6 Days Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangri-la Tour with Smart Holidays Malaysia
This is our first collaboration with Smart Holidays Malaysia. They offer full package tours and incentive tours packages to China, Europe, Japan, Australia and many more countries. The package tour is 6 Days Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangrila Tour and you can check it out at http://smartholidays.com.my/?product=6d5n-yunnan-lijiang-dali-shangrila-tour
Traditionally, a travel company will show you a couple pictures of the tour. These are the best pictures (usually supplied by tourism board) and they are used by all the other travel companies. Our collaboration is to show you the ‘real’ photos and videos of the tour package. For this first collaboration, we are going to show you in details the 6 Days 5 Night Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangrila Tour including food we had. Thus, during this trip I was the tour leader for the travel group to China.
This 6 Days Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangrila Tour is a NON shopping tour so there are no shopping stops, no compulsory shopping and no additional add-ons. The tour package price inclusive additional tours and tour guide tipping.
This 6 Days Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangrila Tour was in early September 2018 and it was during autumn.
We did three videos for this trip and you can check out the playlist on Youtube here. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHiK00DdZN50P2uIZT9NFx8tjKRODboX8
The travel company will contact each guest for optional requirement such as China SIM Card, altitude sickness pills and more. The region of Lijiang and the rest is 2600 m above sea level and it is advisable to have the altitude sickness pills. The altitude of Shangri-la is 3200m above sea level and oxygen tanks are sold in that area.
Travel in Yunnan Day 1 – Lijiang
We gathered in KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and there were 18 people including me. We flew to Lijiang direct with Lucky Air. You can read our review on Lucky Air here.
The flight takes around 4 hours plus and the package tour do not include in-flight meals.
Once we reached Lijiang Airport, the tour guide in Lijiang met us and we took the bus to the restaurant for dinner.
Throughout this tour, all the lunches and dinners offer seven to eight dishes including one soup. The dining options might change depending on ground arrangement. Overall the taste of the food here is similar to Malaysian food. Some of the guests brought their own chilies.
We stayed in a 4 Star Hotel in Lijiang called Guan Fong Hotel in Lijiang. The accommodation can be changed to another similar 4 star hotel in Lijiang depending on ground arrangement.
The hotel room is spacious, clean and comfortable. We stayed here for one night as we head on to Dali on the next day.
Travel in Yunnan Day 2 – Lijiang to Dali
The hotel breakfast in China is always simple and it is not as heavy as our Malaysian breakfast. They usually offer noodles or rice or congee / porridge with vegetables, eggs and buns. There are also drinks like milk, coffee and tea but the taste is different. The taste of the coffee is really subtle, so do bring your own coffee.
Lijiang to Dali journey takes a couple of hours. We had a stop at a local restaurant for lunch and the tour guide from Dali joined us. There are toilet breaks in between and guests can always request for toilet break.
For lunch, there are a few meat dishes including the fish, pork and chicken. The fish in Yunnan is river fish and it contains small bones. For every lunches and dinners, there will be water, soft drinks, beer and Chinese Tea available. Hot water is available upon request and most guests brought their own flasks.
Xi Zhou Bai Residential Building + Three Types Tea + Dance Performances
First stop in Dali is the Xi Zhou Bai Residential Building or better known as Houses of Bai people located in Xizhou town. The uniqueness of the building is the architecture.
The design comes with three huts, one screen wall, four sides and five courtyards. The outer walls are mainly painted with lime and fine slit. You can check out how the Bai people stay in these beautiful residential buildings.
After that, we move on to a special tea ceremony. It is called three types of tea and it is part of tour.
While enjoying the three types of tea (of different taste), you will be entertained by the local dance performances.
Th a special three types of tea for the guests together with the local dance performances. Watch the video of the 6D 5N Yunnan Part one for the part of the dance performance.
Zoucheng Dyeing Folk Craft Centre
Next, we visited the Zoucheng Dyeing Folk Craft Centre in Dali. Like many other traditional dyeing places, the colours and process are all handmade. What is unique is the person who makes the design of the craft. Most of the workers here are old ladies in the 60s and above. They spent their time creating those design patterns before it is used to dye.
All of the guests will receive a souvenir here as part of the travel package. You can also purchase some of the dye crafts here if you want. These are traditional handmade dye crafts and this is good for souvenir.
Dali Three Pagodas of the Chongsheng Temple
We made a quick stop at Dali Three Pagodas of the Chongsheng Temple. This is an optional stop and since we have time, we went for a quick break here.
