17 Days Sichuan-Yunnan Overland Tour from Chengdu to Kunming

This 17 days Sichuan-Yunnan Overland Tour from Chengdu to Kunming is a really adventure trip with stunning scenery! High Plateau mountain ranges, grasslands, nomad herders, snow-capped holy mountains, virgin forests, holy lakes, and local Tibetan villages will make you have a memorable trip! You will first visit the city highlights of Chengdu including the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Then, drive to visit Yading Nature Reserve and then drive from Yading to Deqin to visit the holy Meili Snow Mountain. After all, you will drive to Shangri-La, Lijiang and Dali with the visit of all the main attractions along the way such as the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Erhai Lake. Finally, take the high speed train to Kunming to finish your tour.


  • Meet cute pandas in the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base.
  • Lose yourselves in the extremely beautiful sceneries of Yading Natural Reserve.
  • Enjoy the stunning sunrise of the holy Meili Snow Mountain.
  • Visit the top attractions of Shangri-La, Lijiang, Dali and Kunming including the grand Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • Meet snown mountains, tranquil lakes, shimmering rivers, Tibetan villages and rare animals on your way.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Chengdu Arrival
  • Day 2: Chengdu
  • Day 3: Chengdu-Kangding
  • Day 4: Kangding-Litang
  • Day 5: Litang-Yading
  • Day 6: Yading
  • Day 7: Yading-Daocheng
  • Day 8: Daocheng-Benzilan
  • Day 9: Benzilan-Deqin
  • Day 10: Deqin-Shangri-La
  • Day 11: Shangri-La
  • Day 12: Shangri-La-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 Arrival Chengdu

Sightseeing and Activities:Arrive in Chengdu

Arrive in Chengdu International Airport. Meet the local guide and transfer to the hotel. 

— Chengdu City is mountainous in the northwest area, with plains in the south-east area, and low hills in-between. It has a sub-tropical climate with an annual average temperature of 16.2 degree Celsius, and rainfall of 1.000 millimeters, and a frost-free period of about 300 days. Its mineral deposits include coal, iron, talcum, serpentine, dolomite etc. It abounds in agricultural resources.

Day 2 Chengdu – Panda Research Base – Chengdu

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

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

Day 3 Chengdu-Kangding

Sightseeing and Activities:Sighseeing along the way
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Drive to Kangding, overnight and sightseeing in Kangding. It is 376Km and 6hrs on the expressway from Chengdu to Kangding While traversing the Western Sichuan Plain, you will arrive at Kangding, the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the afternoon. 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, Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke’ er-Si
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

In the early morning, visit Anjue Monastery-the very first Tibetan monastery on this trip, an rare chance to see their morning ceremony per day! Drive to Litang. Today’s journey from Kangding to Litang will take us approximately 5 hours (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.
Khampas – dressed in yak skin coats, bedecked in colorful necklaces and hair ornaments, long daggers hanging from their belts – from the surrounding areas amble into town to stock up on food and supplies, play pool on the streets and hang out in the local teahouses. This small town is great for people watching and just strolling around.
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, Daocheng
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Yading Nature Reserve in Daocheng County, Garze

Today you will reach the highlight of this journey – Yading Nature Reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains – Chenresig (Avalokitesvara, 6032m), Jambeyang (Manjusri, 5958m), and Chanadorje (Vajrapani, 5958m). Tibetan Buddhists believe that making a kora (pilgrimage) around these mountains brings great merit, and that the three mountains represent compassion, wisdom and energy – attributes one must cultivate on the path to enlightenment. The scenery here easily rivals that of national parks of the west such as Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of spectacular, pristine mountain scenery. The drive from Litang to Daocheng will take approximately 4 hours (180km), and the trip from Daocheng to Yading (60km) will take approximately 3 hours as much of the road to the park is dirt track. You will spend the night in tent hotel.

Day 6 Yading

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

You will visit 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. You’ll also visit Tshonggo Gonpa Monastery (Chonggu Si in Chinese) – a small Tibetan temple, which Joseph Rock nicknamed ‘Bandit Monastery.’ You will continue your hike to the foot of Mt Chenresig, where you’ll ascend a small but steep hill to view a beautiful mountaintop emerald green lake. Local lore has it that this magical lake can reveal your future if you spend a few moments in quiet contemplation by its side. You’ll 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
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

You will spend the morning doing a shorter hike or horse ride around the reserve. In the afternoon you’ll drive back to Daocheng where you’ll spend the night.

Day 8 Daocheng-Xiangcheng-Benzilan

Sightseeing and Activities:Sightseeing along the way
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Today you will take a long (5 hours, 290km) but scenic drive to Zhongdian (3,300m, 10,000 ft), a small town on the Tibetan Plateau.
Shangri La is described by James Hilton in his World famous novel “Lost Horizon”. If more and more tourists travel to Shangri La (also call Zhongdian, its former name), this area still preserves a 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, 97Km, 4hours

Sightseeing and Activities:JingshaRiver Bend, White Horse Mountian, Mt. Meili, Kawa Karpo
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

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, it is the best place to see holy Mt.Meili. Mt. Meili is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. ‘Kawa 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 / Shangri-La, 184km, 6hours

Sightseeing and Activities:Mt. Meili
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Early morning get up to see the sunrise at Mt.Meili, then start driving to Zhongdian(Shangri-La) by passing White horse mountains and Benzilan again. Overnight at Zhongdian.

Day 11 Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:Songzanlin Monastery
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, you’ll visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. And afterwards you’ll go and visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake. After having finished touring the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake, you’ll visit the Dukezong Ancient Town and the Guishan Park. Tibetan home made at night and have dinner in Tibetan family with butter oil tea and Tibetan food.

