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Exploring the last Shangri-la 13-Day Overland Trip

The great Shangri-la tour circle, including top views Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, has long been a dream in photographers, backpackers and tourists from all over the world. In this circle line, you can enjoy deep valley, the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Lijiang, you can also catch sight of snow mountains,  especially Mt.Meili, which is regarded as the most beautiful mountain on earth. You will pay a visit to the highest county in the world - Litang, and also have the chance to walk in the quiet Dukezong Moonlight Ancient Town. Geographers said this is the most marvelous circle in China, backpackers consider that every kilometer of Shangri-la tour circle is splendid to beyond their imagination, how do you think? Just come here to experience the G318 Road and miraculous 30 degrees north latitude...

HIGHLIGHTS

*Experience different ethnic folklore along the journey: Tibetan, Bai, Yi, Naxi, Yi and Mosuo Minority show you wonderful exotic charm

*Deep view of western Sichuan area and northeastern Yunnan region, the so-called Last Shangri-la

​*Perched some 2,000 meters above a steep slope, there is a breathtaking landscape of colorful Tibetan-style houses topped with spires in Danba

TRIP INFORMATION

- Tour code: CPT-WT-06

- Price: from $1,233 p/p

- Tour type: private tour

- Departure date: flexible

- Travel route: Chengdu - Mt.Four Girls - Danba                               - Tagong - Yajiang - Lithang -                                     Daocheng - Riwa (Shangri-la) -                                   Yading - Xiangcheng - Derong - 

                            Benzilan - Meili Snow Mountain -                               Deqin - Shangri-la (Zhongdian) - 

                             Lijiang - Lugu Lake - Xichang -                                     Chengdu

- Trip length: 13 Days 12 nights

 Detailed itinerary:

Have lunch and a short rest in the local restaurant.

 

After lunch, you will go sightseeing in the essence of Mt.Four Girls Attraction, the Double Bridge Valley (Shuangqiaogou). The main viewpoints inside Double Bridge Valley are: Valley of Yin and Yang, Hunter’s Peak, Seabuckthorn Forest Alley. Exchange to the sightseeing bus, you can decide to stop at any viewpoints and then walk to take photos. You will experience the Tibetan pasture landscape including snow peaks, grassland and forests.

 

In the afternoon after returning to the attraction gate by sightseeing bus, exchange to your private van, and then transfer to restaurant to have dinner.

 

In the evening you are free to explore Rilong, the small town.

Chengdu - 70 km - Yingxiu Town - 49 km - Wolong - 98 km - Rilong Town

In the morning, your private tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Chengdu. Western Sichuan overland journey begins! Driving out of downtown Chengdu, firstly travel through Duwen Expressway that connects Dujiangyan and Yingxiu Town. After that, transfer from Yingxiu to Wolong, generally entering Tibetan region. You will feel you are getting into another world, filled with green mountains and blue sky instead of tall buildings in the city. At around noon time, arrive in Rilong Town, which is also named Mt.Four Girls Town now.

Changping Valley - Rilong Town - 123 km - Danba County

In the morning, get up early to have a great view of sunrise at Cat's Nose. If the weather is fine, you can grasp the famous scene, Golden on Snow Peaks. When the sunlight shining on the mountains and there is without cloud to shade the mountain, the snowy peaks become golden which is too beautiful to describe. Later, visit another valley of Mt.Four Girls, the Changping Valley. Walking along the ecological plank road, taste the flavor and beauty of Mt.Four Girls: the waterfall, virgin forest as well as natural plateau lakes. When you are tired to trek, you can also choose the sightseeing bus to stop at each viewpoints inside the attraction. 

Around noon time, go out of the attraction and have lunch in a local restaurant. 

In the afternoon, continue your off-road trip deeply into west Sichuan’s Tibetan region. Today in the morning you will be transferred to Danba County. Danba, which was called Jiarong, means the Tibetan people living in one of the four great valleys of Tibetan region. It is now well known as the Kingdom of Thousand Watchtowers. You will have an external view of the Suopo Watchtower Cluster. The dozens of stone watchtowers that dot this area really catch your eyes. 

Have dinner in the local restaurant of Danba County. Stay overnight in Danba. 

After breakfast, transfer to visit Jiaju Tibetan House Cluster. In 2005, when the professional photographers of China National Geography came to Danba, they named Jiaju the most beautiful village ever in China. Your private van would stop at the mountain top. And then led by your escorted tour guide to explore the village on hill slopes from top to bottom. Stairs by stairs, you shall pass by local Tibetan's home, all decorated exquisitely. 

