11 Days Northwest Yunnnan Bird Watching Tour

For its biodiversity in Yunnan Province, Yunnan got a name “The Animal and Plant Kingdom”, so it is a paradise for bird watching tour. With terrain ranging from tropical rainforest to snow-capped peaks and peoples from Thai to Tibetan, Yunan boasts half of China’s plant and animal species. There are numerous excellent areas for bird watching in this Yunnan classic tour


  • Enjoy your bird watching tour in some famous bird watching sites of northwest of Yunnan. 
  • Visit the highlights of Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La. 
  • Discover the mysterious Muosuo minority and stunning scenery of Lugu Lake.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kunming Arrival
  • Day 2: Kunming-Dali
  • Day 3: Dali
  • Day 4: Dali – Eryuan
  • Day 5: Eryuan – Lijiang
  • Day 6: Lijiang
  • Day 7: Lijiang – Lugu Lake
  • Day 8: Lugu Lake – Lijiang
  • Day 9: Lijiang – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Shangri-La
  • Day 10: Shangri-La
  • Day 11: Shangri-La Departure

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:airport-hotel transfer
Accommodation: Kunming

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. You’ll begin your journey to the diverse and captivating province of Yunnan from the capital city, Kunming. 

Day 2 Kunming 

Sightseeing and Activities: Green Lake and Dianchi Lake Bird Watching
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The Green Lake Park(Cuihu Park) in Kunming

After breakfast, drive to the Green Lake for bird watching. The Green Lake is one of the famous parks which situated in the center of Kunming City. During the winter months, red-beaked gulls from Siberia migrate to Green Lake and entertain the crowds of visitors as they circle around and snap up bread, usefully provided by a herd of local vendors, thrown up into the air by tourists. 

After lunch, transfer to Dianchi Lake Dam for bird(seagull) watching. Dianchi Lake Dam, on the eastern shore of the Dianchi Lake, the dam is one of the popular sites in Kunming’s Dianchi Lake Holiday Resort 8 km from downtown. During the Chinese New Year Festival, herds of locals and tourists will gather here to feed seagulls and admire scenery of the West Hill. 

Day 3 Dali

Sightseeing and Activities:Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake Bird Watching
Accommodation: Dali
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Sea gulls are seen flying over Erhai Lake in Dali in Southwest China's Yunnan province

Take the morning high speed train to Dali, after arrive at Dali Train Station, meet your local tour guide and druiver. Then, drive to start your tour. You will take a boat ride across Erhai Lake to local Bai ethnic minority villages. If you are lucky, you will see some birds on the lake. Go on a cable car up Cangshan Mountain and enjoy bird watching at Cangshan Mountain. Cangshan Mountain is a high mountain rising above the city of Dali in the southern province of Yunnan. The local government has designated it as a scenic area. The mountain is a highlight of the Dali area, with numerous birds, springs, ponds and waterfalls, beautiful scenery, hiking trails, a range of ecological zones with thousands of plant species, and scenic views of lakes and the city of Dali.

Day 4 Dali-Eryuan

Sightseeing and Activities:Xizhou Old Town Bird Watching in West Lake of Eryuan County
Accommodation: Eryuan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning, 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. If you are lucky enough, you could see many birds on an old banyan in Xizhou Town. 

After lunch, drive about 40 minites to the West Lake in Eryuan County to enjoy your bird watching there. Eryuan West Lake is a plateau lake in western Yunnan province, China. It lies at the northern foot of the snow-covered Cang Mountain. It is a paradise for tens of thousands of birds. The West Lake is the only habitat of the rare Purple Swamp-hen, also China most important habitat of this bird with the largest number. Moreover, it is a major place for migrant birds to rest and foraging.

You will have overnight in Eryuan County.

Day 5 Eryuan – Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Zibi Lake and Heqing Caohai Marsh Bird Watching
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Caohai Wetland Park in Heqing County, Dali

This morning, drive to visit Zibi Lake and enjoy your bird watching.  Zibi Lake is 2 km to the east of Er’yuan county seat, covering 8 square km with the average depth of 11 meters. On the north shore of the lake is a pear orchard, and lying to its west is Bagushan Mountain, at the foot of which are Chengbi Pavilion and Longwang Temple (Dragon King Temple) where locals hold a grand temple fair on lunar 23 July each year. The lake abounds in Cibi flower (a plant of the Nymphaeaceae family, similar to water lily)-a miracle eulogised by Mr Yang Sheng’an (1488-1559)-a famous traveler and geologist in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). And the lake has been included into the Cangshan Mountain and Er’hai Lake Resort.

After lunch, drive to Heqing Caohai Marsh in Heqing County. Caohai Lake is a high-elevation freshwater lake and wetland area located in western Guizhou Province, China. The lake is a key regional wintering and stopover area for waterbirds, including the iconic, vulnerable black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis). Caohai Marsh is an excellent place for Bird-watching. Bring your binoculars here. 

In the late afternoon, drive to Lijiang. You will be relaxed around Lijiang Old Town, a well-preserved old city of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture, which is a central town of the Lijiang Autonomous County of the Naxi Ethnic Minority in Yunnan Province.