Day 12 Shangri La-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Tiger Leaping Gorge, the First Bend on the Yangtze River, the Iron Chain Bridge, Stone Drum Town, Lijiang Old Town
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

From Shangri-La, you’ll drive about 100KM 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 the driving 50KM 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. 
Drive 60KM more to Lijiang. Explore Lijiang Old Town at night.

Day 13 Lijiang-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Ganhaizi Meadow, Yak Meadow, Yulong Snow Mountain, Baisha Village, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba Museum
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

You’ll visit Ganhaizi Meadow, Baishui River; visit the Yak Meadow in the Yulong Snow Mountain 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, you’ll stroll through Baisha Village, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan village; you’ll head for the scenic Black Dragon Pool and the Dongba Museum to explore the rich Naxi minority culture. After dinner, you will attend the Naxi Orchestral and Show in Dongba Palace.

Day 14 Lijiang-Dali by private van

Sightseeing and Activities:Three Pagodas in Chongshen Temple, Dali Old Town
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, travel (200 km – 4 hrs) south on the old road 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 you will 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, you will 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, Xizhou Town, Zhoucheng Village
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, You’ll travel in the Erhai Lake 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, you will visit Zhoucheng Village, and Bai people’s Tie-Dyed Cloth Work Shop. After the tour, take the high speed train to Kunming.

Day 16 Kunming-Stone Forest-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:the Stone Forest, the Green Lake, the Flowers and Birds Market
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

You will 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, you will take a leisurely stroll along the Green Lake, a charming area of teahouses and small boutiques selling handicrafts and beautiful local paintings. Late afternoon you will visit the Flowerr and Bird Market.

Day 17 Kunming Departure

Sightseeing and Activities:Depature from Kunming

Transfer to Kunming International Airport for returning. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star
Chengdu Sofis Jinyuan Hotel Celebrity Ruicheng Hotel Rest Hotel
Kangding / Yujing Saussurea Boutique Hotel Kangyun Large Hotel
Litang / Chongcao Hotel Mei Duo Smart Hotel
Yading Holyland Hotel Holy Land Image Hotel  Jiayong Hotel
Feilaisi Guanjing Tiantang Hotel Deqin County Temple Pearl Hotel Deqin County Temple Pearl Hotel
Shangri-La Shangri-La Hotel Shangri-La Old Town Hotel Moon City Hotel
Lijiang Pullman Hotel Wangfu Hotel Liwang Hotel
Dali Hilton Dali Resort & Spa Shouyi Boutique Hotel Dali Taihe Boutique Inn
Kunming Softel Hotel Wenhui Hotel Jinhua Hotel

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Accommodation with breakfast as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide and vehicle for transfers & sightseeing;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  •  Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • Two bottles of mineral water each day.

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 insurance;
  • All optional programs;
  • Domestic air tickets fares with airport tax and fuel extra fee based on economy class mentioned in the program.

Travel Tips:

  1. Tibet Permits

There are several permits required to visit Tibet. Tibet Entry Permit, issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, is the most important one which has to be obtained before your trip because you must have it to take your flight/train to Tibet. To get the permit, you have to book a Tibet tour with us, and send us your passport and Chinese visa about 20 days in advance, and then let us apply for the permit (all Tibet permits can only be applied by travel agency). If you travel to other prefectures like Shigatse, Nyingchi, Shannan, etc, you also have to obtain an Alien Travel Permit. If you travel to Mount Everest, you have to obtain a Border Permit. (Tibet Discovery, with office in Lhasa, has always kept up with the latest news on Tibet Permits. Traveling with us, all your permits are guaranteed as long as you are qualified to the requirements.)

  1. Available Months to Visit Tibet

Generally speaking, May to early October is the best time to for a Mount Kailash trip. July and August are the peak season and rainy season. It may be too cold to travel in Kailash area from November to March. There is usually heavy snow. The conditions in Namtso Lake and Mount Everest area are quite similar with Kailash. While other places like Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse are suitable for travel all year around.

  1. High Altitude Sickness

The average altitude of Tibet is about 4000 meters above the sea level (Lhasa: 3700m; EBC: 5200m; Namtso: 4718m). You may suffer a bit from High Altitude Sickness in the beginning days of your Tibet trip if you haven’t had rich high plateau travel experience. But don’t worry too much, the high altitude can be acclimatized usually in 2~3 days. Our suggestion is to take a physical examination and get suggestions from your doctor, and also bring some medicines to prevent from High Altitude Sickness before your trip. While in Tibet, you should keep warm all the time, avoid strenuous activities, drink more water and eat more vegetables and carbohydrates. You’d better not take showers during the first two days after your arrival at Tibet. If you don’t feel well, get help from your tour guide or go to the hospital without any delay.

  1. How to Go to Tibet

Basically you have two options – flight and train. Currently, you can take a flight to Lhasa from Beijing(4.5hrs), Xian(3.7hrs), Chengdu(2.5hrs), Chongqing(3hrs), Kuming(3hrs), etc. Among all these cities, Chengdu and Xian have more frequent flights to Lhasa. Kathmandu also has several flights to Lhasa each week.

If you a train travel, you can take a train to from Beijing(40.5hrs), Xian(32hrs), Chengdu(43hrs), Shanghai(47hrs), Chongqing(42hrs), Lanzhou(25hrs), Xining(22hrs), Guangzhou(54hrs).

  1. Packing and Wearing Ideas

Firstly you can’t forget your passport and Chinese Visa. A large backpack and a smaller one are recommended (the smaller one can be used for daily activities). Also bring the necessary medicine you need. Other stuffs like sunglasses, snow glasses, hats, lip balm, sun block are recommended. As for wearing, you are suggested to dress in layers (both thin and thick jackets). Down jacket is necessary in Spring and Autumn. A pair of durable and comfortable shoes is necessary.