Exploring Sacred Shangri-La (9 days, 8 nights)

Exploring Sacred Shangri-La
9 days, 8 nights

Explore breathtaking landscapes and wonderfully diverse cultures
in the ‘Three Parallel Rivers’ region of Yunnan


The area of ‘Three Parallel Rivers’ in Yunnan is a majestic landscape framed by the mighty Yangtze, the free-flowing Mekong and the wild Salween. Many of the twenty-five different ethnic minorities currently living in Yunnan can be found in this area, which features snow-capped peaks more than 6,000 m high, glaciated gorges and terraced rice fields. The peaceful people that inhabit the region have preserved the area over generations and nurtured this awe-inspiring ‘Shangri-La’.

This journey combines physical and cultural activities with wildlife discovery and exploration of untouched, off-the-beaten-path regions, making it ideal for adventurous travellers. From the stunning views of the highest snow peak in Yunnan to the lush Mekong valley, this trip takes you through the heart of the Three Parallel Rivers area and reveals its living heritage.


Day 1 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Lijiang                                                                         [D]

Arrive in Lijiang. Your guide and driver are waiting to pick you up from Lijiang Sanyi International Airport. Check in and enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Day 2 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Lijiang to Tacheng                                                       [B,L,D]

After breakfast, visit the Wenfeng Temple, one of The Five Famous Temples of Lijiang and the highest institution at an elevation of 4,465m. It is the only temple in northwest Yunnan where monks can stay for over three years to engage in intense meditation. After visiting the main temple, we take a stone path or drive to the mediation cave located in the mountain above. Once we reach the top of the mountain, you can overlook the Lijiang dam to the east, the Beacon Hill and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the north resulting in a spectacular panoramic view.

In the afternoon, depart for Tacheng. The journey takes you past the first bend of the Yangtze River and includes a visit to Shi Gu Village on the way. Continue along the valley of the Yangtze River and arrive in Tacheng in the afternoon. Relax and take in the sights of the beautiful rice and flower fields and the surrounding ancient village.

Day 3 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Tacheng                                                                      [B,L,D]

After breakfast, visit the Dharma Cave and take a walk along the road of pilgrimage (30-minute drive).

Visit Hada Village in the afternoon to learn how to make soy milk and tofu with a local family in their courtyard.

Day 4 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Tacheng to Cizhong                                        [B,L,D]

Today, we visit the Yunnan Golden Monkey national park. The hike in the nature reserve takes about 1-2 hours. After the walk, we take a four-hour drive towards Cizhong along the scenic upper Mekong River. Lunch at a local restaurant or a simple lunch box is provided along the way.

Arrive in Cizhong in the afternoon and explore the nearby Catholic Church. Guests may choose to join the mass service if visiting on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday evening.

Day 5 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Cizhong to Meili                                              [B,L,D]

After breakfast, depart for Meili, stopping on the way at Qudengge, where local people get the “key” to worship Mount Kawagebo. The drive to the village takes about one and a half hours. In the afternoon, explore the surrounding village and visit a local family to learn how to print Tibetan prayer flags.

Day 6 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Meili                                                                [B,L,D]

Begin the day with sunrise vistas at Mount Kawagebo. Experience a small ceremony on the mountain using the prayer flags that were printed yesterday.

Later, hike to Mingyong Snow Mountain. The journey takes about 4-6 hours and includes a simple lunch in a scenic spot along the way. Return to the hotel for an afternoon of relaxation.

Day 7 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Meili to Shangri-La                                                   [B,L,D]

Experience another morning sunrise over Mount Kawagebo. After breakfast, depart for Shangri-La and visit the Balagezong valley on the way. This area is much admired for its ancient and mysterious landscapes, including the village of Bala which is home to hospitable villagers, sacred snow-capped mountains, a plank road over the Gangqu River and steep gorges such as the Grand Canyon of Shangri-La. Isolated from the outside world, this scene of pure wonder seems to have been waiting for visitors to uncover its unparalleled beauty and the rich Tibetan culture that surrounds it.

Enjoy a hotpot lunch featuring local flavours such as Nixi chicken. Then continue to Shangri-La and check in at the hotel.

Day 8 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Shangri-La to Kunming                                                            [B,L,D]

After breakfast, visit the Napa Lake, which is both an ideal field for herdsmen and a paradise for many species of birds. Every winter the lake turns into a temporary habitat for migratory birds, such as bar-headed geese, wild ducks and black-necked cranes, which is one of the twelve rarest bird species in the world. During this period, the lake becomes an ideal place for birdwatchers and nature-oriented travellers from around the world.

Built in 1679, Songzanlin Monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Little Potala Palace’. It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama. At its peak, the monastery contained accommodation for up to 2,000 monks but now currently houses 700 monks in 200 associated residences. Being a traditional centre of Tibetan culture, this spiritual sanctuary has also earned a reputation as being a ‘Tibetan Art Museum’.

In the evening, take a flight to Kunming and check in at the hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 9 | Exploring Sacred Shangri-La

Kunming to Luang Prabang                                                     [B]

Continue on your journey and take the high-speed train to Luang Prabang.




  • Tours and transfers as mentioned in the itinerary with licensed English-speaking guide
  • Transportation for tour and transfers by air-conditioned vehicle, unless otherwise stated
  • All meals as indicated in the programme (food only)
  • All applicable taxes and service charges
  • All entrance fees for visits as mentioned in the programme


  • Tours, inclusions of any kind and other services that are not outlined in the tour description
  • Personal expenses such as meals, drinks, tips and gratuities, shopping, portage fees and optional tours, unless otherwise stated
  • Any airline tickets, visa fees, additional transportation cost from and to the general meeting point


  • We reserve the right to make necessary changes to the tour in case of unfavourable weather conditions or situations where we are forced to make alterations to guarantee the safety of our guests
  • All mentioned times, durations and stops are based on approximations and may change due to unforeseen circumstances, weather and traffic conditions beyond our control


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