After lunch, travel along Yak River, you will have a stop at a viewing stage to overlook Yala Snow Mountain, literally White Yak Mountain in the east. Arrive in Tagong after Bamei. Tagong, in Tibetan it means a place that even the immortals do not want to leave. When Princess Wencheng in Tang Dynasty married with Srongtsen Gampo, the king of Tibet, she carried a statue of Sakyamuni in her dowry. When she went by Tagong from Xi’an, the statue stopped and couldn’t be moved. The officials of Tang central court had to build Tagong Monastery to put statue inside and then took another holy statue of Sakyamuni to enter Tibet. You are going to visit Tagong Monastery, which is a must-see spot together with Tagong Grassland.

Later transfer to Yajiang County via Xindu Bridge. The road connecting Tagong and Xindu Bridge is a 33-km landscape promenade. The wriggling river, colorful Mani stones with Buddhism scriptures, Tibetan houses, your eyes are full of marvelous scenery that you might feel only a few seconds you are already at Xindu Bridge, the paradise for photographers.

Have dinner in a local restaurant and then check into hotel. Enjoy the peaceful evening of Tibetan small town.

Danba  - Bamei - 109 km - Tagong - 105 km - Yajiang County

After breakfast, transfer by car to cross Gaoersi Mounatain(4412 m), and then Jianziwan Mountain (4659 m), Kazila Mountain (4718 m). Arrive in Lithang, the pearl on the plateau and the highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 4014 m. 

Have lunch in Lithang local restaurant.

Later you will continue travelling on the road to Daocheng County. You would pass by the Sangdui Grassland, Zunsheng Tower Forest, in which you can choose to have a stop for both rest as well as pictures. While enjoying the stunning views along the way, you will get to today's destination and also this trip's farthest point: Shangri-la Town. 

After dinner, have a good rest in the hotel for the following day's wonderful route. 

Yajiang County - 137 km - Lithang - 148 km - Daocheng County - 77 km - Shangri-la Town

In the morning, drive to Yading National Park, and then exchange to sightseeing bus. Head for Longlongba, and then hike to Luorong Yak Farm. Luorong Pasture (4150 m) is an alpine pasture surrounded by three sacred snow mountains. Gongga River flows through the pasture, leaving a charming harmonious picture of moving tickled streams combined with still wooden house, blue sky and green grassland. The nature and creature also integrated with each other harmoniously. If you like, you can rent a horse for riding. The trail is just in the beautiful valley of virgin forest. If the weather is fine, you will have the chance to have a glimpse at the 3 holy peaks of Yading one by one. Jambeyang (or Jampelyang, Yangmaiyong), Chanadorje (or Xianuoduoji) and Chenresig (or Chenrezig, Xiannairi).

You will have a packed lunch today inside Yading National Park.

Yading National Park

Route inside Yading National Park: exchange to sightseeing bus - 34km - Longlongba - 3.4km - Zhaguanbeng - trekking 0.5km - Chonggu Monastery - exchange to shuttle bus - 6.7 km - Luorong Yak Farm - exchange to shuttle bus - 6.7 km - trekking 0.5km - Chonggu Monastery - Pearl Lake - Zhaguanbeng - exchange to sightseeing bus - 34km – exit of Yading National Park

Later walk to Chonggu Monastery, with an altitude of 3,880 meters, stands at the foot of Mount Xiannairi. Chonggu Monastery is like a gate to paradise, because from here we can glut your eyes on three sacred mountains, a meadow full of beautiful flowers and precipitous Yading Gorge. It also likes a guardian to safeguard the sacred Shambhala. 

 

Return to Zhaguanbeng to take the sightseeing bus back. After you are back to the exit gate, change to the private van and transfer to hotel. 

Another day inside Yading National Park. Today you’ll trek further into the Milk Lake and Colorful Lake. The Colorful Lake (4600 m) is located in the upward side of Milk Lake. The lake resembles a circle with five colors when the sun shines down so it gets such a name. The local people regard Colorful Lake as a magical lake to inverse the history and predict the future. It enjoys an equal popularity with Yamdrok Lake in Buddhist classics. 

You will have a packed lunch today inside Yading National Park.

