Yunnan is a legendary region of China that reveals the culture of the Bai and Naxi hill tribes as well as the village of Shaxi, a travelers’ oasis on the old Tea-Horse Road.


5 Days, 4 Nights     FROM US$ 1059 PER PERSON

Yunnan is a destination filled to the brim with history and unique culture. Often overlooked, the mountainous region of Yunnan in the Southwest of China is one of the most authentic and beautiful must-see places of this dynamic country.

This tailor-made tour into China’s past takes you deep into the countries backyard to sample a way of life that’s barely changed for centuries. On your five day / four night tour you will have the chance to learn about two distinct hill tribes of China; the Bai and Naxi people, both of whom have a fascinating way of life far removed from anything you may be familiar with.

You’ll also have the chance to visit some of the most scenic cultural areas in China on guided walking tours, including visits to the ’stone treasure mountain’ of Shibaoshan, Lion Hill and Black Dragon Pond from which you can view the majestic Jade Dragon Mountain.

When not out investigating the sublime nature and countryside, your stay will also allow you to experience the laid-back way of life in the towns of Shuanglang, Wase, Dali, Lijiang and Shaxi where one of the major past-times is relaxing with a spot people-watching.


Each of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and our destination based teams will start planning a unique and personalized trip.

The Backyard Travel Team,


Take a walking tour to enjoy the local markets of Lijiang, the labyrinth of alleyways on the way to Lion Hill, as well as the Black Dragon Pond which provides panoramic views of the Jade Dragon Mountain
Visit Erhai Lake away from the crowds in the village of Shuanglang
Discover how Bai fishermen spend their days in the village of Wase
See the Three Pagodas at the Chongsheng Temple in Dali

Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

  • Start
  • Day 1: Kunming - Shuanglang

    After departing from Kunming, to start the first morning of the five day / four night tour, you will be driven the 4-5 hour route to Dali, the home of the Bai hill tribes where the Kingdom of Nanzhao (738-902AD) had it’s stronghold, and which was also the epicentre of the Dali Kingdom from 937-1253AD.

    The region, and notably the shores of the Erhai Lake (literally translated as ‘the Ear-Shaped Lake’), played a strategic role in Yunnan’s history. The Bai (who now number less than two million) first settled in the region more than 3,000 years ago and their first dwellings surrounded the lake. Following their victory against the Tang Empire in the 8th century, they founded the Kingdom of Nanzhao, which flourished during the 8th and 9th centuries and was overthrown in 902AD.

    The Bai are most distinguishable by their clothing which is predominantly white from which the Bai take their name (bai means ‘white’) and by their style of home, very particular to this region, that you will be able to see examples of in Dali old town. While en route to Dali you will also have the chance to visit a marble factory. Marble is a well-known export from this region and is extracted from quarries in the nearby Mount Cangshan. Marble is so synonemous with Dali that the word for marble in China literally translates as ‘Dali stone’.

    For a number of years Dali has been an increasibly popular place to visit for travelers, and as such, the number of visitors is growing every year. In order to avoid these crowds and enjoy a more hassle-free experience, we will take you to stay in Shuanglang which lies on the western bank of Erhai Lake. People from Yunnan often say that their province has "everything you could wish for but the sea", yet with the 250-sq-kmErhai Lake you could say that Yunnan actually has its own private sea.

    From Dali, you will then travel by bike to the quaint village of Wase, which is approximately 13km from Shuanglang. Whilst in Wase, you will travel along the shores of the lake, discovering the fascinating day-to-day life of the Bai fishermen set against the background of the impressive Cangshan Mountains.

    The pace of life for most local people here hasn’t changed much in the last few decades and you will be able to get a real sense of the local culture that makes Wase unique. Traveling markets pass through Wase on a regular basis and if you are lucky you will be able to shop at the Shase market near Wase which takes place on every 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th of the month.

    Depending on the weather, for dinner you will be able to enjoy a delicious barbeque in the evening and enjoy some fish caught freshly from the lake.

