Archive for the ‘Yunnan Travel’ Category

When is the best time to visit Lijiang?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
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Plan your Lijiang Tour? Lijiang, located in the northwest of Yunnan Province, is a place blessed with fresh air, clear streams and breathtaking snow mountains. Lijiang sits at an average elevation of 2,400 meters. Many visitors both home and abroad come to visit Lijiang every year.

Lijiang enjoys a temperate climate year around. Lijiang’s rainy season begins in May and ends in October, with the heaviest and most recurrent rainfall periods occurring during July and August.

Autumn is regarded as the best season to visit Lijiang. In fact, any time during the year is suitable for traveling, depending on the kind of traveling experience and sites you want to see.

Whatever time of year, Lijiang is said to experience “four seasons in one day”, so be sure to pack accordingly. Check out below to have some information on each season:

Lijiang in Spring
Spring in Lijiang, which lasts from March to May, is a comfortable season for visitors to come. Neither cold nor hot, average temperature is about 17℃. The sky is blue and clear every day.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain can be seen from every where of the city, and flowers are in blossom. What’s more, there are fewer tourists in spring than other seasons.

Lijiang in Summer
Summer is also a good season for traveling to Lijiang. But there are heave rains, very often too foggy to see the snow Mountain actually.

There are very little snow in the mountain in Summer. Much more expensive to come, as everything double the price. The usual cloud cover makes summer less than ideal for sightseeing.

Lijiang In Summer

Lijiang In Summer


 Lijiang in Autumn
Autumn is the most beautiful season in Lijiang with comfortable temperature, clear and crisp days, prismy trees and flowers. The rains are almost completely gone by mid-October.There’s little rain in the fall and the local alpine wildflowers and grasses are at their best. Nights in autumn are crisp and chilly, take a coat with you is necessary.

Lijiang in Winter
Winter in Lijiang is also very nice season for traveling. The Jade Dragon Snow mountain is the good place to go in winter. It is clean with blue sky between November to January.

It’s very warm in the daytime, temperature usually above 12℃, up to 25゜C, but it could be -7℃ at night. Very few tourists come to Lijiang in Winter. It’s also the cheapest season to come.

Tip:  Hassle-free Lijiang Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Lijiang guided tours:

12 Days Beijing – Xian – Guilin – Kunming – Lijiang

8-Day Beijing – Lijiang – Dali – Kunming – Beijing Private Tour

6-Day Lijiang – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Trekking Tour

Further Readings

Top Things to Do in Lijiang
Top 10 Places in Yunnan
Top Things to Do in Kunming

Any questions, just drop line.

Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
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Last night we wandered Shangri-la’s old town – Dukezong (独克宗), having an authentic glimpse into the cobbled lanes and looking for a place to grab our dinner. The old lanes were flanked by two-storey wooden buildings used as restaurants, shops, cafes and hostels. We felt a bit disappointed that many of the buildings and lanes were still under reconstruction due to the fire that broke out on January of 2014, lasting over ten hours and destroying most of the town.

We saw original wood used to rebuild the houses in the old town instead of concrete, keeping the old lanes and houses in an old-fashioned way. It was still a laid back, peaceful town, but we sensed that something had disappeared from the over-thirteen-hundred–years-old-town and the old town’s spirit and charisma would never come back.

We tried to forget the fire, not to be distracted by the new wooden structures and construction sites here and there. Fortunately there were still some houses that had survived the fire,  making you feel time had stood still here, at least momentarily. There were not many tourists milling in the old town, partly due to the devastating fire and partly the tourist shoulder season.

Some hostels, shops and restaurants, for various reasons, were closed with no lights on, making the nearby lanes very dim and lifeless. We kept on walking on the cobble-paved lanes, trying to find a place for a sit-down dinner. Before we lost our patience, on our right side we saw a restaurant brightly lit and most importantly it was packed with dinners inside.

