit a local Tibetan family during the visit to the park.
Lastly, explore Shangri-la Tibetan Ancient Town. It will be a great experience to climb up to the top of Guishan Hill to witness the largest Prayer Wheel of the world and have a panoramic view of Shangri-La county.
Drive to the Shangri-la airport for the departure for Lhasa, and the flight will take about 2 hours. Upon arrival, be met and assisted to the hotel near Jokhang Temple by your local guide and driver. The rest of the day is left free for you to relax and start acclimatizing the high altitude. Start your overland tour in Tibet tomorrow morning.
This morning will cover a visit to the magnificent Potala Palace. Served as the religious center of Tibetan Buddhism culture and the dwelling place for Dalai lamas for centuries, Potala Palace has been always regarded as the landmark of Lhasa city. Its unique fortress-like appearance is a wonder even by modern architectural standard, astonishing every visitor who had the chance to come here.
Afterward, head to the center part of Lhasa old city and visit Jokhang Temple, the holy shrine to all the Tibetan Buddhists. Atop the roof, it offers an excellent view of the Potala Palace in the distance. You can also see many pilgrims prostrating themselves at the entrance of the temple. Next up with a walk along the Kora around Jokhang Temple, called Barkhor Area. It is also a famous street for selling local souvenirs.
The tour today will be focused on visiting two of the great three Gelugpa Sect monasteries in and near Lhasa city, Ganden Monastery and Sera Monastery. Morning drive to Ganden Monastery located atop of a hill 50 km. (31 mi.) northeast of Lhasa. This monastery.is the first one that was built by the founder of Gelugpa Sect himself. and now is well known for its Kora. While walking along the Kora path leading to the top of the hill, you will see many pilgrims and monks offering prayers, rubbing holy rocks and prostrating themselves.
After lunch, drive back to Lhasa city to visit Sera Monastery, which is famous for its debating tradition every afternoon. Debating is one part of learning Buddhism scriptures that all the monks need to involve themselves in, so that they can further their comprehension and proceed to more advanced levels of study.
Morning drive up to Kampala pass [4794m], you will have a glimpse of Yamdrok-tso and spectacular views of Holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar in the distance, the turquoise colored Lake Yamdrok Tso is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, the unforgettable vista of pincer-shaped turquoise water of the lake and amazing spectacle of Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar glacier from Karo la pass are the wonders of the day. Then along the Friendship southern Hwy drive to Gyantse, visit the famous stupa - Gyantse Kumbum, one of the most stunning architectural wonders in Tibet. If the time is allowed, explore the old Gyantse town to get in touch with locals' life. Overnight at Gyantse.
Continue your overland tour to Shigatse in the morning (about 1.5 hours drive). Upon arrival, visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, which was the seat of Panchen Lama and the Tibetan Buddhism center in Rear Tibet. The highlight here is a Stupa-tomb of the tenth Panchen Lama, covered with gold and numerous jewels and precious stones. It was said that the corpse of this Panchen Lama had no signs of decomposition for years. Walk along the monastery Kora path leading to the place where you can have an excellent view of the whole Shigatse city.
Afterward drive to Shegar, enjoy the typical Tibetan plateau landscapes with several stops, catch the first sight of Mount Everest after Gyatso la pass.
Overnight at Shegar.
After breakfast, drive from Shegar to Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in Tibet to witness the magnificent Mount Everest. Along the drive, you will cross over Gawu La Pass, it is a good place to see the magnificent peaks of Himalaya Ranges.
Change the local eco-bus to E.B.C (Everest Base Camp), with a splendid sunset view if the weather permits. Then take a rest in Rongbuk Monastery guest house or local tent guest house.
Depending upon the weather, you will have a chance to witness the sunrise at Everest in the early morning. Afterward, say farewell to Mount Everest and start driving to Gyirong via Old Tingri and Peikutso Lake. Driving along the road surrounded by these snow-capped peaks will give a sense that you are walking a road leading to the sky. Overnight at Gyirong town.
After breakfast, our guide will help you clear the customs. Your Nepalese driver will be waiting for you with smiles on the border. After you clear the customs at the Nepal Immigration office, it’s a 7-8 hours’ drive to Kathmandu. Enjoy the scenery of great white waters along the way. This trip will end upon your arrival at Kathmandu, but it can be extended to other parts of Nepal as you like.