“Visiting China, to Enjoy the World Heritage Site Lijiang, Follow our Hearts to Shangri-la & Feel like Stopping Time at Yading"
This is a definition for this trip. It is yet another dream trip which is much more than the word 'beautiful' can describe. It is the last Shangri-la trip.
It is 8 days trip (from 17-24 September 2018).
Day 1 : Bangkok - Kunming - Lijiang
Day 2 : Lijiang - Shangri-la
Day 3 : Shangri-la - Daocheng Yading
Day 4 : Yading, long trek to Milk Lake (Niu Nai Hai)
Day 5 : Yading Pearl Lake (Zhen Zhu Hai) - Chong Gu Temple -Daocheng
Day 6 : Daocheng - Shangri-la
Day 7 : Shangri-la - Kunming
Day 8 : Kunming - Bangkok
Day 1: We first fly to Kunming, to save time, we then continue to take another flight to Lijiang and spend a night there. This picture depicts the old city Lijiang with its unique roof and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain outstandingly stand there as its backdrop. It is so beautiful and indeed a perfect combination.
The old city Lijiang is aged more than 800 years. Its architecture, history, and culture is quite different than other old cities in China because it was the inhabitant community for Naxi minority group since the ancient time. This city is also named "Venice of the East" and a World Heritage Site.
There are a lot of different types of food and some are quite strange as well.
Day 2: In the afternoon, we take a bus from Lijiang to Shangri-la which is about 3 hours ride (58 RMB). We choose to stay in old town area. Soon after checking in, it's raining. Oh well, it didn't keep us off from our travel plan. From the old town, it is easy to roam around. The weather is chill and nice. Then, we stop at Tafo Temple. Thanks to the rain, we could capture the water reflection photo of the temple.
For dinner, we choose to try the most popular menu here, which is yak meat. Well, that we are already here, why not, right? The taste is similar to beef.
Day 3: We take a bus from Shangri-la to Daocheng (109 RMB). it is about 8-10 hours drive. It is such a fun ride. The view starts from mountain ranges scene with a strong flowing river tide below 🏞 It is quite beautiful. Soon, you will also see a close-up deep cliff view that you will be too scared to look at. When you are about to fall sleep, 😪 you will be woken up by jumping up from your seats due to huge rocks are blocking the road and trying to see if you can go pass by, what a fun ride it is!
This road construction delays our time by an hour.
When we are about to reach Daocheng, the driver would ask who wish to go further to Yading and he will call another van to pick us up (50 RMB each). This van will take us to the entrance of Yading Nature Reserve.
Since it's quite late when we reach here, so we go straight to buy a ticket. Our original plan is to spend a night inside the reserve, but we were told that all rooms are fully booked. So we have to find a hotel in front instead which is quite expensive (400 RMB).
Oxygen canned can be purchased here, it is cheaper than elsewhere (20 RMB).
Day 4: The entrance ticket is 170 RMB and the bus ride is 120 THB and they are valid for 3 days. If you stay inside the reserve, you don't need to pay for the next day bus ride. For those who stay outside, take a photo and show to the staff, and you need to pay only half price the next day (60 RMB).
Today we sleep inside the reserve. After packing, we begin to climb the altitude of nearly 5,000 m. This super light oxygen make us tired easily. Meanwhile, this Altitude Sickness which I've never experienced and heard of also make our trip the most challenging and worrying on our health condition. I took Diamox a day prior to coming here and every 8 hours. I think it's very helpful. I didn't experience any altitude sickness except a bit numb hands and mouth (please consult a pharmacist first because some people may be allergic to this medicine.)
On the first day trekking, we choose the long trek of 5 km distance which will lead us to Luorong Grassland, the Milk Lake, and Five Color Lake. The reserve bus would drop us at the long and short trek intersection. When you walk a bit further, there's a ticket point for a round trip golf cart (80 RMB) which help us save a lot of distance and time so we buy it without a second thought, haha.
At the beginning, the trek is flat and very easy to walk. The horse ride is 300 RMB.
Then we stop for lunch. The actual food and what's on a package is quite different, haha. However, this is the most beautiful view for a meal in my life. We have to buy food from outside because nothing is sold inside. The restroom is also only available at bus drop off area.
The nature here is so beautiful, like mountains, river, waterfall, and lake.
After lunch break, the fun begins, haha. The road starts to get steeper and steeper. We have to walk while breathing in the oxygen from the can. That we enjoy taking photos and relaxing too much, we start to find people walking back. Then, a Chinese guy told us that we must hurry, otherwise, we won't make it. With his word, we now realize that we spend too much time behind, haha. After that, we speed up because the last golf cart is at 6.30 p.m. and the last bus is 7.30 p.m. When you start seeing those prayer flags, it means you are getting close.
The last bus is different in each season. In the winter time, it's dark earlier and the bus will be over sooner too.
And then, we reach the Milk Lake, the highlight here. Once I reach there, I just truly understand how it feels when people say all your tiresome is gone. I feel so lucky standing here. How do I start to describe the breathtaking view I see in front of me?
If I say it's beautiful like a heaven would be exaggerated because I've never been there yet, haha. But if I say this must be the closest to the definition of 'heaven', I think it will do.
If you want to come here, I recommend you to start the day early and come straight to this lake so that you can enjoy the atmosphere here for as long as possible. And then, you can take photos on the way back. I think that would be a smarter way of managing time. It's a pity that we won't make it to the Five Color Lake although it's only 300 m away because this 300 m is very steep and tough.
