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Save $600 per couple | $300 solo

China's Lost Horizon In Shangri La

12 days

Never more than 16 guests

Villages, Markets + Mountains

+ Spend time with a tea master to learn how revered Pu’er tea is cultivated and fermented.
+ Sample Milk Fan, a cheese-like delicacy of the Bai people, brought by their forebears from Mongolia.
+ Delve into the heritage of the people of Donglianhua, a remote village founded in the 13th century.
+ Meet a Naxi hawk breeder who trains them to hunt in the way of his people.
+ Amidst the spectacular beauty of Shangri La, spend time with a lama for insight into Tibetan Buddhism.
+ Learn to read some of the pictographs of Dongba, the word’s only living hieroglyph.

Visit 1 UNESCO World Heritage site

Show all itinerary details

Day
1

Welcome to Kunming in Southern China

Green Lake Hotel - Kunming, China

On arrival at the airport and clearance through immigration and customs formalities, you’ll be met and escorted to the Green Lake Hotel. A+R guests will enjoy free WiFi and wonderful views of Green Lake from their modern, comfortable guestrooms at this deluxe city-center hotel. After check-in, join our resident guide for a pleasant stroll along Green Lake; it’s the perfect way to begin your exploration of southern China.

If you’re up early, you might take a morning walk around the lake or through the city streets; joining Kunming residents as they start their day offers a genuine and intimate experience of daily life. After a hearty buffet breakfast and check-out, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight into Yunnan Province, situated in far southwest China long the Burma border. On arrival in Xishuangbanna, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the enchanting Wanda Vista Resort. Settle in to your lavish Garden Suite and enjoy the rest of your afternoon and evening at leisure.  Meals B

With lush tropical vegetation, captivating mountain vistas and a rich variety of ethnic cultures, this untrodden border region promises enriching experiences with our engaging guide. Your day begins with a scenic 35-mile drive to Menghai, where the lively and colorful market offers a chance to mingle with villagers who come from near and far, many of them dressed in the distinctive garments of their respective ethnic group. With insight from our guide, this morning offers a great introduction to the ethnic diversity and rural traditions of Xishuangbanna.

Not far away, Nannuo Mountain is a picturesque region of thriving, generations-old tea plantations. Here at one of these tea gardens, you’ll sit down to lunch featuring the cuisine of the Hani people. Afterwards, you’ll spend time with a tea master to learn about the tea ceremony and the cultivation and fermentation of the region’s revered Pu’er tea. From April to June, our guests will also join the farmers in their fields for a hands-on tea harvesting experience. This evening, we’ll take you to a village of the Dai people where you’ll enjoy a traditional Peacock Dinner – so called because of its colorful and elaborate presentation.  Meals B+L+D

Day
4

Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden

Wanda Vista Resort - Xishuangbanna, China

While yesterday’s touring focused primarily on the unique ethnic traditions and daily life of the region, today you’ll discover Xishuangbanna’s abundant natural wealth. Despite its somewhat cumbersome, official name, “The Tropical Plant Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Science,” this expansive botanical garden promises a delightful and enriching experience. Covering an area of more than 2,000 acres, we’ve arranged for golf carts to transport you comfortably and efficiently to explore the different areas, with specific sections devoted to tropical fruit trees, medicinal plants, flowers, rare exotic species and aquatic plants. With more than 3,000 species, including varieties rarely seen elsewhere, the garden enjoys a splendid setting, surrounded by waterways and mountains.

Returning to your hotel in the late afternoon, you’ll have time to relax and dine as you wish. Our well-versed guide will be happy to offer suggestions and assistance with reservations. Later tonight, you’ll enjoy a cultural performance featuring the music and dance of the Dai people.  Meals B+L
 

After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Dali, where you’ll be escorted to the deluxe Hilton Hotel, nestled against the Cangshan Mountains. Settle in to your spacious guestroom and take in the view of Erhai Lake from your private balcony before rejoining your guide for afternoon sightseeing. Traveling to the nearby town of Xizhou, you’ll explore the local market as our guide introduces you to the cultural traditions of the Bai people – including the exotic foods and produce that may be unfamiliar to you. Spend time with a resident family, learning more about their daily life, and then visit a small business that makes milk fan, a cheese-like dairy product brought by the Bai’s ancestors from Mongolia.

Then continue Zhoucheng; with close to families, this lively village is the largest in the area. After a midday meal featuring traditional Bai dishes, you’ll visit a small workshop to watch as villagers produce amazing textiles with tie-dye techniques that have been passed down for generations. Using primarily plant-based indigo dyes, these intricately designed fabrics feature geometric patterns, floral designs and other motifs drawn from nature. Often used for clothing and furnishings, these Bai textiles are works of art. This evening, you’ll dine in an elegant courtyard-style residence.  Meals B+L+D
 

Day
6

Ancient Cultures of Weishan

Hilton Hotel - Dali, China

With a colorful history dating to the 13th century when Mongol soldiers were sent to southwest China, Weishan is home to centuries-old buildings and mosques that reflect the region’s Muslim heritage. Your exploration into these little-known chapters of Chinese history begins in Donglinhua, a remote village filled - somewhat surprisingly perhaps- by old mansions and grand homes that reflect the wealth of these early settlers. A guided tour through the largest of these ancient mansions offers further insight into the area’s history.

Next you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour through Weishan’s Old Town. With roots dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, these evocative streets and their finely-preserved buildings are still home to shops that have existed for generations – selling everything from ancient herbal remedies to harnesses that speak to the ancient warrior traditions of Weishan’s Mongol settlers.

