9 Days Best of Yunnan & Yangtze River Cruise Tour
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS TOUR
- Meet the friendly ethnic groups - Yi, Bai, Naxi in their hometowns in the three fascinating destinations and feel the brilliant ethnic culture in diverse way;
- Immerse yourselves in the stunning natural sceneries and be awed by the incredible nature when visiting the Stone Forest, mountains, lakes, gorges...
- Make a transfer to Chongqing with a simple exploration to feel the charm of the unique topography and dazzling night view of the Mountain City in China;
- Go aboard a 5 star luxury cruise ship for 4 days and 3 nights sailing leisurely along the Three Gorges and witness the world famous Three Gorges Dam;
Sampling Itinerary Day by Day
Day 1 Kunming ArrivalPick you up at the airport / railway station and escort you to the hotel
Welcome to Kunming, the Spring City of China! Upon arrival at the Kunming airport/train station, the local tour guide and driver will meet you in the arrival hall and escort you to your hotel and help you check in. If you want to explore nearly, feel free to get some practical suggestions from your tour guide.
Arrival Ideas: You can take a direct flight from more than 110 domestic cities and some international destinations including Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, San Francisco, Tokyo, London, and Los Angeles. Also, you can take a bullet train from Chengdu (5.5 hours), Chongqing (4 hours), Guilin (8 hours), Guiyang (2 hours), Guangzhou (7 hours), Beijing (11 hours), Shanghai (11 hours), Hong Kong (7.5 hours), etc. with convenience!
Free Time Ideas: If time permits, enjoy a cultural trip to Yunnan Nationalities Museum for a wonderful understanding of the 25 ethnic minority groups in vast Yunnan. This largest minority museum in whole Asia boasts a collection of over 20 thousand pieces (units) of precious cultural relics to show you the beautiful costumes, diverse ethnic festivals, daily life scenes, exquisite musical instruments, brilliant cultural texts, and so on to know the essence of Yunnan culture!
Yunnan Nationalities Museum
Day 2 Kunming (B, L)Stone Forest, Yuantong Temple, Green Lake
After breakfast, drive 85 km to the typical Karst landform - Stone Forest. As the “Essence of World Karst Landform”, Stone Forest has been listed as the UNESCO World Natural Heritage with the incomparable coverage of 12 square kilometers’ stone pinnacle groups. Take the sightseeing bus to visit the Greater Stone Forest Scenic Area to admire the typical concentrating cinerous stone pinnacles by walking through the maze of stone peaks and jumping high for the panorama of the forest of protruding stone peaks. Also, you will see the famous peak on many photos and even stones towering over 40 meters. Then, continue to ride the bus to explore the Lesser Stone Forest to closely look at the iconic stone “Ashima” like a young lady, listen to the touching love story of Ashima, and fill your eyes with the emerald garden-like park of wilder stone peaks surrounded by lush green plants and blossoms. Take the sightseeing bus to exit the scenic park.
After the discovery, drive back to Kunming downtown for a cultural visit to Yuantong Temple that is one of the top oldest Buddhist temples in Kunming with more than 1,200 years’ history. Take your stroll there to feel the rich Buddhist atmosphere of three Buddhist sects filling the antique halls and houses specially designed into a traditional Chinese garden layout for a quite different appreciation of temple in China.
Then, walk to Kunming Green Lake nearby. This pretty park with a lovely lake, old-styled pavilions, corridors, flowers, etc. is the most popular place for an authentic feeling of local Kunming people’s leisure life with citizens singing, dancing, talking, exercising, etc. During November to the next March, Black-headed Gulls from Siberian will never be late to fly there for their expecting comfortable warm winter holiday. Do not miss playing with those adorable and vigorous elfin during your relaxing roam!
Kunming Green Lake Park
Kunming Stone Forest
Day 3 High Speed Train to Dali from Kunming (B, L)Three Pagodas, Erhai Lake, Dali Old Town
In this morning, you’ll be escorted to Kunming Railway Station to take a high speed train from Kunming to Dali (about 2 hrs). After your arrival at Dali Railway Station, you will be welcomed by the local tour guide and transferred to begin today’s sightseeing.