Day 6 Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Lashihai Lake, Lion Hill Bird Watching
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Lashihai Lake in Lijiang

In the early morning, you will start your bird watching from Lashihai Lake. Lashihai Lake was approved as a plateau wetland nature reserve in Yunnan Province in June, 1998. Since then, the nature reserve has been rehabilitated, protected and improved, which turns to be a paradise of thousands of birds including 57 species, a place where biodiversity has been effectively conserved. 

After lunch, you will head for Lion Hill for bird watching. As an integral part of Lijiang ancient town and the major nation-level scenic spot, the Lion Hill Park is located in the center of Lijiang city. The hill massif is like a lion, thus getting the name Lion Hill. With ancient buildings lying around at the foot of Lion Hill, it is the best place for you to enjoy the panoramic view of the Lijiang Ancient Town. The park covers a total area of about 15 hectare with green trees covered on the hill and birds singing in the wood. 

Day 7 Lijiang – Luguhu Lake

Sightseeing and Activities:Luguhu Lake Bird Watching, Mosuo Bonfire Party
Accommodation: Luguhu Lake
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Lige Island in Lugu Lake, Lijiang

This morning, drive about 5 hours from Lijiang to Luguhu Lake. Luguhu Lake is located between Yunnan’s Ninglang County and Sichuan’s Yanyuan County, with a total area of 77,700-odd mu, the space within the precincts of Yunnan being 41,400 mu. Most of the birds in Lugu Lake come from Siberia, such as red-beaked gulls, wild ducks, geese and aix galericulata. The birds’ coming bring much joy to people in cold season. You can see anywhere that the seagulls play with people who are seating on the boats. 

After lunch, enjoy your bird watching. You will take the canoes to visit Liwubi Island and She Island in Lugu Lake where there are  so many birds inhabiting. In the evening, take part in Mosuo Bonfire Party with ethnic dance and singing performance.You will dance and sing with Mosuo boys and girls around a big bonfire in the outdoors theatre.

Day 8 Luguhu Lake – Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Bird Watching in Luguhu Lake, Mosuo Culture Museum, Pumi and Yi Ethnic Villages
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This early morning, enjoy the sunrise of Luguhu Lake and walk around the Lake to go on your bird watching. After that, you will pay a visit to Mosuo Culture Museum and learn the Mosuo ethnic custom in the museum. Drive back to Lijiang. On the way to Ninglang Town, you will stop to visit a Pumi Ethnic Village and Pumi Family. The ancestors of Pumi were a nomadic tribe living in the southern part of Gansu Province and the eastern part of Qinghai Province. Later, their descendants moved south to warmer areas along the Hengduan Mountain Range. After the 13th century, the Pumi ethnic group gradually settled down in Ninglang, Lijiang, Weixi and Lanping counties.

In the late afternoon, you will arrive in Lijiang and be relaxed in Lijiang Ancient Town.

Day 9 Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:the First Bend of the Yangtze River, the Iron Chain Bridge, Stone Drum, Tiger Leaping Gorge
Accommodation: Shangri-La
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, we will go to the First Bend of the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, visit the Iron Chain Bridge, the Red Army’s Long March Memorial Monument in the Shigu Old Town. The town of Stone Drum got its name from a large, cylindrical, marble tablet shaped like a drum. The scenery is magnificent as the road running through the Lijiang valley which is filled with wheat fields and drying haystacks. 

Visit the 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. Walk around Dukezong Ancient Town, an important town of the Ancient Tea-horse Trade Caravan from Yunnan to Tibet and India. Walk 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 city and Dukezong Ancient Town. 

Day 10 Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:Napahai Lake Bird Watching, Visit Tibetan Family
Accommodation: Shangri-La
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This early morning, drive to Napahai Lake for bird watching. Lake Napa Wetlands, or Lake Napa Nature Reserve (aka Lake Napa), it is lying in the valley of a high mountain plateau situated about 3270 m above sea level and covering 660 sq km. Most of the area is marshy wetland that becomes dry from late fall through winter, but from spring through summer, the area again becomes an expansive wetland that attracts countless flocks of birds, such as the bar-headed goose – as well as a number of other species of geese – the common mallard, the Himalayan griffon, the egret and the white-tailed eagle, black necked crane (Grus nigricollis).

In the late afternoon, you will visit a Tibetan’s family to experience the local life. Then drive back to hotel. 

Day 11 Departure from Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:Departure from Shangri-La
Meals: Breakfast

Pick up from hotel and transfer to airport for departure. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostel
Kunming Softel Hotel Wenhui Hotel Jinhua Hotel T&T Story Hotel
Dali Hilton Dali Resort And Spa Landscape Hotel Fairyland Hotel Dali Fengxue Gucheng
Eryuan / Eryuan Hotel Eryuan Xinda Hot Spring Hotel Riyueju Guesthouse
Lijiang Pullman Hotel Wangfu Hotel Liwang Hotel Baisha Holiday Resort
Shangri-La Shangri-La Hotel Shangri-La Old Town Hotel Moon City Hotel Wu Fu South Yunnan Boutique Inn

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;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • High speed train tickets from Kunming to Dali.

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.