10 Days Yunnan Classic Tour with the Upper Yangtze River Rafting Tour

This is a classic tour with rafting on the Great Bend of the Yangtze River. This tour is involved in Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La. The Great Bend of the Yangtze River makes a hairpin turn through a remarkable 10,000-foot-deep gorge before continuing its march to the sea. On this trip, we run some 120 miles of the Great Bend spectacular whitewater experience, with about a dozen Class IV rapids, including some fun Grand Canyon Cstyle wave trains! Fascinating cultural encounters with the Naxi people, Bai people and Tibetan people.


  • Start your rafting tour in upper Yangtze river, and challenge yourself.
  • Have a great stay in the “spring city” – Kunming and immerse yourselves in the stone wonderland.
  • Walk and explore in historical and cultural town between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake;
  • Step into the fantastic Lijiang old Town and feel the mysterious Dongba culture;
  • Immerse yourself in Shangri-la, the earthly paradise.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kunming Arrival
  • Day 2: Kunming
  • Day 3: Kunming-Dali
  • Day 4: Dali-Lijiang
  • Day 5: Lijiang
  • Day 6: Lijiang-Tacheng
  • Day 7: Tacheng-Judian
  • Day 8: Judian-Shangri-la
  • Day 9: Shangri-la
  • Day 10: Shangri-la Departure

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities: the Green Lake
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Lunch

The Green Lake Park(Cuihu Park) in Kunming

You’ll begin your journey to the diverse and captivating province from the capital city, Kunming. Upon arrival at the Kunming International Airport, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel.

You will take a leisurely stroll along the Green Lake, a charming area of tea houses and small boutiques selling handicrafts and beautiful local paintings. If time permits, you will have a Kunming city tour. 

Day 2 Kunming-Stone Forest-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities: the Stone Forest, Guandu Ancient Town
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Large Stone Forest in Shilin County, Kunming

You will drive 86 km to the Stone Forest. An old local saying says that ‘If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.’ Truly, the Stone Forest is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan. After lunch drive back Kunming to visit the Guandu Ancient Town, which is a famous historical & cultural town in Kunming, it keeps the main architectural style of Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

After dinner, you will have an option to enjoy the large-scale dance drama “Dynamic Yunnan” which has been an outstanding innovation on the Chinese stage in recent years directed by Yang Liping. Primitive, unsophisticated folk dances and a fresh artistic concept converge in the program, giving audiences a unique “Yunnan Impression.” Sixty-two drums and 120 masks of strong ethnic characteristics are incorporated in the performance.

Day 3 Kunming-Dali by air

Sightseeing and Activities: the Three pagodas in Chongshen Temple, Erhai Lake Cruise, Dali Ancient Town, City Wall, the Foreigner Street
Accommodation: Dali
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Reflection Park of Three Pagodas in Dali City

Take the morning flight to Dali, a historically and culturally famous city of China, which is renowned for her historical interest and Bai ethnic culture. After landing, you will visit the Three Pagodas in Chongshen Monastery , which has a history of over 1,800 years. It is located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain facing to the Erhai Lake. Three Pagodas are made of three ancient independent pagodas forming a symmetrical triangle.

After lunch, you’ll cruise in Erhai Lake by the small boat to the Jinsuo Islet in the east Erhai Lake. There are 200 Bai ethnic families around 1000 people in Jinsuo Island. In Erhai Lake cruise, you will enjoy the green Cangshan Mountain and the Three Pagodas from a far as well as lots of birds and seagulls flying over the lake.

At last, you will visit the Dali Old Town, walk around the Foreigner Street and enjoy the relax time with local people. After climbing up to the City Wall of Dali, you will have panoramic view of the Erhai Lake.

Day 4 Dali-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Xizhou Town, Zhoucheng Village, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Museum, Lijiang Ancient Town
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Black Dragon Pool in Kunming

You will head for Xizhou Town to fully appreciate Bai-style traditional architectural courtyards, taste their fragrant Three-Course Tea and explore their distinctive culture. Visit Zhoucheng Village and the Bai people’s Tie-dying cloth workshop where you can take some special souvenirs with the Bai ethnic style.

Drive about 180 km to Lijiang with the beautiful farmlands and ethnic villages on the way. Lunch at NO.8 Restaurant at the bank of Black Dragon Pool, after lunch you’ll head for the scenic Black Dragon Pool and the Dongba Museum to explore the rich Naxi minority culture.

In the late afternoon, explore Lijiang Old Town. Lijiang Old Town has a history more than 800 years, it was listed as the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997. Here you will see the wonderful wooden architecture of Naxi ethnic people.

Day 5 Lijiang-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Yulong Snow Mountain, Impression Lijang Ethnic Show, Baisha Old Town, Baisha Mural
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Enjoy the sunrise of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lijiang Ancient Town in the morning. Drive about 30 km to Ganhaizi Meadow(3100 meters), you will take the sightseeing bus for a short visit through the Baishuihe River, then take the chairlift up to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The cable way will be arranged according to the condition of the mountain. You will hike around 1 hour in the original forest in Spruce Meadow.
After lunch, you will enjoy the Impression Lijang Ethnic Show directed in Ganhaizi Meadow(3100 meters). A cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area. The show takes place in an outdoor theater of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at 3500 meters. The production itself was designed by Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang Chaoge, a cast of over 500 people, and a number of horses.