First, pay a visit the symbol of Dali - Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple. Built in 10th century in Nanzhao Kingdom, Three Pagodas is made of one big pagoda and two small pagodas forming a symmetric triangle. If you look at it from a distance, the pagodas are like three giant ballpoint pens breaking up the landscape of the never-ending mountains. Here, you’ll get close to look at the pagodas to know more history and stories, visit the royal temple in Dali - Chongsheng Temple, take awesome photos of Three Pagodas and the reflections…
After that, go to have a relaxing boat trip on the vast Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea) with crystal clear water and charming landscape, which is reputed as the “Immaculate Jade between Mountains”. On Erhai Lake cruise, you’ll enjoy the green Cangshan Mountain and Three Pagodas from afar as well as lots of birds and seagulls flying over the lake. Enjoy an excursion to one of the famous islands for an in-depth look at the peaceful Bai fishing village and other sites on island.
Later, be followed a trip to explore Dali Old Town. Used to be the ancient capital of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, Dali Old Town is formed in the square-shaped structure, laid out on a typical north-south, east-west axis with five north-south and eight east-west streets. Wander leisurely through the historic streets with weeping willows dancing and colorful flowers blooming in the sunshine. You will visit the symbolic Wuhua Tower in a drum tower outlook. Get on the tower to have a bird’s eye view of the large old town with rows of black tiled houses. Continue to find Honglongjing (Red Dragon Well) with lovely view of clear water flow on layers of stone stages between the ancient dwelling houses and modern bars. Walk along Renmin Road to visit those bustling shops selling Yunnan specialties and some interesting items and then encounter the only Christianity church in this Chinese old town to feel the mixture culture there. As you feel the ancient flavor of the old site, stroll to the famous must-visit Foreigner Street to soak in the busy atmosphere along the old path and in those boutique shops and old coffee shops. Enjoy your time roam in this famous old town and feel like going back to the old times.
Three Pagodas of Dali
Erhai Lake in Dali
Day 4 Dali - Lijiang (B, L)Xizhou Ancient Town, Zhoucheng Tie-dye; Lijiang Old Town
After breakfast, you’ll start your exploration of Xizhou Ancient Town, an authentic old town where local Bai people really live and work. Set eyes on the local morning market - a place for local people in traditional costumes trading daily supplies, including fresh vegetable, fruits, meats, and many kinds of food and daily necessities. It is a great opportunity for getting close to local living conditions. Walk into the “the Museum of Bai Architecture” and appreciate the exquisite residential complexes decorated fabulous sculptures, paintings, pointed eaves and wall screens. Taste Bai’s Three-Course Tea in bitter, sweet and mixed flavors and experience the tea ceremony to enjoy deeper of the artistic culture of Bai ethnic people. Then, visit Yan Family Compound where to appreciate the delicate courtyard houses, screen walls, colorful paintings, and more decorations to learn more about the fine Bai ethnic architecture.
Then, transfer to “Hometown of Bai People’s Tie-dye Art” - Zhoucheng Old Town for an appreciation of Tie-dye. Tie-dye is a typical feature to present the Bai’s excellent handcraft with various colors and elegant designs. You’ll visit local indigo workshop in Zhoucheng and know the way of making.
Later, transfer to Lijiang with 2 hours’ driving. Upon arrival, enjoy a memorable tour to wander in Lijiang Ancient Town (Dayan Ancient Town). Established in the Ming dynasty as a commercial center, Lijiang Old Town is a well-preserved 800-year-old town for Naxi ethnic group, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Walk to the central area of the old town and visit Mufu Palace. A saying goes “there is Forbidden City in the North, Mu’s Residence in the South”. Mu’s Residence was called the miniature Forbidden City. Looked from a far distance, it likes a grand imperial palace and it is famous for the grandness and architectural buildings. Getting into the palace, you can know Tusi’s ruling history and appreciate Naxi people’s brilliant culture and fine arts. Then, wander through the old alleys, old bridges, featured shops and bars to Sifang Street Square, a mingling ground to enjoy lively atmosphere and unwind yourself. If time permits, join the Naxi people and tourists to dance happily in a round. (Optional Activity: Take a leisure walk up to the Lion Hill and climb up the 33-meter-tall Wanggu Tower - the landmark building of Lijiang to enjoy a panoramic view of the whole old town and overlook the magnificent Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance.)
