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Shangrila Discovery - 12 Days / 11 Nights


Guilin, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangrila, Chengdu

Shangrila Discovery - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Day 1 Guilin

Arrive in Guilin. Once we escort you to your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore.

Day 2 Guilin (AB, D)

We cruise down the Li River which flows through Guilin from north to south. With breathtaking scenery and the taste of a life far removed from concrete metropolis, the scenery along the river has become one of China's top tourist destinations. Enjoy the beauty of nature from lush green vegetation to calm waters offering a rejuvenating escape. Visit Yangshuo free market, where you can find a variety of special local handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, food, spices and cultural items. Stroll along the market and enjoy a time of shopping for trinkets and souvenirs at your own expense. A characteristic of the market is that most local sellers speak English, so make sure to bargain for your items!

Day 3 Guilin - Kunming (AB, L, D)

In the morning, we explore Elephant Trunk, also known as Elephant Hill given its name because it looks like an elephant drinking from the river. Elephant Trunk Hill is located where the Li River and Peach Blossom River meet in the south central area of Guilin. Elephant Trunk Hill is the symbol of Guilin and its astonishing landscape. Between the elephant's trunk and body is a round cave which resembles a full moon drifting along the water, giving it the name Water Moon Cave. On a moonlit night, the glittering lunar light on the river wavelets forms a breathtaking scene, which has been highly reflected on by poets and painters over Guilin's history. Before catching a flight to Kunming, "The Spring City", we visit the Reed Flute Cave that gets its name from the verdant reeds growing outside which people use to make flutes. The fascinating gallery of natural sculpture (including limestone cave formations), now enhanced by multicolored lighting, has been one of Guilin's many interesting attractions for over 1200 years! It rates as one of the top four tourist sites in the city. We welcome you to explore inside this cave and the spectacular world that awaits.

Day 4 Kunming (AB, L, D)

Today you visit the Stone Forest, one of Earth's famous natural wonders. Its formations extend as far as the eye can see, looking like a vast forest of stone, hence its name. Among all the scenic spots in the forest, the rock of Ashima in the Small Stone Forest is the most famous. It resembles a girl of the Sani people, with a kerchief on her head, and a bamboo basket on her back. According to legend, after falling into a forbidden love, she was turned into a stone in the forest that still bears her name. On the way back, we visit Dragon's Gate, or Longmen in Chinese. It is known for its perfect Daoist and Buddhist grottoes. Set in the sharp cliff of the West Hill; the Dragon Gate is a huge project taking seven decades to complete, from 1781 to 1853, in the Qing Dynasty. Tucked away amid flowering trees and towering stands of bamboo at the foot of the Western Hills, Kunming's Huating Temple is a beautifully preserved example of a classic southwestern Chinese Buddhist temple. Since 1063 AD, the temple originally served as a family temple and retreat established by Nanzhao Kingdom governor Gao Zhisheng. By the mid-14th century it had been rebuilt as a Buddhist temple under the Yuan Dynasty, becoming the largest temple in Kunming to be run by the monks themselves rather than an abbot. Within this temple stands an altar to Guanyin, reputed as the "Deliverer of Sons". Guanyin is widely enshrined by newlyweds and barren couples who hope to conceive a male baby.

Day 5 Kunmin - Dali (AB, L, D)

Catch a flight to Dali, home of the Bai minority, where we will visit the Three Pagodas. Today, they stand as the oldest pagodas in this part of the world. As its name implies, the Three Pagodas comprise three independent pagodas forming a symmetric triangle. The Pagodas are well known for their resilience; they have endured several man-made and natural catastrophes for more than a thousand years. The elegant, balanced and stately style is unique in China's ancient Buddhist architectures, which makes it a must-see in the tour of Dali. Next, we pass by the Dali Museum covering an area of about 40,000m. The exhibition halls represent the Bai's style. Dali Museum, built in 1986 in Dali City, is not only the first state museum in Yunnan Province, but also the biggest institution collecting, exhibiting and researching cultural relics.

We also enjoy a scenic boat ride on Erhai Lake and a city tour of Old Dali built during the Ming Dynasty. Erhai Lake means "Ear-shaped Sea", due to its shape as seen by locals and travelers. It's the largest highland lake next to Dianchi and one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. Dali Old Town, also called Yu Town, is located on the foot of the picturesque Cangshan Mountain. It was built during the Ming dynasty in 1382 and named as one of the first historical and cultural cities. The city is the home of the Bai ethnic minority and its ancient quarter still retains its old world charm with narrow cobbled streets and traditional stone architecture within original city walls.

