China Natural Beauty Photo Tour with Yunnan

12 Days Beijing/Xi'an/Kunming/Dali/Lijiang/Guilin/Hong Kong

Do you want to come to China for a photography tour? Take a look at the following route. This is a 12-days China photo trip that starts in Beijing and ends in Hong Kong. We will take you to Yunnan after visiting Beijing and Xi'an. Yunnan is a gathering place for ethnic minorities. You will see the beauty of nature and the culture of ethnic minorities in Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang. We will go to Guilin later. It is said that Guilin's landscape is the best in the world. Don’t miss such a good chance to explore China. Bring your camera and let's experience it together.

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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Beijing Arrival
Arrival in Beijing

After arrival, you will meet your guide at the Beijing airport and then you will be transferred to your hotel. You can have a rest here.

Beijing is an ancient city with a history of 3000 years. As the capital of China, Beijing is also the center of Chinese politics and culture. Beijing successfully hosted the 29th Olympic Games in 2008. This also makes more people know and understand this wonderful city. Your China trip will begin in Beijing.

Day 2 Beijing
Ming Tombs, Ding Tomb, Great Wall, Bird Nest, Water Cube

In the morning, we will drive about 1 hour (45 KM) to visit the Ming Tombs. The Ming Dynasty once set its capital in Beijing. Therefore, 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty were buried in the Ming Tombs in Beijing. In addition to the emperors, 23 empresses, 2 princes, and 30 concubines are buried here. Today, you will visit the Ding Tomb. The front of Ding Tomb is square and the back is round. This is because the ancient Chinese believed that the earth is square and the sky is round. Ancient Chinese emperors started to build tombs for themselves after their enthronization. It took 6 years to build the Ding Tomb. When it was built, the emperor was only 26 years old. So this mausoleum has been idle for 30 years. It was not until the emperor's death in 1620 that the tomb was in use. After that, we will drive about 1 hour (40 KM) to visit the world-famous Great Wall. It was built more than 2,000 years ago. In the beginning, they are discontinuous. After the Qin Dynasty unified China, it became the complete Great Wall. It was built on a large scale in the Han and Ming dynasties. In the Great Wall, you can see a beacon tower every few hundred meters. This is the wisdom of ancient people. Whenever there is an emergency, soldiers will light up the reserved combustible material at the beacon tower. The billowing smoke can be seen even a few miles away. Soldiers from other places will come to support. You may take the cable chair or cable car up to the Great Wall. It can help you save more energy so that you can explore the Great Wall when you are on it. After that, we will drive back to the city center. And on the way back, you will have a photo stop at the Bird Nest and the Water Cube. What everyone calls the "Bird's Nest" is the National Stadium. The external structure is composed of a huge portal steel frame, which looks like a huge steel bird's nest from a distance. The Water Cube is the national swimming center. It looks crystal clear, especially when the lights are on at night. Since the Olympic swimming competition in 2008 was successfully hosted here, it has been officially opened to the public.

Option: Chinese acrobatics have a history of more than 2,000 years. Before the Song Dynasty, this was a performance that could only be seen by the royal family. After the Song Dynasty, acrobatics began to be performed in folk. There are many types of Chinese acrobatics, including actors walking on a tightrope, balancing a stack of bowls on the head, Jiu-Jitsu, and so on. These performances look very exciting and are traditional performances that Chinese people love. Chaoyang Theater is the best place to watch acrobatics in Beijing. The evening performance starts at 7 o'clock and ends at 8 o'clock. If you want to appreciate the charm of traditional Chinese acrobatics, you must not miss it.

Ming Tombs
Ming Tombs
Bird Nest
Bird Nest
Day 3 BeijingXi’an
Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City

After breakfast, we will take you to visit Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the square in the city center of Beijing and the largest city center square in China. Many important buildings are scattered around Tiananmen Square. For example, the Tiananmen Gate was the imperial gate in the Ming and Qing Dynasties; the Great Hall of the People is the venue for the National Political Conference; the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, a memorial hall to commemorate the great leader Chairman Mao. In addition, there is the National Museum of China, the Monument to the Famous Heroes, etc. After that, you will walk into the Forbidden City (closed each Monday). It covers an area of more than 720,000 square meters and has more than 9,000 rooms. All the buildings are wooden structures, yellow glazed tile roofs, blue and white stone bases, and decorated with magnificent colorful paintings. The most attractive buildings in the Forbidden City are the three main halls: Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony. They are all built on an 8-meter-high platform made of white marble. Walking in the Forbidden City, you seem to travel back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. After lunch, you will take an estimated train G349 15:13/19:44 to Xi’an. Your guide will wait for you at the train station and then you will be transferred to your hotel. Have a good rest.

