The Original Shangri-La
After landing you'll be met by a guide and taken to your hotel to settle in. The next day you’ll start your adventure with a memory to treasure – visiting the giant pandas. This will be followed by drinking tea in a traditional tea house in Renmin Park, an excellent location for a spot of people watching.
Spend the morning at Leshan, where you'll find the world's largest ancient buddha. Plenty of people come to take a look at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts fingernails bigger than most people. After a cruise to see this colossal statue from a distance, it's on to the pretty riverside village of Liujiang in the verdant Sichuan countryside, where you'll spend the night at the Guanjinglou Guesthouse. With its gentle river and charming wooden buildings, you'll find it a calm oasis after the buzz of Chengdu. Explore further with a guide, who will take you on a walk to your quaint courtyard guesthouse. Be sure to taste their home-grown tea.
It's back to Chengdu, but via Mengdingshan, home to some of Sichuan's finest teas. Spend time taking in the views of the neat rows of tea bushes that rise up the sides of valleys and peaks. When you've admired the plantations, talk to a local grower about the art and science of growing tea. Afterward, you'll continue to Chengdu.
The next day it's off for a hike in the Jinji Valley, with its plentiful bamboo trees and impressive suspension bridge connecting two peaks. Then you'll visit Pingle, where you'll indulge in a restorative cup of tea on the riverside, and explore charming alleyways.
Today a short flight will take you to Daocheng, a pretty rural town boasting excellent hiking opportunities and scenic views. Acclimatize to the altitude by soaking in the Rubuzhaka natural hot springs just out of town. The hot springs are believed to promote good health and long life, but at the very least it's a pleasant place to relax after your flight.
Activity and Adventure
Today you'll be driven along the historic Tea and Horse Road as you make your way to the ancient town of Litang. Renowned for its golden monasteries, Litang is the highest point of your trip sitting pretty at 4,000 meters. In the afternoon you'll visit Chode Gompa, the monastery built for the 3rd Dalai Lama. Enjoy a private guided tour and then take a walkout to the green hills for a superb view over the city and surrounding countryside. In the evening tuck into traditional Tibetan fares such as butter tea, Tibetan soup dumplings, and potato pancakes.
The next day, depending on availability, you'll have the option to go on a day horse trekking in the beautiful countryside around Litang. If not, there is plenty else to do. Go on a hike, visit a market or head to White Temple Park to watch worshippers reciting mantras and spinning prayer wheels.
Activity and Adventure
Spend the morning soaking up the atmosphere of Litang and before leaving for Daocheng where you'll prepare for hiking and camping in Yading National Park, the inspiration for Joseph Rock's Shangri-La. The next day head to the entrance of the national park, home to three snow-capped peaks surrounded by grass plains, high alpine forests, glacier lakes, and crystal-clear rivers. It's as beautiful as it sounds.
The next day, visit the Tibetan monastery at Chonggu before hiking up to 4,100 meters to Pearl Lake for a stunning view of the Xiannairi Mountain. Wake up bright and early the next morning for sunrise at Chonggu Temple, before hiking or riding up to the Luorong pasture and Milk Lake. For the extra adventurous, Five-Colour Lake at 4,600 meters is worth the climb. This exhilarating hike takes between six and seven hours and is a great chance to see a diverse and delightful range of landscapes that will stay etched in your mind forever.
After an early morning flight back to Chengdu you can spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel or heading out for a delicious and traditional spicy hotpot to bring your incredible journey to a close.