China: Southwest Minority Tribal Groups

Yunnan province and neighbouring areas are home to a culturally rich and vibrant collection of ethnic groups.

The province of Yunnan is home to a culturally rich and vibrant collection of ethnic groups. Not only do their languages change as you move from one tribal area to another, but there is a distinct change in cuisine as well.

The physical scenery is stunning and because Yunnan does not have the same level of pollution as other regions of China, a unique feature is that you can see the horizon and the sky.

Woven into this diversity of cultures you also explore the ancient tea routes that moved tea to the tables of the Middle East and Europe. You can see some of the earliest forms of writing in China, pictographs and for those who like music there is Naxi music, again an early form of Chinese music.

From the borders of Thailand and Myanmar to the Tibetan plateau, tropical to cool climate, a region that, once visited,  has you yearing to return.

Departure Dates: This tour can operate daily from April to November. The minimum booking required is 2 persons to operate. If you are a single person wishing to book (just you) then ask us and we will see if there is another date where there are more than 2 already booked.

The season for travel is limited by Shangri-la as this is at high altitude and becomes VERY cold during the main winter period. Most hotels and sights close for this period.

Avoid travel during Chinese National Day holidays between 1 – 7 October. Be warned!!!

Arrive Dali where you are met by your local guide and transferred to your accommodation. The balance of the day is free. Dali can now be reached by good connections from your inbound international flight, negating the need for an overnight in Kunming. Arriving in Dali saves time and means you get more out of you total time in Yunnan. If you have difficulties with your particular flight routing we can arrange for you to overnight in Kunming, catching the first flight the next morning.

In the morning you will be taken on a cruise on Lake Erhai, the largest highland lake and seventh largest in China. In the afternoon visit the Three Pagodas, known as the Chongsheng Santa and situated on top of the ruins of Chongsheng Monastery. The Three Pagodas are beautifully located between the slopes of Mount Cangshan and Erhai Lake. The Bai people are the inheritors of the famed Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms and are justly famous for their wood and stone carvings. The remaining time allows an opportunity to take a pleasant stroll in Dali Old Town which was the capital city of Nanzhao Kingdom 1000 years ago. Overnight in Dali.

In the morning visit the morning market of Xizhou (the largest Bai village) and Zhoucheng village which is famous for tie-dye craftsmanship. You can observe how Bai people make tie-dye products at home. Then drive from Dali to Lijiang. Visit Lijiang Old Town, a lovely traditional town with beautiful wooden houses and criss-crossed with streams of mountain water. Lijiang is one of the best preserved ancient towns in China and is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A traditional dinner will be served, followed by a presentation of Naxi music performed by very old musicians. Overnight in Lijiang

Today’s journey takes you to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains (Yulong Mountain) which is the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Shanzidou is the highest of 13 peaks with an altitude of 5,600m. Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15km away, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence the name Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Take the cable car up to Yak Meadow. In the afternoon visit Baisha Naxi Village and Baisha Ancient Mural. All of the 55 murals were masterpieces in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The biggest one is stored in Dabaoji Palace. We walk to the picture postcard Black Dragon Pool Park in the north of Lijiang. It derives its name from the waters which sparkle like jade and are as clear as spring water. Free time to explore the Old Town. Overnight in Lijiang.

Drive to Shangri-la (Tibetan minority area), and visit Tiger Leaping Gorge one of the deepest gorges in the world. In the afternoon visit Songzanlin Tibetan Buddhism Monastery, designed as a smaller version of Lhasa’s Potala Palace and home to 780 monks of the Yellow Hat Tibetan sect. In the evening visit Zhongdian Old Town with Tibetan old streets and houses. Enjoy the local Tibetan people dancing in the middle square of old town. Overnight in Shangri-la.

See note on details and price page about upgrading the Shangri-la overnight stay to a very special boutique resort hotel.

Free in Shangri-la.

In the evening, take the flight back to Kunming. Overnight in Kunming

In the morning drive to the famed Stone Forest. this is an 80 hectare nature landscape of limestone formations created during the Permian Era when the sea covered this part of the world. Shilin (local name) is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is manged by the local Yi people. Planned time within the stone forest is 2.5 hours. Lunch is at a famous local eatery known for the Yunnan favourite of Yilang Roast Duck. Overnight in Kunming

Fly to Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province. Arrive Guiyang before lunch. Drive to Kaili to visit QingMan Miao village and Shiqiao Village for traditional paper making. Overnight in Kaili.

Visit Matang Ge village, a branch of ethnic Miao. Drive to Lei Shan to visit Lang De, ‘long skirt’ Miao village on the way, followed by Pai Ka village to see instrument making. Continue on our journey to visit Da tang ‘mini skirt’ Miao village. Overnight in Leishan.

Drive to visit Xijiang ‘the thousand families village’, which is the biggest Miao village in China. Drive back to Guiyang to take flight to Guilin. Overnight in Guilin.

Day tour to the Elephant Trunk Hill, Fubo Hill and Reed Flute Cave. Elephant Trunk Hill, which is located at the conjunction of the Li River & the Peach Blossom River. The whole hill looks very much like a giant elephant with a long trunk – it is the symbol of Guilin city. At Fubo Hill, there are lots of rock stone carvings & Buddha statues dating from the Tang Dynasty. See a wonderful bird’s-eye view of Guilin city if you climb to the top of the hill. Reed Flute Cave is known as “the Palace of Natural Arts” where you can see beautiful stalactites & stalagmites, and learn how they are formed. Overnight in Guilin

Drive to Longji area. Longsheng is located in the mountainous region on the northeastern part of Guilin. The natural beauty and the colorful ethnic Chinese cultures and customs attract people from all over the world. After a 2.5hour scenic mountain drive, we arrive at the Heping Township of Longsheng County. Visit Zhuang and Yao Minority tribe villages and some families. Drive back to Guilin in the afternoon.

Overnight in Guilin.

Li River Cruise:

From the hotel, transfer to the Zhujiang Pier (about 1 hour drive) for a 4.5 hour wonderful cruise. You will enjoy the picturesque mountains, peaceful green fields, farms and villages with water buffalo and cows wandering around on the sides of the riverbanks. Disembark at the 1000 year old town Yangshuo in the afternoon. Free at leisure to explore the old town after check-in at your hotel. Overnight in Yangshuo.

In the morning, there is an optional cycling experience through the countryside of rice paddies and villages to visit the Moon Hill. You may also climb the 890 steps up to the Moon Hill to view the beautiful scenery. In the afternoon, transfer back to Guilin airport to departure.


US$3399 per person twin share.
Single surcharge US$599 per person

Ask about our option to upgrade the Shangri-la overnight stay to a very special boutique resort hotel.


  • Three domestic flights in economy class with taxes (Shangri la/Kunming/Guiyang/Guilin)
  • Selected hotels, twin-bedded or double room with private shower and WC
  • Daily lunches or/and dinners as detailed in the program at local fine restaurant. 13 Breakfasts: 11 lunches: 3 dinners
  • Admission charges where applicable as shown in the tour description
  • Private A/C transportation
  • Professional local guide & drivers.
  • Two bottles of mineral water per person per day
  • Service charges for baggage handling between airport and hotel
  • Government taxes & Service charge