Xi'an is a famous historical city in the world and one of the top ten ancient capitals in the world selected by the US media. China's Silk Road started here. Indian Buddhism was first brought to Xi'an by Master Xuanzang and then spread throughout China. In addition, various delicacies in Xi'an are also attractive, such as Mutton and Bread Pieces in Soup and noodles. Explore this mysterious city with us.

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Forbidden City
Forbidden City
Day 4 Xi’an
Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Muslim Street,

In the morning, we will visit the No. 8 Wonder in the world-Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum. In 1974, the discovery of the Terracotta Army shocked the world. This is a huge burial pit. Inside, the terra-cotta armies and horses lined up neatly. They seem to be about to meet a battle. The armies have different posts. Some of them are standing, with their heads and chest up, while others are kneeling, holding bows and arrows. All the soldiers wear armor. They have different expressions, and their beard and nails are very realistic. It can be seen that the craftsmen of 2000 years ago were very skilled. In addition, you will also see unearthed chariots and terra cotta horses. After lunch, we will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the iconic buildings in Xi'an and a must-visit place for tourists. Climbing to the top of the tower, you will have a panoramic view of Xi’an. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a pavilion-style brick pagoda with a square shape and a style of traditional Chinese architectural art. The pagoda is 64 meters high and has seven floors. There is an arch door hole on all four sides of each floor. And there are exquisite Buddha statues on the lintel. Buddha bone relics and precious Buddhist scriptures are enshrined inside the pagoda. After that, we will visit Muslim Street. This is a shopping street where you can taste local food and get the local souvenir. The Muslim Street at night is very lively. On both sides, various vendors were selling cakes and snacks. Xi'an is very famous for its noodles, so you can try the noodles here. If you are tired, you can rest on the benches in Drum Tower Square for a while. Vendors selling kites will fly kites here. This is the authentic nightlife of Xi'an people.

Option One: If you want to know more about the Muslim culture in China, we can arrange the Great Mosque visiting for you. Traditional mosques are all Western architectural forms. Only the Great Mosque in Xi'an has the appearance of a Chinese temple. It is a perfect combination of Chinese culture and Muslim culture. The construction area of the entire mosque is about 6000 square meters. All embossment on its Chinese palace-style buildings are Arabic characters and Islamic decorative patterns. There is a hall of 1,300 square meters in the courtyard, which can accommodate more than a thousand people for worship.  

Option Two: The Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square in Xi'an is the most suitable place for leisure in the center of Xi'an. Here is the largest musical fountain in Asia, 218 meters wide and 346 meters long. When the fountain shows, it is very beautiful with music and lighting. In the North Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, here is the area with the theme of Xi'an folk culture. You will see paper-cutting, shadow puppets, clay sculptures, and other traditional folk arts here. So if you want to get more experience in Xi’an after dinner, we can also arrange this square visit for you.

Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum
Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum
Muslim Street
Muslim Street
Day 5 Xi’anKunming
City Wall

After breakfast, we will take you to visit the old City Wall. Xi'an was the capital of thirteen dynasties and one of the seven ancient capitals of China. Together with Athens, Cairo, and Rome, Xi'an was also known as the "Four Ancient Civilized Capitals in the World". Such a city must be guarded by strong walls. The city wall of Xi'an is 12 meters high, and its thickness even exceeds its height. The thickest part is 18 meters thick. This is also the largest and best-preserved city wall in China. After lunch, you will be transferred to the airport and then take an estimated flight 3U5021 15:25/17:55 to Kunming. You will meet your guide at the airport. 

Option: Do you want to get some more exciting activity in Xi’an? We can arrange the bike riding on the ancient City Wall. It is 13.74 kilometers to ride a circle on the city wall. If you ride fast, you can complete the ride in 40 minutes. We provide single-riding bicycles and tandem bicycles. So whether you experience it by yourself or with friends, this is a good choice.