    Optional accomodation: While in Shuanglang, you will have the option to stay in a famous local artist’s house in the village. A measure of how scenic the area is, a number of other artists, especially from Kunming, have relocated to the village to enjoy its pleasant atmosphere to inspire their talents, including the famous choreographer Yang Liping whose work includes the show "Dynamic Yunnan".

  • Day 2: Shuanglang - Dali - Shaxi

    After breakfast, you will depart for the old town of Dali, to pay an early morning visit to this picturesque town. A distinct charm appears to ooze from these white-walled homes, on which you can find paintings representing mountains, running water, birds and flowers. Their front porches, famous throughout the country, are distinguished by their beautifully carved arches and make for some fantastic photos.

    Once you’ve had the chance to see the best of Dali, you will then set off for the Three Pagodas at the Chongsheng temple. The temple is a mystical emblem of the town and stands proud at the foot of the Changshan Mountains.

    The ‘Pagoda of the Thousand Awakenings’ was built in the ninth century. Designed by an engineer from Xi’an, the pagoda is characterized by its square design, symbolizing the influence the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the region. The three pagodas were part of a vast monastic centerpiece which previously contained the Chongsheng Temple which unfortunately was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake. The remaining temple was restored and transformed into a museum which you have the opportunity to visit if you wish to do so. The site is particularly impressive when the sun sets behind the mountains and emphasizes the golden hue of the pagoda.

    You will be served lunch en route to Shaxi, which will take approximately five hours to reach, depending on the traffic.

    Shaxi is a traveler’s oasis that used to be a major stop on the Tea-Horse Road that ran through the region, forming a major part of its heritage and history. Less well known than the Silk Road, it still remains a key trade route between the most remote areas of Xishuangbanna (in the far south of Yunnan, known for its pu’er tea), Tibet and, by extension, Nepal, Laos, Burma and India where other goods are traded.

    It was during the Tang dynasty (618-907AD), when the Tibetan interest in tea grew rapidly, that the route become famous. Tibetans would trade their horses for this typical Chinese export on a complex, high-altitude trade route on which Shaxi became one of the major stops.

    Nowadays Shaxi is a subtle blend of a wild-west cowboy town, a travelers’ paradise and a typical Chinese village that is unlike anything else in China. Ancient stables have been perfectly renovated and transformed into charming hotels, whilst traditional wooden homes have been changed into restaurants and cafés, where travelers can enjoy the relaxing ambience of the village and recharge their batteries. It’s common in Shaxi to just simply park on a bench all day, appreciating the peace and quiet, as village life slowly drifts by.

  • Day 3: Shaxi

    The morning of your third day is free to spend at your own leisure, but we suggest taking the opportunity to explore the maze of paved avenues that make up the heart of the old town, or discover the surrounding picturesque countryside at your own pace.

    If you wish, you can cross the bridge to the south which will take you right into the heart of the local countryside, onto the ancient caravan route. Additionally, you could also choose to visit the dramatic Three Terraced Pavilion, an extremely rare building to find in such a remote area as Shaxi.

    If you are lucky, your time in Shaxi will fall on a market day. Every Friday the market attracts many people from the Bai and Yi hill tribes, the two major ethnic groups that populate the region. They often come down to the market from remote corners of neighboring mountains to exchange all types of food products and day-to-day necessities.

    Next you will be taken to Shibaoshan (which when literally translated means ‘stone treasure mountain’), which holds an impressive collection of temples, caves and stone sculptures, the most ancient of which date from the 9th century, and which detail the life of important figures from the Nanzhao Kingdom (8th-9th century).

    Here you will have the chance to inspect some religious effigies, such as the statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, or the renowned Stone Treasure. The Stone Treasure is a striking black rock that many believe will increase the chances of fertility, so women come from miles around to touch the rock to improve their odds of conceiving a child.

    The visit will also allow you to take a walk offering spectacular views of the surrounding valley and villages. But watch out...