 

In the afternoon take the sightseeing bus out of Yading National Park, and then transfer to hotel for rest.

Yading National Park

Route inside Yading National Park: exchange to sightseeing bus - 34km - Longlongba - 3.4km - Zhaguanbeng - trekking 0.5km - Chonggu Monastery - exchange to shuttle bus - 6.7 km - Luorong - trekking - 5.3km - Milk Lake & Colorful Lake - Zhaguanbeng - exchange to sightseeing bus - 34km - Shangri-la Town - 77 km - Daocheng

Today you will have a whole day on the way from Shangri-la Town to Derong County. While enjoying the landscape along both sides, you will arrive in Xiangcheng County at noon time. It is an extremely small county that only two streets there, one of which is on the hill slope. Have lunch and a short rest in Xiangcheng, you will be transferred to Derong County, which is bordered on with Yunnan Province. 

As travelling into Derong, you will feel a typical river valley climate: the atmosphere here is with much moisture, and warmer than Daocheng. This is an ideal place of residence when Tibetan moved here. Jinsha River, one branch of the Yangtze River flows by Derong County, makes it a very nice site to build a county on the thorough highland. 

You will have a leisure walk at Derong County in the late afternoon. After dinner, have a good rest in the hotel. 

Shangri-la Town - 170km - Xiangcheng County - 200km - Derong County

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Benzilan Town. The road situation on Yunnan side is better than that of Sichuan's. In the morning the traveling route is always with Jinsha River, while then arrive at Deqin County at noon time. Have lunch and a short rest in Deqin.

In the afternoon, drive to climb the mountains to get to Meili Snow Mountain, which is said to be the most beautiful mountain of the world. En route, pass by Dongzhulin Monastery (East Bamboo Forest Monastery). Take a stop at it, too view the grand architecture and touch the tranquil atmosphere. Arrive at Flying Monastery area and check into hotel first. Later pay a visit to Flying Monastery first. This exquisite temple, built in 1614 AD, has already stood at a corner of the mountain for over 400 years. The name Flying Monastery is from a fantastic legend that all materials of this temple flied to the present location themselves. Flying Monastery is also the best place to have the sight of Meili Snow Mountain. In the late afternoon,  if weather permits,  you can enjoy the sunset on the "13 Prince Peaks". Kawagebo, the highest peak of Meili, rises to 6,740 meter and is considered sacred for Tibetan Buddhists. Because of restrictions and dangerous conditions, none of the major peaks in the range have ever been reached. 

 

After the sunset, have dinner in local restaurant. Overnight at local hotel. 

 Derong County - 80km - Benzilan Town - 120km - Meili Snow Mountain 

In the morning, if you like you can get up early to have a look at the sunrise at Mt.Meili. The sunshine scatters on the snow peaks, making the mountains golden. After breakfast, travel through Baima Snow Mountain again to go to Zhongdian (Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, also named Shangri-la officially). On the way you will pass by the world heritage site: Three Parallel Rivers Yunnan Protected area. Its outstanding universal value of a cultural or natural property deserves a better protection for the benefit of all humanity. Surrounding areas of Meili Snow Mountain is just the core part of it. Reach the Yila Grassland at about noon time, the car would make a circle around Napa Lake, where the idyllic scenery forms a perfect quiet countryside view.

 

Enter the downtown area of Shangri-la, have lunch and a short rest in local restaurant.

Deqin County - 190 km - Yila Grassland - Zhongdian (Shangri-la) - Songzanlin Monastery

In the afternoon, make a visit to Songzanlin Monastery, in Tibetan named Ganden Sungtseling. It is situated 5 kilometers from the city of Zhongdian at an elevation of 3,380 meters. Built in 1679, the monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred as the Little Potala Palace. The entrance gate is at the foot of the hill and provides access to the main hall of the monastery through 146 steps. You can also walk around the holy lake in front of Songzanlin Monastery, to have a whole view of this castle-like grand architecture.

 

After dinner at local restaurant of Dukezong Ancient Town, which is also named Moonlight Old Town, you can have a leisure walk on the old streets or take a look at the biggest praying wheel in the world.

 

Stay overnight in Shangri-la Town.

In the morning, transfer to Lijiang Ancient City. Along the way you will have a stop at the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a great canyon on the Jinsha River. At a maximum depth of approximately 3,790 meters from river to mountain peak, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyons in the world. The inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in a handful of small hamlets. 

