Finding Fabled Yunnan: Journey along the Tea Horse Road

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8 Days
Spring, Summer, Autumn

Journey above the clouds to discover the history, culture, and traditions that converged along China’s ancient trade route. 

About this Journey

We’re thrilled to announce a new journey we’ve designed and developed together to provide a deeper immersion into the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road that stretched from Southern Yunnan to Tibet.

What we love
  • Joining monks over butter tea at Songzanlin Monastery
  • Visiting Tibetan and minority villages and old trading posts along the Tea Horse Road
  • Taking a Naxi embroidery class in Lijiang
  • Dining in the shadow of the Meili Mountains
Where you're going

Day 1 - 2Lijiang

Enjoy VIP airport service upon your arrival at Lijiang Sanyi Airport • After breakfast, set off to visit your first stop along the Tea Horse Road – Lijiang’s three old districts, home to the Naxi people and other ethnic minority groups • Learn how to make traditional Naxi embroidery with local artisans • Explore the village’s well-preserved stone structures, with a view of the majestic snowcapped Jade Dragon Mountain in the horizon.

Day 3 - 4Benzilan

In the early morning, take a relaxing stroll under swaying willow trees along the Longdong River • Drive to Benzilan, with breathtaking views of the Yangtze River and Tiger Leaping Gorge • Enjoy lunch at a scenic spot next to the Tiger Leaping Gorge • Get lost in a rainbow sea of flowers, unique to the region, at the Xiaozhongdian Meadow • Choose between a visit to Niding Forest Hike or to Balagezong Gorge.

Day 5 - 6Meili Snow Mountains

Set off in the morning for a drive through Moon Bay, where you can get a view of the U-shaped bend of the Jinsha River and Baima Mountain • Spend some time wandering through Tibetan Dongzhulin and Caishen Temples and observing the monks in prayer • Join monks in making a holy butter lamp – a traditional altar offering • Make your way to Feilai Temple for an unobstructed view of sacred Mt. Kawegebo – the highest peak of the Meili Snow Mountains and enjoy with its view.

Day 7 - 8 Shangri-La

Rise early for a golden sunrise over Mt. Kawegebo (if weather permits) • Spend time at Nixi Village on your drive to Shangri-La, once a key stop on the Tea Horse Road • Watch local craftsmen knead, fashion, and fire their famous black clay products • Stroll through the Dukezong Old Town, once an old trading post • Wander through the largest Tibetan lamasery in Yunnan, Songzanlin Monastery • Exchange stories over butter tea with the temple’s lamas • Enjoy a picnic lunch at Napa Wetland Park and explore its ephemeral lake on horseback • Spend an afternoon at the Shangri-La Craft Brewery.

Recommended Hotels

The Bivou, Lijiang

The Bivou, which derives its name from the old Swiss word for ‘temporary encampment’, offers itself up as both an ideal resting spot, as well as a convenient launching point into the vast wilderness of Southern China. This charming establishment is located at the foot of the Yulong Mountain and everything from the interior bamboo floors to the solar-powered heating system is a testament to the establishment’s sustainability pledge. Wake up every morning to an array of fresh fruit and homemade granola, complimented nicely with seasonal jams and local honey. Then, once you feel energized from the healthy offerings and crisp mountain air, set out to slake your wanderlust.

Songtsam Benzilan Lodge

Tucked away in a lush, green valley along the Yangtze River, the Songtsam Benzilan Lodge is an isolated, spiritual retreat. Let relaxation find you on a long stroll through fields of barley and orchards dotted with white-washed Tibetan homes. Then, immerse yourself in the culture of your surroundings, with visits to mural-clad stupas, monasteries, and ancient pottery studios.

Songtsam Meili Lodge

From its place overlooking the Meili Snow Mountain Range, the Songtsam Meili sets a new bar for escapism. The hotel blends discreetly into the village that surrounds it, elegantly bridging the gap between comfort and adventure, traveler and community. Whether you choose to stroll the streets, hike into the snows, or just watch the skies turn a vibrant pink as the sun rises, the rooms at the Songtsam Meili will be a welcome retreat.

Songtsam Linka Shangri-La

With 75 rooms in 24 buildings, the Songtsam Linka Shangri-La is sprawling accommodation nestled in the mountains of Shangri-La. The retreat houses vast collections of Tibetan-style wooden furniture, traditional carpets, wooden paintings, and copper artifacts. With gorgeous surrounding scenery and incredible traditional interior design, the Songtsam Linka Shangri-La is a haven for those interested in art or Tibetan culture and provides a truly authentic experience for all guests.


What’s Included

  • All overland transfers with private chauffeur and in-transport refreshments
  • All admission fees and activity expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • All meals as noted in the itinerary with complimentary drinking water
  • Ground transportation, including airport transfers
  • Services of an English-speaking WildChina guide
  • Private chauffeur service to and from airport at start and end of your trip

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, domestic trains, plus relevant taxes
  • Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
Why WildChina

We’re on the ground with you

Our team of advisors will design every detail of the trip with you through close consultation, then orchestrate your entire journey while on the ground. We’re in the same time zone as you, so we can fulfill requests and handle issues without a hitch. With over 40 staff in Beijing and an expansive network of operational partners across the country, we have the manpower to ensure your journey is safe, reliable and comfortable from beginning to end.

Your trip, your way

Flexibility is our highest-ranking compliment. We pull off journeys for pioneers with a 6-hour layover to Hollywood’s elite, and everywhere in between. Our team regularly pulls off unprecedented logistical feats; nearly any time frame or budget is within our realm. No matter how you wish to experience China, we are here to bring that dream to life.

We embody passion

WildChina guides are carefully handpicked for their knowledge and charisma, then meticulously trained to maintain our exceptional service standards. They are expert storytellers and passionate natives of the regions where they guide, having the perfect combination of local insights and service know-how to bring you seamless once-in-a- lifetime moments all across China.

The little things, the big picture

Supporting inspired local economies allows you to experience the soul of the destination, while also protecting and cultivating China’s artisanal culture. From watching artisans hand make shoes in Yunnan, to picking organic vegetables for dinner on a local farm in Fujian, our tours are designed to showcase and protect China’s heritage, both natural and human.