China Explorer: A journey through the middle Kingdom
The comprehensive China Tour from East to WestMap
Journey to Datong
The city of Datong is situated 350 km west of Beijing in Shanxi province. The best way to travel from Beijing to Datong is either by bus in somewhat more than 4 hours, or by train from the West Railroad Station in 6 hours.
Because of its strategic position at the edge of the Mongolian Steppe Shanxi province has had a very changeable history. Again and again what is today Shanxi province was exposed to attacks by the hordes of horsemen from the north. The best known were the Tuoba, who set up their tents in Shanxi province and proclaimed the “Northern Wei Dynasty” (386 – 534). The Tuoba made Datong the capital of the “Northern Wei Dynasty”.
The well-known Buddhist Yungang grottoes date from that time and have become in the meantime the most important tourist attraction in Datong. The Yungang grottoes are situated about 16 km west of Datong. To get to the Yungang Grottoes it is easiest to take bus no. 3 from Zhengua Street in the city center as far as the last station and go the remaining 300 meters to the Yungang grottoes on foot.
In the 11th century Datong was again chosen as the capital of the Mongolian Liao dynasty, and 300 years later Datong became an important defensive position for the Ming dynasty (1386 – 1644). During that time the city of Datong also received a massive city wall. But today there is hardly anything left to see of the once impressive ramparts; they had to give way at the start of this century to a new, modern city wall.
In the recent past Datong was for a long time a typical Chinese industrial city. Almost a third of the Chinese coal production comes from the Datong area.
Over the last few years the government has been trying to make Datong a popular tourist destination. So a gigantic, brand-new city wall was set up, also a new super dimensional Buddhist monastery, and the old Huayan monastery from the 12th century was given a big-scale renovation.
Since 2017 Datong can be reached with the high-speed train from Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, in less than 30 minutes.
On a journey to Datong you should also visit the Hanging Monastery, to be found about 60 km south-east of Datong in the Heng Shan Mountains. It is believed that the beginnings of the Hanging Monastery date from the period of the northern Wei dynasty; in any case the present buildings are exclusively from the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).
Over the centuries the monastery was time and again destroyed by the masses of water of Heng River; for that reason at every reconstruction the monastery was built somewhat higher on the mountain, until eventually it was situated, with the help of a contrived wooden structure, halfway up on a steep rock wall. The buttresses of the “Hanging Monastery” are propped up on long thin stilts, which actually give the monastery the appearance of defying the laws of gravity.
A trip to the Hanging Monastery is best done in your own car. To the west of Ertong Park in Datong there was until 2017 a bus station from which buses go in the morning to Hunyuan. From Hunyuan on you then go by taxi (included in the price of the bus ticket) to the Hanging Monastery.
Journey to Pingyao
During a journey through China a stopover in Pingyao is a must. The city of Pingyao is situated about 100 km south of Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province in central China. In many a tourist guidebook Pingyao is often described as “China’s most beautiful historic old town”. The history of Pingyao probably dates from the time of the Spring and Autumn Annals (771 – 476 BC) during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, where there was already a settlement with a city wall.
However, Pingyao in its modern form was not founded until the 14th century, and is today one of the most attractive historic sites in China. The old city center is surrounded by a square city wall 6 km long from the Ming Dynasty, which is today one of China’s best preserved city walls. From the city walls you have s beautiful view of the roofs of the old town Pingyao.
It is possible to circumnavigate the entire Old Town on foot on top of the city walls, but it takes about 2 hours to do so.
The rise to fame came during the Ming Dynasty (1386 – 1644), when Pingyao became a flourishing trade city and the center of a gigantic commercial network stretching from south China as far as Mongolia and today’s Russia. Pingyao became so affluent through that trade that finally a handful of resourceful merchants introduced in the city a virtual system of payment by pieces of paper, a precursor of today’s “bills of exchange” or transaction documents. In 1823 the “Sunrise Prosperity Draft Bank” ("rishengchang") was founded, and that is now regarded as China’s first bank.
It is worthwhile to visit the Taoist Cheng Huang Temple close to the “New Eastern Gate” south-east of the city center. The well preserved Cheng Huang Temple is dedicated to the guardian spirit of the city of Pingyao.