Back in Dali, you’ll visit Chongsheng Temple, a beautiful lakeside complex famed for its three magnificent pagodas; forming the three corners of an equilateral triangle, these elegantly balanced structures are hailed as masterworks of ancient Buddhist architecture.  Meals B+L+D
 

Day
7

Overland to Lijiang

Banyan Tree - Lijiang, China

After breakfast and check out, you’ll embark on the scenic northward journey to Lijiang c, an ancient town revered for its rich multi-ethnic traditions and finely preserved buildings from the Ming and Tang Dynasties. On arrival, check in to the luxurious Banyan Tree Lijiang Hotel where you’ll have time to refresh before sightseeing.

Setting out with your engaging guide, you’ll first discover the captivating beauty of Black Dragon Pool. Situated at the foot of a steep hill, its tranquil waters reflect the tiered pagodas, graceful arching bridges and snow capped peaks that surround the pond and Jade Spring Park. You will also visit Mu’s Residence, a fine example of Ming Dynasty architecture laid out in the same pattern as the much-larger Forbidden City in Beijing. Then learn more about the Dongba culture of Lijiang’s Naxi people at the Dongba Museum before a guided walking tour through the Old Town. This evening, you’ll enjoy the cuisine and music of the Naxi.  Meals B+L+D

Day
8

Excursion to Baisha + Blue Moon Valley

Banyan Tree - Lijiang, China

After breakfast, you’ll set out for Baisha village, an early settlement of the Naxi people situated at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Although it’s not far from Lijiang, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, the village streets and rhythms of life here in Baisha remain relatively untouched by tourism and the 21st century. Founded in the Ming Dynasty, the town’s rich assemblage of historical treasures includes the finely preserved frescoes of Dabaoji Palace, built in the late 16th century. Comprised of twelve different murals, you’ll find depictions of daily life, plants and animals, images of Buddha, and other religious motifs.

After lunch, you’ll discover the sublime beauty of Blue Moon Valley. Set beneath the craggy peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the brilliantly blue waters of the Baishui River round a bend here, forming what appears from a distance as a blue crescent moon set at the foot of the mountain. But after a heavy rain, the riverbed - comprised of white clay and limestone – can be churned up, making the water appear nearly as opaque and white as milk. Indeed, in the local Naxi language, the name of this waterway is the “white water river.” After sightseeing, we’ll take you back to the Banyan Tree Lijiang Hotel.  Meals B+L

Day
9

Ancient Traditions of Lijiang

Banyan Tree - Lijiang, China

After breakfast, this morning is free to relax and enjoy the evocative setting of our luxury hotel. In the afternoon, we’ll take you to an old Naxi settlement where the pace of life has changed little over the generations. By special arrangement, you’ll spend time with a hawk breeder who trains these regal birds to hunt in the traditional way brought to southwest China by his Mongolian ancestors.

We’ll also introduce you to a scholar of Dongba culture who will teach you about the ancient language of the Naxi. Composed of 1,400 picture-like characters, it’s the only living hieroglyph in the world. Regarded as a cultural relic of humanity, its use is diminishing outside of artistic, cultural and academic circles. Sit down to a congenial dinner featuring regional ethnic dishes before returning to your hotel.  Meals B+L+D

Leaving Lijiang behind this morning, you’ll journey through spectacular vistas of mountain, valley and sky - traveling north toward the First Bend of the Yangtze River, where this mighty waterway makes a sharp 90-degree turn downstream for its pristine source high in the Tibetan Plateau. In ancient times, this was a strategic crossing point for armies on the move and a historic place where Tibetans would come to trade with local residents. Not far away, we’ll stop to take in the breathtaking views of Tiger Leaping Gorge; carved by the Yangtze River and reaching a maximum depth of 12,434 feet, this is one of the deepest canyons on the planet.

After lunch, your scenic journey continues to Zhongdian, where you’ll check in to the Banyan Tree Ringha; set in authentic Tibetan farmhouses in the Shangri-La Highlands, our luxury resort is an idyllic mountain retreat. A guided stroll immerses you in the evocative ambience of Shangri-La’s Old Town with its maze of stone cobbled streets and finely carved wooden homes. As the sun dips toward the horizon, you’ll hear the strains of Tibetan music and glimpse women wearing traditional turbans and long skirts – reminders of your close proximity to the Tibetan border. In the studio of a local Thangka painter, your expert guide will offer insight into the cultural and spiritual significance of this ancient art form. This evening’s dinner features traditional Tibetan dishes.  Meals B+L+D

Day
11

Out and about in Shangri La

Banyan Tree Ringha - Shangri-La, China

Believed to be the mythical Shangri-La described by James Hilton in his celebrated novel The Lost Horizon, Zhongdian is rich in culture and beauty. You’ll discover both as you set out this morning for a full-day of guided exploration. Your first visit will be the spectacular Songzanlin Lamasery. Situated at more than 11,000 feet in the shadow of Mt. Foping, this 17th-century landmark is the region’s largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery. With an almost-castle like silhouette reminiscent of the Potala Palace, Songzanlin is noted for its gleaming gilded copper roof, beautiful sculptures and exquisite frescoes. By special arrangement, A+R guests will have a private audience with the Lamasery’s Tulku, a “Living Buddha” revered as a reborn master of Tibetan Buddhism who will offer you a traditional Hada blessing.

After lunch, an invigorating mountain walk brings you to the tranquil, rarely-visited Dabao Monastery. You’ll also spend time with a village family for an authentic experience of life in this unforgettably beautiful region. Enjoy a glass of the local wine in a mountain meadow at sunset before returning to town for our Farewell Dinner at a Tibetan-style restaurant.  Meals B+L+D

Day
12

Depart Zhongdian

After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your onward journey.  Meals B

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Prices are per person, land only. Holiday surcharges may apply.

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Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
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