Stride climate

Trip Type : Group Tour
China - Yunnan, Shangri-La & The Songtsam Trail tour

China - Yunnan, Shangri-La & The Songtsam Trail

Steppes Travel
5.0 . Excellent
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
12 days
From: $ 6,543 $ 545 / day
Checking price



  • Spend a day in Beijing exploring the hutongs or traditional courtyard residences
  • Explore Yunnan, a region of snow-capped peaks, glaciated gorges and terraced fields
  • See the endangered Yunnan golden monkey
  • Visit some of the region's most important Tibetan monasteries

Short Description


This trip has been discontinued. Instead see:

Classic China

Wild China

China Experience


Travelling with Nick Laing, Chairman & Co-founder of Steppes Travel this fascinating journey explores remote, untouched and wild regions of China. The trip begins in Beijing with a chance to see some of the lesser known and slightly more quirky sites.From Beijing fly to Lijiang and travel into Northwest Yunnan exploring this remote and stunningly beautiful region of China, whilst staying in some of the comfortable Songtsam Lodges, a small group of 5 traditional Tibetan style boutique lodges, run by indigenous Tibetans ensuring they remain part of the communities. From the villages of Shangri La to Tacheng, Benzilan and Meili this area of China, bordering Tibet is where many of the 25 ethnic minorities groups currently living in Yunnan can be found. During your time here you will have the chance to spend time with local families, learn about local handicrafts and join local Tibetans at worship at holy sites. Due to the sometimes dramatic changes in altitude you could experience four seasons in one day and within just a few hours experience snowcapped mountains and flower filled valleys.

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Lodging Level Luxury - 5 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Beijing
End City Chengdu

Travel Theme

Cultural Culinary & Wine



Cities & Attractions


See more

Trip Includes

  • All transportation by comfortable vehicle throughout
  • Tour Leader
  • Accompanied by a local guide throughout
  • Entrance to all sites mentioned
  • Hotel accommodation with meals as stated
  • Gratuities (gratuities for guide, driver and porterage only)

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Day 1: London – Beijing

Fly London to Beijing

Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.

Day 2: Beijing

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Raffles Beijing Hotel

Spend the remainder of the day at leisure

Day 3: Beijing

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Raffles Beijing Hotel

Today embark on an off the beaten Path Hutong Walking tour. The hutongs, or alleyways of Beijing have formed the foundation of Beijing's neighbourhoods for over 500 years. They reflect the dramatic changes in China, as formerly single-family courtyard compounds, called siheyuan, have been subdivided over the last 100 years. The hutongs are rapidly disappearing, along with their distinctive communal life. Visit a neighbourhood filled with former residences of famous and notable historical figures from the Imperial age where your guide will bring these areas to life. Visit the Ancestral Temple built in the early 15th century for the Emperor to worship their ancestors. It was then turned into the public park and is now a beautiful historical site where local people socialise from morning to dawn. Also visit the Temple of Land and Grain, a former Imperial Temple located next to the Forbidden City. Every Saturday afternoon the local "Meet Market" is held here, where eager parents try to match their sons and daughters up for marriage. This is a recent social phenomenon called "Shengnv" or "leftover girls" created by the Chinese government. This evening dine on Peking Duck.

Day 4: Beijing – Lijiang

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Lijiang

Fly Beijing to Lijiang

The town of Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled beneath the Jade Dragons Mountains with a wonderfully atmospheric old quarter. Lijiang is the cultural centre and capital of the Naxi people, a small matriarchal tribe with a rich culture. Lijiang has existed for at least 800 years and has its own Tibeto Burman language with a unique pictographic script and its own unique music. Women run the market and businesses and inherit property through the youngest daughter and men are gardeners, musicians and child rearers. Lijiang was at one end of Tibet's trading route and had trading ties with far flung cities of Burma, Tibet and India.

This afternoon visit Yu Hu Village the former home of renowned naturalist, Dr Joseph Rock and a village where the more traditional Naxi way of life continues. Explore Baisha Village and return to Lijiang to have time in its fascinating Old Town, Dayan, where the Guide will bring alive the area's history and its indigenous Dongba culture.

Day 5: Lijiang – Tacheng

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Songtsam Tacheng

Drive from Lijiang to Tacheng

Tacheng is located in one of the most fertile valleys in Yunnan with two crops of rice annually and many fruit trees. The semi-wild boars of the area, which feed on wild nuts before winter, make the best ham in the world. Tacheng is also famous for its rich Tibetan culture and Naxi and Lisu villages with charming distinctive black-roofed farmhouses. Tacheng is also home to the charming, endangered Yunnan Golden Monkeys who make their home at altitudes higher than any other primate except humans.

Day 6: Tacheng

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Songtsam Tacheng

Today spend a full day in Tacheng visiting the Dian Monkey Reserve where it is possible to see the Golden Snub Nosed Monkey. Also visit Lisu Village with the opportunity to try the local honey and make traditional buckwheat cake.

Day 7: Tacheng – Benzilan

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Songtsam Benzilan Lodge

Drive from Tacheng to Benzilan

Benzilan lies on the banks of the Jinsha River at a relatively low altitude resulting in a surprisingly warmer climate than many of the surrounding towns and villages in the area. Full of charming traditional houses and incredibly friendly locals, the area is also famous famous for its handcrafts.

For the balance of the day, explore the local farms and villages in the beautiful valley where the hotel is located. This evening visit once of the prayer centres when locals come to pray. Altitude: 1,900m

Day 8: Benzilan – Meili

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Songtsam Meili Hotel

Drive from Benzilan to Meili

Meili, is a peaceful village located within the majestic Meili mountain range and is inhabited by just five families who still practice polyandry, a form of polygamy. This is also one of the few places where traditional Tibetan herding and farming are still practiced.

Day 9: Meili

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Today explore the beautiful scenery, small temples and villages in the area. This morning transfer to Mingyong Glacier about an hour away visiting Mingyong Tibet village en route, Horses are offered (led by their owners) to the glacier and in total about 3 hours of riding can be expected. Whilst on the mountain visit Taizi monastery.

Day 10: Meili - Shangri-La

Meals: Lunch

Accommodation: Songtsam Lodge, Shangri-La

Drive from Meili to Shangri-La

Shangri La in Northwest Yunnan is often referred to as Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan and is the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the gateway to the ancient Tibetan kingdom. Here it is possible to get a real feel of Tibetan life at the 300 year old Tibetan Monastery of Ganden Sumtseling Gompa which is still home to around 600 monks.

Day 11: Shangri-La – Chengdu

Accommodation: Buddha Zen Hotel, Chengdu

This morning visit the fascinating Sumstenling Monastery.

Fly Shangri-La to Chengdu

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, an area reknowned for its spicy regional cuisine making dining out here a wonderful experience. This thriving yet laid back city is probably best known for one of the countries most iconic residents, the Giant Panda and a visit to one of the reserves is the easiest way to catch a glimpse or engage in a more hands on experience. Combine this with ancient temples and tombs and the giant Buddha in nearby Leshan.

Day 12: Chengdu - London

Fly Chengdu to London


Checking price
Price From $ 6,543
Price Per Day: $ 545 per day
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Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Trip ID#:


Trip Excludes

  • Insurance
  • Visas
  • Additional meals & any beverages during included meals
  • Early check in
  • Items of a personal nature

Meals Included:

8 Lunch and 7 Dinners

Steppes Travel
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