15 days Small Group Tours 19th May - 3rd Jun 2017Register for 2018 via our enquiry form Tailor make this journey and make it yours

Price

$9667 AUD per person

$1945 AUD single supplement

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers throughout
  • 14 nights accommodation
  • 14 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • Services of english speaking local guides
  • National park fees and entrance fees
  • Private air conditioned transportation
  • Sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • Domestic flights from Beijing/Chengdu; Jiuzhaigou/Lijiang via Kunming; Zhongdian/Shanghai via Kunming in Economy Class with one piece of 20kg luggage per person per flight

Exclusions

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

In the isolated and mysterious village of  Shangri-la, the Tibetan region of the Yunnan Province, a horse racing festival takes place each year on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, at the foot of Wufeng Mountain. Horse racing in Shangri-la dates back to 770 B.C. This folk festival is one of the most important in the area, acting as a grand springtime rally for local Tibetans. Not only is the festival a sporting competition for showcasing horsemanship, but it also serves a celebration of different folk traditions, including local singing and dancing. Amongst the spring flowers blooming on the warm Yunnan grasslands, this colourful festival of youthful passion and equine exuberance brings idyllic Shangri-La to life.

This exciting festival combined with exploring some of Yunnan's lesser known regions and spectacular national parks brings you the perfect combination of raw nature at its best and raw culture at its most traditional.

Day 1 - Arrival in Beijing

Welcome to China! Upon arrival into Beijing, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure.

This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner where you will taste the famed Peking Duck. This famous dish from Beijing has been prepared since the imperial era and is now one of China’s national foods. Ducks are bred especially for the dish, which consists mostly of the thick, crispy skin with meat that is carved in front of the guests by the cook. The duck is generally eaten together with thin pancake wraps, spring onions and hoisin sauce. (D)

3 nights Red Wall Garden Hotel or similar

Day 2 - Beijing

This morning, start your day with some Tai Chi. Follow your Master as you learn the fluid movements in a park where you will witness the local people enjoying their morning exercises.

This afternoon, experience Beijing and its food in a more modest way, tasting traditional local dishes and those from other regions of China as you walk through the Hutongs, the narrow alleys in old Beijing. You will start at the centre of Beijing, at the Bell Tower, to taste Beijing’s traditional dishes before walking through the market, stopping at local artists’ homes to learn about Chinese handicrafts and finishing at Houhai Lake where you will have free time to explore. (B,L)

Day 3 - Hike Unrestored Great Wall

Today you will hike along the Jiankou Great Wall, which literally means ‘Arrow Nock’. Recognised as the most challenging section of the Ming Great Wall, you will pass several key watch towers including Beijing Knot. Climbing uneven steps and through crumbling watch towers, take in the views and the serenity from the unrestored structures of the wall, far from the crowds of tourists at the restored sections. This experience will truly allow you to appreciate the Great Wall for what it was and what it is today.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the wall. (B,L)

Day 4 - Beijing to Chengdu

This morning you will be transferred to the airport and fly to Chengdu, which is known for its Sichuan cuisine and Pandas. You will be met upon arrival, and will have the opportunity to explore Wangjiang Park, known for its beautiful bamboo forest, the symbol of the city of Chengdu, where you will have the chance to stretch your legs and enjoy some tea.

Learn to play Chinese chess and Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game using little cubes instead of playing cards. Mahjong is an essential part of the locals’ daily life, and you will see it being played in people’s houses, in teahouses and even on the footpath if the weather permits. Later in the day you will watch Sichuan Opera – the art of ‘Bian-Lian’ or ‘face-changing’. (B,D)

2 nights Buddha Zen Hotel or similar

Day 5 - Panda Breeding Centre

Early this morning, you will be transferred to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre where you have the opportunity to get up close to these amazing animals. Learn about the conservation efforts and breeding programs run by the centre. After lunch, explore the fascinating alleys of Chengdu. Here you can taste local snacks, sip tea in a traditional teahouse, and you will notice the distinctive style inns and spas. (B,D)

Day 6 - Huanglong to Jiuzhaigou

Today you will fly to Jiuzhaigou and visit Huanglong, which literally means ‘yellow dragon’. Known for its spectacular colourful pools formed by calcite deposits and its diverse forest ecosystems, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and hotsprings. Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1992, it is home to many endangered species including giant panda and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey.

After visiting Huanglong, continue your journey to Jiuzhaigou. Meaning ‘nine dragon valley’, Jiuzhaigou takes its name from the nine Tibetan villages along the length of the valley. This remote region was inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang people for centuries and still retains much of the traditional charm and characteristics of those cultures. (B,L,D)

2 nights Jiuzhaigou Celebrity Hotel Jiuzhaigou or similar

Day 7 - Jiuzhaigou

Enjoy the stunning views and colours of Jiuzhaigou National Park, which is the sister park of the United States’ Yosemite National Park. It is best known for its fabled blue and green lakes, spectacular waterfalls, narrow conic karst land forms and its unique wildlife. The water here is impossibly clear and you will have the opportunity to peer down into the depths of these mysterious pools to view ancient trees long since confined to a watery grave. From here, you will visit a private museum that tells a vivid history of the Tibetan people. There will also be time for you to enjoy a hike in the exclusive private section of the valley known as the Zharu Valley. (B,L,D)

Day 8 - Lijiang

Following breakfast, take a morning flight to Chengdu before connecting through to Lijiang. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Lijiang Old Town.