Lijiang Old Town
Three-Course Tea Performance in Xizhou Ancient Town
Day 5 Lijiang (B, L)Tiger Leaping Gorge, Baisha Murals, Dongba Culture Museum, Black Dragon Pool Park
After breakfast, be transferred to visit the one of the deepest and most spectacular river canyon in the world - Tiger Leaping Gorge. It is also a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site called Three Parallel of Yunnan Protected Areas. This steep gorge is situated between the 5596 meters Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the south and 5396 meters Haba Snow Mountain to the north. Measuring 17 kilometers in length, the whole gorge is divided into three parts: upper, middle and lower gorge and you’ll pay a visit to the maturest section - Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge. Walk about 1,000 stairs along the plank road from the entrance to the Tiger Leaping Rock. Take a moment to enjoy the magnificent gorge view and rolling waves. (Travel tip: This gorge is suitable for most travelers with easy walk. Comfortable shoes are recommended.)
Later, head back to Lijiang for a visit to Baisha Village and appreciate the ancient Baisha Mural Paintings. Houses here are arranged on a north-south axis around a central, terraced square. Visit Dabaoji Palace and Liuli Temple to view murals painted over 1000 years ago which depict subjects relating to Buddhism, Taoism and the life of the Naxi people, incorporating cultural elements of the Bai people. (Optional experience: You can have in-depth cultural experience to learn how to make Baisha embroidery instructed by the local masters in Baisha Village.)
After that, transfer to Dongba Culture Museum where more than 10,000 Dongba cultural relics show mysterious Dongba culture of the Naxi people. Take a gentle walk to Black Dragon Pool Park to enjoy gorgeous view and peaceful surroundings. If weather permits, get to the best spot to overlook the snow-capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and shoot some amazing pictures.
Tiger Leaping Gorge of Yunnan
Black Dragon Pool Park
Day 6 Flight to Chongqing & Board your Ship (B, L)Three Gorges Museum, Hongya Cave
After breakfast, you'll be escorted to the airport for your flight to Chongqing. Upon arrival, be picked up at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport and be escorted to Three Gorges Museum at the city downtown. The vast collection of more than 280 thousand pieces of precious historical relics will let you have an amazing understanding of the great Yangtze River and formation of the magnificent Three Gorges, and also tell you the gradual thriving of Chongqing from 3,000 years ago, to its war defense in 20s century, and developmental path to be one of the 4 prosperous municipalities in China. Stepping out from the museum, have a nice look at the People’s Assembly Hall that is popular with fancy classical exterior design and was listed into the History of Architecture compiled in London in 1987.
After lunch, be transferred to take Chonqing Rail Transit Line 2 from Huanghuayuan Metro Station to Liziba Metro Station to look at the city’s prototype from a different angle. Then, get off to have the never-seen magic of the train going through a 11-storey block of flats, existing only in the fantastically structured Chongqing built against mountains.
After that, travel up to E’ling Park and embrace the impressive panorama of Chongqing City which has been highly praised as “Little Hong Kong” with its well-arranged row upon row of modern skyscrapers and two winding rivers surrounding. Then, go down to visit Hongya Cave, the must-see highlight to appreciate the layers of featured Ba and Shu regional wooden tilted houses overlapped leaning the mountain up to 11 storeys, which looks quite glittery lit by the orange lights from nightfall. And continue to get up to the 11 level with vehicles and roads alongside to catch the sparkling nightscape of Jialing River and the nearby buildings with beautiful neon.
In the late afternoon, you’ll be transferred to Chongqing Chaotianmen Port to board your ship during 18:00~21:00. Your 4-day relaxing downstream Yangtze River cruise will sail at 21:00!