In the interior of Cheng Huang Temple is to be found the “Temple of Wealth”, where many Chinese can be observed who with overpriced incense sticks are hoping to buy ultimate material wealth. Just as, 200 years ago at the exact same spot, presumably the founders of China’s first bank had done successfully.
Most of the buildings in Old Town Pingyao are brick structures from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The well preserved former manors, palaces, and temples give a good impression of the one-time wealth of the city and a good insight into life in Pingyao in imperial China.
In Pingyao’s city center there are many tasteful boutique hotels where you can spend the night just as it was in the time of the emperors.
Journey to Xi’An: Travel information
The city of Xi’An is the capital of Shaanxi province and is both culturally and historically an important and worthwhile stopover on a journey through China.
The history of the city of Xi’An can be traced back to the Bronze Age 3,000 years ago. But Xi’An’s age of prosperity did not begin until the Han Dynasty (221-206 BC), when under Emperor Qin Shi Huang it became the first capital of the Empire of China. At that time the city was called “Chang An”, which translates more or less as “Long Peace”.
With the death of Qin Shi Huang in 210 BC the Qin Dynasty also came to an end. Its successors, the Han, ruled from 206 BC till 220 AD, and also made Xi’An – or rather Chang An – the capital of their Han Empire.
Xi’An was for a long time regarded as China’s door to the west and was the starting point/destination of the Silk Road, one of the world’s oldest trade routes. About 2,000 years ago merchants and diplomats were already flocking from all over the world to Chang An. Camel caravans unloaded their goods from the Eurasian region and were, in exchange, loaded up with valuable Chinese goods desired in the west. Especially Chinese silk was very much in demand in the Roman Empire.
After the downfall of the Han Dynasty (in 220 AD) Xi’An was destroyed in the tumultuous wars that followed.
It was not until the beginning of the Sui Dynasty in 581 AD that the Chinese Empire was again united after a long period of fragmentation following the downfall of the Han Dynasty. Under the rule of the Sui Xi’An was again built up and named as the capital of the short-lived Sui Dynasty (581 – 618). As the capital of the following Tang Dynasty (1386-1644) Xi’An experienced another age of prosperity. Xi’An was developed as a center of trade along the Silk Road, and as well became a center for the arts: calligraphy, sculpture, pottery, painting, and lyric poetry reached new heights. Buddhism was introduced to Xi’An during the Tang Dynasty.
With the collapse of the Tang Dynasty at the end of the 9th century came also the economic decline of Xi’An. The capital was transferred to Nanjing. Under the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) Xi’An was once more built up, but could never reestablish links with its heyday in the Tang Dynasty. The very well preserved city walls also date from that last restoration. Xi’An is today regarded as the city with the most beautiful city walls in their original state in China.
Xi’An received imperial honors the last time in 1900, when the dowager empress Cixi, having fled from Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion, set up her court there.
Because of its colorful history Xi’An has today a great selection of tourist sites on offer. For that reason a trip to Xi’An is particularly worthwhile. The main attraction and highlight of a trip to Xi’An is certainly the Terracotta Army, situated about 30 km from Xi’An. The Terracotta Army was created to watch over the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor.
The Great Wildgoose Pagodga and the journey to the west by Monk Xuan Zang
The best-known landmark of Xi’An is the Great Wildgoose Pagoda. The distinctive Great Wildgoose Pagoda was built in 652 and is situated in the Temple of Great Mercy in the south of the city. In Buddhism the Great Wildgoose Pagoda receives a very special significance. Here the Buddhist texts brought by the monk Xuan Zang from his journey to India were translated.
On his search for the sources of Buddhism the monk Xuan Zang wandered from 629 to 645 as far as India, under conditions at times beyond human strength. Another obstacle was that Emperor Taizong had forbidden on pain of death all journeys outside his empire.
After his journey lasting years through areas of the modern Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan Xuan Zang criss-crossed India, his destination, made contacts and gathered as much knowledge as possible about Buddhism. For several years he studied and copied Buddhist texts at the historic Buddhist school at Nalanda, which he then later took back to China.
Xuan Zang’s return to Xi’An 17 years later went off almost triumphantly, with hundreds of texts and relics in his baggage. The same emperor without whose permission he had left the country received him at court and had him build a pagoda in which he could work on the translation of the texts: the Great Wildgoose Pagoda. A part of those texts is still deposited today in the Great Wildgoose Pagoda.
