Annual Tour 2019 – Lijiang, Shangri La, Tibet & Chengdu

Annual Tour 2019 – Lijiang, Shangri La, Tibet & Chengdu


Day 1 – Friday, 30 August 2019: Depart Johannesburg

Depart Johannesburg on Cathay Pacific flight CX 748 at 12H25.

Day 2 – Saturday, 31 August 2019: Arrival in Lijiang

Main group to arrive in Hong Kong at 07H10.  Remain in transit until our fight departs to Kunming.  Depart Hong Kong on flight

Upon arrival at Lijiang Airport, please proceed to the luggage area to claim your check-in bags. Our local representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel.  Rest of the day at your leisure.  Overnight in hotel on a bed and breakfast basis.

Welcome to Yunnan

Yunnan (Beautiful Clouds in the South) Province is the most southwest region of China bordering the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Yunnan encompasses 394 000 square km and has a population of more than 42 million people.

The natural beauty of Yunnan Province defies description. It has mountain ranges and glaciers that are snow-capped all year round, deep virgin forests, lakes and hot springs, alpine landscapes, precipitous valleys, beautiful farmlands, mountain rivers and valley streams, floral splendour that blooms throughout the year, and vast skies with amazing clouds. 

Yunnan Province is endlessly fascinating. There are 25 different ethnic minorities in Yunnan, making it the most culturally diverse province in China. This multiplicity of cultures has endowed the province with a rich heritage that it shares with all who come to visit.

Sunday 01 September 2019 Lijiang – BLD

Morning visit to Puji Temple

Puji Temple, which is called “She Pei Lan Xin Lin” in Tibetan meaning “an abbey to relieve people from suffering”, is situated on Puji Mountain which is 6 km to the west of Lijiang Old Town. It is the nearest Lamaism Temple around the Old Town and was listed in 1989 as a key protected historical and cultural site in Yunnan Province

Continue visit to Black Dragon Pool Park, which is the main headwater of the Yushui River which goes through the Old Town of Lijiang. The Black Dragon Pool’s distinguishing feature caters to the habitat of the Naxi who love nature very much. In the past, it was a good choice for people from the Old Town to go picnicking, when they came to thank the blessing of the gods. They took all kinds of delicious food, wine and their specially made hotpot here and gathered together to enjoy the happy and relaxing life.

Lunch at local Chinese restaurant (one soft drink per person included).  Afternoon visit to Shuhe old town

Shuhe in the dialect of Naxi ethnic minority is called “Shaowu” meaning “a village at the foot a lofty peak”. It’s 4 km away from the Old Town of Lijiang.

As one of the habitats of the Naxi ancestors in Lijiang area, Shuhe Old Town used to function as an important dak on the Ancient Tea and Horse Trail (Road). The prosperous trades along the Tea and Horse Trail made various necessities sell quite well. In the Ming Dynasty, Chieftain Mu of Lijiang managed to employ from Jiangnan Area (China’s south part of Yangtze) a great number of craftsmen who settled down in Suhe to make it (Shuhe) a famous “Cobblers’ Village”. Products then were mainly leather shoes, saddles, fur clothing, iron wares and so on.

Dinner at a Naxi people’s house (one soft drink per person included).  This evening, you will enjoy a Naxi Music performance

The Naxi are an ethnic group inhabiting the foothills of the Himalayas in the north-western and south-western parts of south-west China’s Yunnan and Sichuan provinces respectively. Both the ancient tea-horse road and the Silk Road ran their ways through the area, leaving behind a cultural mix of Han and Tibetan characteristics.

The heavenly atmosphere of the Naxi area fosters in its residents artistic qualities and a poetic mindset. Along with innate talents for poetry, calligraphy, and painting.  The people of the region seem to be born with a gift for music.

Naxi ancient music is believed to have its roots in Xian ancient music. However, Naxi ancient music, with its mixture of literary lyrics, poetic topics, and musical styles from the Tang (618-907) and Song dynasties (960-1279), as well as some Tibetan influences, has developed its unique style.