Day 6 Dali - Lijiang (AB, L, D)

In the morning, we drive to Lijiang and visit the Bai minority village in Xizhou. Filled with beautiful homes that continue to line the small streets, courtyards and vaulting, it still has some of the most exquisite Qing-era architecture. After lunch we continue on to Lijiang where we will enjoy a city tour of Old Town Lijiang. Lijiang is an exceptional ancient town set in a dramatic landscape which represents the harmonious fusion of different cultural traditions to produce an urban landscape of outstanding quality. The Old Town is the only old city built without a city wall. It's a central town of the Lijiang Autonomous County of the Naxi Ethnic Minority in Yunnan Province. Set in the heart of Lijiang's Old Town, Mu Palace was where the Naxi Mu Clan ruled over the town for over 700 years. A single family ruled Lijiang for 22 generations until 1723, and their residence testifies to their influence and wealth. Six main halls are separated by courtyards, mirroring the architectural layout of the Forbidden City. The continued strength of the Mu clan and their position of authority in Lijiang helped protect and maintain the Naxi culture. It's an impressive palace worth exploring.

Day 7 Lijiang (AB, L, D)

Today we are treated to a view from the top of Jade Dragon Mountain, which is covered by snow all year long and has been worshiped by the Naxi minority for generations. The mountain is a holy place for the local Naxi people because a long time ago, it was a place for young lovers to sacrifice their lives in honor of true love and to escape from arranged marriages and feudal ethics. After boarding the chair lift, we see one of the most awe-inspiring views in China. We also visit the Yufeng Monastery, the residence of Dr. Rock and the Naxi village. Yufeng Monastery or Jade Peak temple is located at the southern foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The temple is home to the Great Camellia tree which is said to have been planted between 1465 and 1487 during the Ming Dynasty before the temple was built. This special camellia was made of two as a matter of fact, one called Lion's Head and the other Early Peach Red. One day the two joined and refused to part again like two lovers. In the eyes of the Naxi, the Great Camellia is the symbol of true love. Many young lovers who know of its history come to Yufeng Monastery to take a look at the Great Camellia. This tree is also believed to have a magical power to persuade the young lovers to cherish their lives and enjoy a happy life in the real world.

Day 8 Lijiang - Shangrila (AB, L, D)

On our way to Shangrila, we visit the first bend of the mighty Yangtze River - the longest river in Asia. It originates from Tanggula Mountain in Qinghai Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world, after the Nile and the Amazon. It is the primary source of water throughout the country, making it the "Mother River" of China. We make our way over to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, where we descend more than 200 steps for the best view of the gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is actually a contender for the world's deepest river canyon. The gorge got its name from an ancient legend that says that a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other.

Day 9 Shangrila (AB, L, SD)

This morning we make our way to Ganden Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Lamasery outside of Tibet. Construction began in 1679 and was completed in 1681. During the monasteries golden age, over 3,000 monks lived and studied there. The monastery contains many treasures, the most famous of which are the eight gold-covered sculptures of Sakyamuni fashioned between the time of the Fifth and Seventh Dalai Lamas. Much of these relics still remain for viewing today. In the afternoon before enjoying dinner with a Tibetan family, we visit Shudu Lake whose water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming below. Every spring and summer, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep can be seen grazing around the lake. To the east of the lake are white birch woods whose leaves in spring and summer sprout jade green and then in late autumn, gold. In the untouched woods beyond live golden cats, deer, pheasants and wildlife such as bears, musk dear, lynx and leopards. It's a scene worth the silence of tranquil beauty. If you listen carefully, in the stillness you can hear the faint sound of flutes drifting along with the breeze, truly making the expression "silence is golden" an understatement.

Day 10 Shangrila - Chengdu (AB, L, D)

In the late afternoon, we board our flight to the city of Chengdu, Sichuan. After checking into the hotel, free time at your leisure.

Day 11 Chengdu (AB, L, D)

Our day starts with a visit to the world-famous Giant Panda Research Center, which is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. Founded in 1987, it all started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, the center had 124 panda births. Since then, the captive panda population has grown to 83. Its goal is to "be a world-class research facility, conservation education center, and international educational tourism destination". Later, we visit Dufu's House. Du Fu was a very famous poet who lived in the Tang Dynasty. The Thatched Cottage of Du Fu covers a total area of 24 hectares and is the combination of both Fan'an Temple in the east and the Plum Garden in the west. Construction inside belongs to the Qing Dynasty style, with gardens in the unique compound styled like that of traditional Chinese gardening. Inside the gardens is quiet. Streams are winding; bridges and pavilions are interwoven; trees reach for the sky; plum trees and bamboos stand side by side; and classical architectural styles bring you a strong cultural atmosphere. Finally, we take a trip to the Wuhou Temple, the only temple with the Emperor's tomb and his officials' tomb integrated together. Wuhou Memorial Temple is a shrine integrated with tombs of Liu Bei, the King of Shu during the Three Kingdom period in Chinese history, and Zhuge Liang, a great prime minister of the Shu Dynasty. Initially built in 223 AD, Chengdu's Wuhou Temple is a historical and cultural relic known as a "Sacred Place of the Three Kingdoms."

Day 12 Chengdu (AB)

After you enjoy breakfast, we escort you to the airport to catch your flight back home.

AB:American Breakfast B:Breakfast L:Lunch
D:Dinner SD:Specialty Dinner

This itinerary is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control including: weather, airline schedules, cruise itinerary changes, boat changes, etc.

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