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Kunming Mandalay Tour - 13 Days

Duration: Thirteen Day
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Transportation: Vehicle & Flight
Best Travel Time:All Year
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This Yunnan Myanmar tour journey start on the Tibetan Highland in a place called Shangri-La, maybe the Shangri-La that James Hilton describes in his Novel ※The lost Horizon§ as a hidden paradise at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. We travel along the ancient ※Tea and Horse Road, one of the oldest trading routes in the world for tea from southern Yunnan to Tibet. We come across the mystical Dongba culture of the Naxi people in Lijiang and get to know the friendly Bai people around Dali. We travel in the footsteps of legendary General Stillweil along the infamous Old Burma Road towards Myanmar. The 1500km long Burma Road was built under enormous hardship during WW2 by the Allied Troops from Ledo in India across northern Burma to Kunming. We explore the night market of Ruili before heading across the border into Myanmar.
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US$2900/persons 2900USD/Person


Arrival in Kunming and transfer to your hotel. Depending on the arrival time, we make a stroll through the bird and flower market and visit the East and West Pagodas from the 9 century and dating back to a time when Kunming was part of the once powerful Nanzhao Kingdom. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight in Kunming.



After breakfast we drive to the Western Mountains from where one has spectacular views over the ※Spring City§ of Kunming and Dian Chi Lake. Visit the Dragon Gate and the Huating Temple from the 11th century. After Lunch drive to the Stone Forest of Lunan, the most popular tourist attraction in Yunnan which is located about 80km east of Kunming. Years of rain and erosion left behind a bizarre and impressive landscape of limestone pillars which, with a little imagination, indeed resembles a forest. We have a walk through the maze of paths and walkways leading through this natural wonderland and learn more about the Sani people, an ethnic minority populating the area.
Overnight in Kunming.



Early morning flight to Zhongdian, which recently changed its name and is now called "Shangri-La". Zhongdian is situated amongst a stunning landscape on the eastern Tibetan plateau at about 3200 meters above sea level. Upon arrival you drive to a view point from where you enjoy a breathtaking view over the scenic Napa Lake and the surroundings. Continue to the idyllic "Dabao" Monastery which is located about 12km outside of Zhongdian. Dabao Si is the oldest remaining Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) monastery in the area. In the afternoon visit Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a 300 year old impressive Tibetan Monastery. From a historical point of view the Ganden Sumtseling Gompa is very significant to the region because it was inaugurated personally in the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. After that, visit picturesque old town of Zhongdian. Time at leisure to explore the picturesque old town of Zhongdian on your own.
Overnight in Zhongdian



Drive through impressive landscape towards Lijiang. Half way we take a left turn into the impressive ※Tiger Leaping Gorge§ (Hu Tiao Xia), where the Yangtze waters are squeezed through a narrow, at some places only 15 meter wide gorge. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is the most impressive during the summer months, when water levels of the Yangtze River are the highest. Continue to Shigu village, to see the famous "First Bend", where the Yangtze River is making an abrupt 180 degree turn and flows for several kilometers, parallel to itself towards the north again. Continue to Lijiang. Overnight in Lijang.


Day 5: LIJIANG (B)

In the morning take a stroll through the apparently countless and, on first sight, confusing narrow lanes and canals crisscrossing the picturesque old town. We also learn more about the secrets of the mystic Naxi culture. Lijiang was listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1992. In the afternoon visit of the wonderful "Black Dragon Pool" Park, from where, weather permitting, one has a spectacular view of the 5'596 Meter high "Jade Dragon Mountain". Visit the Dongba Museum and drive to Baisha. The Baisha village used to be the capital of the once powerful Naxi Kingdom. We visit the Liuli temple with beautiful wall paintings from the late Ming Dynasty, which, miraculously, survived the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Time at leisure to explore the old town of Lijiang on your own. In the evening visit a traditional Dongba-Music concert. (optional)
Overnight in Lijang.


Day 6: LIJIANG - DALI (175km / 4 hrs) (B)

In the morning drive to Dali. Dali is situated on the eastern shores of the stunning Erhai Lake on the foot of the 4000m high Cang Shan mountain range. During the 9th century Dali served as capital of the once powerful Nanzhao and later the Dali Kingdoms, before the town was overrun by the Mongols about 400 years later. Along the way we stop at Xizhou which is famous for its well preserved Bai architecture. We visit the recently renovated 3 Pagodas of the San Ta Si Monastery from the 9th century. The rest of the afternoon is at your own disposal for the exploration of the picturesque old town of Dali.
Overnight in Dali.


Day 7: DALI - BAOSHAN (210km /4.5 hrs) (B)

We leave Dali and follow the infamous ※Burma Road§ through a stunning countryside towards Baoshan. When advancing Japanese troops cut of the American supply lines in southern Myanmar (Burma) during WW 2, the American General Joseph Stillwell took on the enormous task to build a road from Ledo in India via northern Burma into China to Kunming. We cross the Mekong River and drive along the original remaining parts of this legendary road. Before arriving in Baoshan we visit an idyllic, rarely visited temple with a magnificent reclining Jade-Buddha. The Buddha was a gift from the Burmese Foreign Minister U Nu who visited the area in the 1960s. Later in the afternoon we continue to Baoshan. Overnight in Baoshan.


Day 8: BAOSHAN - TENGCHONG (210km /4.5 hrs) (B)

Today we follow in the footsteps of General Stillwell and ※his§ Burma Road. The road leads through stunning landscape into the Nujiang Valley before winding its way through the impressive Gaolingong Mountain Range towards Tengchong. Located on the Fault lines of the Indian Subcontinent and Asian Continent at an altitude of 1'650 meters, Tengchong's surroundings are dotted with countless ancient volcanoes and numerous natural hot springs. Tengchong played an important role in the defense against the Japanese invaders by the allied forces during WW2.
Overnight in Tengchong.