City Wall
City Wall
bike riding on the ancient City Wall
bike riding on the ancient City Wall
Day 6 Kunming
Stone Forest, Yuantong Temple

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, is also known as Spring City. This is because the temperature here in all seasons is as comfortable as spring. Kunming is a multi-ethnic city. There are 26 ethnic groups living here. Each ethnic group retains its own traditional culture and continues many unique lifestyles, folk customs, and cultural arts. In terms of the natural landscape, Kunming's unique climate conditions make the forest here very lush, there are also snow mountains and lakes. So the natural landscape is very attractive.

In the morning, we will visit Stone Forest. Stone Forest is one of the must-visit attractions in Kunming. The stone forest is a typical karst feature landform. The peak forest is transformed into various forms, such as sword-shaped, tower-shaped, mushroom-shaped, and so on. Walking along the corridor for 20 minutes, you will see the small stone forest scenic spot with a small-scale stone peak. Among the dense peaks, the famous Ashima Stone stands here, as if beckoning to you. This is a favorite place for tourists to take photos. After that, we will visit the Yuantong Temple. Yuantong Temple has a history of more than 1,200 years. It is the largest and most famous temple in Kunming. In the buildings of traditional Chinese temples, most of them are at a lower level where you enter the entrance. The main hall is located on a place with higher terrain. But Yuantong Temple is just the opposite. Entering Yuantong Temple, the more you go in, the lower the terrain. This is rare in ancient Chinese temple construction. And the architecture of Yuantong Temple is quite a classical garden style. Therefore, it is not only a holy place for Buddhist believers but also the first choice for many tourists.

More information about Ashima: Ashima is a classic legend of the Yi people. Ashima is a poor girl, but she is very beautiful. The landlord’s son wanted to marry her as his wife, but Ashima refused. The landlord’s son used various brutal methods to treat her. Finally, Ashima plunged into the river. The fairy rescued Ashima in the river and turned her into a stone peak. This is the Ashima you see in the stone forest. This story reflects the indomitable spirit of the Yi people.

Stone Forest
Stone Forest
Yuantong Temple
Yuantong Temple
Day 7 KunmingDali
Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas, Erhai Lake

In the morning, you will be transferred to the train station and take an estimated train D8692 10:02/12:05 to Dali. Your guide will pick you up from the train station. After lunch, you will visit the Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas. Chongsheng Temple was once a royal temple, and the three pagodas are famous buildings in the temple. The three pagodas are all beautifully constructed square brick towers. And the tower bricks are carved with Buddhist scriptures and mantras in Sanskrit and Chinese. The tallest tower is called Qianxun Pagoda, 69 meters high. The small towers on both sides are 42 meters high. After that, we will visit Erhai Lake. The Erhai Lake in Dali is called the flawless jade among the mountains. When it is a sunny day, go boating on the Erhai Lake, while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lake, you can also see the spectacular scenery of the Cangshan mountains in the distance. Especially at night, after the moon comes out, you will see the moon reflected on the lake. It is one of the four famous scenic spots in Dali.

Option: If you want to find some new way to explore the beauty of Erhai Lake, we would recommend you to have a biking tour around Erhai Lake. You can ride a bicycle along Erhai Lake and wherever you want, you can stop for photos. It is very flexible and convenient. Pay attention to sun protection and high anti-reflection. You can bring a hat, riding scarf, mineral water, anti-plateau products; there are signs on the road around Erhai Lake, you can ride along with the signs. 

Tips: The taste of Dali dishes is mostly spicy and sour. The most typical ones are hot and sour fish and stewed chicken.

The temperature difference in Dali is small, and there is no obvious severe winter or summer. So you can travel to Dali in any season you like. If you want to experience more folk culture here, you can come in March and April. There will be multi-ethnic festivals at that time.

Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas
Chongsheng Temple and Three Pagodas
Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake
Day 8 DaliLijiang
Black Dragon Pool

In the morning, you will take an estimated train K9621 10:08/12:47 to Lijiang. 

Lijiang, a city with a history of more than 800 years. This was once a prosperous commercial area. Whether it was a merchant from Lhasa or a caravan from Kunming, they gathered in Lijiang, exchanged the goods they needed, and then returned with a full load. This is one of the ten most attractive cities in China. Young people like to come here because there are beauties, bars, and chance encounters. The elderly also like to come here, because the pace of life here is slow and they live very comfortably every day. Come into the charming Lijiang with us.