    The area is home to gangs of monkeys who like to ‘liberate’ passers-by of their snacks!After the walk we will return to Shaxi, where you will have a free evening to spend at your leisure, perhaps by taking a delicious dinner at one of the wonderful local reastaurants - be sure to ask your guide for a local tip of where to go.

  • Day 4: Shaxi - Lijiang

    Today will be spent entirely on foot, therefore we recommend wearing a pair of sturdy shoes to help you navigate the cobbled streets.

    After breakfast, day four of your Yunnan discovery gets underway with a three-hour trip to Lijiang(taking approximately 3 hours). This magnificent labyrinth of traditional redwood and brick houses topped with grey slate roofs, as well as the quaint canals, stone bridges and cobbled streets were classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and are truly a sight worth seeing.

    All around Lijiang locals pay close attention to the upkeep of small interior courtyards which bloom with multicolored flowers that give this town its beautiful aroma. In China, Lijiang is known as a true paradise and exists as the beating heart of Naxi culture.

    Originally hailing from Tibet over 2,000 years ago, the Naxi first lived as nomads in Sichuan before settling in Yunnan. There are currently approximately 300,000 Naxi living in China, found most commonly in Yunnan and Sichuan. They are most notable for their expertise in canal building methods, which assure each home has running water.

    The Naxi’s social organization structure is a source of fascination to many as it is both ‘matrilocal’ (whereby couples move in with the wife’s family) and ‘matrilineal’ (where succession favors females over males). In Naxi culture, there is no marriage as sexual liberty takes precedence over formalized unions. Children, who do not know their fathers, are raised by their mothers, aunts and maternal uncles.

    Lijiang is also known as the ‘Big Inkpot’ due to the network of canals which flow through the village resembling an pot of ink that has been knocked over. Crossing over the labyrinth of alleyways you will arrive at the ‘Lion Hill’ which offers a fantastic view over the village below. At the top, there will be a chance for a quick break on the terrace so you can relax after your ascent to the top.

    Afterwards, you will visit the Mu Palace which is named after the Chinese Empire warlords who ruled from this magnificent residence in this region during the Mongol Dynasty (13th century). The palace is a vivid example of Ming and Qing architecture, based on the same style of architecture as the Forbidden City in Beijing.

    Following the visit to the palace we will take you to the edge of the old town where you can enjoy the local market and get a feel for the ‘real’ Lijiang. Here you can see locals selling teas, vegetables, fruits and even daily tools in a vibrant and animated atmosphere.

    From the market you will be guided back to the Black Dragon Pond Park in the north of the town which offers, on a clear day, a panoramic view of the famous Jade Dragon Mountain which you will visit tomorrow. We will then head back to the Old Market Place, the vibrant heart of the old town.

    Once back, you will be free to enjoy the evening at your leisure, wandering around the town as the night falls and red lanterns are placed outside people’s homes creating the true feel of China you may have envisioned.

    Please note: the order in which we visit the sites may be modified depending on the hotel you select.

  • Day 5: Lijiang - Jade Dragon Mountain - Kunming

    On your final day, we will take you to visit the famous Jade Dragon Mountain, which stands majestically to the north of Lijiang and is a fitting end to your unforgettable journey.

    The Jade Dragon Mountain, also called Mount Satseto in the Naxi language, takes its name from the God of War in the Dongba religion. As the number of visitors to the site is rather high, we will take you to visit an area lesser known area which is much quieter and more rural, called Yak Prairie.

    The view from Yak Prairie over the glacier is as equally as stunning as from the more popular destinations, and you will have more space to breathe and time to appreciate the vista in all it’s splendor away from the crush of the crowds.

    You will then be transferred to Lijiang Airport for your onwards flight. If you would like to extend this tour, or add this tour to another of Backyard Travel’s tours, please contact us.

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room in luxury accommodation. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

 Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

 Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)

Why Backyard Travel?

Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.
We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.
With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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