Interestingly, the music from Central China has been well preserved in Naxi ancient music as a result of the Naxi’s geographical isolation, while the music directly from Central China was lost, as the inland was transformed many times during China’s changing history. As a result, Naxi music boasts itself as a “living fossil of music.”

Day 4 – Monday, 02 September 2019: Lijiang – BL

Morning visit to a Yi ethnic minority shaman’s house, who will give a brief introduction of the Yi religion

Yi shaman are known as bimo. Highly respected, they carry out sacrifices and perform healing rituals with incense and bowls of chicken blood. Headmen are responsible for controlling ghosts with magic. Often bimo were the only ones who could read the sacred texts that included clan histories, myths and literature

Lunch box will be provided.  Afternoon hike in Wenhai valley

Wenhai lies northwest of Lijiang city, nestled in a sub-alpine valley, against the towering backdrop of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain peak, lies Wenhai Lake and neighboring Wenhai village.

Wenhai is located 3000 m above sea level. The village was established in this valley over 300 years ago. Wenhai is close to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and is a peaceful place. Wenhai is one of the most important grazing grassland on the Tea Horse Road. In year 2002, Wenhai had a total population of 798 people, from 217 households. The “Upper” and “Lower” villages near the Wenhai lake are inhabited by the Naxi, while Yi people live in villages to the north, further up the mountain. The local Yi and Naxi people still keep their traditional custom and life, normally they speak their own language and wear the traditional clothing.

Late afternoon explore the Lijiang Old Town

Lijiang Old Town has a history of over 800 years. It is one of the fewest places in China with well-preserved old style folk buildings. With the famous Sifang Road (which literally means four directions in Chinese) at its core, roads here are mostly paved with stone boards. An important feature of Dayan is the numerous streams and brooks crisscrossing the houses. It is an ingenious approach developed in ancient times by local people to make them close to water and keep it clean. The water is still running today, when you walk on the paddle-paved road, a stream will be running beside you. It was given world heritage status by UNESCO in 1998.

Day 5 – Tuesday, 03 September 2019: Lijiang-Shangri-la – BL

Private car transfer to Shangri-La (4.5 hours driving)

Visit the first Bend of the Yangtze River and Tiger Leaping Gorge en route

Tiger Leaping Gorge is as dramatic as its name suggests, and a great hiking route. Reputedly the deepest gorge in the world, it lies between two mountains rising to over 5000 m. One of these is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The other peak is Haba Snow Mountain which only occasionally comes into view.

The 17 km long gorge is divided into three segments with an aggregate fall of 210 m. At the opening of the gorge, which is also the mouth of the Jinsha River, a Herculean pebble, about 30 m wide, seems to be stranded amidst the billowing waves.

Legend has it that in ancient times, a tiger frequently used this pebble as a stepping stone to leap across the gorge. Most visitors take in the most famous first segment of the gorge to observe the narrowest part of the river and see the Tiger Leaping Pebble

Lunch at a local Chinese restaurant (one soft drink per person included).  Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel.  Rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 6 – Wednesday, 04 September 2019: Shangri-la – BLD

Morning visit to Pudacuo National Park (Zhongdian)

Established in 2007, Pudacuo was China’s first national park and is located in one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. Although it comprises only 0.7 % of China’s land area, it contains 20 % of all plant species found in this country, one third of its mammal and bird species, and is home to over 100 endangered plants and animals. Situated at an elevation of over 3 500 m the national park has two large alpine lakes surrounded by dense deciduous forests, including vast swathes of azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom each spring. Rare animals such as the silver pheasant, lynx, leopard, musk deer, and black-necked crane all make their homes in this forest.

Lunch at local restaurant

Afternoon tour will be followed by visiting the Songzanlin Monastery and Jiantang Old Town

Located at the foot of Mt. Foping, Songzanlin Monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, and is modeled closely on the Potola Palace in Lhasa.

Built in 1679, the Songzanlin complex, originally ordained and inhabited by the fifth Dalai Lama, sits at an elevation of 3 300 m and boasts three temples and an eight-meter-high statue of Shakyamuni.