The three pagodas are arranged on the corners of an equilateral triangle. It is built during the time of the Kingdom of Nanzhao and Kingdom of Dali in the 9th and 10th centuries. It survived many earthquakes including the 1945 earthquake. One of the pagodas is slightly leaning.
If you look carefully at the backdrop, it looks like layers of mountains. This view here is scenic and it was cooling here. There are many locals selling local crafts such as silver. Silver is very popular in Lijiang and Dali. Both cities claimed they have the best silver in the country.
Dali Ancient Town
Dali Ancient Town is built in Ming Dynasty and it is a historic town with rich culture. It was also the ancient capital of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom.
Now, the Dali Ancient Town has become a tourist attraction. Most of the structures are preserved and converted to retail outlets and restaurants.
You can find many local street food here and unique food such as baked durian. The local pancake is very delicious. There are also plenty of souvenirs you can shop at Dali Ancient Town.
Compare to Lijiang Ancient Town, Dali Ancient Town is not that busy and we love the ancient city gates too.
We enjoyed some of the street food and we bought a shoe here too. Tips for street food in China. If you are unsure with some of the food here, don’t try it. So far, we don’t have any food poisoning issue during this trip but we brought our medicine just in case.
We love the small drains and how they built this town centuries ago. Getting a nice photo will take some time so be patient. Some of the shops here do accept credit cards.
We like the city gates here and it feels like going back in time. The architecture is well preserved and the weather in September was cooling.
Dinner is at local restaurant and it is another feast of 8 dishes with one soup. Like other dinner, it comes with soft drinks and beer. Some guests have requirements for garlic and chilies.
We stayed in a 4 Star Hotel in Dali. The room is spacious and the bathroom comes with a huge bathtub. It is nice to dip in the bathtub after a long day. We reached the hotel around 9pm, take a night rest and we leave the hotel on the next day around 8 am.
Travel in Yunnan Day 3 : Dali – Shangri-la
Simple breakfast in hotel and then we take the coach and depart to Shangri-la. This is a long journey and we will have stops and a lunch and will reach Shangri-la after lunch.
The altitude for Dali is around 2,500m above sea level and Shangri-la altitude is around 3,200m above sea level. Altitude sickness pills are highly recommended and it must be taken on the first day of the tour. Otherwise there will be oxygen tanks available on the way to Shangri-la.
The First Gulf Of Chiang Jiang River or The Yangtze River Bend
This is the first stop after departing from Dali to Shangri la. We tried to get the English name right as it is called the first gulf of Chiang Jiang River or also known as the Yangtze River bend.
This is a common stop for tourists to see the first gulf of Chiang Jiang River and the view here is breathtaking. There is as observation deck and you have to pay if you want to go to the highest level.
Lunch at local restaurant
The local restaurant is located along the Jinsha River. It overlooks the river and this is near the next destination which is the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
This is the one of the main highlights of this tour. For those who travelled to Lijiang, visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge is a must.
This is a scenic canyon on Jinsha River and you have to walk down the stairs to the river bank to see the ‘tiger statue’. Back in the old days, there were no stairs so it was really dangerous to climb down.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site and it is beautified now with wooden stairs and proper toilets.
Going down to the bottom and up again will take around one hour for the entire journey. We didn’t manage to go down as we were taking care of some of the tour members who stayed up on the hill.
It was also raining on that day so the stairs were a bit slippery but no one from our group was hurt but probably exhausted by the climb. We heard that there is a young male tourist in his 20s collapsed while climbing up the stairs.
Most of the tour members are in their 50s and they completed the Tiger Leaping Gorge circuit around one hour so it is not a very intense ‘workout’. We regretted not going down to be honest.
Lijiang to Shangrila
The climb to Shangrila is just around four hours and the landscape during the journey is nothing less than spectacular. The scenery in Shangrila are usually plains with lesser trees due to its high altitude. We make a quick stop at a nearby store to purchase oxygen tanks.
White Stupa in Shangrila
We did a quick pit stop here taking photos at the largest white stupa in Shangrila. It was raining in Shangrila so we briefly took some photos before we head on to Dukezong Ancient Town. This is the largest white stupa in Shangrila and the weather was cold due to the rain.
Dukezong Old Town
If you look at the architecture of most buildings in Shangrila, it has Tibetan influences. In fact, most locals here are ‘Chinese-Tibetan’.