Journey to the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’An
Qin Shi Huang is regarded as the first emperor of China. Qin Shi Huang was born as Ying Zheng, son of the king of Qin, in 259 BC. His birth occurred in the “period of the Warring States”, when the Qin Kingdom was struggling for domination with six other states. After his father’s death Ying Zheng, only thirteen, ascended the throne of Qin.
Between 230 and 221 BC Ying Zheng bit by bit conquered the other states and in so doing put an end to the fragmentation of the feudal Chinese Empire. The period of conflict between the small states was finished, China was born, and the city of Xi’An was declared the new capital. Ying Zheng became China’s first emperor and thereafter called himself Qin Shi Huang, which means “first noble ruler of the Qin Dynasty”.
As a ruthless ruler Qin Shi Huang reorganized his empire with the help of a gigantic bureaucracy and made wide-ranging reforms. Everything was standardized, made uniform: writing, weights, coins, the width of wagon axles, and even how moustaches and topknots had to be styled, all were prescribed by the bureaucracy.
Qin Shi Huang had the Chinese Wall extended and a network of 6,800 kilometers of roads was built, which is partially preserved till today.
China’s first emperor also wanted to be prepared for the time after his death. It is said that he began the construction of his tomb shortly after his ascension to the throne. More than 700,000 forced laborers are said to have worked for 37 years on his mausoleum, which measures 56 square kilometers. In 1974 the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang was discovered by chance by a local peasant. Since then the excavation site has long become one of the most important tourist attractions in central China. The museum consists of several pits, still only partially laid bare. In the biggest pit more than 1,000 terracotta figures are standing. The army consisted of about 8,000 warriors. In 1987 the Terracotta Army has been added on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, and is often described as the 8th wonder of the world.
Travel from Xi’An to Lijiang in Yunnan Province, southwest China
From Xi’An in Shaanxi province, so rich in history, your journey continues by airplane to Lijiang in Yunnan province with its enchanting landscapes.
Yunnan province is the most south-westerly province of China. Yunnan province has some of China’s most varied landscapes. The climate in Yunnan varies from the subtropical tea-growing areas in the south to the 7000 meter high foothills of the Himalayan Range in the north.
On your trip through Yunnan province you visit old villages and hidden temples along the former Tea and Horse Road, an ancient trading route for horse caravans between Yunnan and Tibet.
Starting from Lijiang, your Yunnan trip leads to the imposing Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest gorges. On a high ridge you undertake a simple hike with breathtaking views of the snow-covered Jade Dragon Mountain. The landscape of Yunnan province will thrill you! Past the white water sinter-terraces Baishuitai you travel “through the back door” onto the Tibetan Plateau to Zhongdian. The prayer flags, Buddhist monasteries, the dark blue sky, and the omnipresent rotating prayer wheels are a sign that you are now on Tibetan soil.
In short: A journey through China, rich in variety, with many enthralling encounters, spiced with culture and a portion of history.
"...the hike on the Great Wall near Jinshanling in beautiful weather was great...The whole trip was well organized..."
Steffen and Doris from Germany
"...we got a good insight into a China unknown to us until then...We would like to especially emphasize the achievements of our guide Robert, his thoughtfulness has contributed a lot to the success of the trip...".
Hans-Peter and Pia from Switzerland
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN BEIJING
Arrival in Beijing, the capital of China. Pick up at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Today's program depends on your arrival time in Beijing, China.
Day 2: BEIJING CITY TOUR
In the morning you take a walking tour around Tiananmen Square. Pay a visit to the magnificent Forbidden City which served as residence for 24 Emperors over a period of 500 years.Since 1987 the Forbidden City stands on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
On an extended tour through this magnificent array of buildings you learn many interesting details about the last two Dynasties, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
Inside the Forbidden City there is also the clock museum. The clock Museum features an amazing selection of clocks and watches that have been presented to the Emperors during the Qing Dynasty by western diplomats. The Museum is quite unique and worth the visit.
Head back to the hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight accommodation in Beijing.
