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6 Days Dali Lijiang Tour with Shaxi Ancient Town

Ancient Tea Horse Road Visit & Ethnic Culture Experience


Dali and Lijiang about 200 kilometers away from each other in middle Yunnan are two popular destinations combined together for a “romantic”, “relaxing” and “traveling back in ancient time” for any visitors home and abroad. This 6-day trip is specially designed and takes you to soak in the best natural and cultural charm of the romantic, relaxing and ancient Dali and Lijiang with the historical exploration of the Shaxi Ancient Town that is a 2,400-year old trading town left from the Tea-Horse Trail period. Covering the Xizhou, Zhoucheng, Dali Old Town, Lijiang Ancient Town, Baisha, and more ancient cultural places to see, this tour will also let you have a nice bite of the wonderful ethnic custom and profound history of both appealing holiday destinations in China! Moreover, our itinerary also arranges the stunning and magnificent landscape for your visual taste of those both fabulous cities. Let’s go to explore!

Highlights of This Tour

  • Feel the different ancient and leisure atmosphere in Dali Old Town, Lijiang Ancient Town and Shuhe Ancient Town and roam leisurely to explore the real local life of ethnic Bai and Naxi people living there.
  • Appreciate the breathtaking sceneries with visits to the iconic Erhai Lake, Cangshan Mountain, Tiger Leaping Gorge, etc. to be awed by the amazing gifts from nature to Dali and Lijiang.
  • Have a clear knowledge of Ancient Tea Horse Road by walking amongst the crossing old paths and join in the local Friday Market.
  • Experience the interesting traditional handicrafts in person to get under the skin of the cultural essence and artistic charm of local ethnic people.

Basic Trip Information

from $936
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according to your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Dali / Shaxi Ancient Town / Lijiang
Travel Length:
6 Days & 5 Nights
Tour Code:
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Any day you want
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Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Dali Arrival

Welcome to Dali, the Kingdom of Bai ethnic group! Upon arrival, your private tour guide and driver will meet you at the airport / train station in Dali New City (Xiaguan in Chinese). Then, you will be escorted to your hotel around Dali Old Town, a stunning place sandwiched between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake! After check-in, you are free to explore this old city which is famous in Chinese literature.

Arrival Ideas: Dali Airport has flights from Kunming, Jinghong, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xian, Guilin, Guiyang, Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Zhengzhou, Lhasa, Nanning, Nanchang and more cities. Also, you can take a bullet train to Dali Railway Station from Kunming (2 hours), Guangzhou (10.5-11 hours), Guilin (10 hours), Nanning (6.5-7 hours), Puzhehei (3.5-4 hours), etc. 

Dali Old Town, Photographed by Our Guest Marcin
Day 2 Dali (B, L)

After breakfast, you’ll first take a visit to Cangshan Mountain, the national geological park in China with 48 km from north to south and 18 km from west to east, just like a painted screen hanging magnificently around the elegant Erhai Lake. You’ll explore the essence of Cangshan Mountain by taking Gantong Cableway up and enjoy a walk around Qingbi Stream, Jade Cloud Road and Gantong Temple. It is a very relaxing way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Cangshan Mountain at the halfway. The whole walking may need about 4 hours and you can choose to stroll for a while around Gantong Temple. (Note: 1. If you want to take the 4-hour hiking, you’d better bring some water and food with you. 2. When the azalea blossom in spring, it is recommended to take Ximatan Cableway up to the highest point of Cangshan Mountain to enjoy changeable and breathtaking scenery.)

Next, drive to 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…

Afterwards, 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. 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.

After the visiting, be escorted back to your hotel. Have a good sleep!

Optional activity: learning to make Flower Cake, the Dali's traditional pastry which is flat and round, with a pattern carved on the surface and a thin layer of puff pastry and filling of flower puree in the middle. You can bring home some flower cakes after the course.

Rosa's group from Spain visited Three Pagodas in January 2023 with China Discovery Cangshan Mountain with Clouds, Photographed by Our Guest Helen from UK The View Erhai Lake from Cangshan Mountain, Photographed by Our Guest Helen from UK in 2021 Cangshan Mountain Cable Car Wuhua Tower in Dali Old Town, Photographed by Our Guest Carrie in 2019
Day 3 Dali - Shaxi Ancient Town (B, L)

After breakfast, go to the famous Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), which is reputed as the "Immaculate Jade between Mountains". Normally, there are three ways to explore the lake. You can ride a sightseeing bus(default), enjoy a boat trip or try cycling. Please tell your best pick to your travel consultant before booking the tour, as the final prices will differ by activities you choose.

1) Erhai Lake Sightseeing Bus Tour (about 1 hour CNY 50/pp): There are sightseeing roads built around the lake. On the west bank of the lake, there is also a 27.5-kilometer-long Ecological Corridor with mini sightseeing buses offered. Hop on the mini bus, you will get the placid lake view while moving, with fresh air and gentle wind kissing your face.

