Kunming To Xi'an

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. We start this fascinating trip in Xi'an, the ancient capital of China and home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. From Xi'an we head south to the sacred Buddhist mountain of Wudang Shan en route to the mighty Yangtze River, where we take a ferry journey through the stunning area of the Three Gorges. Arriving in China's southern provinces, we visit the incredible ancient Buddha caves of Dazu and visit the giant pandas in the buzzing cultural hub of Chengdu, before seeing the collosal Great Buddha of Leshan and joining the pilgrims on the phenomenal sacred mountain and golden temple of Emei Shan! We then travel through the breathtaking scenery of Yunnan province to arrive in the atmospheric old town of Lijiang, a magical and authenic slice of old China and our base for visiting the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. From there we will head to the fantastic town of Dali, home to beautiful ancient pagodas, stunning mountain scenery, and the unique culture of the local Naxi people, before finishing our wonderful journey in the delightful city of Kunming. Join us on this wonderful and unforgettable overland experience in China!

Duration: 21 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Hiking, Parks & Nature Reserves, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Trekking, Boating Physical rating: Average
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158295
Starts: Kunming, China Finishes: Xi'an, China
You will visit
  • Kunming
  • Dali
  • Lijiang
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Panzhihua
  • Emei Shan
  • Chengdu
  • Leshan
  • Dazu
  • Chongqing
  • Wanzhou
  • Three Gorges
  • Badong
  • Yichang
  • Xiang Fan
  • Wudang Shan
  • Xi'an



Day 1: Kunming

Border Information: if joining in Kunming, you will most likely enter China at Kunming Changshui International Airport (IATA code: KMG).

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

The rest of the day will be free to explore the city of Kunming, its museums and its parks.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kunming before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kunming.

In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2-3: Dali

Today our journey begins with a morning drive to the beautiful Naxi town of Dali, where we will stay for 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have a free day to fully explore the area and for optional activities such as some short treks in the nearby Cangshan mountains or hiring bicycles to ride around the Dali lake.

In Dali we stay in a friendly hostel or guesthouse with good facilities.


Day 4-6: Lijiang

Today we drive further north through Yunnan province to the beautiful 'Old-China'-style town of Lijiang, the base for visiting the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On the following 2 days we will have free time to explore the town of Lijiang and its surroundings. One very popular excursion here is to go on a 2 day/1 night trek along the high trail above the Tiger Leaping Gorge - this is by far the best way to see the gorge from some truly incredible vantage points, and we will have the opportunity to take this trek during our time here (staying in a local guesthouse on the trail on the first night and returning to Lijiang for the second). For those that don't want to do the full trek, your crew will also be able to arrange a trip to the low sections of the gorge, where there is a flat walkway to various viewpoints.

In Lijiang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 7: Panzhihua

Today we have a long drive north through stunning mountain scenery towards China's Sichuan province.

We will aim to wild camp en route near the town of Panzhihua tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.


Day 8-9: Emei Shan

Today we will continue our drive to the small town of Emei Shan.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore Emei Shan Mountain, one of the holiest sites in Chinese Buddhism and the site of hundreds of temples and an incredible golden statue of the deity known as Samantabhadra. It is possible to walk all the way up the stairs from the base of the mountain, joining the many pilgrims in their journey to the temple complex at the mountain summit, or take the cable car up instead!

In Emei Shan we will stay in a local guesthouse.


Day 10-11: Chengdu

Today we continue our journey north to the town of Leshan to visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha - at 71m tall, this statue is the largest Buddha rock carving in the world!

After our visit we will continue to the incredible city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where we will stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city's parks, streets, and museums, see the New Global Business Centre (the world's largest building) and visit the fascinating and incredibly photogenic Jinli Old Town.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours (including a 2 hour visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha).

On the following day we will have an included visit to the fantastic Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. We'll then return to Chengdu for another free afternoon to further explore the city.

In Chengdu we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 12: Dazu

From Chengdu we will continue to the small village of Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly-coloured freizes and carvings.

In Dazu we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.


Day 13: Chongqing

Today we will drive on the Chongqing, where we will have time to explore the city and prepare for tomorrow's ferry cruise on the mighty Yangtze River!

We will most likely stay in a local hotel in Chongqing tonight, but on occasion our ferry may need to depart tonight, in which case we will have a spare day later in the trip that we can use at our discretion.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.


Day 14-16: Wanzhou

Today we embark on our Yangtze River Cruise. We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruiser. But this definitely doesn't mean slumming it, as most of the local ferries have now been upgraded to good quality accommodation and are often retired cruise boats. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.

The journey itself usually takes 3 days/3 nights and heads through some areas of stunning scenery, especially near the Three Gorges - the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid-like Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges at various points on the trip. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.

We will arrive in the city of Yichang and disembark our ferry to rejoin our truck and co-driver and have some free time to explore Yichang and the surrounding area.

We will most likely have an included visit to the incredible Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, on the last day

In Yichang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 17: Xiang Fan

This morning we will have some free time in Yichang or visit the Three Gorges Dam if we did not have time yesterday. After lunch we will drive to the town of Xiang Fan, en route to Wudang Shan.

In Xiang Fan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.


Day 18-19: Wudang Shan

Today we will continue our journey with a drive to the beautiful Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve, the birthplace of the martial art of Taichi and the location of the filming of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. We will also try to stop at the Purple Cloud Monastery en route if time allows.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore the mountain's sights, temples and martial arts schools.

In Wudang Shan we will stay in a local hotel.


Day 20: Xi'an

Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon on arrival to explore the city of Xi'an, its famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.


Day 21: Xi'an

Border Information: if leaving in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We'll return to Xi'an in the afternoon and have some more free time to further explore this incredible city!

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Xi'an. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

    • Wander through the incredibly atmospheric Old Town of Lijiang, famous for its waterways, bridges and unique architecture
    • Trek to the summit of Emei Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China, and explore the incredible golden temples on its summit
    • Visit the wonderful Giant Panda breeding centre in Chengdu, and learn all about the gentle creatures and the ongoing efforts to conserve them
    • See the colossal Dafo Great Buddha in Leshan, the world's largest rock-carved Buddha statue
    • Cruise down the mighty Yangtze River for 3 nights on a local sleeper ferry
    • Stop off to visit the 1700-year-old Zhang Fei temple, famous for its exterior red-light decoration
    • Visit the phenomenal and controversial Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world
    • Trek up Tianzu Peak to visit the famous Taoist martial arts school and numerous temples on Wudang Shan
    • Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew and 1 Chinese crew (In China only)
    • 5% Camping - 95% Hotels
Why book with us?

Trusted by travellers since 1979

We guarantee to beat any price

Low deposits, Book now. Pay later.

24/7/365 Help on the road

Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Boating
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey

Reviews (2)
Robert W Posted on: 

Enthusiastic and motivated leaders!

Overall Rating
  •   90%
  •   90%
  •   90%
  •   80%
  •   90%
Robert W Posted on: 

Claire our guide extended herself well beyond the call of duty.

Overall Rating
  •   90%
  •   80%
  •   90%
  •   90%
  •   80%