Yunnan – The Land South Of The Clouds

Nowhere in the world will you find such a cultural and geographical diversity as in the Chinese province of Yunnan! Experience the Yunnan Plateau with its jagged and snow-capped peaks or the tropical forests and rice fields in the south of Yuann. The area is an absolute highlight from a botanical, zoological and ethnic point of view. Elsewhere it takes a whole continent to express this diversity!

You are on the “Old Burmastrasse” and visit almost all the big cities: Among other things, Kunming, the capital, which has many sights such as the Steinwald, Dian Lake, Westberg or the pond of the black dragon to offer. Go on cycling and trekking tours or visit museums and cafes. Yunnan has a lot in store for you!

This is an example of one of our tours and should serve as a source of inspiration. Of course, the itinerary including the destinations can be adapted and we will be happy to work out a round trip for you that is tailored to your interests and budget.

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Best travel time: May to September

Travel time: 11 days

Price: on request. Varies greatly depending on the travel season.

Travel planning: In the winter months it gets cold and the hotels rarely have heating. It is therefore advisable to travel from March to September.

Tip: Yunnan can be easily combined with Myanmar on a 4-week trip along the old Burma Road. There is still enough time for relaxing days on the dream beaches of Ngapali.

Day 1:
Arrival in Kunming After your arrival in Kunming you will be met by your tour guide and taken to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you will still have time for a short stroll through the bird and flower market as well as a visit to the East Pagoda and the West Pagoda from the 9th century, when Kunming was still part of the mighty Nanuhao Kingdom. You can enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2: Kunming – Green Lake Park – Lunan Stone Forest
After breakfast, tour through the idyllic Cui Hu Park, where many locals gather to prepare for the day with various sports activities such as Tai Ji or Qi Gong. Then drive in a private car to the stone forest of Lunan where rain and erosion have left behind a unique, impressive natural landscape over millions of years. The narrow, bizarrely shaped, up to 30 meters high rock needles are among the most remarkable natural phenomena in China. During a long walk through the karst rock labyrinth, you will always discover new stone formations. You will also learn more about the lifestyle of the local ethnic minority, the Sani, a subgroup of the Yi minority. Return to Kunming.

Day 3: Kunming – West Mountains – Bamboo Temple – Kunming
Drive to Dianchi Lake in the south of Kunming. You will visit the Minority Museum, which features an interesting collection of costumes from the 26 ethnic minorities living in Yunnan. Then you drive to the legendary West Mountains on the southwestern outskirts of Kunming. The ascent to the Dragon Gate leads past countless smaller temples and pavilions and offers unique and unforgettable views of Kunming and Lake Dianchi. The highlight is a visit to the Dragon Gate, where monks carved numerous grottos, sculptures and pavilions at dizzying heights out of the steep rock face in the late 18th century. The return journey to Kunming is interrupted by a stop at the hidden bamboo temple (Qiong Zhu Si) from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which is decorated with over 500 life-size clay figures of former monks (“Arhats”). Return to Kunming.

Day 4: Kunming – Zhongdian
You will fly to Zhongdian early in the morning. Zhongdian was recently renamed Shangri-La, the hidden paradise described in the famous novel “The Last Horizon” by James Hilton. The ethnic and cultural diversity of the region gives Zhongdian a very special charm. Upon arrival, drive to a lookout point that offers breathtaking views over Lake Napa and its surroundings. We continue to the idyllic Dabao Monastery, which is about 12 km outside of Zhongdian. In the afternoon we drive to the remarkable Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a 300 year old monastery that was inaugurated personally by the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, it is now again one of the largest and most influential monasteries in the area.

Day 5: Zhongdian – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Lijiang
You drive through the impressive landscape towards Lijiang. On the way you stop at the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hu Tiao Xia), where the Yangtze River winds through the gorge, which is only 15 meters wide in places. This is an impressive experience, especially in the summer months, as the water level is highest at this time. From here we continue to Shigu, where the Yangtze River bends 180 degrees when coming from the north. Tour through the village and then on to Lijiang.

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Day 6: Lijiang
You take your first city tour through the wonderful old town, criss-crossed with countless narrow streets and canals. On this occasion you will also learn more about the specifics and secrets of the mystical Naxi culture. Almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1996, Lijiang was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites after being rebuilt. You visit the market and climb up to the lion’s hill, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the roofs of the old town. The afternoon is free to explore Lijiang on your own.

Optional for the afternoon: Rent bicycles and cycle to Baisha, the former capital of the Naxi Kingdom. (approx. 12 km each way. Total approx. 24 km, flat, easy)

Day 7: Lijiang – Shaxi – Xizhou
In the morning drive through a wonderful landscape to the Shaxi valley. The little known Naxi village Shaxi is located in the scenic area of ​​the Shaxi Valley and was an important and prosperous trading post on the “Tea and Horse Road”. In the 1990s, Shaxi was lovingly restored by a project by the Technical University of Zurich and is now considered a prime example of an original Naxi village. We visit the nearby Shibaoshan, with its numerous temples and pavilions from different dynasties and admire the more than 1300 years old rock carvings – evidence of a time when Mahayana Buddhism began to spread in Yunnan. If you feel like it, you can hike along a well-developed hiking trail (easy / downhill) to Shaxi in about 1.5 hours. The hike is easy and opens up a beautiful view of the Shaxi valley. Otherwise, drive to Shaxi. Then continue to Xizhou. The village of Xizhou is delighted for its well-preserved Bai architecture.
Check-in at the hotel. Followed by a tour of the old town. You will also visit the former residence of the Yan family, a wonderful wooden house with numerous inner courtyards, which was built around the end of the 19th century.