Day 9: TENCHONG 每 RUILI (180km / ca 4hrs) (B)

In the morning we visit the Tenchong Hotsprings before continuing to Heshun village with an interesting exhibition about the old Burma Road and General Stillwell. We take a stroll around this rustic village. After Lunch we continue towards Ruili where we arrive late afternoon. For those who have energy left can visit the Ruili Night Market.
Overnight in Ruili.



Transfer to the border, located about 12km from Ruili. Border formalities and crossing the Sino-Burmese border into Muse, a small provincial town of no significance other than that it conveniently sits on the Yunnan / Myanmar trade artery, and as such has grown into one of Myanmar's biggest and most successful border trade points. Muse is located about 190 km north of Lashio, on the banks of the Shwe Li river.
Once immigration & customs formalities completed very briefly visit Lwe Thein Khan Hill whence we get a nice panoramic view of the Sino-Burmese border area and the Shwe Li river.
Then, drive south toward Lashio via two checkpoints on the way. Transfer time for this part is about 4 hrs. Near Kuk Kai, a small roadside town, there will be a stop with option to use toilets and where there is a chance to have a simple lunch. En route, and time permitting, a brief stop at a Shan or Palaung village.
Arrive in Lashio early afternoon. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Balance of the day at leisure for relaxation or for your own activities.
Accommodation at Hotel, Lashio.

Important remark! The Myanmar Immigration checkpoint at Muse is open as of 07.00 local time for Myanmar citizens only. For foreign visitors the Myanmar Immigration office will be open as of 09.30 only! Note that Mainland China is 01.30 hours ahead of Myanmar time. Therefore, it should be avoided that clients be dropped off at the Chinese side of the border before 09.00 Myanmar local time (or 10.30 Chinese local time)!
The time effectively available to very shortly visit Muse and Lashio will depend on how early and how fast formalities on the Myanmar side can be processed. Usually we assume that clients can enter Myanmar and start their tour programme from Muse around 10.00 local time.



Lashio is the head place of Northern Shan State. It has a large Chinese community, though it had more significance under the Shan Sawbwa (prince), and was of vital importance during WW II as part of The Burma Road, enabling the supply line between Chiang Kai Shek's armies and the Allies.
Visit first Lashio's central market in Lashio Lay, and also the smaller market not far from there. Then, Quan Yin San Temple, the main Buddhist place of worship for the large Chinese community of Lashio.
Next, stop at Mansu Pagoda, over 250 years old, located on a hill to the western side of Theinni Road. Finally, visit Pyi Lon Chantha Pagoda which sits on Mya Kantha Hill in the northern part of the city, and offers great views of Lashio.
Continue for approx. 3 hrs. in a southwesterly direction passing Kyaukme. Between Kyaukme and Naung Cho make a stop by the roadside to view the unique Gokteik Bridge, over 700 metres long and its construction was finalized by the American Pennsylvania Steel Co. in 1901. The bridge spans an abyss nearly 300 metres deep.
Continue by road direct to Pyin-Oo-Lwin. Upon arrival there late afternoon, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Overnight at Hotel, Pyin-Oo-Lwin.



Take a short time to explore some of the main attractions of Pyin-Oo-Lwin, formerly known as Maymyo (the city of May, a British colonel in colonial times). It is one of several British hill stations, which were popular with the British back then, and are still quite popular with the local people because of its mostly cool climate, its scenic beauty, and fresh air. Apart from the Bamar (Burmese) ethnic group, there are also many Nepalis and Indians living in Pyin-Oo-Lwin, as many of them chose to stay on there after the end of WW II.
Visit the local fresh market. Then, continue to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a 100-year-old church south of the central area which features a large brick sanctuary with a bell tower and cruciform floor plan. The vaulted wooden ceilings and well appointed interior are impressive.
From there, proceed to the Japanese War Cemetery, numbering about 50 graves.
Every year during the months of December and January, families, friends & relatives of the fallen ones come from Japan to pay their respect.
Also, visit Purcell Tower, a clock tower in the heart of the town's centre, which was given as a present by Queen Victoria. Ride through town on a horse drawn "stage coach", giving you the chance to admire the brick and timber houses, complete with English-style gables, turrets and chimneys.
Arrive at the Botanical Gardens with lots of flower beds, trees, and stretches of manicured lawns. Originally the botanical gardens were laid out by Sir Harcourt Butler, a former governor of Burma, but shortly after the turn of this century the layout was partly redrawn by Japanese garden designers.
Mid afternoon, depart Pyin-Oo-Lwin by road to Mandalay. At first, the road is winding down with many a turn. When the area becomes flat, more roadside villages appear and rice paddies become a more dominating feature of the landscape. The drive takes approx. 90 min. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Overnight at Hotel, Mandalay.


Day 13: MANDALAY (B)

After breakfast first visit Mandalay Hill, covered with glass-studded temples, to enjoy a panoramic view of Mandalay and its surroundings.
Then, stop at Shwenandaw Monastery, an ancient wooden building with intricate carvings, which was once King Mindon's home. Continue to see the ※world's largest book§, being the Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on marble slabs, at Kuthodaw Pagoda.
From there, drive to the south side of Mandalay and, en route, visit an unusual workshop: gold leaf beating. Observe how gold leaf is beaten into wafer thin pieces which will ornate many of Mandalay's holy images.
Finally, shortly before noon, drive to the south entrance to the city and visit Mahamuni Pagoda, housing the most revered Buddha image in Mandalay and Upper Myanmar. Take a short time too to view some of the many handicraft workshops adjoining the site.
Early afternoon, transfer to Mandalay domestic airport for departure to your onward destination.


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