We almost have to run on the way back, otherwise, we could miss the last bus. The sky looks pretty cloudy too.
Soon, it rains and this reminds me of Boy's song....
"Be patient when it rains, it at least shows us something different."
At least when the sky is not open, we can see the rainbow. Thinking positively, how many people would have a chance to capture the rainbow view here, haha.
And here is water reflecting scene.
Day 5: A short trek of Pearl Lake and Chong Gu Temple, the total distance is 1.5 km. The trail is good-condition staircases going up. It is easier than yesterday walk but still got us quite tiring. View along both side is as beautiful as the long trek.
This explains why this place is named 'the last Shangri-la'. I can't imagine how beautiful it could get during leaves changing color season. The mid to the end of October is the peak season and so are the hotels which would get much more expensive.
It didn't take long before we reach the Peak Lake. We spend quite sometime here since apart from this breathtaking view, the weather is really nice. It actually takes us quite long before we could take this shot with no one else in the frame as it gets more crowded as the time goes by.
We stop at Chong Gu Temple on the way back. It is a 700 years old Tibetan temple located in Yading Nature Reserve.
After getting out of Yading Nature Reserve, we go back to sleep at Daocheng in order to take a bus back to Shangri-la which only available at 6.10 a.m. (108 RMB). But when we reach Daocheng, it's already dark so we didn't get to buy it yet. We go there the next day early morning to see if there's any seats left. Luckily, we still could get tickets even though it's one of the last, at the very back seats already.
Day 6: We take an 8 hours bus back to Shangri-la. Today the weather is quite nice, after checking in at the hotel in old town area, we walk to Tafo Temple.
Prayer Flag has a long history. Of course, those images and messages reflect Tibetan Buddhist ideas and beliefs. When the wind blows a flag full of enchantments and sacred symbols, it is like sacred power is being sent to cover the whole area, spreading charms and good luck to people in the area.
The colors used for the flags are five colors, meaning the 5 elements. It could be arranged from either left to right, right to left, or from the bottom up. Starting from yellow which means earth, green means water, red means fire, white means wind, and finally blue means air.
There is a Tibetan wheel to spin for blessings but the wheel here is extraordinarily different from other places. This is due to this giant wheel is the world's largest wheel, with a height of 21 m and a weight of up to 60 tonnes, requiring more than 20 people to rotate.
Atmosphere around the temple is very beautiful.
Day 7: We are going to Songzanlin Temple, the ticket is 115 RMB and we bought from a hotel for 105 RMB. We take the bus no.3 from old town and get off at the ticket booth before taking a bus down to the temple.
The lama Songzanlin is an important temple in Shangri-la. It was built in the fifth Dalai Lama, during the Chinese emperor Kangxi. The model is replicated from the Potala Palace in Lhasa. It is the largest Tibetan lama temple in Yunnan which is older than 300 years old. And in the festive season, Tibetans still maintain their traditions by mask dancing and such.
This water reflecting view is located outside the temple, walking along the lake towards the left and you will see it.
“Shangri-la”, to travel to Shangri-la, we must climb several hills and takes quite sometime, it's like the land of dream. "Shangri-la" is derived from Tibetan, it means the way to the sun and the moon by the mind, and the other meaning is another side of the world or a heaven on earth.
This is the information I get from internet. In fact, Shangri-la is very developed. It has an airport with no high building and all buildings are built in the same style. However, in the old town area, the Tibetan charming style housing is well preserved.
While wandering in the old town, many local people are out for dancing at the city square. I also join with them although I can't dance at all, haha. The later it gets, the more people join in. Foreigners are also joining the dance too. You see smiles on people's faces everywhere you look. It is such a memorable and fun moment to be remembered. I'm truly impressed.
Day 8: We take a flight from Shangli-la to Kunming and then roam around Kunming a day before flying back to Bangkok at night. Above pictures were taken at Guandu Ancient town which has lots of shops for clothes, shoes, food, and snack. It's quite a good crowd here too.
In the evening, we go to walk at Jin Bi Square area which has lots of clothes shops and good Chinese brands with a reasonable price. This place could give us a long and enjoyable walk.
Expenses in summary:
Bangkok-Kunming round trip flight ticket is 2,020 THB.
Kunming-Lijiang flight ticket is 1,678 THB.
Shangri-la - Kunming flight ticket is 2,263 THB.
7 nights hotels divided by 2 people is 2,837 THB each.
Entrance fee + bus ride + golf cart inside the Yading Nature Reserve is 1,680 THB.
Bus fare is 1,620 THB.
Songzanlin Temple entrance fee is 504 THB.
Food, snack, taxi, and souvenir is 4,600 THB.
Chinese visa fee is 1,500 THB.
Total expenses is 18,702 THB.
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For this trip, with this budget and magnificent view of the nature, we are totally falling for China and we will return for sure.
Actually, there're many more beautiful places in Lijiang and Shangri-la that we have yet to visit. If we get to visit again, we will share with you guys for sure. Thank you so much for following us :)
- You should learn some Chinese as English didn't help much.
- You should bring a hygienic mask because Chinese smoke a lot.
- You need to use your passport when buying a bus ticket too.
- Do not solely rely on the internet upon reaching here as it might not always work.
- Take the Diamox for altitude sickness a day in advance (consult with pharmacist first).
- Do not panic if you see Chinese people are speaking loudly or shouting, it is normal here.