Home to some 700 Tibetan Buddhist monks, Songzanlin was damaged between 1966 to 1976. The majority of the temple has been since restored.

After that you will visit the Old Town of Shangri La – also known as Jiantang Old Town – and the adjacent Guishan Park – which contains the world’s largest prayer wheel.

Then visit the Tibetan family.  A visit to a real Tibetan family is to have a glance at local Tibetan peoples life there. The hospitable hosts will welcome you with the local yak buttered tea and wine and then show you around their houses. They will be glad to introduce their family and Tibetan customs to you and you can raise your own questions. Comparing with the family you visit in other cities, you will find even in one country, manners and customs of different people vary so greatly.

Tibetan dinner at local restaurant (one soft drink per person included)

Day 7 – Thursday, 05 September 2019:   Shangri-la –Lahsa – B

Transfer to the airport for your China Eastern flight MU 5939 to Lahsa, departing at 10H20, arriving at 12H25.

Lhasa is rightly one of the most featured and dreamt-about cities in the world. This is not only because of its remoteness, its high altitude at 3 650 m (11 975 ft) means limited accessibility, but also because of its impressive heritage of over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history that has helped to create the romantic and mysterious Tibetan religion.

Differing from the inland cities and other places in Tibet, Lhasa is unique with an allure all of its own. In the Tibetan language, Lhasa means the Holy Land or the Buddha Land. It is the center of Tibet’s politics, economy and culture. The city has also been appointed as one of the 24 historical and cultural cities of China. The splendor and grandeur of the Potala Palace in Lhasa remains a world-famous symbol of the enigmatic power of politics and religion in this region.

As the beautiful capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Lhasa is situated in the South Central part of the region, on the North bank of the Kyichu River (Lhasa River) in a mountain-fringed valley. This ancient sprawling city, settled 1 300 years ago, covers 30 000 square kilometers, with a population of 400 000, of which 87 % are Tibetans. The urban population is 180 000.

Arrival in Lhasa airport after clearing customs, please proceed to the luggage area to claim your check-in bags. You will be greeted by our representative and transferred to the city.  On the way to Lhasa, you will enjoy the spectacular scenery and the typical Tibetan villages. Stay at the hotel after arrival for adapting to the high attitude. Rest of the day at your leisure.  Lunch and dinner on your own account


Day 8 – Friday, 06 September 2019:  Lahsa – BL

This morning, your day begins with the Splendid Potala Palace (1hour visit)

The Potala Palace is the religious center of Tibetan Buddhism and the former residence of the Dalai Lama. The giant structure looks like an ancient fortress. It was originally built in 637 AD by Emperor Songtsen Gampo to greet his new bride that was coming from China. Construction of the current structure began during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. In 1645 the White Palace, the bottom section, was completed and the Red Palace, the red section, was completed in 1694. The palace remained virtually unchanged until 1922 when the 13th Dalai Lama renovated many chapels and assembly halls and added two stories to the Red Palace.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street.

Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple is the most important Tibetan Buddhist temple in the world. Occupying an area of over 25 000 square meters, the temple is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. Originally built in 647 AD, the temple originally had eight shrines, but after over a thousand years of renovations and reconstructions, the temple grew into the giant complex that visitors can see today.

Lhasa’s Barkhor Street is located in the center of Lhasa. The street circles the Jokhang Temple, and has been an essential pilgrim route since the foundation of the temple. Buddhist pilgrims can be seen throughout the day and night walking, or prostrating themselves clockwise along Barkhor Street spinning their prayer wheels and chanting sutras. There is more to Barkhor Street than just a place for pilgrims to walk. Barkhor Street, often called the “Window of Tibet” is famous for shopping.  Dinner at leisure on your own

Day 9 – Saturday, 07 September 2019:  Lahsa BL

In the morning visit Drepung Monastery

Norbulingka means “Jeweled Garden,” a fitting title for this 250-year-old park built near a medicinal spring in the western suburbs of Lhasa. It began as a summer palace for the Dalai Lama, but was soon expanded to include space for the whole governmental administration. The entire park has more than 370 rooms of different sizes. Lawns are shaded by green trees and embroidered with various flowers. Given the landscaping of flowers and trees around the medicinal spring, Norbulingka is also known as “the park within the park.”

