Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea & Horse Caravan Road, from Dali to Lijiang

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea & Horse Caravan Road, from Dali to Lijiang

8 days / 7 nights

Start: Dali (DLU) End: Lijiang (LJG)

Level 2: This is a relaxed trip with comfortable accommodations and free-time to explore on your own. Hiking and cycling is optional.

The Essentials:

Eat and explore your way through Yunnan’s Tea & Horse Caravan Road, from Dali to Lijiang, plus a unique overnight stay in Tiger Leaping Gorge. Plentiful local meals, cooking classes, market tours, and hot pots galore –  the perfect way to explore Yunnan’s diverse culture is through their equally diverse cuisine.


From 10,200 RMB per adult based on double occupancy. A 3,000 RMB per person deposit is required to reserve your spot. Remaining balances are collected 14 days before the trip starts. Single occupancy fees from 1,800 RMB per person. Prices change slightly due to seasonality.

Group Size

Small groups of 4-10 guests per tour.


All accommodations are very nice boutique guesthouses or hotels. You can expect all of the modern convenience from Western accommodations in local and authentic guesthouses that you can only find in Yunnan.


The tour starts in Dali and ends in Lijiang. Along the way, you’ll visit Xizhou Village, Erhai Lake, rose cake class, Bai-minority tye-dye, Shaxi Village and countryside cycle ride, Tiger Leaping Gorge and hike, Naxi-minority cuisine cooking class, Baisha and Shuhe Old-Towns in Lijiang.

Private Tours

We accept private tour requests for small groups of 2-12 people for any date – based on availability. Contact us if you are interested in this option.

Overview & Important Info:

Spend 8 days in the land of cured ham legs, homemade breads, bubbling bowls of rice noodles, and fried local cheese. It’s where Chinese artists come to escape the nation’s newfound love of tarmac. Its occupants are the modern heirs of the sages, musicians, chefs, and painters who’ve always been here in some form or another. Local live-music bars and evening bonfire square-dance sessions are opt-ins we highly recommend on this tour. And to us, that constant ebb and flow of peoples and their appetites in a climate well suited to agriculture, means it’s the perfect storm for all things crazy delicious.

We have personally curated this 7-night, 8-day food and sightseeing tour from Dali to Lijiang with a few stops in between – and it’s become one of our most popular trips! It’s a great balance between fun interactive activities and free-time to explore the old towns of Yunnan on your own.

This tour takes place at high altitude, with elevations ranging between 2000m and 2500m above sea level. 

The nature of this trip is relaxed. Van rides typically don’t last more than 2 hours, all strenuous activities are completely optional, and you’ll have plenty of time to explore, cafe-hop, or shop during your free time.

You may also want to consider our trip to Shangrila and Yunnan’s Tibetan Region if you are looking to experience far-off remote villages and adventure more off the tourist track. These two trips are often run in tandem so it is possible to join both.

China Yunnan Dali Map


  • 7 nights accommodations.
  • All meals, including soft drinks and beer. Food will be plentiful and varied!
  • Ticket/entrance fees at attractions.
  • Our own private ground transportation, provided each day, stocked with mineral water.
  • English speaking Lost Plate trip leader.
  • Airport pick-up in Dali on day 1.
  • Airport drop-off in Lijiang on day 8.
  • Shopping is available during your free time, but this is a no-shopping tour and is not part of our itinerary.
  • Online pre-trip briefing and Q&A by Lost Plate one week prior to departure.

Where We'll Stay:

Trip Highlights:

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Shaxi Bridge

Visit ancient old-towns and fairytale villages as you discover boutique cafes and the best local cuisine you'll only find with us.

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Rose Cakes

Visit a beautiful rose farm that sprawls for acres while your guide instructs you on how to make one of the most popular local treats: rose cakes.

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Cycling

Explore Shaxi and the surrounding countryside, stopping at a hidden-away hillside cafe and exploring a one-of-a-kind book store completely tucked away in an ancient neighboring village.

