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Kunming Dali Lijiang Yunnan Train Tour - 6 Days

Destination: Kunming - Dali - Lijiang
Duration: Six Day
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Transportation: Vehicle & Train
Best Travel Time:All Year
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Discover the spectacular scenery and rich cultural diversity of Yunnan on this journey to Dali and Lijiang by train. Depart Kunming by train and head to Dali, home of the Bai minority. Travel along the shores of Erhai lake and witness the daily life of the Bai fishermen, set against the background of the impressive Cangshan Mountains. Visit the iconic Three Pagodas and take a stroll through Dali¡¯s old town. Travel to the UNESCO listed city of Lijiang, famed for its traditional architecture and home to the Naxi people. Take in the spectacular views from the famous Jade Snow Dragon Mountain, then ride horseback in a national park,for a glimpse into the daily life of the Naxi farmers.
Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$1300/persons 1300USD/Person

Day 1: Kunming

Welcome to Kunming, capital of Yunnan province! Meet you guide at Airport and drive to hotel for rest.

Overnight in Kunming.


Day 2: Kunming - Dali (B,D)
Your day will begin with a short walk in Green Lake Park (also known as Cuihu Park), letting you get a feel for the atmosphere of Chinese parks in the morning. The real early birds start their day with taiqi or qigong, both types of physical exercise which they consider vital to their health and well-being. Others engage in a friendly game of Chinese chess, Go (an ancient Chinese board game), or Mah-jong: a piece of true theatre on the banks of the lake which in summer is covered by lotus-flowers and in winter flooded with seagulls.

Afterwards you will visit the Yuantong Temple (literally meaning ¡°the Temple of understanding everything¡±). Founded during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in Kunming and is known for its unique location. You will then visit the Golden Temple (which takes its name from the gold leaf which covers the main pavilion), which is perfectly located on a small hill surrounded by pine and cypress trees. From here, you will move on to the Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Museum, an essential stop for anyone wishing to truly understand the characteristically multi-ethnic nature of this region. China has 56 different officially recognised minority groups, but during this trip you will mainly learn about the Yi (the largest minority in Yunnan), the Hui Muslims, the Buyi, the Bai and the Naxi. The museum has a beautiful collection of finery and traditional dress along with a relatively clear explanation of popular art forms.

Dinner will be at the 1910 South Railway Station Restaurant. We have chosen this pleasant colonial style restaurant in order to highlight an oft forgotten period of this province's history and to staying with the theme of trains. China was never fully colonised, but Concessions were granted to Western powers during the 19th century, one of the best known being in Shanghai. In 1910 the French launched a mammoth project in order to advance their expansionist desires by linking Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and at the time a French protectorate, to Kunming. They laid more than 450km of rail track, built more than 3500 bridges and 170 tunnels, requiring a workforce numbering more than 60 000 often working in extreme conditions.

Then, you will be transferred to the train station for a night train in a sleeper cabin to Dali. Expected departure time: 11:38pm, expected arrival time 7:12am the next day. 

Overnight on board.

Day 3: Dali (B)
When you arrive in Dali, your guide & driver will transfer you to hotel for breakfast.

Welcome to Dali, Dali is home to the Bai minority and was a stronghold of the kingdom of Nanzhao (738-902) and epicentre of the Dali Kingdom (937-1253). The region, notably the shores of the Erhai Lake (literally the Ear Shaped Lake), and the surrounding areas where bronze dating back to 1000 BC has been found, played a strategic role in Yunnan's history. The Bai (who nowadays number less than 2 million) first settled in the region more than 3000 years ago and their first dwellings surrounded the lake.. The Bai are most distinguishable by their clothing - predominantly white (from which the Bai take their name, ¡°Bai¡± means white in Chinese) and by their homes, which are very particular to this region and you will be able to see example of these in Dali old town.

Head to one of the weekly market that is held in different villages nearby the lake (Shaping on Mondays, Shuanglang on Tuesdays, Shaba on Wednesdays, Yousuo on Fridays or Jiangwei on Saturdays, smaller scales markets are also held in Xizhou and Zhoucheng everyday).

You will travel along the shores of Erhai lake (250km2), discovering the daily life of the Bai fishermen set against the background of the impressive Cangshan Mountains. The pace of life for most local people hasn't changed much in decades and you will get a real sense of the local culture that you won't be able to find in Dali.