Tips for boarding: 1) Please call the ship one day ahead or at least in the morning on the boarding day to have clear idea about which pier you are going to use; 2) There are 13 sub-pier of Chongqing Chaotianmen Port that tell the exact pier to your driver to avoid too much walking; 3) The boarding time and departure piers may change based on the ship line, water level, season, weather and other factors. Please pay attention to the important info your travel consultants sent to you before your boarding.
Beautiful Night View of Hongya Cave
Three Gorges Museum
Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock
Day 7 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)Shibaozhai Pagoda, Captain’s Welcome Party
In this morning, wake up leisurely and enjoy the gentle sunshine shining over the tranquil Yangtze River. You can either follow the Taichi master to play Taichi on the sundeck or enjoy a cup of coffee to stretch your mood to start your beautiful day. It will be colorful and interesting no matter you stay onboard or go shore excursions at river stops.
Onboard you will enjoy different kinds of cultural activities and entertainment, like attending a Yangtze River History and Culture Lecture to know deeply about the third longest river in the world, taking part in the Captain’s Welcome Party to make new friends, or having great fun at the wonderful evening shows with sing, dance and music.
Also, you will follow a local English-speaking tour guide and make a shore excursion to Shibaozhai Pagoda, a pearl of Yangtze River in Zhongxian County. Reputed as one of the eight extraordinary architectures in the world, this 12-story, 16th century red wooden pagoda leans against the side of the rocky and craggy hill about 200 meters tall. Climbing up to the top of Shibaozhai, you can not only visit the Buddhist temples and halls but also have panoramic view of Yangtze River. (Please note: Comfortable shoes are highly recommended since there will be many stairs to climb up the pagoda.)
Optional excursion: Have a shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City today with an extra fee. Called “the Homeland of Divine Comedy in China”, it consists of buildings, structures, dioramas and statues related to the afterlife in hell. Entering this “City of Ghosts”, you will know many mysterious stories about underworld and cruel tortures and different kinds of devils and Chinese demons. (Please note: the visit to Fengdu Ghost City requires much walking and comfortable shoes highly recommended!)
Breathtaking Autumn Scenery of Yangtze Gorge
Shibaozhai Pagoda, a Pearl of Yangtze River
Fengdu Ghost City
Day 8 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)Three Gorges, Shennv Stream, Captain’s Farewell Party
Today you will sail through the spectacular Three Gorges! Follow the guide’s live interpretation and soak up the breathtaking gorge scenery passing by as you drift through Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge respectively.
On this day, take an enjoyable shore excursion to Shennv Stream (Goddess Stream), a tributary of the Yangtze River in Wushan County. You will be switched to a smaller boat to sail down this primitive stream running in a narrow side gorge where you will have close-up views of steep mountains and hanging coffins high on the cliffs as well as hear some of the local history. Besides, you will be entertained with local music and dance offered by the Tujia ethnic group.
In this evening, enjoy the well-prepared Captain’s Farewell Party with all your mates onboard and have a pleasant dinner together.
Optional excursion: Enjoy a shore excursion to White Emperor City today with an extra fee. Located at the entrance of Qutang Gorge, this excursions gives you the chance to know Romance of the Three Kingdoms and offers the best pot to appreciate the magnificent “Kui Gate”.
Shennv Stream with Primitive Gorge Scenery
Breathtaking Wu Gorge Scenery
Day 9 Yangtze River Cruise to Yichang & Yichang Departure (B)Three Gorges Dam
After breakfast, you’ll go through a check-out procedure and disembark at Maoping Port. Then, take a morning shore excursion to visit the world-famous project - Three Gorges Dam. The dam is the largest hydropower station in the world with an annual energy output of 84.7 billion kilowatt-hours. The Three Gorges Dam includes three areas: the dam itself, a hydroelectric, and a system of locks. The height of the Three Gorges Dam is 185 meters (607 ft) above the sea level. The dam is about 2,300 meters (7,546 ft) long and about 115 meters (377 ft) wide. With a water capacity of 39.3 billion cubic meters, the dam will hold a huge reservoir which will efficiently prevent flooding in the middle and lower portions of the Yangtze River. (Optional experience: you can choose to sail through the world’s largest ship lift - Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift to very closely marvel at the huge dam which is a totally fresh and exciting experience for travelers.)
