Banyan Tree Ringha

Sample Itinerary—Journey to Shangri-la

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

Experience true Chinese serenity in this peaceful corner of Yunnan Province. Discover the enduring soul of Tibetan culture on visits to local farms, villages, and important Buddhist sites, and breathe in the spirit of Shangri-la on leisurely walks through this dramatic landscape ringed by the Himalaya.

Your experience at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish.


  • On a private guided excursion, get a firsthand view of local Buddhist traditions at a nearby stupa, stop in at a family farmhouse, and pay a visit to a historic temple (National Geographic Exclusive).
  • Head into the surrounding countryside on foot, meet local farmers and their roaming yaks and other livestock, and walk in a gorge at the base of Shiga Mountain.
  • Visit the Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, and step into temples draped in prayer flags.
  • Explore the artisan villages of Rongpa Valley with a guide, and learn about the region’s ancient tea trade.

Day 1—Arrive Shangri-la, China

Enjoy a warm welcome and brief orientation, then retreat to your suite or lodge adorned in Tibetan decor. Begin adjusting to the altitude on a short hike along the sacred Ringha River and through pine forests and cherry trees. Then set off on a guided excursion offered exclusively to National Geographic guests. Participate in a typical Tibetan ritual at the White Stupa, and learn about local beliefs and sacred traditions like the water burial. Take in views of the beautiful Ringha Valley from atop a nearby mountain, and then stop in at a family farmhouse to visit with weavers and sample Tibetan snacks. End the outing at the Dao Bo Si, known locally as Five Wisdom Buddha, which many consider the origin of Buddhist history in the region.

Day 2—Tibetan Traditions

Experience the warm hospitality of the Tibetan people on a guided walking excursion through the surrounding villages and pastures. Watch village women spin sheep and yak fur into long threads and weave treasured rugs and clothes. Visit farmhouses; sample homemade yak butter, tea, and cheese; observe women tending the fields; and encounter yaks, horses, and sheep roaming in the meadows. Enjoy a family-style lunch in a Tibetan farmhouse, then continue through an ancient pine forest, home to a 3,500-year-old tree. Emerge at the sacred hilltop Ringha Da Bao Si Monastery, an 800-year-old working temple draped in fluttering prayer flags. Back at the lodge tonight, try a Tibetan clay hot pot in the on-site Mongolian ger.

Day 3—Sonzanling Monastery and Old Town Tour

Venture to the nearby Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan. With a guide, tour the main chapel, receive blessings from the high lama, and bring home a Tibetan blessing scarf called a khada. Then take a scenic walk in a gorge at the base of Shiga Mountain, followed by lunch in Dukezong Old Town. Enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 4—Rongpa Valley

Head to Rongpa Valley, where rare black-necked cranes spend the winter. En route, 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, perched on the banks of the Jinsha River—the upper reaches of the Yangtze. Soak up the local scene over lunch in a village restaurant. This evening, experience a Tibetan barbecue at the lodge’s Chang Sa Bar and Restaurant.

Day 5—Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to connect with your flight home, or continue on to your next destination.

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