Dramatic landscapes dotted with temples and villages provide plenty to see and do in this part of Yunnan Province. Wander through local villages and get spontaneously invited into everyday homes. Set out on one of the lodge’s guided excursions to the area's natural wonders and important Buddhist sites. Linger among the worshippers at a local temple or soak up the tranquility of simply watching the night sky—this is one of the few spots in China where you can clearly see the Milky Way. Take in a performance of traditional music and dance. Go for a walk or bike ride in the valley, or head out on a hike in the sacred mountains that ring Shangri-La.
See our sample itinerary describing how you would experience this lodge during a 5-day stay.
The following experiences are included in the cost of your stay.
Set out from the lodge to explore on your own, strolling through the village or following valley trails on foot or by bike.
Spot constellations with a guide in the twinkling, clear skies over the plateau, and hear local legends of the heavens.
Gather after dinner for a lively evening with villagers and staff at the lodge. Don traditional Tibetan robes if you wish (provided by the lodge), watch a performance, and learn the steps of Tibetan dances.
The following experiences are offered at an additional cost.
Spend time with a local family on a visit to their farmhouse. Learn about their traditions and daily life firsthand, and enjoy Tibetan hospitality and a home-cooked meal.
Set out from the lodge on a variety of hikes and bike rides with local guides. Trace the Ringha River as it leaves the plain and meanders between mountains on an easy hike through pine forests and cherry trees. Pass sacred streams as you bike to a little-known hilltop temple. Trek from one Tibetan village to the next, passing yak-dotted meadows and visiting with villagers in their farmhouses for a taste of rural life. Or follow the route of the nomads on a trek to the cool highlands where rhododendrons blooms along mountain streams.
Hop on an ATV and set off to discover the remote villages and viewpoints that recall the images of Shangri-La described in James Hilton’s famous novel Lost Horizon. Note: Experienced drivers can operate their own ATV. Non-drivers will be driven by a tour guide.
Explore two beautiful high plateau lakes in Potatso National Park, surrounded by lush spruce forests and wild rhododendrons. Keep an eye out for birdlife and musk deer, and learn about the drunken fish of Bita Lake.
Head northwest on the road to Tibet to Rongpa Valley, where rare black-necked cranes spend the winter. On the way, stop in the artisan villages of Nixi, known for its black pottery, and Gonjo, where artisans craft lacquer bowl woodcarvings. Learn about the age-old tea trade in the town of Punzera, on the banks of the Jinsha River—the upper reaches of the Yangtze.
Venture into Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan. Built in the 17th century in the style of Lhasa’s Potala Palace, the monastery is home to more than 700 monks of the Gelukpa sect. With a guide, visit the main chapel and receive blessings from the high lama. Then take a scenic walk in a gorge at the base of Shiga Mountain before lunch in Dukezong Old Town.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of old Lijiang is a three-hour drive south on a road that winds scenically through grasslands and typical Tibetan villages. Pass through a village of the Yi people and stop at the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge, which cleaves the mountains, plunging some 10,000 feet from mountaintop to the rushing Jinsha River below. Follow the valley to Lijiang’s Old Town for lunch and enjoy time to wander along its canals, bridges, and alleyways.
Drive north along the Jinsha River, stopping to see black-neck cranes (depending on the season) and visit an artisan woodcraft village and a picturesque village that showcases northern Tibet’s flat-roof architecture. Pass Dhondupling Monastery, the second largest monastery in the region, and continue to Baima Snow Mountain. Go on walks amid unique alpine flora and take in views of jagged Himalaya peaks.
Head east through a beautiful valley of Tibetan, Yi, and Naxi villages to the foot of Haba Snow Mountain. Here, water flows over the marble-white travertine terraces of Baishuitai, a sacred site for members of the local Donga culture.
Local recipes and ingredients fuel Banyan Tree Ringha’s two main dining venues, the Chang Sa Bar and Restaurant and the Llamo Restaurant. Savor traditional bread, Tibetan clay hot pot, and barbecued meats, and taste freshly picked fruit. The bar offers a selection of sakes and Chinese rice wines.
Guests are also invited to enjoy a memorable dinner experience in the lodge’s Mongolian ger. After a traditional feast, sample the highland barley liquor that’s unique to the region and join locals in a typical dance around the bonfire.
The spa experience is a highlight at Banyan Tree Ringha, where beautiful architecture, tranquil countryside, and ancient Asian healing traditions converge to create a serene sanctuary. Therapists offer a range of massages as well as health and beauty remedies that incorporate aromatic oils, grains, herbs, and spices. Treat yourself to unusual and revitalizing treatments like a tea pouch massage, a warm ginger scrub, a rice wine bath, or a massage using hot river stones that are carved with Tibetan Buddhist mantras.
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