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Noodles Villas

Get the unique chance to spend the night in Tiger Leaping Gorge, in your own private villa, with incredible balcony and poolside views.

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Noodles Cooking Class

Explore Lijiang's oldest market to shop shoulder to shoulder with Naxi locals before preparing lunch in a private cooking studio with a local Naxi family.

Eat Your Way Through Yunnan's Tea Horse Road Tiger Dali Lijiang Noodles Dishes

All meals are included, plentiful, and include beer! Enjoy cured meats, fried cheese, hotpots, and dozens of plates every day.

Day to Day Itinerary:

  • Arrive and check into our hotel in Dali at any time, airport pick up is available on this day until 3pm.
  • We’ll kick things off at dinner with a local walking food tour – Lost Plate style! Try locally-made rice noodles, fried cheese, a few street snacks, a Dai minority feast served on the biggest platter you’ve ever seen, and more!

Driving: None

Hotel: A modern boutique guesthouse near Dali’s old-town with excellent mountain and lake views.

* This itinerary is subject to changes and adjustments based on seasonality and local operations.

Our Trip Leaders.

This trip is always accompanied by one of our full-time Lost Plate trip leaders. As the pioneers that curate each Lost Plate itinerary, and each bite, we know the ins and outs of every mile we travel. We work along-side local guides to create a perfectly balanced experience that no one else can offer.

Payment Terms
& Cancellation Policy:

  • Payment can be made by WeChat or Alipay. International credit cards are accepted with an additional 3% fee.
  • A deposit of 3000 RMB per person will be required to secure your spot. This deposit is non-refundable for any reason, including sickness, unless the trip is cancelled by Lost Plate due to the minimum number not being met. Full payment for the tour is required 14 days before the tour. If you need to cancel, your deposit and/or your full payment cannot be refunded.
  • Join-in trips require a minimum of 4 people to operate. You should only purchase your transportation to and from Yunnan after you received the tour confirmation notice by Lost Plate.
  • While basic travel insurance will be provided by Lost Plate, coverage is not all-encompassing. Each guest should obtain their own health and travel coverage.

Guest Reviews:


“It’s not just the food (but oh! the food!). It’s also the activities and the philosophy of travel. Lost Plate organizes small groups guided by experts, staying in boutique hotels, eating at family run restaurants, and enjoying experiences that aren’t possible either with big bus tours or as an independent traveler. Why not just travel independently? Well, in large part because travel in China is hard right now. It’s not a real vacation if you’re spending all your time worrying about health codes, trying to find hotels that allow foreigners, or figuring out the when and where and how for COVID tests. But even if China lifted all travel restrictions tomorrow, I’d still travel with Lost Plate because they’re just that good. 

Groups are small enough to fit around one large table, eating family style, trying a few (or lots of) bites of well over a hundred dishes over the course of a week. Even a well-practiced eater like myself couldn’t sample that variety while traveling on my own. And don’t worry, if there’s a dish that’s a hit with the whole table, your guide will order seconds (or thirds)! Activities are also designed to appeal to those who want unique and varied experiences. 

Yunnan isn’t a place where you go with a checklist of sights to see like you might in Beijing or Shanghai. It’s where you go to enjoy the minority (non-Han) cultures and the scenery and the pace of life. Lost Plate has created an itinerary that keeps you engaged and interested but not so busy you can’t catch your breath. Highlights include walking through multiple adorable and historic old towns, visits to a tiny shop to see how they hand make their famous stuffed bread, an optional hike well away from the crowds at Tiger Leaping Gorge, and a local market tour followed by a cooking class using the very freshest ingredients.

Hotels were also a highlight for me, with each of them offering something memorable, from a 500-year old history to some neverending views. Not places you’d ever stay if traveling with a big bus tour of 30+ people.

If you want to explore some of the best that Yunnan has to offer, I can’t recommend this tour enough. And if you think organized tours aren’t for you, let Lost Plate change your mind.”



