Yunnan active holidays: Cycling and Hiking - Explore and discover the Yunnan Province the active wayMap
BICYCLE TOUR KUNMING, THE CAPITAL OF YUNNAN PROVINCE
Bicycles are an excellent method of getting around Yunnan’s capital city Kunming. Due to its all year round pleasant, spring like climate Kunming was nicknamed “The Spring City”.
Together with your tour guide you get to know Kunming from an angle most other travelers don’t.
From the lovely Green Lake Park you cycle at a leisurely pace through the compound of the one of Chinas oldest Universities to the bustling Yuantong temple, the most important Buddhist temples of Kunming.
You take a break at a traditional Kunming tea house and explore what is left of the Kunming Bird and Flower market and make a tour of the former old town of Kunming.
TRAVEL BY NIGHT TRAIN FROM KUNMING TO LIJIANG / SHUHE
The so called “Stone Forest”, an 80ha area of limestone pillars, is one of the major tourist attractions of the Yunnan Province. You escape the crowds by taking a 2 hrs walk through the complex maze of narrow paths and stairways that lead through this natural wonderland.
From Kunming you travel to Lijiang by night train. The overnight train ride from Kunming to Lijiang is a good opportunity to get in touch with the real local life. There are several night train services from Kunming to Lijiang and it takes about 10 hours for the entire journey. Or, if you like, you can spend one additional night in Kunming and take the high-speed train from Kunming to Lijiang the next day. The high-speed train from Kunming to Lijiang takes a little over 3 hours.
The famous old town of Lijiang not only inspires by the confusing maze of alleys and canals, but also by the wonderful surroundings, which are dominated by the 5590m high Jade Dragon mountain.
CYCLING TOUR FROM SHUHE OLD TOWN TO YUHU VILLAGE OF JOSEPH ROCK
Located about 9km north of Lijiang, the laid back, sleepy Naxi village of Shuhe is a good place to use as a base for a couple of days in order to explore the cultural and natural treasures in the area around Lijiang.
There is plenty of accommodation In Shuhe ranging from the simple guesthouse to the luxurious 5 Star Resort.
The village of Shuhe was once an important trading post on the “Tea & Horse Road” for tea on the way from Southern Yunnan to Tibet.
With the impressive backdrop of the Jade Dragon Mountain you take a cycling tour to Yufeng Monastery, Yuhu (Joseph Rock) village and Baisha, the former capital of the Naxi Kingdom.
Of course you will also pay a visit to the UNESCO protected Lijiang old town.
TIGER LEAPING GORGE TREKKING (2 DAYS) AND JOURNEY TO ZHONGDIAN (SHANGRI LA)
The hike along a scenic trail high above the Tiger Leaping Gorge along the Eastern slope of the Haba Mountain offers some of the finest views in Yunnan and ranks amongst the most scenic trekking tours you can undertake in China.
Wedged between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the East and the Haba Mountain Range in the West, the impressive Tiger Leaping Gorge is reputedly the world’s deepest canyon.
(Note that the 2 day trekking through the Tiger Leaping Gorge requires a basic amount of fitness).
Continue your journey north onto the Tibetan Plateau to Zhongdian (Shangri La). Colorful prayer flags, grazing Yak herds and Buddhist monasteries are constant reminders that you are now travelling on Tibetan soil.
You visit the Shangri La Songtsam Buddhist Monastery and take a walking tour around the Pudacuo National Park, one of the oldest National Parks in China, located about 15km outside of Zhongdian.
LAOJUNSHAN: TRAVEL VIA NIXI TO LIMING TURTLE BACK MOUNTAIN
From Zhongdian (Shangri La) your travel via Nixi down into the Yangtze Valley. You follow the mighty Yangtze River all the way to Liming.
Located within the UNESCO protected Three Parallel Rivers National Park in the north-western Part of the Yunnan Province, Liming/Laojunshan offers some of the most spectacular red/purple sandstone formations in China.
Take the new cable car up Mt. Qiangui (Turtle Back Mountain), where millions of years of erosion left behind a magnificent landscape resembling a tortoise shell, hence the name Liming Turtle Back Mountain.
