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From stunning Lijiang and mystical Tibet, to bustling Shanghai and charming Chengdu

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What's Included

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Private tours and experiences based around China's culture, history and natural beauty
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  • Expert guides in each destination
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Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

A memorable and rewarding tour that showcases some of the richest culture, history and natural beauty that China has to offer. During your trip, you’ll discover many of the gems of China’s south, from its atmospheric ancient trade towns to its majestic mountain monasteries. Spanning 12 diverse and insightful days, your tour will see you traverse many of the country’s dramatic and constantly changing landscapes, crossing from the modern metropolis of Shanghai, all the way to the traditional and untouched lands of Tibet.

After a brief overnight stop in Shanghai, you will transfer to beautiful Lijiang, exploring its authentic old town and immersing yourself in the culture of the Naxi people. Just outside of the centre of Lijiang, you’ll explore some beautiful natural landscapes including Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which you’ll climb for wonderful views. Next up, a scenic drive will see you pass the Yangtze River and Tiger Leaping Gorge as you make your way to Shangri-La, a famous town on the old Tea Horse Road trade route. Here you’ll discover stunning monasteries, pristine countryside and striking old architecture.

Your next stop will see you entering the snowy heights of Tibet and its capital, Lhasa. Here, the unique Tibetan culture is wonderfully showcased in the form of awe-inspiring temples, historic streets, memorable monasteries and remarkable surrounding mountains. Chengdu follows, whose vibrant bars, shops, eateries and galleries will keep you enchanted, as will the wonderful Dujiangyan Panda Base with its pioneering approach to panda conservation. Your trip ends back in Shanghai, where you’ll have a rewarding day exploring its juxtaposition between modern city and traditional old town.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-2

Shanghai

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Shanghai

Accommodation in Shanghai

The modern skyline of Shanghai
One night in Shanghai One night in Shanghai

Shanghai, colloquially abbreviated to Hù, is an international metropolis found on China’s central coast and is the biggest city in the country. With its bright lights and epic skyline, it is everything you’d expect from a 21st-century metropolis and provides a great chance to see life in an international but still very Asian city. Spend the remainder of your day here at leisure before a morning flight to Lijiang the following day.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Shanghai airport

Flight

Flight to Lijiang

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Lijiang

Days 2-4

Lijiang

Accommodation in Lijiang

Lijiang's Old Town Lijiang's Old Town

Defined by an intricate network of canals and cobbled lanes, the atmospheric Lijiang Old Town constitutes a dreamlike scene, and it is that charm, along with its inscription onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997, that makes this town such a popular and rewarding attraction in China. You will be met in the morning by your guide for a tour of the Old Town, taking you down some of the quieter lanes before they fill with visitors. While here, you can mingle with local Naxi people, descendants of Tibetan tribes.

Climb Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Climb Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

A 30-minute drive from Lijiang will bring you to Yuhu Village, a small community set at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Before experiencing the mountain, you will visit the former home of famed botanist and explorer, Joseph Rock, who was known for chronicling the Naxi people. After exploring the streets here and admiring the traditional stone buildings, you will begin three hours of climbing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, affording incredible views over the Wenhai Valley and Lijiang in the distance.

Impression Lijiang culture show Impression Lijiang culture show

Created by film director Zhang Yimou, who is famous as the director of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, Impression Lijiang features a cast of more 500 actors and a number of horses in a performance that recounts traditional Naxi myths and stories. Held on a vast outdoor stage set within the foothills of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the location also offers wonderful views of surrounding glaciers and snow-capped peaks.

Scenic drive to Shangri-La Scenic drive to Shangri-La

On your private transfer from Lijiang to Shangri-La, you'll find yourself immersed in the stunning scenery of the Yunnan province. During your drive, you'll stop at the first bend of the Yangtze River, pass through the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge and spot the snow-capped peak of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, all before pulling into the historic town of Shangri-La.

Days 4-6

Shangri-La

Accommodation in Shangri-La

Songzanlin visit Songzanlin visit

With its resemblance to the palace of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa giving it the nickname 'Little Potala', Songzanlin is the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan and is currently home to 700 monks. During your visit here, you will wander through incense-filled halls and beside gilded copper pillars, all while rubbing shoulders with the red-robed devotees who gather here to study Buddhist scriptures and meditate.

Hike in the Pudacuo National Park Hike in the Pudacuo National Park

The Pudacuo National Park is famous as being the first national park established in China, as well as being home to 20% of the country’s flora and over 30% of its fauna, including over 100 endangered species. You'll have a rewarding opportunity to explore the lakes, mountains, grasslands and river valleys of this stunning park during a leisurely hike for two hours, discovering the ecosystems of this park as you go.