Day 3: BEIJIANG - GUBEIKOU - HIKE THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Drive north-east to the Great Wall of China near Gubeikou. This section of the Great Wall is still quite original and somewhat less touristy than elsewhere. The name "Beikou" is translated as "North-Gate". Later the "Gu" was added, which means "old”- hence the “Old Northern Gate”.
The construction of the 6'500km long Great Wall of China began about 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty, under the Emperor Qin Shi Huang(259-210 B.C.).
The Great Wall of China served as a protection from invading nomadic tribes from the north but also played an important role as a transportation route along the Silk Road.
Hike on and along the Great Wall of China:
Right at the beginning of your hike you will find a very original and not restored part of the Great Wall of China. Some of the wall sections are quite steep, average fitness and good, light hiking boots are essential. (Hike about 10km total / 4-5 hours).
Later in the afternoon you will climb up to Jinshanling. The effort is rewarded with a magnificent view of the Great Wall of China and the surroundings in the light of the late afternoon sun. After that you hike back down and continue by car to your guest house. Accommodation in a simple guest house near the Great Wall of China.
Day 4: TRAVEL FROM THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA BACK TO BEIJING
Today's part of the hike on and along the Great Wall of China leads up to the Wohu mountain, from where one can enjoy the most beautiful view of the big wall.
Some sections of the Great Wall of China have been renovated in recent years, while other sections are still in a very original condition. The hiking time is 2-3 hours.
Lunch near the Great Wall of China, then, in the afternoon travel by private car to Beijing, the capital of China.
Check-in at the hotel.
Overnight accommodation is at Beijing.
Day 5: TRAIN JOURNEY FROM BEIJING TO DATONG, CHINA
Visit to the Summer Palace. Built in 1750 the Summer Palace served as summer residence for the Emperors and their families during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and was also the refuge from the unbearable heat of the city. After that visit the Temple of Heaven which was constructed in 1421 together with the Forbidden City. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
In the afternoon transfer to the train station. You board the train to Datong.
The history of Datong dates back to 200 B.C. when Datong was founded under the Name of Pingcheng during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C – 220 A.D). Datong was a small border town located at a strategic important location at the edge of the Mongolian steppes.
The first fame for Datong came in the year 398, when the Tuoba, an amalgamation of various Turkish speaking tribes, pronounced Datong (Pingcheng) as capital of the “Northern Wei” Dynasty (398-404) during the period of the so called Northern & Southern Dynasties (420-581). In this time falls also the creation of the famous Yungang Grottoes.
Today the region around Datong is a major coal producer for China. Almost 1/3rd of Chinas Coal production is produced in the area.
Upon arrival at Datong train station pick up by your guide and transfer to hotel. Overnight accommodation is at Datong.
Day 6: DATONG – YUNGANG GROTTOES – HANGING MONASTERY
The massive Yungang Buddhist grottoes are located about 16km west of Datong city. They were cut from the mid-5th Century to early-6th Century AD. It took the workers over 60 years to finish. Comprising 252 caves and niches and 51,000 statues within a carved area of 18,000 square meters, the Yungang Grottoes represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China.
We take enough time to explore the various caves and grottoes extensively.
After that drive to the Heng Shan Mountains located about 70km south of Datong. You visit the “Hanging Monastery” which is precariously pinned on the side of a cliff face of the Heng Shan Mountains over a sheer precipice. The history of the Hanging Monastery dates back to 491 A.D., during the late Northern Wei Dynasty. It is commonly believed that the building of the monastery was initiated by a monk by the name of Liao Ran.
Apart from being an architectural marvel, the Hanging Monastery is also a unique structure from a religious point of view. The monastery is dedicated to three religious systems – Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, all of which co-exist harmoniously in the building.
Day 7: TRAVEL BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN FROM DATONG TO PINGYAO
Transfer to the train station. At 250 km/h the High-Speed Train will take you to Pingyao in less than 2 hours via Taiyuan. Transfer from Pingyao Train Station to the old town.
The picturesque old town of Pingyao was founded in the 14th century and today is arguably one of the most charming and best preserved ancient towns in China.
During the Ming Dynasty (1386-1644), Pingyao was a prosperous trading city and the center of a vast trading network that stretched from southern China to Mongolia and Russia.