You will meet your guide at the train station. After lunch, you will visit the Black Dragon Pool. Black Dragon Pool Park was originally the Dragon King Temple. Black Dragon Pool is beside the Xiangshan Mountain, spring water gushing from the cracks in the stone. There are pavilions around the pool, which are very beautiful in shape. And then, the pool and its nearby buildings were unified planned as Black Dragon Pool Park. It is the best place to take pictures of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Morning and evening are the best shooting time.

Tips: When you come to Lijiang, you must not miss the food here. The following delicacies can be good choices for your dinner.

1. Lijiang Baba. This is a unique delicacy of the Naxi people in Lijiang. The dough is made of wheatmeal produced in Lijiang and spring water on the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. After rolling into thin slices, sprinkle with ham, sugar, walnuts, or sesame seeds. Then fry them on a pan. This delicious Lijiang Baba is ready.

2. Chickpea jelly. When you eat it in summer, you can put some peppers, coriander and other seasonings, it tastes very refreshing. If you eat it in winter, you can slice the jelly and fry it in a pan, and then add the seasoning. Eating a bowl of Chickpea jelly can warm your whole body.

Black Dragon Pool
Black Dragon Pool
Black Dragon Pool
Black Dragon Pool
Day 9 Lijiang
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang Ancient Town

This morning, we will take you to visit the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the southernmost snow mountain in the northern hemisphere. It is 35 kilometers long from north to south and 13 kilometers wide from east to west, covering an area of 960 square kilometers. The mountain with snowy scenery is located above 4000 meters above sea level. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a sacred mountain for the Naxi people and all ethnic groups in Lijiang. It is said that the "Sanduo", the guardian god of the Naxi people, is the incarnation of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. People in Lijiang still hold the annual "Sanduo Festival". Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is fascinating with its charming landscape, mysterious legends, and the unconquered Shennv Peak. After lunch, we will take you to visit the Lijiang Ancient Town. The Old Town of Lijiang is a famous ancient town in China. This was an ancient trading market. Most of the buildings in the ancient city are of Naxi ethnic architectural style. There are kinds of shops selling special products, such as ethnic ornaments, tea, silverware, shawls, and so on. There are 354 bridges built in the Lijiang Ancient Town. An average of 93 bridges per square kilometer. There are many types of bridges, and the Big Stone Bridge is the most distinctive. It is located 100 meters east of Sifang Street. From the river under the bridge, you can see the reflection of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The bridge is more than 10 meters long and nearly 4 meters wide. The bridge deck is paved with local stones.

Option: Impression Lijiang is a large-scale live performance. Its performance venue is the highest performance venue in the world at 3100 meters above sea level, Yulong Snow Mountain Lanyuegu Theater. The whole performance is divided into three parts. They show people's thinking about snow mountains, life, and ancestors. The costumes and music of the entire performance incorporate a large number of ethnic elements, which is impressive.

It performs at 9 o'clock, 11 o'clock and 14 o'clock every day. If you want to enjoy this show, we can add it to your itinerary.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Lijiang Ancient Town
Lijiang Ancient Town
Day 10 LijiangGuilin
Flight to Guilin

This morning will be free for you. You can walk around the city and discover more beauty. And then we will take you to the airport and you will take an estimated flight MF8636 13:25/15:10 to Guilin. Your guide will meet you at the airport and then you will be transferred to the hotel. Have a good rest here.

In the eyes of the world, Guilin is the most vivid embodiment of the oriental charm, the most attractive destination for tourists, and the most outstanding representative of the "Chinese-style Karst". Guilin is famous for its mountains and rivers. The scenery of the Li River is printed on the back of the RMB 20 bill. Guilin is also an area where many ethnic groups live in harmony. The Han, Zhuang, Miao, Yao, Dong, Hui, Jing, Yi, Shui, and Manchu ethnic groups live here. The various folk customs and unique regional culture, such as farming, nomadism, festivals, costumes, food, weddings, architecture, languages, religious beliefs, etc., make Guilin more attractive.