Head to the Three Pagodas at the Chongsheng temple, The temple is a mystical emblem of the town and stands proud at the foot of the Changshan Mountains. The Pagoda of the Thousand Awakenings was built in the ninth century and designed by an engineer from Chang'an (nowadays known as Xi'an) and is characterized by its square plan, similar to that of the Wild Goose Pagoda found in the ancient imperial capital, symbolizing the influence the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the region. The three pagodas were part of a vast monastic centre which unfortunately was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake. The remaining temple was restored and transformed into a museum which you have the opportunity to visit if you wish to do so.

We will then take a stroll in the old town of Dali, 2km to the south, where you can still find some typical Bai homes. A relaxed and warm atmosphere seems to ooze from these white walled homes, on which you can find paintings representing mountains, running water, birds and flowers. Their front porches, famous throughout the country, are distinguished by their beautifully carved arches.

Visit of the Catholic Church that mixes Bai & European architectural styles. The church was built by the French in 1938, mass still held every Sunday.  

Optional: You can stay in a famous local artist's house in another village nearby Erhai Lake, like in Shuanglang. A number of other artists, especially from Kunming, have relocated to the village to enjoy its pleasant atmosphere including the famous choreographer Yang Liping who organises the show ¡°Dynamic Yunnan¡±.

Overnight in Dali.


Day 4: Dali - Lijiang (B)
Transfer to the train station for a train to Lijiang. Expected departure time: 9:27am, expected arrival time 11:59am.  

When you arrived in Lijiang, your guide & driver will transfer to hotel.

Welcome to Lijiang! This magnificent labyrinth of traditional redwood and brick houses topped with grey slate roofs, canals, stone bridges and cobbled streets in 1999 was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Small interior courtyards are furnished with flowers and bushes to which the locals tend and that give this town its beautiful, and special, aroma. It's a real paradise at the heart of Naxi culture. Originally coming from Tibet over 2000 years ago, the Naxi first lived as nomads in Sichuan before settling in Yunnan. There are around 300,000 Naxi People living in China, found mostly in Yunnan and Sichuan. They are most notable for their expertise in canal building which assures each home has running water, Lijiang being a perfect example, their literature, religion, and by their social organisation which is both ¡°matrilocal¡± (whereby couples move in with the wife's family) and ¡°matrilineal¡± (where succession favours females over males).

Stroll in old town. Lijiang is also known as the ¡°Big Inkpot¡± due to the network of canals which flow through the village resembling an inkpot that has been knocked over. Crossing over the labyrinth of alleyways you will arrive at the ¡°Lion Hill¡± which offers you a fantastic view over the village below. At the top, there will be a chance for a quick coffee break on the terrace so you can relax after your ascent to the top.

Afterwards, we will visit the Mu Palace which is named after the Chinese Empire warlords who ruled from this magnificent residence in this region during the Mongol Dynasty (13th century). The palace is a vivid example of Ming and Qing architecture, based on the same style of architecture as the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Following the visit to the palace we will head to the edge of the old town where you will be able to enjoy the local market and get a feel for the ¡®real' Lijiang, where you will see locals still dressed in traditional clothing selling teas, vegetables, fruits and even daily tools in a very vibrant and animated atmosphere.

Note: this afternoon will be spent entirely on foot, and as sometimes the cobbled streets can sometimes be slightly slippery we recommend wearing sturdy shoes. The order in which we visit the sites may be modified depending on the hotel in which we stay.

Overnight in Lijiang


Day 5: Lijiang- Jade Snow Dragon Mountain - Lijiang (B)
The trip up Jade Snow Dragon Mountain, which stands majestically to the north of the city, will be the ¡®mountainous' stage of our stay in Lijiang. The mountain, also called Satseto in the Naxi language, takes its name from the God of War in the Dongba religion. The number of visitors to the site is rather high and so we will instead visit an area less well-known, but quieter and more rural, called the Yak Prairie. The view from here over here over the glacier is as equally as stunning as from the more popular destinations.

Note: If you wish to get to the highest viewpoint and admire the Shanzidou (5600m), please consult us for further advice.

On your way back to Lijiang you will pass by Lashi lake (with an elevation of 2500 meters), also named the National Wetland Park. You will ride a horse along historic Horse Tea Trail. The steep, weathered path still is luring with the dense forest, lake and waterfalls, serene temple as well as the local Naxi farming life in the little village.

Transfer back to Lijiang old town located 10 km away ( approx. 30-minute drive).

Transfer back to your hotel to rest. Overnight in Lijiang


Day 6: Lijiang Departure (B) 
Morning you will be transferred to Airport for your next destination.


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