The Dukezong Old town is 1300 year old Tibetan town located in Shangrila. However, there was a huge fire in 2014, about 242 homes and shops were destroyed and 2,600 residents were displaced.
Inside the Dukezong old town, you can find the Guaishan Park. We are trying to get the names right as there are not many information of these places in English. At Guaishan Park, we visited two places which is the Dukezong Temple and the World’s Largest Buddhist Prayers Wheel.
Most of the temples in Shangri la are Tibetan Buddhist temples. There is a common rule here which is you can’t take photos of the statue of the Buddha within the temple.
The temple is located on the hill and you have to take a 15 min hike to reach to the temple. The temple is next to the world’s largest Buddhist prayers wheel.
We didn’t take any photos of the big Buddha statue inside of the Dukezong Temple. This is a Tibetan Buddhist temple.
World’s largest Buddhist prayers wheel
It is a huge gold colour prayers wheel. Why is these called the Buddhist prayers wheel? You can spin the wheel when you move along with the handle. The wheel is very heavy but you can spin it when there are many people moving the wheel.
Tibetan Tea Ceremony
The next destination is to experience the Tibetan Tea Ceremony. To our understanding, they offer dinners here too and their signature dish is roast beef. Since most of our tour members are Buddhists, we didn’t have the beef dinner here but dinner in hotel.
Of course, we tasted the Tibetan style roast beef on our own and it is really tasty. For beef lovers, this is something you can consider.
Dinner in hotel is another 9 course meal with one soup. The perk of having dinner in hotel is you can rest once you finish dinner.
The hotel we stayed in Shangrila is another four star hotel. The hotel comes with a huge room and there is a bathtub too. It is always good to have a comfortable hotel to re-energized for the next day.
Travel in Yunnan Day 4: Shangrila to Lijiang
Breakfast in hotel and we get to tour the city before we travel back to Lijiang. We will spend half day in Shangrila and will visit two places which is Shambala Kalachakra Mandala Cultural Centre and Napa Sea.
Shambala Kalachakra Mandala Cultural Centre
Shambhala Kalachakara Mandala is located at the central square of the Changzhen Road and it is a huge complex. The centre offers a rich collection of cultural relics including Mandala, Mural, Thangka, Dhrama instruments, utensils, weapons, stature of Buddha, Bodhisattvas and figures.
The Shambala Kalachakra Mandala Cultural Centre is awarded the Guinness World of Records for having the largest display of tangka paintings consists of 1699 paintings.
There are entrance fees to visit this place but is part of the tour. There are guides here but the tour is conducted in Mandarin.
Firstly we take the elevator to top floor and slowly, we walked to the ground level. It is all about the philosophy and teaching of the shambala Kalachakra mandala. There is a huge Buddha statue inside the centre but we were not allowed to take photos and videos.
Traveling is all about luck. Napa Sea is an area of 1.2 million meters square and it is preserved as a natural reserve. Here you can ride the horse to visit the Yila Horseland.
We didn’t venture in this plain as it was flooded with rainwaters as it was raining a day before. Thus, the tour members didn’t want to ride the horse to Yila Horseland so proceed for lunch.
We had lunch at a local restaurant before we slowly travel back to Lijiang.
Black Dragon Pool
The first stop in Lijiang is the Black Dragon Pool. This is one of the most scenic places in Lijiang and many travel photos features this place.
The Black Drago Pool is a famous pond in the Jade Spring Park (Yu Quan Gong Yuan). It is located at the food of Elephant Hill and also next to the north of Old Town Lijiang.
This place is built in 1737 during the Qing dynasty and it offers the view of Jade Dragon Snow mountain over its white marble bridge during a clear day.
This place also features pavilions and temples such as Moon Embracing Pavilion and Longshen Temple.
Lijiang Old Town
The Lijiang Old Town or Lijiang Ancient Town is the historical center of Lijiang City in Yunnan. The UNESCO World Heritage Site listed town has history more than 1,000 years. This is part of the ‘Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail’.
This town is now become a popular tourist attraction with retail shops, restaurants, cafes and even boutique hotels.
You can find many local food and also unique food such as baked durian at Lijiang Old Town.
We love how they restored the old town to become a popular tourist destination. Many young travellers love to travel to this place as it is very Instagrammable.
Dinner at Local Restaurant
This dinner is about unique as we had local salmon. Lijiang is one of the few places in China that has salmon farm. Thus, it is a must to taste the local salmon when you travel in Lijiang. We had another feast with salmon hotpot. With the cold weather, having the hotpot dinner is a comfort food. After dinner we went to check in to a local four stars hotel.