Day 8: Xizhou – Dali – Xizhou
In the morning drive to Dali. Dali is located on the western bank of the idyllic Erhai Lake at the foot of the impressive, up to 4000m high Cang mountain range. In the 9th century, Dali was the capital of the vast Nanzhao Kingdom before the historic city was overrun by the Mongols 400 years later. The area around Dali is predominantly inhabited by the ethnic group of the “Bai”, who are known to this day for their craftsmanship (including working with silver). Tour of the old town. You will visit the market, the Catholic Church and the old city gates. You visit the 3 pagoda temples (San Ta Si) from the 9th century, which is located a little outside of Dali. Our driver takes you to the Chongsheng Temple with its distinctive 3 towers, the “San Ta Si”. The towers are from the 9th Century and in the meantime have become the symbol of Dali. After the earthquake of 1996 the 3 towers were completely renovated and now shine again in their old splendor. During the restoration, a container was discovered containing items from the time of the Nanzhao Kingdom when the pagodas were built. These valuable objects can be viewed in the museum.

Optional for the afternoon: Rent bicycles from the hotel and cycle approx. 4 km to a nearby headland that extends into Lake Erhai. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Erhai Lake (bike tour approx. 10 km / flat, easy).

Day 9: Xizhou – Baoshan – Tengchong
You leave Dali and drive along the old Burma road (partly highway, partly old road) through wonderful countryside to Baoshan. The old Burma Road was built during World War II when advancing Japanese forces cut off supply routes from southern Burma. With enormous efforts, the American Army under the leadership of General Joseph Stilwell built a road from Ledo in India across northern Burma to Kunming in China. Shortly before Baoshan you cross the Mekong River. Visit the small, idyllic Wo Fo Si Temple with a reclining Jade Buddha from Burma. Then continue towards Baoshan. Lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, continue on a winding, largely original stretch of the old Burma road to Tengchong. We drive through the fertile Nujiang Valley, cross the Nu Jiang (Salween River) and the impressive Gaoligong massif. The varied landscape makes up for the somewhat longer journey. Arrival in Tengchong in the evening.

Day 10: Tengchong – Yunnan – Zurich
You will be brought to the airport in Tengchong and fly back to Kunming. From there international flight to Zurich.

With Myanmar extension:
Day 10: Tengchong – Ruili
The area around Tengchong is known for its seismological activity. The city is surrounded by over 90 extinct volcanic cones and the numerous hot springs are popular excursion destinations for the locals. In the early morning you drive to the nearby hot springs. After a tour through the numerous boiling and steaming ponds, we continue to the new museum of Tengchong, which offers an interesting exhibition about the old Burma road. During World War II, Tengchong played an important role in the defense of China from the Japanese advancing from Burma. The subsequent journey leads through the varied mountain landscape of southwest China via Lianghe to Ruili. The constantly changing landscape makes up for the somewhat longer journey. Arrival in the busy border town of Ruili in the evening. Those who still feel energized can visit the busy night market of Ruili in the evening.

Day 11: Ruili (border) – Muse – Lashio
Drive to the border in Ruili, approx. 12 km away. You will cross the Sino-Burmese border and drive to Muse, which is about 190 km north of Lashio on the banks of the Shwe Li River.

After completing the border formalities, visit Muse and the local market, an important trading center between China and Myanmar. Then continue to Lashio (approx. 3 hours). In Kuk Kai you have the opportunity to refresh yourself and have lunch. If time permits, stop in a Shan or Palaung village en route. You will arrive in Lashio in the early afternoon. The city is the end point of the Burma Railway and was, until the Japanese invasion in 1941, the starting point of the legendary “Old Burma Road.” Here you will visit the Quan Yin San temple and the Thiri Mingala Man Kyaung monastery.

Day 12: Lashio – Hsipaw
Today you continue to Hsipaw, a charming small town in the Shan highlands, which you can reach after about 2 hours by car. Visit to Bawgyo Pagoda and Hsipaw Haw.

Day 13: Hsipaw
Hike over fields and past small villages in the still untouristic Shan highlands in / around Hsipaw. A boat trip rounds off this experience.

Day 14: Hsipaw – Goteik Viaduct – Pyin Oo Lwin
In the morning sightseeing in Hsipaw. Then drive to Naung Pain, where you will arrive at noon. From there, the spectacular train ride over the 102 m high Goteik Viaduct, built in 1901, follows. Then continue by car to Pyin Oo Lwin, the “city of flowers”.

Day 15: Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay
In the morning visit to the botanical gardens of Pyin Oo Lwin and the Paikchinmyaung caves. At noon drive to Mandalay.

16.-21. Day: Mandalay – Bhamo
river cruise on the Irrawaddy from Mandalay to Bhamo on the “Amara 2”.

Day 22: Bhamo – Yangon
Arrival by ship in Bhamo. Visit the colorful market and the old city walls. In the afternoon, flight to Yangon and transfer to your hotel in the center of the city. Evening at leisure (no guide).

Day 23: Yangon (Circular Train)
Take the leisurely circular train and visit Kalaywa Tawya Monastery. There you can be a silent spectator during the daily ritual of the monks before / while taking your last meal of the day. Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda as one of the most beautiful pagodas in the country in the evening. It will show you its gold-plated exterior in a particularly impressive way at sunset and if you feel like it, you can go on a culinary foray afterwards. Visits to galleries and studios of local artists can also be arranged on request. Or how about visiting the venerable Hotel Strand for an “afternoon tea”?

Day 24: Yangon – Dala – Departure Take
the ferry to the other bank of the river to Dala. Travel by Trishaw to the local market and sightseeing in Dala, then return to Yangon. Time to make some final purchases at the Bogyoke Market. In the evening transfer to the airport for the journey home.

Flight from Yangon to Zurich.

Yunnan - The Land South Of The Clouds

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