17 Days Grand Shangrila Overland Tour from Chengdu (Sichuan) to Kunming (Yunnan)

The overland drive tour from Chengdu to Shangri-La via Yading Nature Reserve and Yunnan Deqin Meili Mountain is a really adventure trip with stunning scenery! High Plateau mountain ranges, grasslands, nomad herders, snow-capped holy mountains, virgin forests, holy lakes, local Tibetan villages,ect will give you a memorable trip!


  • Explore the panda base and leisure life of Chengdu locals.
  • Enjoy the beautiful scenery of western Sichuan including Daocheng Yading.
  • Visit the highlights of Shangrila, Lijiang, Dali and Kunming.
  • Have a spectacular view of Meili Snow Mountain, Tiger Leaping Gorge, First Bend of the Yangtze River, etc.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Chengdu Arrival
  • Day 2: Chengdu
  • Day 3: Chengdu – Kangding
  • Day 4: Kangding – Litang
  • Day 5: Litang – Daocheng Yading
  • Day 6: Yading
  • Day 7: Yading – Daocheng
  • Day 8: Daocheng – Benzilan
  • Day 9: Benzilan – Deqin
  • Day 10: Deqin – Shangrila
  • Day 11: Shangrila
  • Day 12: Shangrila – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Lijiang
  • Day 13: Lijiang
  • Day 14: Lijiang – Dali
  • Day 15: Dali – Kunming
  • Day 16: Kunming 
  • Day 17: Kunming Departure

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Chengdu Arrival

Sightseeing and Activities:Airport-hotel transfer
Accommodation: Chengdu
Meals: None

Upon your arrival at the airport, meet your local tour guide and driver and then transfer to the hotel for rest. If time permits, you can explore the city on your own.

Day 2 Chengdu – Panda Research Base – Chengdu

Sightseeing and Activities:the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Wangjiang Tower, Wuhou Temple, Dufu Thatched Cottage
Accommodation: Chengdu
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, you will be picked up by your tour guide and start the tour. First visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in the morning, which is the best time to see the pandas. Move on to Wangjiang Tower, the memorial to a female poet of the Tang Dynasty, Xue Tao. This tower is a symbol of Chengdu city.
Continue the tour to Wuhou Temple, which was built in the sixth century to honor Zhuge Liang. The last stop is Dufu Thatched Cottage, the home of one of the greatest poets of the Tang Dynasty.

Day 3 Chengdu-Kangding

Sightseeing and Activities: Kangding, the hot spring at Erdaoqiao
Accommodation: Kangding
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, drive to Kangding, 376 km from Chengdu. It takes about 6 hrs on the expressway. Kangding, the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where you can appreciate the idyllic scenery and visit the local people. After dinner, enjoy the hot spring at Erdaoqiao.

Day 4 Kangding-Litang

Sightseeing and Activities:Anjue monastery, Litang, Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke’er-Si monastery
Accommodation: Litang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the early morning, visit the very first Tibetan monastery on this trip – Anjue monastery,  and see their morning ceremony!

Then drive about 5 hours to Litang (306km). At an altitude of just over 4000m, Litang is one of the highest towns in the world (Lhasa is 3700m). Situated high on a grassy plateau, Litang has the feel of a rough and tumble ‘Wild West’ town.

You will also visit the famous Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke’er-Si monastery and pay homage to the living Buddha with a personal interview. The monastery here is now home to 1400 Yellow Hat sect monks.

Day 5 Litang-Daocheng-Yading

Sightseeing and Activities:Yading nature reserve
Accommodation: Yading
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve

Today drive about 4 hours from Litang to Daocheng, and then another 3 hours from Daocheng to Yading as much of the road to the reserve is dirt track. Then reach the highlights of this journey – Yading nature reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains – Chenresig (Avalokitesvara, 6032m), Jambeyang (Manjusri, 5958m), and Chanadorje (Vajrapani, 5958m).  The scenery here easily rivals that of national parks of the west such as Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of spectacular, pristine mountain scenery.

Spend the night in tent hotel.

Day 6 Yading

Sightseeing and Activities:Mt. Chanadorje, Tshonggo Gonpa Monastery, Mt Chenresig
Accommodation: Yading
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today visit the beautiful Yading by horseback riding or hiking. From the reserve entrance you will traverse a beautiful wooded pathway leading to a valley set at the foot of the spectacular Mt. Chanadorje
You’ll pass piles of Mani stones by the side of the pathway and at the base of the Reserve’s most stunning vistas. Visit Tshonggo Gonpa Monastery (Chonggu Si in Chinese) – a small Tibetan temple, which Joseph Rock nicknamed ‘Bandit Monastery.’ Continue the tour to the foot of Mt. Chenresig, where you’ll ascend a small but steep hill to view a beautiful mountaintop emerald green lake. Return to the meadow at the foot of Mt. Chanadorje and spend the night in a tent hotel.

Day 7 Yading-Daocheng

Sightseeing and Activities:Yading Nature Reserve
Accommodation: Daocheng
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Spend the morning doing a short hiking or horse ride around the reserve. In the afternoon drive back to Daocheng where you’ll spend the night.

Day 8 Daocheng-Benzilan

Sightseeing and Activities:
Accommodation: Benzilan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Take a long (5 hours, 290km) but scenic drive to Shangri La, the former Zhongdian (3,300m, 10,000 ft), a small city on the Tibetan Plateau. It still preserves an unique and remote atmosphere, also due to the Tibetan minority that keep the place different from the rest of Yunnan. Shangri La is in the center of a famous scenic area where three mighty rivers converge: the Nu River, the Yangtze River and the Mekong River.