Lijiang, or ‘beautiful river,’ is the capital of a large area inhabited by the Naxi minority people. Before this area was conquered by Mongolian Kublai Khan in the 12th century, it used to be a prosperous kingdom with a very strong culture – especially their unique style of writing Chinese characters. Time permitting, you may have the opportunity to enjoy a walking tour through the old city market square, take in the panoramic view from Wangolou Pagoda and visit Black Dragon Park. (B,L)

2 nights Zen Garden Wuyi Courtyard Hotel or similar

Day 9 - Puji Monastery

This morning, hike to the historic Puji monastery. Perched on the hillside in the northwest of the Lijiang Valley, Puji Temple is one of five existing monasteries in Lijiang. Built in the 18th century, the monastery was named after the village Puji, located about a 15 minutes’ drive from Lijiang. Enjoy a short 30min hike to the temple, were you will meet with one of the young monks who works at the monastery. With the help of your guide to translate, you can speak to the monk, and learn about his fascinating lifestyle.

Continuing on, explore the Lashihai Alpine Wetland Reserve and its surroundings. Here you will have the opportunity to try horse riding, boating or kayaking around the serene lake. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - Tiger Leaping Gorge

Following breakfast at your hotel, depart on an overland drive along the Yunnan-Tibet Road to Qiaotou. also known as the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge (approx. 2hrs. 100km). From Qiaotou, drive a further 6km along the gorge road to a small village, where you will farewell your driver and head off on foot with your local guide. Here you will start your trek up the Haba Mountains. You will have various stops along the way with your first being Zhong Luo Yu village at 2250m. Altogether you will trek around 15km today (approx. 5-6 hours). This evening you will overnight in a local guesthouse, where you can witness first hand the traditional, local, way of life. (B,L,D)

Overnight Bendiwan Village guesthouse

Day 11 - Tiger Leaping Gorge to Zhongdian

After bidding farewell to your host family, enjoy a traditional breakfast at Halfway Inn, a small local inn. Continue your trekking from Bendiwan to the Walnut Grove as you edge closer to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, tucked between the Yulong Snow Mountain and the Haba Mountain. With more than 3900m (12,480 feet) of vertical relief between the mountain summits and the river, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges on earth.

In the afternoon, continue your journey to Zhongdian, visiting Songtsam Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Yunnan province, also referred to as ‘Little Potala Palace’. It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama. Follow the local Tibetan’s pilgrimage trail around Songtsam Monastery before transferring to your hotel. (B,L,D)

2 nights E-outfitting Boutique Hotel Shangri-La or similar

Day 12 - Tibetan Horse Racing Festival

Enjoy some time at leisure this morning before you depart for the Tibetan Horse Racing Festival. Legend has it that the Jiantang tribe (a tribe of the ancient Qiang ethnic group) established the Jiantang Kingdom during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C. -476 B.C.) and the Warring States Period (475 B.C. -221 B.C.). The cavalrymen of the Jiantang Kingdom practiced their riding skills every year on the 5th of May, making it a professional horse-training centre. The kingdom was later invaded during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and became part of Tibet.

Caodian has become the largest sports center in the Yunnan Province and is where the opening ceremony is held in the morning of the first day of the festival. People from neighboring countries such as Kangmang, Xiangcheng, Daocheng, Litang, Batang and Derong also participate in the festival, and besides the traditional equestrian performance, a number of activities are held at the foot of the Five Phoenix Mountain, including horse racing, wresting, tug-of-war, yak racing, ox-drawn bars.

Families set up colourful flags and tents on the mountain during the festival, there is a market, and there are a number of art performances such as a singing competition and folk fashion show. (B,L,D)

Day 13 - Shanghai

This morning you have time at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight via Kunming to Shanghai. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Spend the late afternoon strolling along the Bund, home to Shanghai’s colonial past overlooking the glitzy electrified Shanghai skyscrapers. (B,L,D)

2 nights URBN Hotel or similar

Day 14 - Shanghai

This morning enjoy a walk around the French Concession. This area was a foreign concession from the late 18th to early 20th century. It has now become the city’s hottest and hippest neighbourhood, where trendy bars and clubs multiply like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Today, you can still see the catholic Cathedrals and European style houses that give this area its distinct character. The area still holds an alluring mix of scrappy Shanghainese street life, shopworn European colonial charm, Art Deco edifices, and hidden brick courtyards. (B,L,D)

Day 15 - Departure

Today is yours at leisure until it is time for you to transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)