“This was definitely one of the top three trips of my life. Our group of strangers soon became friends due to the detailed planning and care put into the itinerary and activities. I am usually an extremely independent traveler, so I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this trip, but the activities are perfectly curated so that the group time is well spent and there is free time each day for one to go out and explore on one’s own. What makes this tour so special is the care and effort put into it by each member of the team; you can tell they truly want you to have an amazing experience. The sights were unbelievably gorgeous, the food adventures sooooo delicous, varied, and soooo much fun, and the itinerary included so many optional activities (bike rides, hikes, bookstores, cafes, crafts, cooking…) that perfectly complement to all that delicious food. I also loved that while the focus was on food, it wasn’t just about eating: we explored markets, participated in cooking classes, and learned about various food-related traditions.This trip is worth every penny! I will definitely be joining again.”



“I loved the way that the trip was planned with many different types of activities in addition to delicious food. There was a tie-dye activity, cooking classes, historical tours, biking and hiking, and also options for enjoying the night life as well. It was truly a beautiful and wonderful experience packed with fun and good food! Timings were flexible and every need was accommodated. Our guides were also very knowledgable, friendly, and fun! It was truly a dream trip for me.”

Marissa K


“My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our week-long adventure through Yunnan with Lost Plate! Our tour guides Brian and Evon were fabulous. It was so nice to take out all the guess work of traveling to a new place and we were able to fully trust them with getting us to great food and places to see. They took us to some spots that we’d never really find on our own. We’d love to do one of their other multi-day trips in the future!”



“Our first time to Yunnan and a great introduction to the best part of China. As ever with Lost Plate Food Tours, there was a well thought through and executed itinerary with some off the beaten places (and dishes) that you’d never find in your own. Highlights included the mountain bike, the cycling around Shaxi, and all of Dali!”



“We had a magical 8-day trip through Yunnan with Lost Plate Food Tours with two families. Our Guides Ruixi and Alison went above and beyond to help us – even before the tour officially started! Overall, something I loved about this trip was how relaxed it was. You didn’t feel you were being rushed from place to place, and there was enough downtime built in that you could chill out. If you wanted to explore, you could go ahead. If you needed some relaxation time in your room, that was fine too. As a food tour primarily, I can say we were not at all disappointed! Something that made this trip special for me included getting to try regional foods that I would never have been aware of without their expertise. The guest houses at each location were fantastic. Beautiful, spacious rooms that are locally owned and operated. I thought the range of activities we got to do really catered to a range of interests. From shopping and market tours to cooking classes, hiking, tie-dyeing and clay cat sculpting, our families were engaged and interested throughout.”



“Everything on this trip was so well curated by Lost Plate: gorgeous, small local yet comfortable guesthouses; excellent choices of local food establishments, some more formal, some street food; terrific & knowledgeable trip leaderswho shared lots of information about the places we visited and the cuisine we ate; a well-thought out pace — plenty of free time (but with suggestions of what to do) and some worthwhile activities as a group; and beautiful Chinese countryside. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Lost Plate and this tour to anyone!”


Frequently Asked Questions:

If you know anything about Lost Plate, you know that you’ll never go hungry. All meals are included on this trip. You can expect simple yet hearty breakfasts, plus lunches and dinners that offer a huge variety of dishes in large quantities. We often visit families and restaurants that specialize in one type of cuisine or dish, and there’s a reason why we visit every single place. We promise the food will be the highlight of your trip!

Dinners include beer. Non-alcoholic options such as tea, mineral water, and soft drinks will always be available. Drinks like soda water and cocktails will not be available at the restaurants we visit.

All of our tours have been designed to accommodate vegetarian diets. It is, however, important to note that this region of Yunnan relies heavily on cured pork. Meals are typically eaten in restaurants or homes that specialize in one type of cuisine, so please note that there will not always be direct substitutes for everything we eat. There are also a couple hotpot meals where only meat broth is available. We will make sure you have other dishes to eat, but guests who are able to eat veggies from meat broth will have more variety.