Drepung Monastery, the largest and richest monastery in Tibet, was founded in 1416 by a disciple of Tsong Khapa under the patronage of a noble family and later enlarged by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Drepung, which means rice heap in Tibetan, lies 8 km west of Mt. Gambo Utse. The monastery covers a floor space of more than 200 thousand square meters. At its peak, it had a registration of more than 10 000 thousand monks. Many high and learned lamas had studied here.

Lunch at local restaurant.  In the afternoon visit the Sera Monastery and watch the famous Debating on Buddhist doctrines

The Sera Monastery at the foot of Tatipu Hill is located in the northern suburb of Lhasa City. It is one of three famous monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery. The Sera Monastery is dedicated to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Tsong Khapa. Jamchen Chojey, one of Tsong Khapa’s disciples built the monastery in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The monastery was named Sera which means wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when the monastery was built.

Day 10 – Sunday, 08 September 2019:  Lahsa-Gyangtse – BL

Today, journey to Yamdrok Yumtso – one of the three most scared lakes in Tibet.

Yamdrok Yumtso is an outflowing lake which is connected with the Yarlung Tsangpo River. About 1 million years ago, huge mud-rock flow blocked the river valley in the upper reaches of the Moqu River near Yangse which is about 20 km west from Baidi and the lake became a continental lake.

Yamdrok Yumtso takes a shape of a paper fan and stretches roughly from northwest to southeast, while the south is wide and the north is narrow. Along the lake, there are many branches of the lake winding their way into the mountains. There is lush pasture around the lake with an area of 10 million square hectares and is one of the most famous pasturelands in Tibet.

Lunch at local restaurant.  Visit the Palkhor monastery for its famous Kumbum Pagoda

Palkhor Monastery is a kind of typical Tibetan Buddhism monastery architecture combined stupa and temple, with temples in the stupa, stupas in the temple. The stupas and temples stay harmoniously and bring out the best in each other. The Palkhor Monastery (meaning lucky and happy monastery) has a Chinese name Baiju Monastery. There are three classes of Buddhism (Sakys, Gedang and Gelugpa) existing harmoniously in this monastery.

Day 11 – Monday, 09 September 2019: Gyangtse-Shegar – BL

Visit Pachen Lama’s seat palace, the great Tashilumpo monastery, a very big and complex monastery in Tibet

Monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect) in Tibet. Also called the Heap of Glory, the monastery is located at the foot of Drolmari (Tara’s Mountain), Shigatse. Founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, the monastery’s structure was expanded by the Fourth and successive Panchen Lamas. Tashilhunpo Monastery covers an area of nearly 300 000 square meters. The main structures found in the Tashilhunpo Monastery are The Maitreya Chapel, The Panchen Lama’s Palace and The Kelsang Temple. Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama took charge in the monastery, and there are now nearly 800 lamas.

Lunch at local restaurant.  Then continue drive to Shegar on the foot of Mt. Everest.  Overnight at the Tingri Everest Hotel.

Day 12 – Tuesday, 10 September 2019:  Mt. Everest Camp Base BLD

Drive to Rongbuk village, visit Rongbuk monastery and Everest Base Camp, stay at local Guesthouse.

Mt. Everest, called Mount Qumulangma in the Tibetan Language, is the highest peak on Earth and probably the most coveted mountain in adventurous travelers eyes. A journey to the Mt. Everest Base Camp is a both physical as well as psychological challenge to visitors, but it will definitely reward them with the most unparalleled views – a panorama of Himalayan peaks – and never-forgotten beautiful memories. On May 8, 2008, the Olympic Torch for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was taken to the peak and lit by a group of Chinese mountaineers, making it the first time ever for the Olympic torch was lit on the “top of the world”.

