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The Southern Explorer

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There is an old Chinese saying that goes something like this, "the further away from the emperor, the better off you are." For hundreds of years, the only common denominator between north and south was the written language. The faces, the language, the customs, and the food are totally unique to this part of China. It’s a different world and one we’ll reveal in the Southern Explorer.

Trip Highlights
We start our tour in Hong Kong, with enough time for you to get acclimated and get a good overview of the city. We take the sizable distances out of the south by utilizing short domestic flights, traveling in a westerly direction until we hit the border of Tibet. We will see some amazing scenery, meet some interesting people, and sample the southern culture.

  • The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. It still is one of the most unique cities in the world and a perfect introduction to the south
  • The Dragon Back Rice Terraces in Guangxi Province are simply spectacular and essentially the same as they were 700 years ago.
  • Many travelers consider Yangshuo the highlight of their trip to China. And for good reason, the karst-lined landscape and the beautiful Li River are the backdrop for many movies filmed in China.
  • Kunming, called the "City of Eternal Spring" and the northern end of the famous Burma Road of World War II. It is the jumping off point for the stone forest of Shilin.
  • Dali and the World Heritage city of Lijiang, where we will learn about the "minority" peoples of China. Market days and trips to the outlying villages are experiences not to be missed
  • Zhongdian, or its new name, Shangri-La. It is as close to experiencing Tibet without going there, as you can get. We will visit the Songzanlin Temple, a replica of the Potala Palace in Lhasa

Domestic airlines, private and public buses, river boat, and bicycle

Tourist class hotels and a family stay in Guangxi

Not included, except as indicated on itinerary. Allow $6-$9 per person, per day.

Optional Costs
Allow $60-$80 per person for entrance fees and optional day trips during the trip.

Hiking, sightseeing, and cycling in Yangshuo (optional).

Daily Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Hong Kong and transfer to hotel. We'll have a brief get together that evening to outline the next few days' activities.

Day 2 - Today is explore Hong Kong day. Options include the markets of Kowloon, the Star Ferry across to Central District, and everyone's favorite--Victoria Peak with its magnificent views. (Meals: B and D)

Day 3 - We enter the mainland and a different world today. It will take almost a full day but that night we will stay with a local family and unwind with a sip or two of their homemade rice wine.(Meals: B and D)

Day 4 - We will explore the stunning rice terraces, some only a meter wide. That afternoon, we transfer to Yangshuo. (Meals: B and D)

Day 5 - Yangshuo is surrounded by a karst-studded countryside. Take a cruise along the Li River, grab a bicycle and explore the small villages.(Meals: B and D)

Day 6 - This morning we shuttle to Guilin and hop a quick flight to Kunming in Yunnan Province. (Meals: L and D )

Day 7 - Today we visit the Stone Forest, two hours outside of Kunming. That evening we'll sample some of the Yunnan cuisine.(Meals: B, L, and D)

Day 8 - Travel to Dali, home of the Bai people. Explore the surrounding countryside or take the cable car up to Jade Green Mountain to view the stunning valley. (Meals: B and D )

Day 9 - We continue our stay in Dali, perhaps taking in one of the outlying village's market day. (Meals: D)

Day 10- In the morning, we will venture a few hours north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang. We stay in the old part of the city; a maze of small cobblestone lanes, ancient wooden buildings, and swirling streams. (Meals: L and D)

Day 11- Further explore Lijiang and the surrounding countryside. We'll help you select some alternative day trips both in and around Lijiang. (Meals: D)

Day 12- To Zhongdian. Zhongdian is principally a Tibetan town, with a mixture of Bai, Naxi, and Hui (Muslim) people. (Meals:L and D)

Day 13- The morning is yours. In the afternoon, we catch the quick flight back into Kunming and transfer to our hotel. Our tour ends here, although the night's stay is included in the trip price. (Meals: L)

Note: We end our trip in Kunming for your flexibility. Kunming is well-connected by air and rail to cities all over China and it is very easy to catch a flight back to Hong Kong or continue your travels in China. Our guide will be there to assist you.

(rev 6/2009)