China is a land of history and refinement unparalleled in the world. Attentive visitors are immersed in a sea of visual and cultural experiences unlike any other they may have had elsewhere. This journey will focus on the natural beauty and wild flowers of northwestern Yunnan Province and the heartland of Tibet, and the unique cultures of Tibetan people and other ethnic minorities in the two regions, both are located in southwestern China.
Yunnan translates to ‘South of Clouds”. From the snow-capped mountains at the foot of the Himalayas to the tropical rainforests of the Mekong valley, from the Karst mountain ranges on the Yungui Plateau to the bamboo groves along the Shweli River, Yunnan Province stands distinctly apart from other parts of China. Within this single province, unmatched in the complexity and scope of its history, landscape and peoples, you will find a mix of geography, climates and nationalities that elsewhere it will take an entire continent to express.
Locked away in its mountain fortress of the Himalayas, Tibet, known as Xizang Autonomous Region in China, has always exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the outside world. Despite its increased exposure to modernity, the magical Buddhist kingdom seems to exist in another dimension, and still retains much of the mystery that entranced early travelers to the region.
Your adventure begins in Beijing with a comfortable overnight stay. You will then fly to Yunnan to explore Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La (Zhongdian) where the original old villages and architecture have been well preserved through the centuries; meet with the local Naxi, Bai, Lisu, and Tibetan people plus many other ethnic minorities and enjoy the pristine scenery; you will hike along the mountain trails outside the towns and behold the magnificent views of wild Rhododendron, Azalea, Primrose, and other wild flowers blossoming on the slopes of the eastern Himalaya Range. Alternative activities can be arranged for travelers who want to skip the hikes.
Wing on to Lhasa over the snowy peaks of the Himalaya. This Tibetan holy city draws many different kinds of visitors, from sightseers to mountaineers, scholars to trekkers. The Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, and Sera Monastery house the sacred treasures of Tibetan Buddhism, some of which date back to the 15th century. You will spend time exploring each of these sites and wander in the old market place “The Barkhor”.
Travel by 4-wheel drive vehicle to the heartland of Tibet, over high mountain passes and along the shorelines of Lake Yamdrok Yumtso. Your sightseeing in the historic towns of Gyangze and Shigatse will allow you to experience authentic Tibetan life and culture. The Gyangze Dzong, Kumbum, and Tashilumpo Monastery are wonderful sites to explore and to enjoy.
Finally, fly from Lhasa to Shanghai, China’s most populous city and economic powerhouse. Complete the tour with another conformable overnight stay. Pre and post tour extensions are available upon request.
Fly home from Shanghai or to your next destination in Asia.