This evening you’ll have the intoxicating view of Mt. Everest. Lunch and dinner at local restaurant.  Overnight in Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse.

Day 13 – Wednesday, 11 September 2019:  Mt. Everest Camp Base-Shigatze BLD

Breakfast at hotel.  Drive back to Shigatse, via Lhatse.  Lunch and dinner at local restaurant.  Overnight in the Shigatse Tashichuta Hotel.

Day 14 – Thursday 12 September 2019:  Shigatze-Lhasa – BLD

Shigatze –Lhasa 280km

Drive back to Lhasa, via Nyemo and Chushul county, stay at hotel in LhasaLunch and dinner at local restaurant

Day 15 – Friday, 13 September 2019:  Lhasa – Chengdu – B

The main group will transfer to the airport for your flight to Chengdu.  Depart Lhasa on Air China flight CA 4402 at 10H35, arriving in Chengdu at 12H35.

Meet your guide and transfer to your hotel in Chengdu with the rest of the day on your own.  Dinner arrangement on your own

Day 16 – Saturday, 14 September 2019:  Chengdu Day BL

In the morning transfer to visit the Panda Breeding and Research Center

Located 6 miles north of Chengdu City, it is home to giant pandas, red (or lesser) pandas, and other endangered species. Visit the nursery to see the highly successful breeding program, among the bamboo groves and shady walkways, and to view the pandas at rest or play. There is a panda museum where you can learn some information about giant pandas.  Lunch at the local restaurant

Then transfer to Leshan to visit the largest stone Buddha statue in the entire world, including the boat ride.

Towering over 70 meters (229 feet) above the banks of the river, the Leshan Buddha is the largest stone Buddha statue in the world. The average person is shorter than the Buddha’s big toe! The Leshan Buddha was carved over a thousand years ago directly into the cliff, and took over one hundred years to complete. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this tour, you will learn the dramatic tale of the monk Haitong and his attempt to calm the deadly waters of the river, and see for yourself whether his efforts prevailed!  Dinner arrangement on your own

Day 17 – Sunday, 15 September 2019:  Chengdu – Depart – B

The main group will transfer to the airport for your flight to Hong Kong.  Depart Chengdu on Cathay Pacific flight CX 5887 (operated by Cathay Dragon KA 887) at 13H55, arriving in Hong Kong at 16H55.  You will remain in transit until our flight departs to Johannesburg.

Day 18 – Monday, 16 September 2019:  Johannesburg

Depart Hong Kong on flight CX 749 at 00H20, arriving in Johannesburg at 07H10.


  • 3 nights accommodation at the Inter Continental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort in Lijiang in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 2 nights accommodation at the Hylandia hotel in Shangri-La in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 3 nights accommodation at the Shangri-La hotel in Lhasa in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 night accommodation at the Shigatse Tashi Chuta hotel in Gyangtse in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 night accommodation at the Tingri Everest Hotel in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 night accommodation at the Rongbuk Monastery Guest house in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 nights accommodation at the Shigatse Tashi Chuta hotel in Gyangtse in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 nights accommodation at the Shangri-La hotel in Lhasa in a standard room on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 2 nights accommodation at the Yinhe Dynasty hotel in Chengdu on a bed and breakfast basis
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees, (except for optional tours)
  • Tipping


  • Visa application for China
  • Medical and/or baggage insurance.
  • Meals not mentioned in the above itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature such as, but not limited to, telephone calls, laundry and postage
  • Optional excursions and items not specified in the attached itinerary.

NB:  Please note the standard of accommodation in China can vary considerably to the same star accommodation in South Africa.  Therefore a 5 star hotel in China is not necessarily representative of a 5 star hotel in South Africa.  Please note the accommodation standard while visiting the Mount Everest Region will be extremely basic.


Nile Travel reserves the right to change the order of the itinerary, guide, hotels etc. should the need arise.  Nile Travel shall not be liable for any loss or harm, delay, damage or injury to property or person however caused.  Please ensure that you wear comfortable shoes and dress accordingly for the weather.

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