Remote villages of Yunnan

From 880€ / person 10 days

Off the beaten track paths

Beyond the famous cities of Lijiang, Dali and Shangri-La, we propose you to explore the small villages around them. Hidden behind the Jade Dragon Mountain or on the old path of the Tea and Horses trail, that merchants used to walk on to reach Tibet, they will show you the real life in Yunnan mountains. You'll discover the authenticity of a lifestyle that is still based on values peculiar to each ethnic minority of the region. Come and explore the north-west part of Yunnan, away from other tourists. This itinerary will give you such a great change of scenery.


In the past, Nuodeng village was able to distinguish itself on the Tea and Horse trail thanks to its salt wells that have been exploited for 2000 years. Salt used to be an important bartering system; nowadays it makes Nuodeng salted ham very famous. This slate-paved village, on a slope at the side of a mountain, isn't accessible by road. You'll find an extra charm to the mules that still carry their loads between the beaten earth houses.


Upon your arrival in Lijiang you'll make a short visit of the old town and the villages surrounding it. Then you'll go on an exploration to Wumu and Baoshan, small viallges hanging over the Yangtze river. You'll go on and discover Shaxi, an old stop on the Tea and Horse trail, and stay in Nuodeng, a small village known its salt extraction. After a halt in Xizhou along the peaceful Erhu lake, your trip will end in Dali old town.


Day 1: Lijiang arrival – Shuhe

Upon arrival to Lijiang airport, your driver will welcome you and take you to a small village called Shuhe. On the way, you’ll wander across the small village of Yuhu, at the foot of the Jade Dragon Mountain. You’ll also visit Baisha , a Naxi minority village with a traditional pharmacy and its Yufeng temple. In Shuhe, you’ll check-in at your charming hotel. You can walk at leisure across Shuhe festive and bucolic old town.

Day 2: Shuhe – Lijiang – Wumu (B,D)

This morning, your driver will take you to Lijiang old town that you can explore on foot to reach the Black Dragon Pool. Then you’ll continue by car to Wumu, a small village hanging over the Yangtze river in Baoshan valley (~3.5hrs drive). After a narrow and hairpin-bended road, take the time to discover the village and your accommodation, a guesthouse renovated by a Naxi-Belgian couple.

Day 3: Wumu – Baoshan – Wumu (B,L,D)

This morning, enjoy a walk down to the Yangtze river with your local guide (~1.5hr descent on foot) and take a ferry (~20mn) to reach the shores of Baoshan village. After a short walk up to the village, you can enjoy a well-deserved lunch, visit Baoshan village and go back to Wumu by car (~1hr drive).

Day 4: Wumu – Shaxi (B)

Today you’ll leave Wumu to reach Shaxi, a ancient stop for caravans of merchants going to Tibet, who used to exchange Chinese tea for Tibetan horses (~3hrs drive). You’ll stay in the old town in an ancient traditional courtyard. Walk around the village to admire its old wooden theater, temple, narrow alleys and the surrounding countryside.

Day 5: Shaxi – Shibaoshan – Shaxi (B)

Today you’ll visit Shibaoshan, a beautiful site with Buddhist sculptures carved in the mountain, as well as quiet and zen temples. After your visit, you can choose to walk down to Shaxi village on foot (~1.5hr walk) or go back with your driver.

Day 6: Shaxi – Nuodeng (B)

This morning, you’ll hit the road towards Yunlong valley until you reach Nuodeng village (~3.5hrs drive). On the side of a mountain, the village isn’t accessible to motorized vehicles. You’ll finish today’s trip on foot, ascending between the beaten earth and sculpted wood houses to reach your guesthouse (~15mn walk). Upon arrival, you’ll explore this village well-known for its salt. It has been extracted here for more than 2000 years in wells that are as deep as 21 meters. Don’t forget to taste Nuodeng salted cured ham!

Day 7: Nuodeng – Xizhou (B)

This morning, enjoy a beautiful walk around the village to admire the views above the valley and visit the village’s Confucius temple. In the afternoon, your driver will take you to another viewpoint, offering a superb sight on the river’s curves forming a Yin Yang shape. Then you’ll go on by car to Xizhou, a village located on the shores of Erhai lake near Dali (~3.5hrs drive).

Day 8: Xizhou (B)

Free day, without services, so that you can explore Xizhou and Erhai lake shores at your own pace. You can rent bicycles at your hotel if you like, in order to visit the village and the countryside.

Day 9: Xizhou – Dali – Xizhou (B)

This morning, your driver will take you to Dali, the old capital of the kingdom of Dali, at the foot of the Cangshan mountain range. Discover the big complex of the Three Pagodas Temple, and wander across the animated alleys of the old town. Admire the refined traditional Bai houses and enjoy this last afternoon of your trip. Your driver will then take you back to Xizhou.

Day 10: Dali Departure (B)

Today is time to leave this beautiful province. Your driver will take you to Dali airport, and you’ll take your flight back home.


  • Hotels and guesthouses with breakfast (B)
  • Lunch (L) and dinner (D) when mentioned (in Wumu)
  • Driver when mentioned
  • English-speaking local guide when mentioned (in Baoshan)
  • Visa
  • International and domestic flights
  • Other meals
  • Entrance fees
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips to driver and guide
  • Travel insurances
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