Continue driving to Lijiang Ancient City, and then arrive in Lijiang to have lunch. Check into hotel first, in the afternoon you are free to explore this well-known old city. Old City of Lijiang has a history going back more than 1,000 years and was once a confluence for trade along the "Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail". The Dayan Old Town is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges, a system fast becoming but a memory as the underground water table drops, probably due to over-building in the suburban areas. If the weather is fine, you can enjoy the shops along the streets with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background.

Overnight in Lijiang Ancient City.​

Shangri-la - 200km - Lijiang via Tiger Leaping Gorge

Today you will wave goodbye to Yunnan and enter Sichuan Province again! Transfer from Lijiang to Lugu Lake in the morning, arrive in Lugu Lake at noon time.

 

After lunch, you will be transferred to circle the lake by car. Lugu Lake is called the "mother lake" by the Mosuo people. The lake is also well known in Chinese travel pamphlets as the region of “Amazons,” “The Kingdom of Women” and “Home of the Matriarchal Tribe”. It is also known as "A Quaint Realm of Matriarchy." The matriarchal and matrilineal society of the Mosuo is also termed the “Women’s World.” In Mosuo language, Lugu means "falling into the water".

 

Walking at the Grass Lake and Lovers’ Bridge, taking photos of Lige Peninsula, or climbing up Lion Mountain to have a birds’ view of Lugu Lake, are all pleasing things to do while in Lugu Lake.

 

After dinner, free on own to explore evening’s Lugu Lake with tranquil atmosphere.  

Lijiang - 200km - Lugu Lake​

In the morning, you can choose to run or walk by Lugu Lake as leisure. Drive ahead to Xichang City, which is the capital city of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

 

You will have lunch along the way to Xichang, in some small town. If time permits, there are local markets for you to discover. Arrive in Xichang City in the afternoon, and then visit Qiong Lake for relax. The barbecue food of Xichang is very delicious and well worth to have a taste.

 

In the evening you are free to explore Xichang, the Moon City.

 Lugu Lake - 300km - Xichang City

After breakfast, you will travel on Ya’xi Expressway, the ladder-like road that reaches for the sky. Ya’xi Expressway connects Xichang City and Ya’an City, what makes it unique is that with each kilometer, the roadway ascends by 7.5 meters. You will pass by the Ganhaizi and Tiezhaizi dual spiral tunnels, which are the world’s first of their kind with small radiuses. Nibashan tunnel, the largest deep tunnel in China, is with a depth of 1,650 meters and a length of 9,962 meters on the left line and 10,007 on the right line. It has shortened a drive that took several hours around mountains and through valleys to only 10 minutes. 

 

Have lunch in Ya'an area, and then continue driving for about 170km to get to Chengdu. Send to hotel/train station/airport according to your travel plan.

Xichang City - 480km - Chengdu

 China Panda Tour's experienced travel consultant 1 on 1 service 24hours/7days from inquiry to back home;

  Entrance tickets to listed viewpoints in the itinerary & necessary shuttle bus/cable car/sightseeing bus tickets;  

√  Escorted by experienced English-speaking tour guide;

  Meals mentioned in the itinerary;

  Private transfers with professional driver between hotel/attraction/airport/railway station/restaurant as listed in the itinerary;

√  Booking of flight/train/cruise tickets per your preferences;

  Accommodation in each city, hotel level/feature is decided by your choice;

√  Traveler's accidental insurance.

OUR SERVICE INCLUDES:

-- This itinerary can be flexibly adjusted according  to your requests. You can change the order, or extend the tour with more cities or days, or even shorten it with deleting any cities or days. Our professional travel consultant will help you revise the itinerary until suiting your schedule.

-- China Panda Tour also provides French/German/Spanish/Russian/Cantonese/Mandarin-speaking tour guide service.

-- If you only want to rent a car for your trip, please kindly inform us. China Panda Tour's professional drivers would provide you with satisfying service.

TRIP NOTES:

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WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

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We visit with a lot of pleasure in your beautiful country.
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— Patricia and Michel, France

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You will appreciate Tagong's profound Tibetan Buddhist culture and ethnic customs together with the beautiful landscape on West Sichuan Plateau.

Oriental Castle Danba Photography Tour - 4 Days 

 

A classic photography tour deep into Danba, a county of watchtowers and China's top beautiful Tibetan villages.

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Travel to the last pure land on earth, worshiping the holy mountains.

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