Travel in Yunnan Day 5: Lijiang
This is the last day of traveling in Lijiang and we started the day with simple breakfast. We will explore some of the places of interest in Lijiang on this final day.
Yulong Snow Mountain
We started the first stop of the day to Yulong Snow Mountain. To go up to the mountain, we have to take a short ride with the cable car.
We reached the first stop and we will take the ‘battery car’ to the second stop in Yulong Snow Mountain. We didn’t go up all the way to the peak.
Lijiang Spruce Plain
The 2nd stop is known as the Lijiang Spruce plan and you can see the peak of Jade Dragon Snow mountain during sunny days. However, we were not that lucky that day as it was cold and foggy so we can’t see the beautiful Jade Dragon Snow mountain and thus we rented the local tribe costumes and had the photography sessions there. At least we still can have some fun on the cold weather.
Blue Moon Valley or White Water River
We took the electric car from Lijiang Spruce Plain to the Blue Moon Valley. It is also known as the white water river (Baishui River).
The colour of the river can be blue or white in colour depends on the weather a day before. If there is raining on the previous day, the white mud and the limestone rubble at the riverbed will make the water white in colour.
There are multi tiers waterfalls in a few sections of this river. We stopped at the few popular spots for photography.
There are ‘yak rentals’ for riding here. You have to pay for the yak ride to walk across the river and back. You can also find many couples taking their pre wedding photographs here.
The blue moon valley is considered as the Jiuzhaigou valley of Yunnan. There is also section of bigger waterfall at the end of the river.
After Blue Moon Valley, we went for a buffet lunch at a local restaurant at Yulong Mountain. They offer local and International cuisines and the food here is pretty good.
‘Impression Lijiang’ by Zhang Yimou
The next stop is the popular ‘Impression Lijiang’ show by Zhang Yimou. This is an hour show and the ticket is included in the travel package.
The show is staged in the morning and afternoon at 3,100 meters (10,100 feet) above sea level with the backdrop of Jade Snow Mountain.
There are hundreds of performers of local tribes in this musical and dance show. This is a very entertaining show with songs, musical instruments as well as horse riders of various tribes in Yunnan.
After the Impression Lijiang, we visit the next destination, the Jade Water Village.
Jade Water Village
The Jade Water Village is a small village in Lijiang City and also part of Dongba cultural centre. It is said to be the home of the local Naxi tribal people.
You can find cascading waterfalls here and lakes filled with fishes. The water is pure and melted ice from the Jade Dragon Snow mountain.
There are also three attractions inside Jade Water Village and they are Dongba Murals, Sacred Spring, and Shiluo Temple.
First Village of Yulong Shan, Yuzhu Qingtian Scenic Area
This is a hidden gem located in Yuzhu Qingtian Scenic Area. This is called the first village of Yulong Shan and you can find beautiful mirror-like lake here.
The Former Residence of Dr Joseph Frank Rock
This is not a popular tourist attraction but this place is an important place for Lijiang. Dr. Joseph Frank Rock is an Austrian American who popularised Lijiang to the world. He was born in Vienna, Austria with American citizenship. In 1922, Dr. Joseph Rock travelled to Yunnan via borders of Thailand and Burma.
He is introduced Lijiang to the world through his photographs and stories on National Geographic.
What is interesting here is how the locals preserved his residence. There are many of his work and photos here.
This feels like a mini museum and visiting this residence feels like going back to the 1930s as the design, structure and architecture remains the intact.
Dinner at Local Restaurant
The is the last dinner of this trip and we had another feast. We went back early as we had an early flight on the next day back to Kuala Lumpur.
Travel in Yunnan Day 6: Lijiang to Kuala Lumpur
We had an early breakfast and took the coach to the Lijiang Airport and fly direct back to Kuala Lumpur with Lucky Air.
Lijiang, Dali and Shangrila is one of the most beautiful and scenic areas of China. The beauty of traveling with Smart Holidays is the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Lijiang, this is also a shopping tour and there are hidden charges.
Please visit http://smartholidays.com.my/?product=6d5n-yunnan-lijiang-dali-shangrila-tour for the latest travel packages. There are tour packages from now until October 2019. We hope you like this story and do comment if you need any enquiries on 6 Days Yunnan Lijiang Dali Shangri-la Tour with Smart Holidays Malaysia.