Pingyao became so rich that eventually one of the city’s merchants thought up a virtual payment system using pieces of paper known as “drafts”. Thus was born in 1823 the Sunrise Prosperity draft bank (“Rishengchang”), which is nowadays considered as the first ever bank in China. One of the major attractions are the city walls, which are still largely intact and are considered among the best-preserved ancient city walls in China.
You take a stroll along the ancient cobble stoned streets past ancient government offices, palaces and temples which give a good impression about how live was back in imperial China.
Time at leisure to explore the old town on your own.
Overnight accommodation takes place at a small boutique Hotel in Pingyao.
Day 8: TRAIN JOURNEY FROM PINGYAO OLD TOWN TO XI'AN
Transfer to the Pingyao high speed railway station where you board the train which takes you to the city of Xi’an in about 3 hours. Transfer from the railway station to your hotel.
The city of Xi'An is the capital of Shaanxi Province and is regarded as the first capital of the empire of China under the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.
Called Chang’ An in ancient times, the imperial city of Xi’An was the gateway to the West and was considered as the start/end point of the ancient Silk Road, one of the oldest trade routes in the world. Already about 2000 years ago merchants and diplomats from all over the world flocked to the bustling city of Chang’An. In addition, Xi'An has one of the longest, still largely intact city walls dating back to the Ming dynasty.
If time permits you take a first stroll around the picturesque old town.
Overnight accommodation in Xi'An
Day 9: XI’AN – TERRACOTTA WARRIORS
In the morning you drive to the Mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor located about 30km outside of modern Xi'An. Qin Shi Huang was born in 259 B.C., first son to the king of Qin, one of six independent kingdoms inside modern China. These kingdoms had been warring for more than 200 years, but through a combination of military strength, strategy and natural disasters, Qin Shi Huang conquered them all, proclaiming himself not just a king, but also an emperor — the first of China.
Emperor Qin’s most memorable project was the massive mausoleum complex he had constructed for himself near the ancient city of Xi’An. Guarded by an army of more than 7,000 life-size terra cotta soldiers, the emperor’s tomb would remain hidden for more than 2,200 years after his death. In 1974 farmers stumbled upon Qin’s grave by chance while digging a well.
You take a tour around the various exhibition halls of this impressive mausoleum.
Drive back to Xi’An. Time at leisure to explore the old town of Xi’An on your own. Overnight accommodation in Xi’An.
Day 10: XI’AN FLIGHT TO LIJIANG OLD TOWN IN YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA
Transfer to Xi’An airport and flight to Lijiang in the Yunnan Province. Pick-up at the airport by your guide and transfer to your hotel in Shuhe near Lijiang.
The Old Town of Schuhe is located 9 km north of Lijiang, and as Shuhe sees less tourists it is somewhat more tranquil than the "big brother" Lijiang. Check-in at your hotel.
In the afternoon, you will ride the rented bicycles through the beautiful Lijiang Valley in the shadow of the Jade Dragon mountain to Baisha (5km). You will visit the Liuli Temple, where there are still well-preserved wall paintings from the late Ming Dynasty, which miraculously have survived the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.
Tour through the tranquil Baisha village, then cycle back to Shuhe.
Overnight stay is at Shuhe Village.
Day 11: CHINA TRAVEL: THE WELL PRESERVED OLD TOWN OF LIJIANG, YUNNAN
The lovely ancient town of Lijiang is in a fertile valley 2’400 meters above sea level at the foot of the 5’596 meters high Yulong Shan or Jade Dragon Mountain.
The area around Lijiang is home to the Naxi, one of the 26 ethnic minorities living within the Yunnan Province. The Naxi originally are descendants the Qiang Tibetans and have settled in this area an estimated 2,000 years ago. The city of Lijiang was destroyed by an earthquake in 1996. After the reconstruction, the old town of Lijiang was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Walking tour along the captivating confusion of alleyways and canals leading through the well-preserved Lijiang old town. You learn more about the mystic Dongba religion, an ancient cult still practiced today. You climb Lion Hill to catch a birds-eye view of the roofs of the Lijiang old town. Visit the local market of Lijiang and taste some of the local snacks.
Afterwards, a short walk brings you to the romantic park with the "Pond of the Black Dragon", from where you can, on clear days, enjoy a nice view of the snow-covered "Jade Dragon Mountain" (Yu Long Shan).
The rest of the day is at leisure. Head back to Shuhe.