Without hesitation, we entered the Tibetan-style restaurant and it was a yak hot-pot restaurant, clean, warm and cozy. Luckily there was a small table available for three of us and a man came up to us, waving us to sit down. Later we knew that the man was the owner of the restaurant.  He was tall and thin, talkative with a sense of humor. After he bragged about his hot-pot,  we ordered a medium-sized yak meat hot-pot, and a big barley cake as our staple food.

yak Hot pot

Yak Hot Pot in Dukezong Old Town

Before the hot-pot was ready, I stood up and walked around the restaurant. It was a fascinating restaurant with some of wall areas and pillars posted with small pieces of paper by diners who had written down their hopes, work, love and futures for life.

The diners inside the house were all travelers who had came far away from their home towns like us, drinking like fish and talking loudly. It was raucous, but a feel like home. It was a wonderful experience leaving your residential place and traveling around the world periodically.

The yak hot-pot was a bonus. The yak meat was soft, delicious and a little spicy; the soup was rich, and very flavourful; the barley cake was tender and fluffy, very tasteful. We discussed the travel plan for the next day – drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng over the hot-pot.

The yak hot pot Dukezong

The yak hot pot was a bonus

Today we will start our last leg of our loop trip which has a total length of 1272 km from Daocheng and back to Daocheng: October 11, Daocheng to Litang ( 148 km 理塘) ; Litang to Batang ( 177 km 巴塘), to Zhubalong (35 km 竹巴笼),  to Mangkang in Tibet (75 km 芒康), to Feilaisi at Deqin (216 km  德钦飞来寺); October 12, Feilaisi (Deqin )  to Shangri-la (200 km ).

So today, 14 October, 2015, we will return to Daocheng ( 421 km 稻城) via Xiangcheng (乡城). While we talked about the drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng over the dinner last night, we overheard the people at our next table and learned that some of them had just came from Daocheng to Shangri-la. Mr. Chen started  up a small talk with them and got some practical information on the drive route and road conditions involved. It would be a very tough journey with some bad road conditions and possible landslides.

We leave our lodging hotel in Shangri-la around 8:30am, and drive up the National Highway G214 north. We are supposed to drive across Jinsha River, getting to Xiangcheng (乡城县), and Sangdui Town (桑堆镇), finally Daocheng (稻城县),  totally 421 km.

Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng

Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng

At Fulongqiao Town (伏龙桥镇), we branch off the National Highway G214, crossing the bridge over Jinshan River and entering the Derong County in Sichuan Province. It is a county-level mountain road, dusty, bumpy, potholes and narrow with deteriorated road surface. We pass by one section of the road under reconstruction with pickup trucks, a mobile crane and workers busy working on the road.

Half hour later,  the vehicles ahead of us aren’t moving, and we come to a halt.  Soon a word comes that there is a big landslide ahead not far from us. It seems the possibility of reopening the road is very slim. After discussing with the drivers from other vehicles, we decide to have an alternative road –  Shangri-la – Derong – Xiangcheng – Sangdui – Daocheng which is one third longer than the original road.

It is really a workout to drive over the narrow, steep, zigzag mountain road at the sea level of 2000m – 3000m. Road conditions in some areas are fairly good – asphalt road; some are not good, or very bad – just dirty roads especially at a higher sea level. When we arrive at Daocheng, it is almost 10:00pm! That means we drive on the mountain road in some areas just in  almost complete dark.

Shangri-la - Daocheng road

Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng

It is also a rewarding drive trip. En route, we take in the spectacular views through the side windows while driving – deep valleys, alpine meadows, snow mountains, fall foliage and dense forests. Some of the pictures below shot with my iPhone camera staying inside our vehicle.


Alpine meadow, snow mountain and coniferous forests.



A wide and open valley dotted with white Tibetan houses


Barley Fields with barley racks and straw stacks

Barley Fields with barley racks and straw stacks

Any questions on the drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng, just drop a line.