Day 11 Guilin
Li River Cruise, Yangshuo West Street

After breakfast, you will take the Li River Cruise. The Li River is a world natural heritage. People compare the Li River to a green ribbon wrapped between mountains and peaks. The water of the Lijiang River is clear and bright, sparkling in the sun. The mountains along the Li River are of different shapes. There is the famous Nine Horses Mountain along the Li River. This mountain is like a huge drawing board. It is said that if you see it carefully, you can recognize the pattern of nine horses on the mountain. According to local legends, the nine horses in heaven sneaked into Guilin. They are obsessed with the beautiful scenery of Guilin, leaving their shadows on the mountain here. The ancients praised it as the wonder of Guilin's peaks, and the best in the world. Be sure to take more photos here, they will make you shine on your Instagram. Today’s lunch will be on the cruise. In the afternoon, you will disembark at Yangshuo. And then you will visit Yangshuo West Street which is a must-visit place in Yangshuo. This is an old and bustling street. The roads are paved with bluestone slabs. On both sides of the street are quaint buildings with ethnic characteristics. There are also many souvenir shops here. You can bring some small gifts to your families such as handmade wood carvings and ginger candy. After that, we will drive back to Guilin

Option: Impression Sanjie Liu is a famous performance in Guilin. It uses the largest environmental art lighting project in China and the unique smoke effect project to create a poetic and dreamlike visual effect. The traditional performance is performed in the limited space of the theater. This performance uses nature as the real stage. Looking at it, the water of the Li River and the mountains of Guilin become the center stage, giving people a broad vision.

auditorium of Impression Sanjie Liu is just like green terraces, and you can enjoy the scenery and performances with a wide view. There are 2,200 auditorium seats, including 2,000 ordinary seats, 180 VIP seats, and 20 presidential seats. The costumes of this performance are colorful and are selected according to different scenes. Different ethnic costumes such as Zhuang, Yao, Miao, etc. were featured; the entire performance time is about 60 minutes. It performs twice a day at 20:00 and 21:35.

If you would like to enjoy the show, we can arrange it for you in advance. 

Yangshuo West Street
Li River Cruise
Li River Cruise
Day 12 GuilinHong Kong Departure
Flight back home

After breakfast, you will take a flight to Hong Kong and then fly back to your sweet home. 

This tour ends here
Tour Map
Recommended Extension Tour
Day 1
Beijing
Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Summer Palace

If you want to spend one more day in Beijing, we can extend one day in Beijing and take you to visit the Temple of Heaven, Hutong, and the Summer Palace. 

Your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby. And you will first visit the Temple of Heaven. The Chinese have respected heaven and earth since ancient times. Therefore, Beijing has not only built the Temple of Heaven, but also the Temple of Earth. But the most famous is the Temple of Heaven. This is the place where the ancient emperor worshipped heaven. The sacrificial ceremony is very grand, with unique etiquette, dance, and music. Therefore, there is the Office of Divine Music in the Temple of Heaven, which is a place where dances and music are managed. There are also places where livestock are slaughtered for sacrifices. And then we will take you to visit the Lama Temple. In Beijing, there is such a temple whose walls and tiles use the same standards as the Forbidden City. This is the Lama Temple, the Lamma temple with the highest standard Tibetan Buddhist temple in China. In fact, it was once the palace of the prince. Later, the prince become the emperor. His palace was later transformed into a Lamma temple. There is a giant sandalwood Buddha here, carved from the trunk of a white sandalwood tree. It is 26 meters high, 18 meters above the ground (8 meters underground), 8 meters in diameter, and weighs about 100 tons. It is the largest single wooden statue in China. After lunch, you will visit the Summer Palace. This is the place where ancient Chinese emperors spent their summertime. There are places where the emperor lives, works, and relaxes. There is also a Buddhist temple here, named Wuliang Hall which means the hall without beam. Although the building is very similar to a wooden structure temple, it does not have a single piece of wood, and it is entirely made of bricks and stones.

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Editor: Betsy He
Hotel
City Five Star hotel list Four Star hotel list
Beijing Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing Sunworld Hotel Wangfujing
Xi'an Tianyu Gloria Grand Hotel Xi'an Sunworld Dynasty Hotel
Kunming Grand Park Kunming UChoice Hotel
Dali The One Hotels & Resorts Landscape Hotel
Lijiang Wonderport International Hotel Lijiang Wangfu Hotel
Guilin Lijiang Waterfall Hotel Guilin Bravo Hotel
Hong Kong Harbour Grand Kowloon Harbour Plaza North Point Hotel
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