Day 9 Benzilan – Deqin

Sightseeing and Activities: Jinsha River bend
Accommodation: Deqin
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Kawa Karpo Kora Meili Snow Mountain in Diqing

Walk to see the famous Jinsha River bend, then start driving to Deqin by pass White Horse Mountains. Feilaisi is several km away from Deqin, which is the best place to see holy Meili Snow Mountain. Mt. Meili is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. ‘Kang Karpo Peak’ means the God of Snow Mountain in Tibetan, and is a holy land for worshiping. Pilgrims from Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan,and Gansu travel to the mountain at the beginning of each winter to worship. Thousands of devout pilgrims worship together and encircle the holy mountain, adding even more mystery and loftiness to the mountain. Overnight at Feilaisi or Deqin.

Day 10 Deqin – Shangrila(184 km, 6hours)

Sightseeing and Activities:the sunrise of Mt. Meili
Accommodation: Deqin
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Get up to see the sunrise of Mt. Meili, then start driving to Shangrila by passing White horse mountains and Benzilan again. 

Day 11 Shangri La

Sightseeing and Activities:Songzanlin Monastery, Potatso National Park, Tibetan family visit
Accommodation: Shangri La
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Songzanlin Monastery in Shangrila

After breakfast, visit Songzanlin Monastery (Ganden Sumtseling Monastery), reputed as the “Little Potala Palace”. Established by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1679, the monastery belongs to Gelug sect of Buddhism, and it is also the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province with around 600 monks.

Then, drive to the first national park in China – Pudacuo National Park which is mainly comprised of Shudu Lake, Militang Grassland, Bita Lake. Shudu Lake is a famous pasture, herds of yak and goat grazing beside the lake. Militang Grassland is located between Shudu Lake and Bita Lake with lush grass in meadow. Bitahai Lake, regarded as a pearl of the Plateau, is an intact natural attraction with outstanding landscapes.

After the merry time in the park, pay a visit to a local Tibetan family to experience the highly-praised hospitality of Tibetan people and taste some special Tibetan snacks and butter tea.

Day 12 Shangri La-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Tiger Leaping Gorge, the First Bend of the Yangtze River, Shigu Town
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

From Shangri-La, drive about 100 km to 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.

After lunch continue driving 50 km more to visit the First Bend on the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, and the Iron Chain Bridge in the Stone Drum 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. 

Move forward 60KM more to Lijiang. Explore Lijiang Old Town at night.

Day 13 Lijiang-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Yulong Snow Mountain, Baisha Old Town, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Museum, Naxi Orchestral and Show
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The Glacier Park of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang

In the morning, head to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain including Ganhaizi Meadow, Baishui River, Yak Meadow by chairlift. Access to the top of the mountain is provided by a cableway from the foot of the mountain to the Yak Meadow.
In the afternoon, stroll around Baisha Old Town, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan town. Then head for the scenic Black Dragon Pool and the Dongba Museum to explore the rich Naxi minority culture. After dinner, attend the Naxi Orchestral and Show in Dongba Palace.

Day 14 Lijiang-Dali

Sightseeing and Activities:Three-pagoda in Chongshen Temple, ancient city of Dali
Accommodation: Dali
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Reflection Park of Three Pagodas in Dali City

After breakfast, travel (200 km – 4 hrs) south to the ancient city of Dali. Dali, a historically and culturally famous city of China, is renowned for her historical interest. If this day happens to fall on a Monday you will call in at Shaping for a visit to the colorful Bai market.

In Dali, visit the Three-pagoda in Chongshen Temple, which is a typical historical symbol of Yunnan. It is also one of the oldest sublime architecture in South China. At last, walk around the Old Dali Town, which is located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain.

Day 15 Dali-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Erhai Lake cruise, Jinsuo Island, Xizhou Town, Zhoucheng Town, Bai people’s Tie-Dyed Cloth Work Shop
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Erhai Lake in Dali

In the morning, take the Erhai Lake cruise by boat and visit Jinsuo Island. After landing, you will head for Xizhou Town to fully appreciate Bai-style architecture, taste their fragrant three-course tea and explore their distinctive culture.

At last, visit Zhoucheng Village, and Bai people’s Tie-Dyed Cloth Work Shop. At night take the high speed train to Kunming.

Day 16 Kunming-Stone Forest-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Stone Forest, Green Lake, Flower and Bird Market
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Large Stone Forest in Shilin County, Kunming

Drive 86 km to the Stone Forest. There is a local saying: ‘It is a waste of time not to visit the Stone Forest while visiting Kunming’, which vividly expresses the deep love of the local people toward this world wonder. The quintessential karst landscape makes every tourist lost in wonder.
After lunch drive back Kunming, take a leisurely stroll along the Green Lake, a charming area of teahouses and small boutiques selling handicrafts and beautiful local paintings. Visit the Flower and Bird Market in the late afternoon.

Day 17 Kunming Departure

Sightseeing and Activities:
Meals: Breakfast

Transfer to Kunming International Airport for returning. 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 & Spa Shouyi Boutique Hotel Dali Taihe Boutique Inn Dali Fengxue Gucheng
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
Benzilan Songtsam Hotel     Local Guesthouse
Deqin Guanjing Tiantang Hotel Feilaisi Pearl Hotel Feilaisi Pearl Hotel Yunling Guesthouse

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 Dali to Kunming.

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.