From the top of Mt. Qiangui in Liming it is a 1 hour walk back down to Liming village. There are several small hotel in Liming town.
FROM LIMING TRAVEL ALONG THE YANGTZE RIVER TO OLD TOWN SHAXI
From Liming you continue the journey past the Yangtze First Bend towards Shaxi.
Along the way you stop at Shigu, where the Yangtze River makes an abrupt 180 degree turn and flows for several kilometers, parallel to itself towards the north again.
The rustic village of Shaxi (Sideng) was formerly an important stop on the Tea and Horse trail from Yunnan to Tibet.
It lost its importance after the Ming Dynasty and for over 400 years Shaxi lead a secluded existence until 2001, when Shaxi was nominated as an endangered site by the World Monument Watch List and was renovated with the assistance of the Swiss Government.
The overnight stay at Shaxi in a traditional, rustic lodge near the former market place is definitely one of the highlight of this tour.
THE BAI PEOPLE OF DALI AND TRAVEL TO WEISHAN OLD TOWN, HIKING WEIBAOSHAN
Nestled beside the blue waters of Erhai Lake, along a green valley that shadows a range of marble mountains, Dali offers countless fascinating possibilities for exploring and getting to know the local Bai culture.
Dali is the homeland of the Bai people, one of the largest and most prosperous minority group in Yunnan. The Bai are well known for their handicrafts.
From the Bai ethnic nationality you continue the journey south to Weishan.
The beautiful and well preserved Weishan old town was once an important and wealthy trading town during the Nanzhao Kingdom throughout the 8th and 9th century.
The area around Weishan is also regarded as the birthplace of Xinulou, the first emperor and founder of the Nanzhao Kingdom.
You hike around Weibaoshan, located a few kilometers south of Weishan. Weibaoshan boast a number of interesting temples from different Dynasties. Hiking through the pine tree forests of Weibaoshan, away from the big crowds is a rewarding experience indeed.
The many hikes and the various bicycle tours enable you to get to know the Yunnan Province from a different angle. You deliberately do not simple rush from site to site but take your time cycling or hiking along hidden paths or walkways and, by doing that, get much more profound inside views of the Yunnan Province in South-West China.
Travel the Yunnan province with us the active way!
"...we are glad we choose this tour...the bicycle tour around Lijiang was over the top..."
Jenny from the United States
"...the accommodations you choose for us where all clean and local style....exactly what we where looking for..."
" thanks once again for arranging such a wonderful tour for us..."
Herbert from Austria
Day 1: THE SPRING CITY: KUNMING BY BICYCLE - NIGHT TRAIN TO LIJIANG
The best way to explore Yunnan's capital Kunming is definitely by bicycle.
This rather easy bicycle tour takes you first the Green Lake Park (Cui Hu), a popular gathering point for the local population, to see the locals engaged in their morning workouts, practice Tai Chi, show off their birds and enjoy social dancing.
You relax in a local tea house and observe the locals playing Ma Jiang, cards or practicing Tai Chi. You ride through the beautiful campus of the Yunnan University to the Tang Dynasty Buddhist Temple Yuan Tong Si, the biggest Buddhist temple in Kunming.
On your way back you stop at what is left of the bird and flower market, visit the former city gates “Jin Ma Bi Ji” and the East-West Pagodas from the 9th century.
In the evening you board the night train to Lijiang.
Day 2: LIJIANG/SHUHE
Pick up at the Lijiang train station and transfer to Lijiang.
You take a stroll through the apparently countless narrow lanes and canals crisscrossing the picturesque old town and learn more about the secrets of the mystic Naxi culture.
You climb Lion Hill and enjoy a panoramic look over the roof tops of the old town of Lijiang. Visit the wonderful "Black Dragon Pool" Park, from where, on clear days, one has a spectacular view of the "Jade Dragon Snow Mountain".
Drive to Shuhe. Shuhe was once an important trading post on the “Tea and Horse Road” for tea on the way from Southern Yunnan to Tibet. An idyllic river runs through the middle of the cobble stoned village, and many of the old buildings where carefully renovated and turned into tastefully decorated restaurants, bars or guesthouses. Overnight accommodation is at Shuhe, in a boutique Guesthouse.