Discover Dukezong Discover Dukezong

Set on the doorstep of Shangri-La, Dukezong is a small town with a distinctive Tibetan character, and you'll love discovering its winding lanes and traditional architecture. Once a key stop on the ancient Tea Horse Road, a route that brought China's teas to the Silk Road, the town is populated by white stupas, colourful markets, prayer flags and Tibetan architecture. Half of the original 1,300-year-old town sadly burned down in 2014, though today much of it has been rebuilt in its traditional style, providing a glimpse into a bygone era.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Shangri-La airport

Flight

Flight to Lhasa

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Lhasa

Days 6-9

Tibet

Accommodation in Tibet

Jokhang Temple Jokhang Temple

Showcasing a striking blend of both Nepalese and Indian architectural themes, in discovering Jokhang Temple you will learn about the oldest and holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism. Not only is the temple mesmerising for its design, but also for the masses of pilgrims who visit it daily to worship. Upon reaching the roof, you'll be treated to stunning views of Potala Palace and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

barkhor-street-lhasa-nepal
Barkhor Street Barkhor Street

Visit Barkhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa that runs through the centre of the old city. It is a circular street where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble.

Potala Palace Potala Palace

Pay a visit to the imposing Potala Palace, which has been the chief residence of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, and the focus of travellers for centuries. It is a cardinal landmark and a structure of massive proportion. It symbolises Tibetan Buddhism and its role in the traditional administration of Tibet.

drepung-monastary-lhasa
Drepung Monastery Drepung Monastery

About 8km to the west of central Lhasa is Drepung, one of the world’s largest monasteries. It was built in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a pupil of Tshong Khapa, the founder of the Gelugpa Sect. Drepung literally means 'heaps of rice' and the fertility of its fields supported a monastic community that before 1959 ranked as Tibet’s largest with 7,770 monks. For over 500 years, Drepung served as the major pillar of the theocratic state, serving as the main political headquarters for the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It also served as the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Potala Palace was constructed in 1645. Suffering only minor damage during the Cultural Revolution, Drepung has plenty of historical relics, Buddhist scriptures and arts.

Pabongka Monastery and Chupzang Nunnery Pabongka Monastery and Chupzang Nunnery

You'll start this experience with a visit to the Pabongka Monastery, a landmark which local legend claims was once home to two divine tortoises which now exist in the form of two granite boulders, both of which you can spot at this lesser-known monastery. After your monastery visit, you will begin a 30-minute hike to Chupzang Nunnery, a part of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The nunnery is hidden away in an area of emerald fields and is home to 80 red-robed nuns.

sera-monastery
Sera Monastery Sera Monastery

5km north of Lhasa and hugging the ridge that forms the northern wall of the Kyi Chu Valley, is Sera Monastery. Founded in 1419 by Sakya Yeshe, a disciple of Tsongkhapa, it is one of the three great monasteries of Tibet (the other two being Drepung and Ganden). It is home to over 500 student monks and is perhaps most famous for its teaching method, which you can witness most afternoons in the courtyard where monks animatedly and vigorously debate Buddhist texts. You can also visit the printing centre, where sutra texts are still printed by hand on Tibet's traditional long paper.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Lhasa airport

Flight

Flight to Chengdu

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Chengdu

Days 9-11

Chengdu

Accommodation in Chengdu

Kuan Zhai alleyways Kuan Zhai alleyways

The Kuan Zhai alleyways are a dynamic collision of traditional architecture and modern culture, where Qing Dynasty buildings play host to some of Chengdu's best coffee shops, bars, galleries and boutiques. Rub shoulders with locals who love to roam these quirky lanes on their day off and tuck into some of the city's traditional snacks, and keep your eyes peeled for some of the more exotic local delicacies.

Dujiangyan Panda Base Dujiangyan Panda Base

Located about 1.5hrs outside Chengdu, the Dujiangyan Panda Base is the perfect place to get up close to giant pandas. The first wild pandas were first spotted in this area in 1953 and the bamboo-covered hills of the conservation centre replicate the iconic animal's natural habitat. The ultimate goal of the Dujiangyan Panda Base is to boost the population and prepare the pandas for life in the wild. Be sure to look out for the keepers, who may well be hanging out with China's national animal dressed as pandas themselves.

Explore Qingcheng Mountain Explore Qingcheng Mountain

Providing respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets below in Chengdu's centre, Qingcheng Mountain is known as 'the most peaceful and secluded under heaven'. Your visit to the mountain will start with a cable car ride, ascending the mountain as the views slowly present themselves to you. Once at the top of the cable car ride, you'll continue climbing on foot, exploring numerous temples that are dotted along the trail. Once at the summit, you can soak up the breathtaking views of the surrounding green hills which roll out into the distance.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Chengdu airport

Flight

Flight to Shanghai

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Shanghai

Day 11-12

Shanghai

Accommodation in Shanghai

The French Concession The French Concession

Shanghai’s former French concession represents every aspect of the city’s short but tumultuous history. This guided walk is your chance to dip in and out of its modern boutiques and chic cafes, and witness the local bike fixers, propaganda art, street tailors and dumpling hawkers that have been there much longer. The area was governed by France but was populated by a cosmopolitan mix of the city's wealthy political elites. Your local guide will lead you through the old lanes still lined with Russian churches, British townhouses and even French châteaux.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Shanghai airport

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