Drive from Litang to Daocheng

Chengdu tour

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Dwells Your Soul

Monday, November 23rd, 2015
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Around 3:40 pm, 13 October, 2015, we leave the earthly paradise – Pudacuo ( or Potatso 普达措 ), and drive up to the road back to the downtown of Shangri-la and then get to our today’s final stop  – Ganden Sumtseling Monastery (Songzanlin Monastery 噶丹·松赞林寺 in Chinese).

Located only 3 km north of the downtown, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is not just a monastery, but a large monastic complex that includes several lamaseries, halls, colleges, libraries, separate living quarters for monks and for the high lamas.

“Ganden Sumtseling” literally means ” The monastery is set up in order to fully understand the Teachings of the Buddha and let them to benefit the mass and have the rebirth in Buddhism”. The name was given by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1679 when the monastery was built at the patronage of Kangxi Emperor (r.1662-1722) in Qing Dynasty. It was completed in 1681. Part of the group buildings of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in 1960s and in 1980s it was rebuilt.

Now Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province, oft-lauded as ” Little Potala Palace”.  It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Chen suggests we don’t enter the huge monastic complex given the time left for the remainder of the day and try to locate a photo spot instead to take pictures of the grandeur holy place and view the monastery in sunset glow.

Parking our vehicle in the parking lot attached to the Tourist Service Center of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Scenic Area,  we enter the clean and spacious service center. We are requested to purchase an entrance ticket 115 yuan (including the shuttle service from the center to the monastery). Getting on the shuttle bus, Mr. Chen asks the bus driver to drop us off at the lake area instead of the final stop of the monastery. We’ve learned that the lake in front of the monastery offers good photo spots to shoot the monastery from the boardwalk winding over the lake.

After 15-minute bus ride, we disembark the shuttle bus and see a swamp lake south of the shiny and massive group buildings throught the left-side trees and bushes. Very soon we spot a zigzag road down to the lake below. When we come up to the lake, we see a well-maintained boardwalk running over the marsh lake south of the monastic architechures.

While we are walking down to the lake from the roadside mound, the legant and huge buildings of the monastery are clearly presented before us.

the legant and huge buildings of the monastery is clearly presented before us

The legant and huge buildings of the monastery are clearly presented before us

A signboard on a handrail of the boardwalk has a brief introduction to the lake both in Chinese and English. The lake is known as Lamuyangcuo Lake (拉姆央措湖). “Lamuyangcuo”, literally “A Lake for the Soul of Heaven Fairy”,  is a holy place to dwell the soul of the Godess of Bandanlama.

Lamuyangcuo Lake is just in front of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. It is a seasonal and plateau wetland lake fed by springs and surface water. There are some waterfowl on the lake like black-necked cranes, yellow duks and more.

Lamuyangcuo Lake

The boardwalk circles the lake offers a spectacular view of the Monastery.

Walking on the timber walkway, you can easliy find a good spot to view the magnificent group builidngs of the monastery. The main structure built in Tibetan style has a gold-covered copper roof similar to the one at the Potala Monastery in Lhasa.

The buildings of the spectacular Ganden Sumtseling Monastery have stunnng inverted reflections in the water of the holy lake.

The main structure built in Tibetan style

The main structure built in Tibetan style with reflection on the water

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery looks like a castle, a walled complex with group buildings including living quarters for monks and high lamas.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is a walled complex with group buildings

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is a walled complex with group buildings

On the right side of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery are Milk River Wetland and Conggulong Village.

Milk River Wetland and Conggulong Village

Conggulong Village and Milk River Wetland

On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound

 On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound

On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound

This is a piece of happy land where human beings, animals, and nature live in harmony.  Two Tibetan youths posed standing on the boardwalk with the backdrop of the monastery.

human beings, animals, and nature live in harmony.

Two Tibetan youths posed standing on the boardwalk

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow, a tranquil place to dwell your soul.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow

Be sure to be back on the roadside to wait for the last shuttle bus at 7:00 pm and return to the service center.  Any questions,  just drop a line.


Pudacuo is an earthly paradise
Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Chengdu tour