Day 3: LIJIANG/SHUHE CYCLING TOUR
In the morning there is time to explore Shuhe on your own. By our rental bicycles you ride to Baisha (5km). The Baisha village used to be the capital of the former Naxi Kingdom.
You visit the Liuli temple with beautiful wall paintings from the late Ming Dynasty, which, miraculously, survived the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Continue riding to the Yufeng Monastery which is famous for its over 800 year old Camellia Tree.
You cycle through the magnificent countryside of the Lijiang valley past Jade Water village to Yuhu, a romantic village where the Austrian-American Botanist Joseph Rock used to live from 1922 to 1949. His house has been transformed to a small museum about the live and work of Joseph Rock. Head back to Shuhe.
Day 4: LIJIANG/SHUHE - QIAOTOU - HIKE THE TIGER LEAPING GORGE
Scenic drive by public bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou. Qiaotou is located at the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) and is the starting point for your hike through the Tiger Leaping Gorge as follows:
You walk from Qiaotou to Yacha village. The walking time is about 5 to 6 hours.
The path first climbs steadily while it follows the hillside in a north-eastern direction into the gorge. The further you walk into the gorge, the more impressive the landscape gets. After two hours you reach Nuoyu Village where we stop for lunch.
After that you face the “28 bends”, the steepest and toughest part of the trek. From the top one has spectacular view of the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the “5 Fingers” of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
From here the path is mostly downhill for another hour until you reach Yacha Village where you stay for the night at a simple guesthouse.
Day 5: HIKE: YACHA VILLAGE - BENDIWAN - WALNUT GROVE - DRIVE TO ZHONGDIAN
The Tiger Leaping Gorge got its name from a legend, where a tiger once escaped from his hunters here by leaping across the Yangtze River in one bound to the other side.
Todays walking time is about 4 hours and probably the most scenic part of the trek.
This second part of the Trail offers once again spectacular views of the Yangtze valley below and the surroundings. After about 2 hours you reach Bendiwan Village where you have your well earned lunch break.
After that, continue for another two hours downhill to Walnut Grove where our drive will be waiting for us.
From the Tiger Leaping Gorge it is a scenic drive up to the Tibetan Plateau Zhongdian to 3’300m above sea level.
Overnight accommodation takes place in Zhongdian, also known under the name of Shangri La.
Day 6: ZHONGDIAN (SHANGRI LA) - PUDACUO NATIONALPARK
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".
In the morning drive out to the Pudacuo National Park, which is located about 20km to the north-east of Zhongdian. This beautiful National Park covers an area of 300km2 and includes the two crystal clear lakes of Bita and Shudu. Located at 3’500 Metres above sea level, Pudacuo is regarded as the first region in China to actually achieve the status of “National Park of China”. Drive back to Zhongdian.
In the afternoon visit Songtsam Monastery. Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, the Ganden Sumtseling Gompa is now again one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the area.
Day 7: YUNNAN TRAVEL: JOURNEY FROM ZHONGDIAN TO LIMING IN THE THREE PARALLEL RIVERS NATIONAL PARK
Travel through the magnificent landscape of northern Yunnan first to Nixi before the road winds down a steep slope into the impressive Yangtze valley.
You follow the River in a southern direction towards Tacheng and on to Liming.
The village of Liming is the gateway for the magnificent Laojun Shan National Park. Located within the UNESCO protected Three Parallel Rivers National Park in the north-western Part of the Yunnan Province, Laojun Shan offers some of the most spectacular red/purple sandstone formations in China.
The cable car brings you to the top of Mount Qian Gui, where millions of years of erosion left behind a magnificent landscape resembling a tortoise shell. On a clear day, Mount Qiangui also offers spectacular views of the surrounding red cliffs and the Huang Mountains in the distance.
Overnight accommodation takes place in a simple but clean hotel in Liming.
Day 8: LIMING - SHAXI
Continue your journey along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Here the Yangtze River is still called the Jin Sha Jiang (Golden Sand River).