Please let us know when paying your deposit if you have any special dietary requirements.

We’ve rated this trip at a level of 2 out of 4, and there is no strenuous activity required during this trip. There is one hike and one bike ride during this trip, and they are both optional.

The altitude on this trip ranges between 2000m to 2500m above sea level, and you will likely notice shortness of breath when doing activities for the first day or two.

In general, you should expect to be on your feet every day. The duration is often your choice.

Bus journeys will typically not last more than 2 hours, and many times are much shorter. Road conditions inside Tiger Leaping Gorge are currently under construction so you should expect a bumpy and dusty ride.

Yes, children are welcome to join this trip. Shorter bus journeys, ample free time, and comfortable accommodations make this trip one of our more child-friendly itineraries. We ask that groups with children exercise their own judgement and contact us with any questions. Due to the schedule each day, it is important that we stay on time and there may not always be an opportunity for you to take breaks or go back to your hotel for rest.

Due to limited capacities on our trips, discounts are not generally provided for children. Contact us with any questions or concerns and we will assess each situation individually.

Flights to and from Yunnan are not included. This gives you the flexibility to arrive and depart when you would like, on the flights or trains of your choice.

This trip starts in Dali (airport code DLU) and ends in Lijiang (LJG), both of which are well connected throughout China.

Yes! Feel free to arrive a couple days early to acclimate, and/or stay late and spend some more time in/around Dali or Lijiang. We are able to pass on our special hotel rates to you so you don’t need to switch hotels as well. Just let us know your dates and we will check rates and availability for you.

Please note that airport pickup and drop-offs to/from the airport are not available for those that arrive before our itinerary starts or depart after it ends.a

The minimum number of guests for this trip is 4, and the maximum is 10. All of our trips guarantee a small, intimate group for your pleasure and enjoyment – no big busses and tour guides waving flags here.

Your trip will have one Lost Plate trip leader with you the entire time, one local guide for all or part of the trip, and one driver/vehicle that stays with us for the entire trip.

All of our guides and trip leaders are employees of Lost Plate and trained by our founder. We do not outsource staff like other travel companies.

We do not cross any international borders during this trip and your China visa will be enough for the entire trip. You will not need any special permit for this trip.

This area of Yunnan is characterized by comfortable winters and mild (not too hot) summers. The high elevation means that the sun is very strong all year long and the weather can change fast, especially in Winter. We will provide you with a detailed forecast and packing tips for your specific trip.

Temperatures in autumn/winter/spring will usually range between 5-15c during the day, and can often feel much warmer when in the sun. Near/below freezing is likely at night. This is dry season so rain and snow is rare but can happen.

Summers are wet and rainy with daytime temps that range between 20-30c. It can feel warmer when in the sun. While it is rainy season, most days provide plenty of opportunity to get out and see the sights without rain but you should always prepare for a shower. The benefit is that the comfy temps provide a nice relief from most of China in the summer.

Yes! All of our trips are available for private groups or families, depending on date availability. Pricing will vary for groups under 8 people, but we always make sure they are reasonable. Groups of 8 or more can enjoy our published price for public tours. Contact us with your request and we’ll let you know specific details and pricing. 

  • Transportation / flight tickets to Dali and away from Lijiang.
  • Shopping and activities during your free time.
  • While basic travel insurance will be provided by Lost Plate, coverage is not all-encompassing. Each guest should obtain their own health and travel coverage.

Our trips are in high demand and have limited spots. Deposits are non-refundable for any reason, including sickness, unless the trip is cancelled by Lost Plate due to the minimum number not being met. Full payment for the trip is required 14 days before arrival in Dali and is not refundable if you need to cancel.

Ask us anything,
we love a good question.

8-day Trip from Dali to Lijiang


From 10,200 RMB/person

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