Active Expeditions

National Geographic Great Prayer Festival & South West China

  • Duration 16 Days
  • Group Size Max 14
  • From $7,190 AUD
Call 1300 966 237

Trip Overview

This incredible journey to China in the wintertime commences in Kunming with a visit to emerald waters of Green Lake before journeying to historic Lijiang with it's cobbled streets, old wooden buildings, rural villages and minority cultures. In Yuanyang we'll explore the breathtaking UNESCO listed rice terraces which are at their finest in February, and visit the Panda Breeding Research Centre in Chengdu. We'll take in the stunning natural landscapes in Mounigou Valley and Huanglong National Park and before making our way to Xiahe. At Labrang Monastery we have 3 full days to witness the colour, spectacle and ceremony of the Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo) which is sure to be a highlight of the tour.

Trip Highlights

  • 3 days at the Great Prayer Festival at Labrang Monastery
  • Emerald green waters of Green Lake
  • UNESCO listed old town of Lijiang with it's cobbled streets and traditional buildings
  • Stunning UNESCO rice terraces at Yuanyang, at their finest in winter
  • Unique opportunity to see Pandas at the Panda Breeding Research Centre in Chengdu
  • Magical winter landscapes
  • Incredible opportunities for photography

Itinerary - 16 Days

Day 1 Arrive Kunming

You'll be met on arrival and transferred to the hotel. In the afternoon we'll head out to Green Lake, the Yuantong Temple and the night market. Overnight Green Lake Hotel, Kunming

Day 2 Drive to Yuanyang

This morning we'll drive to Yuanyang (approx 7 hours). Yuanyang is famed for its rice terraces which have been developed by the Hani people for generations. The stunning terraced fields have been officially acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site. We'll head to the Bada terraces for sunset where the ever changing colors add an incredible magic to the place. Overnight Duyoshi Hotel, Yuanyang. Please note, this trip is operating during the Chinese New Year. It will be extremely busy at certain points in the itinerary. Be prepared for many local tourists. While we aim to provide the accommodation and services outlined in the itinerary, sometimes due to local pressures and demand, we have to make alternative arrangements. You will be notified of any changes should this occur.

Day 3 In Yuanyang, Duoyishu and Laohuzui

We'll spend the day exploring the rice terraces starting with sunrise at Duoyishu and conclude with sunset at Laohuzui where the scenery, light and landscapes are simply breathtaking. Overnight YunTi Hotel, Yuanyang.

Day 4 Duoyishu, Jingkou, drive to Kunming

We'll return to Duoyishu for sunrise. Today we'll visit the pretty village area of Jingkou and drive to Kunming. Overnight in Green Lake Hotel, Kunming.

Day 5 Kunming to Lijiang

This morning we'll take an early flight to Lijiang (depart Kunming 0710/Arrive Lijiang 0800). Lijiang is the cultural centre and capital of the Naxi people and has existed for over 800 years. It was once at the end of a very popular ancient Tibetan trading route and is now a World Heritage listed site. The city is populated mainly by Naxi people with their vibrant blue traditional dress as well as Lisu, Pomi, Han and a small number of Tibetans. The town has a thriving arts community and its own traditional music and musical instruments can often be heard whilst walking along the cobbled streets. The ancient part of town with its narrow streets and clay-tiled roofing is best explored on foot. On arrival we'll transfer to the Black Dragon Pool and in the afternoon we'll explore the old town. We'll return to Black Dragon Pool in the late afternoon before attending an evening performance by a Naxi orchestra. Overnight in Blossom Hill Joyland

Day 6 Fly to Chengdu. Afternoon Chengdu.

We fly to Chengdu this morning. We'll transfer to the hotel on arrival and later head out to capture the local sights. Overnight in Buddha Zen Hotel Chengdu.

Day 7 Morning visit to Panda Sanctuary. Drive to Songpan.

A recognised symbol of China, the Giant Panda is also an endangered animal. With fewer than 1000 left in the wild, a visit to the Panda Breeding Research Centre in Chengdu is a unique opportunity to see these animals in an environment that mimics their natural habitat. This centre leads the world in research into the rearing and breeding of Pandas and your visit supports this ongoing work. We start the day early and travel a short distance out of town to the Panda Sanctuary. Pandas are at their most active in the morning so we should be able to see them in the large open enclosures of the sanctuary. A nursery is also on sight (maybe we will be lucky to view new borns!) as well as an educational center and museum. The Sanctuary is also home to Red Pandas. We'll have the morning to wander the grounds before transferring by road in the afternoon to Songpan old town (370km/approx 6 hours). Overnight in Songpan Fengyu Shangyuan Hotel

Day 8 Huanglong National Park and Mounigou Valley

Full day visiting Huanglong National Park and Mounigou Valley. Huanglong National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its colorful pools formed by calcite deposits, as well as diverse forest ecosystems, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and hot springs. Overnight in Songpan Fengyu Shangyuan Hotel *Please note that road conditions can be variable during winter. The program is subject to change according to road conditions.

Day 9 Drive to Langmusi.

This morning we depart for Langmusi (approx 5 hours) with lunch en route. Our plan is to arrive in Langmusi in early afternoon in time to visit to the Kerti Monastery. Overnight in Langmusi Hotel, Langmusi

Day 10 Drive to Xiahe

This morning we'll visit the Serti Monastery, home to around 350 monks. We'll then drive to Xiahe (approx 3 hours). At Xiahe is the enormous Tibetan Monastery of Labrang, an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and is second only in size to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The Lamasery, built in 1709, has more than 10,000 rooms, where over 3,000 lamas were once accommodated. It has a collection of books exceeding 65,000 volumes. We will spend the next 3 days in Xiahe, witnessing the Great Prayer Festival. Overnight Baoma Hotel, Xiahe

Day 11 to 13 In Xiahe - Monlam Chenmo Festival

One of the main festivals of Tibetan Buddhism the Monlam Chenmo Festival, or Great Prayer Festival, sees monks gathering for chanting prayers and performing religious rituals. While at the Festival we will witness the thangka display, Cham or mask dances, butter lanterns & sculptures. Overnight Baoma Hotel, Xiahe

Day 14 Drive to Tongren

This morning we will photograph the Maitreya Statue Parade. As part of Tibetan New Year celebrations the Maitreya statue is paraded around the exterior wall or perimeter of the monastery. In the afternoon we'll drive to Tongren (approx 2.5 hours) where we'll visit Longwu Monastery. Overnight in Repkong Norbang Travel Inn.

Day 15 Drive to Xining

This morning we'll visit Upper and Lower Wutong Monastery. We'll then continue on to Kumbum Monastery. Later this afternoon we'll drive to Xining. Overnight in Sanwant Hotel Xining

Day 16 Trip concludes in Xining

Your trip concludes today. You will be transferred to the airport for your onward connecting flight.

National Geographic Great Prayer Festival & South West China

From AUD $7,190 Call 1300 966 237Book Online


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