After the dam visiting, you’ll take the tourist bus arranged by the cruise company transferring you to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal around 12:30~13:30. Here you’ll be picked up and escorted to Yichang Airport / train station for your flight or train to next destination.
Tips & Note: No matter you take Ship Lift or not, you’ll do check out procedure in this early morning. (1) Only dam visiting: you’ll take bus from Maoping Port to Three Gorges Dam for sightseeing. You’ll arrive at Yichang downtown around 12:30. (2) Dam & Ship Lift Experience: travelers who are interested in Ship Lift will first switch to a sightseeing boat to sail through the Ship Lift and then visit Three Gorges Dam Site. You’ll arrive at Yichang downtown area around 13:30.
Departure Ideas: You can take flights from Yichang Sanxia Airport to Shanghai, Xian, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, etc. Or you can take high speed trains from Yichang East Railway Station to Wuhan (about 2hrs), Shanghai (about 8hrs), Beijing (about 7.5hrs), Hangzhou (about 7.5hrs), Chengdu (about 7hrs), Guangzhou (about 7hrs) and more cities.
Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift, the Largest Ship Lift in the World
World-famous Three Gorges Dam
Recommended Add-on Options
+ 3 more days to explore the capital city of China - Beijing
Get into the imperial capital city whose story goes back at least 3000 years.
Beijing’s opulent royal palaces, temples and magnificent walls and gates make it the first tourist destination in China. A wealth of history, both ancient (Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace) and more recent (Tiananmen Square, Bird’s Nest & Water Cube) will inspire your imagination. A visit to the Great Wall, the longest manmade structure in the world, is absolutely essential.
+ 2 more days to explore the Ancient of Heart - Xian
Explore the glorious past in the ancient capital of China for 13 dynasties!
With a history of over 3000 years, Xian is the birthplace of Chinese civilization and capital of most important dynasties in early Chinese history. It is known as the eastern terminus of the famed Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army along with many other historical sites, like Ancient City Wall, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and so on.
+ 2 more days to visit the largest metropolis in China - Shanghai
Experience the past, present and future of China all at once!
The Huangpu River splits Shanghai into two districts: Pudong and Puxi. The Pudong skyline with stunning tall buildings like Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and Oriental Pearl TV Tower gives you a flourishing scene of modern Shanghai. On the Puxi side, walk along the Bund to get a taste of old Shanghai. What a huge contrast!
+ 2 more days to visit the city with best scenery under heaven - Guilin
Surrounded by karst peaks, Yangshuo is situated on the bank of Li River in Guilin. Yangshuo has long been renowned as a popular place for foreign tourists. It is said “guilin landscape tops those elsewhere, and yangshuo landscape tops that of Guilin”. Outdoor options are plenty here and West Street is a good place to explore.
- Entrance fees of the scenic spots as listed in the itinerary.
- Meals as specified in the itinerary.(Exceptions: If the western breakfast is not available in some of the hotels, breakfast would be either Chinese breakfast or Chinese and western breakfast.)
Hotels: Hotel Based on two persons sharing one room with
or a king size
bed; All hotels as listed in the above itinerary serve daily western or
Please note double bed room is on request basis which is subject to Hotel's
and re-confirmation upon check-in.
Service, room facilities and breakfast might be not up to standard in some remote areas.
- Transportation: Flights or train as listed in the itinerary.
- Sightseeing As listed in the Itinerary will be escorted with English-speaking guide;
Service of local guide and van is for a maximum of 8 hours
the full day individual
* Please note that our English-speaking guide and driver provided for you in each city or area will not fly with you from one city to another.
- Private Transfers between airports, hotels and scenic spots while sightseeing in each city or area by private air-conditioned vehicle with driver and English-speaking guide as listed in the itinerary.
- Service Charge (the planning, handling, operational and communication charges) & Government Taxes.
- Luggage Transfers between airports, trains and hotels.