2) Erhai Lake Boat Tour (about 2~3 hours from CNY 145/pp): 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.

3) Erhai Lake Cycling Tour (about 2 hours from CNY 50/pp): If your energy permits, you can choose a cycling tour along this picturesque Erhai Lake, which may give you a more exciting experience there than the cruise and bus.

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. (Optional experience: If you are interested, you can follow the local Bai people to learn some traditional skills of how to knot and view your works to be dyed into different colors with beautiful designs. This whole experience takes about 1.5 hours.)

After the tour, be driven about 130 kilometers (about 2.5 hours) to Shaxi Ancient Town, a famous trading town on the Tea-Horse Trail. With a history over 2,400 years, Shaxi is the most authentic old town which is different from Lijiang or Dali old towns. Upon arrival, take a visit to Yujin Bridge from late Ming Dynasty and Xingjiao Temple which is the largest and most typical Acarya temple of Esoteric Buddhism and preserves over 20 pieces of wealthy Buddhism themed frescos. Slower your pace and find more hidden gems!

Have a good stay at your hotel around Shaxi Ancient Town.

Shaxi Ancient Town Erhai Lake, Photo Shared by Our Guest Carrie in January 2019 Our customers David's group from British visited Erhai Lake in Dali, Yunnan, China in 2019. Zhoucheng Tie-dye
Day 4 Shaxi Ancient Town - Lijiang (B, L)

After breakfast, continue your discovery of Shaxi Ancient Town and enjoy a leisure walk along the old streets to the lively Sifang Square, the center of trading paved with red sand stone and surrounded by old locust trees for a seek of the traces of the Tea-Horse Trail and imagination of the past stories. The local market in Sideng Sifang Street is the only market well preserved till now along Tea-Horse Road. If you come on Fridays, you can attend the Friday Market running more than 1 kilometer, and local farmers sell daily goods ranging from dried goods, baskets, traditional Chinese medicine, shoes, and vegetables, etc. Looking around, you can see an ancient stage used to perform Dongjing ancient music and other traditional dance.

After that, be transferred to Lijiang by private car (about 107 kilometers, around 2 hours).

Welcome to Lijiang, a very impressive ancient city! After a short rest, you’ll start a memorable tour in Lijiang Ancient Town (Dayan Ancient Town). Established in the Ming dynasty as a commercial center, Lijiang Anicent 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.)

After the visiting, have a good rest at your hotel in Lijiang!

Rosa's Group from Spain visited Mufu Palace in 2023 Shaxi Ancient Town Friday Market Marcin from USA visited Lijiang Old Town in 2023
Day 5 Lijiang (B, L)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, you’ll be transferred out of Lijiang Old Town to Yuhu Village which is located at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Walking into this authentic Naxi Village, you’ll see unique stone houses, Naxi ladies dressing in traditional clothes, kids playing, a tranquil Yuhu Lake…explore leisurely around the village and then go to explore the Former Residence of Joseph Rock, who was an Austrian-American Botanist came to Lijiang and stayed in Yuhu Village for 27 years and made huge research work on Naxi minority.

Later, head 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.)

Then, it is followed by a relaxing trip to Shuhe Ancient Town - one of the earliest settlements of Naxi people as well as the well-preserved stop of the Ancient Tea Horse Route. This ancient town is less crowded than Lijiang Dayan Old Town. Take a nice stroll here to explore local cultures, folk customs and traditions over several centuries.

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.

After today’s visiting, be escorted back to your hotel. Have a good sleep!

Carrie from China visited Black Dragon Pool Park in 2021 Alexander from Britain visited Shuhe Old Town in 2023 Daisy from Thailand visited Baisha Village in 2018
Day 6 Lijiang & Lijiang Departure (B, L)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel. First, drive about 52 kilometers from Lijiang to view the First Bend of Yangtze River. The upper reach of the Yangtze River is Jinsha River coming down from Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and when it arrives at Shigu Town, it is obstructed by Hailuo Mountain and forms a V-shape turn. Then it changes the direction and goes to the northeast. You’ll reach the observation deck to catch a panoramic view of the bend, an extraordinary turn nearly about 180 degrees with beautiful and marvelous views like a wonderful landscape painting unfolding before your eyes. You’ll have a look at local market and Red Army’s Long March Memorial Monument in Shigu Town.

Later, 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.)

After the tour, drive back to Lijiang. Your guide and driver will escort you to the airport or railway station to catch your flight / train (after 17:00) to next destination. (Note: If the departure time will not match your trip schedule, our travel consultant will help you adjust the itinerary to well suit your time. Please feel free to contact us.)

Ana's Group from Belgium and Mexico visited Tiger Leaping Gorge in 2020 Ashley's Group from USA visited Tiger Leaping Gorge in July 2021.

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