Day 12: LIJIANG – TIGER LEAPING GORGE HIKE
You drive through ever changing landscape to Qiaotou, located at the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the starting point for your hike through the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Reputedly the deepest canyon in the world, the Tiger Leaping Gorge measures 16km in length. The difference in height from the Yangtze River to the highest peak of Jade Dragon Mountain is almost 4,000 meters. It got its name from a legend describing how a tiger escaped its hunters by leaping across the Yangtze River.
You hike uphill for about 1 hour. Along the way, you will enjoy spectacular views of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the “5 Fingers” of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
After lunch, you hike along a trail high above the Tiger Leaping Gorge for about 2.5 hours to Half Way House. The hike through this part of the Tiger Leaping Gorge offers spectacular views over the gorge and the Jade Dragon Mountain.
Overnight accommodation is at a simple guesthouse high above the gorge with breathtaking views of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Jade Dragon Mountain.
Day 13: HIKE TIGER LEAPING GORGE - TRAVEL FROM BAISHUITAI TO ZHONGDIAN / SHANGRI LA
From the Half Way House the trail is mostly flat or downhill for another 2 hrs to where your driver is waiting.
Your journey through the Yunnan Province continues in the shadow of the Haba Mountain Range from the Tiger Leaping Gorge through stunning scenery towards the beautiful Sinter-Terraces of Baishuitai where you arrive just in time for your lunch break.
The natural Limestone-stepped terraces Baishuitai where formed over a period of 250’000 years by the water that is constantly flowing over the terraces. You take a walk around the terraces.
In the afternoon the road winds its way up onto the Eastern Tibetan Plateau before continuing through magnificent landscape towards Zhongdian / Shangri La.
The city of Zhongdian is situated amongst a stunning landscape on the eastern Tibetan plateau at about 3200 meters above sea level. It recently changed its name and is now called "Shangri-La", after the Shangri-La that the British writer James Hilton described in his Novel "The Lost Horizon".
Check in at hotel. Overnight in Zhongdian / Shangri La.
Day 14: ZHONGDIAN / SHANGRI LA IN YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA TRAVEL
Today you visit the Tibetan Songtsam Monastery, a 300 years old Monastery located at the outskirts of Zhongdian (Shangri La).
Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, the Songtsam Monastery is now again one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the area.
Drive back to Zhongdian for a walking tour around the picturesque old town.
In the afternoon you make a beautiful cycling tour around the Napa Lake. Napa Lake is a natural lake located on the outskirts of Zhongdian / Shangri La. During the winter month many black-necked Cranes can be found around the lake. These rare birds come to Napa Lake in Yunnan Province in-order-to escape the cold winter months of the northern parts of China. You will come across several Tibetan villages with their traditional Tibetan houses build out of compressed earth and wood.
Head back to Zhongdian / Shangri La for your overnight accommodation.
Day 15: TRAVEL THE YUNNAN PROVINCE: FROM ZHONGDIAN TO OLD TOWN SHAXI
You leave Zhongdian and travel through beautiful landscape along the Yangtze River towards Shaxi. Along the way you make a stop at the famous "First Bend", where the Yangtze River is making an abrupt 180 degrees turn and flows for several kilometers, parallel to itself towards the north again.
Travel to Shaxi. Along the way visit the magnificent rock carvings of Shibao Mountain, which are over 1300 years old and are testimony of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in the region.
You can either walk to Shaxi (1.5 hrs.) or take the car back down into the valley.
Continue to Shaxi. Shaxi was formerly an important stop on the Tea and Horse trail from Yunnan to Tibet. The Tea and Horse Road was an extensive network of routes connecting the important tea-growing regions in Yunnan and Sichuan with the Tibetan highlands.
Shaxi village has been renovated and is preserved with the assistance of the Swiss government. Upon arrival in Shaxi check-in at the Hotel/Guesthouse and walking tour around the picturesque old town.
Overnight accommodation is at a traditional wooden Bai House in Shaxi old town.
Day 16: TRAVEL FROM SHAXI VILLAGE TO – LIJIANG AIRPORT
The morning is at your disposal to explore the picturesque Shaxi village by yourself. Later, drive to Lijiang airport for your departure flight or connecting program. End of your journey accross China.