- Flights (Economy class) not as listed in the itinerary.
- Accommodation not as listed in the itinerary.
- Visa Fees: Please make sure that you have got your valid passport and visa before your entry to China. We can send you a free official invitation letter to assist you in obtaining your visa after the reservation deposit is received.
- Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary.
- Meals not listed in the itinerary.
- Personal expenses such as room service, internet charge, laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional activities, etc.
- Gratuities, tips to guides, drivers, bellboys, etc.
- Excess Baggage Charges.
- Life Tourist insurance. Please kindly note that the full coverage travel insurance from your country of origin should be purchased in advance on your own.
- Optional activities.
Read what other travelers think about this China trip / Yangtze cruise trip. We only accept reviews from actual, confirmed travelers who purchased the tour / activity from us, so you can be sure the reviews are unbiased and authentic.
Dear Jack, good morning!
Glad to see you! Thank you for your mail!
The trip was great! Really well organised!
Additional THANK YOU to the manager of the boat called Alina who took the special care about us.
- Svetlana - August 14, 2023‚ ,
The cruise was great... Flight is delayed though (5:45pm now delayed until midnight), but the cruise was good. Great weather and wonderful staff
- Hannah - August 5, 2023‚ ,
Here are recent candid photos of this China trip / Yangtze cruise trip. If you want to share your own tour photos, simply email your photos to email@example.com with your Booking ID Number. Thanks in advance for sharing!
Essential China Travel Information & Service
To help you have a further understanding of your tour, we provide some essential travel information like your tour guides, drivers, private cars/vans, accommodations and meals that you could know more about how is your China Yangtze cruise tour going. All the experience will be vivid and memorable in any time in any destination.
Your Private Tour Guide
The tour guides in all destinations are qualified, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and responsible!
All of our guides in every destination are locals. They will be greeted you punctually upon arrival at airport, train stations or cruise ports. And escort you to your hotel and tourist attractions and make you have full understanding about the local life, scenic spots as well as show you the fun places for more featured activities and things to do according to your time and interests.
“All our guides, especially those who we had a chance to spend more time with (Guilin, Chengdu, Lijiang, Zhangjiajie) were great. Always very accommodating, punctual and attentive.” - Review from Zane, Canada
Your Private Driver & Car
Taking our private transportation will make you comfortable, relaxed and worry free!
All our drivers are licensed with many years’ driving experience. They are always polite, friendly and helpful, glad to offer more service you may need during the transfer. Our vehicles are air-conditioned, non-smoking, clean and expertly maintained. We use different types of cars/vans to guarantee your comfort. Besides, there is need to worry about your luggage for we use vehicles with extra space for your luggage.
"With respect to the drivers, we can state that they are excellent drivers and very friendly. They are pleasant with smiling face and helpful too." - Review from Pedro Corro‚ USA
Comfortable & Homelike Hotel
In each destination, we guarantee you a comfortable stay!
The hotels we choose are based with star rating, great location, well-pointed facilities and high quality service and guests’ feedbacks. Choices are a lot and you could decide where to stay on your own. When taking a Yangtze River cruise, you are guaranteed a comfortable cabin or suite with private balconies to enjoy breathtaking scenery.
“All the hotels were comfortable and in good locations. The food was generally good with a wide choice of both western and Chinese choices for breakfast. The room sizes even with the extra bed for Jessica were also fine.” - Review from McHale, USA
Dining, Meal & Local Food
On Yangtze River cruise, you are offered three meals (usually buffet with western and Chinese dishes) each day. In other cities of China, breakfast and lunch usually are included in your tour packages. You’ll dine in local restaurants, follow local customs and enjoy local dishes. The food quality and dining environment will suit for your taste. If you have any suggestions or special requirements (vegetarian or food allergies), just let your travel consultants and guides know. They will arrange the suitable food and restaurants for you. Recommended evening dining options are: Peking Roast Duck in Beijing, Dumpling Dinner in Xian, and Hot Pot in Chengdu etc.
“We had very good breakfasts in all the hotels and were given a substantial lunch every day.” - Review from John, United Kingdom
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