You follow the River towards the Yangtze’s famous "First Bend", where the Yangtze River makes an abrupt 180 degree turn and flows for several kilometers, parallel to itself towards the north again.
Continue to Shaxi. The traditional Bai village of Shaxi is located about 120 km southwest of Lijiang in the stunning surroundings of the Shaxi Valley.
Shaxi was formerly an important trading post on the Tea and Horse trail for goods that where transported with horse caravans from Yunnan to Tibet. The 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 small boutique hotel near the village square!
Day 9: YUNNAN: TRAVEL FROM SHAXI VIA SHIBAOSHAN TO DALI
In the morning you pay a visit to the Shibao Mountain. The impressive rock carvings of Shibao Mountain are over 1300 years old and are testimony of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in the region. You can either walk back to Shaxi or take the car back down into the valley.
Drive south towards Dali. Dali is situated on the western shores of the stunning Erhai Lake on the foot of the 4000m high Cang Shan mountain range.
During the 9th century Dali served as capital of the once powerful Nanzhao and later the Dali Kingdoms, before the historical town was overrun by the Mongols about 400 years later.
The rest of the afternoon is at your own disposal for the exploration of the picturesque old town of Dali.
Day 10: YUNNAN PROVINCE: DALI AND ENVIRONS
Choose your activity of the day:
Today you create your own itinerary
Option 1: Cycling tour to Xizhou
After renting our bicycles you first cycle along rice and vegetable plantations to the Erhai Lake.
You follow more or less the shore line of the lake in a northern direction to Xizhou. The Village of Xizhou is famous for its well preserved Bai-style architecture.
Xizhou's fortunes were originally made in the tea trade. Wealthy tea merchants built their residences here during the Ming period.
You can have lunch in Xizhou and cycle back to Dali in the afternoon.
(The entire cycling tour is around 50km. A certain fitness is required for this tour).
Option 2: The Three Pagoda Temple
Visit the 3 Pagodas of the San Ta Si Monastery (Chongsheng Temple) from the 9th century. The Chongsheng Temple with its characteristic three Pagodas (San Ta Si) is located about 3km north-east of Dali old town.
The Monastery was built in the 9th Century, when Dali was the capital of the once powerful and influential Nanzhao Kingdom.
During the Nanzhao Kingdom the Chongsheng Temple was a significant religious centre for the fast expanding Buddhism in the region.
(Price for entrance fee can be paid directly at entrance)
Option 3: Hike along Jade Belt Walk along the slopes of Cang Shan
Take the cable car to the Zhonghe Monastery, which is located half way up Cangshan Mountain.
From there a well maintained walkway called the "Jade-Belt-Path" follows along the Eastern slope of the mountain for 11km and offers spectacular views over the Dali valley and the Erhai Lake below.
The Jade-Belt-Path has a total length of 11km. You can walk the entire way and then take the cable car back down on the other end, or you can just walk as far as you like and then turn back.
On the other side you use another cable car to get back down to the valley.
Day 11: YUNNAN PROVINCE: TRAVEL FROM DALI VIA DONGLIANHUA TO WEISHAN
The charming town of Weishan was an important and wealthy trading town during the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom throughout the 8th and 9th century. With the downfall of the Nanzhao Kingdom, Weishan lost its importance. It came into the spotlight again when it became an important military outpost for the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Along the way you make a stop at the village of Donglianhua. The village Donglianhua was once an important trading base on the Tea and Horse Road and later the Burma Road for goods from Burma.
Excursion to Weibao Shan. The mountains of Weibao Shan are considered as one of the 14 sacred Taoist Mountains in China. It is said that it was here that Xinulou got the inspiration from the Gods for the foundation of the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom.
You take a 2 hours walk through beautiful Pine forests and explore some more temples along the way. Check-in at your hotel.
Day 12: WEISHAN - XIAGUAN/DALI AIRPORT
Drive north to Xiaguan (1hr). Transfer to the airport or the train station for the continuation of your trip. By high-speed train you can travel back to Kunming in about 2 hours.