In the afternoon, you’ll stroll through Baisha Old Town, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan town.  Visit the Baisha Mural about 600 years old, which is a part of the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997.

Day 6 Lijiang-Shigu-Judian-Shangjiang-Tacheng

Sightseeing and Activities: Rafting
Accommodation: Camp
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

From Lijiang to Tacheng, it is 140 km, you will have 4 hours driving along the beautiful Jinsha (Gold Sand) River, which is the upper reach of Yangtze River in Lijiang. Drive through Shigu Town, Zhongxing Town, Judian Town, Shangjiang Town with some Naxi ethnic villages on the way. You will have lunch in Juxian Restaurant(a clean restaurant with best food) with local flavor in Judian Town; If you are lucky, you will find the local bazaar happened every 5th and 10th of the traditional Chinese calendar. After lunch, continue the driving to Tacheng Town. 

Unload the floating equipment including tent, sleeping bag, water-proof bag, fridge, paddles, LPG container, gas cooker, life jacket and so on. You will start the rafting after inflating the drifting boat. The most beautiful part of the rafting today is the Jigong(Rooster) Stone Islet located in the middle of Jinsha River in Shangjiang Town. From a far, you will find there is a sharp peak which looks like a flying rooster, hence the name of Rooster Stone Islet. The Jinsha River is divided two parts by the Rooster Stone Islet in the middle. Here is the most exciting rafting part of your trip because of the rapids, whirlpools and waves at the foot of the Rooster Stone Islet. After 4 hours rafting, you will build the camp for overnight in the beach island near the Judian Town.

Day 7 Tacheng-Zhongxing-Judian

Sightseeing and Activities: Rafting
Accommodation: Camp
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Jinsha River in Suijiang County, Zhaotong

Get up in the early morning, enjoy the sunrise of the Jinsha River with green mountain ranges. After breakfast, continue the rafting trip to Zhongxing Town. Today is a special rafting, you will raft through some islands in the middle of Jinsha River with some green willows and cows in the islands as well as you will find some farmers are fishing in the river with small canoes in the river. Especially, you will find some children swimming in the river without underwear. If they find you are coming from a far, they will be very shy and hide in the willows or they will swim very fast as a fish into the grass. This will be very special experience for your trip.

You will have a simple lunch when you land in Judian Town. Lunch includes some watermelon, chocolate, bread, some fruit, and local pancakes as well as some drink. Build the camp in the willows forest island in the late afternoon. Have a bonfire party in the evening.

Day 8 Judian-Shigu-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities: the First Bend of the Yangtze River, Shigu Town,Tiger Leaping Gorge
Accommodation: Shangri-la
Meals: Breakfast and lunch


Enjoy the sunrise of the Jinsha River in the morning. After breakfast with a nice coffee and milk, continue the rafting to Shigu Old Town. You will raft through a big “S” turn in Stone Gate Pass, an importance Breakfast and lunch historically. Raft to the First Bend of the Yangtze River and Shigu Town. You will witness the wonder of the First Bend of the Yangtze River with a big turn from the southward to the east. You will finish the rafting in Shigu Port. Have a nice lunch in Jiangnan Restaurant in Shigu Town. Lunch with the natural river fish, wild vegetables, and local flavor.

After the rafting, meet your driver and drive to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. With 34 rapids of the Yangtze River, it is called the Jinsha in this area because you can find gold in the river. Afternoon, you’ll head for Shangri-La, the former Zhongdian which is well-known as the paradise destination for every tourist. Upon arrival in Shangri-La, you will have entered the Tibetan cultural area and a landscape of barley fields and yaks scattered in the valleys. 

Day 9 Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities: Songzanlin Monastery, the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake, Dukezong Ancient Town, the largest Prayer Wheel
Accommodation: Shangri-la
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Songzanlin Monastery in Shangrila

In the morning, visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. Songzanlin Monastery has another alias – ‘the little Potala Palace ‘, because the whole monastery is in the traditional style with mysterious atmosphere. And afterwards you’ll visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake in Pudacuo National Park. Pudacuo National Park is located in one of the most biologically-diverse regions of the world. Even though the region comprises only 0.7 percent of China’s land area, it contains more than 20 percent of the country’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species.

Visit Dukezong Tibetan Ancient Town in the late afternoon, climb up to the top of Guishan Hill or tortoise Hill, you will see the largest Prayer Wheel of the world and have a panoramic view of Shangri-la and Dukezong Ancient Town. Finally, you will have an option to visit a Tibetan’s family to experience the local life in the bonfire party with Tibetan dance and music and you will try Tibetan home-made yak and cheese.

Day 10 Shangri-La-Kunming Departure

Sightseeing and Activities: Shangri-La-Kunming Departure
Accommodation: None
Meals: Breakfast

Take the flight to Kunming and change the flight for your next destination. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostels
Kunming Sofitel Hotel Jinjiang Hotel Longteng Hotel /
Lijiang InterContinental Hotel E-outfitting Hotel Liwang Hotel /
Shangri-la Shangri-La Resort E-outfitting Hotel Bodhi Boutique Inn /
Dali Hilton Hotel E-outfitting Hotel Taiheju hotel /

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Sharing English-speaking tour guide;
  • Sharing vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • Domestic air tickets.

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs.