Benzilan, Yunnan, China
At a Glance
Mid-point break between Shangri-la and Meili on one of the Songstam circuits
Many meals are made using deliciously fresh vegetables from their own garden - you can even help choose
Often in the evenings, the villagers gather round to rehearse their local Guozhuang dance, great fun to watch and you can even join in
Plenty of activities - walking in the mountains, visiting local Tibetan villages, Buddhist monasteries, hanging prayer flags, hunting for mushrooms, a BBQ under the stars, chatting with the locals to name some
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
From the subtropical lowlands in the south up to glacier-capped mountains in the north, Yunnan is a province of extremes. The climate varies so much across this vast and diverse area, that it has given rise to an ancient Chinese saying: “You can enjoy all four seasons on the same mountain, with each just a few miles from the next”. Generally speaking, most of Yunnan province is mild in winter and cool in summer, with large variances in temperature occurring across the day. Mornings can start with a wintery chill, and warm up to 25°C by lunchtime. Spring and Autumn are mild and pleasant and the best times to visit Yunnan, despite May being the rainiest month of the year. For snow-capped mountains and dramatic alpine scenes, the winter months of November to January can be spectacular.
To start planning your holiday to Songtsam Benzilan
Songtsam Benzilan is one of the Songtsam lodges located in the enchanting land of The Three Parallel Rivers Area. Benzilan sits between the Shangri-La Lodge and Meili, an itinerary combining these three is a perfect way to explore the area.
Benzilan is one of five Songtsam lodges which can be combined with each other to create a circuit trip in the area. The Three Parallel Rivers Area of Yunnan encircles the magnificent land bordered by the mighty Yangtze, Mekong and Salween. The snow capped peaks, glaciated gorges and terraced fields are known by the locals and those who discover it as a 'Shangri-la'. By incorporating stays at different Songtsam Lodges you can really get into the heart of the area and each lodge provides a unique experience to help you capture the magic of the land.
Benzilan is 3 hours from Meili or 2 hours from Shangri-La. The Lodge is nestled in a Tibetan village amongst barley and wheat fields. The surrounding forest is nature rich and changes dramatically with the seasons - flowers are in bloom in spring, autumn is full of colour and winter brings a blanket of snow. The area is renowned for its local handicrafts.
The house is magnificent with carved stones and rich Tibetan decorations. There are just 10 rooms, a small restaurant and beautiful surroundings. The vegetable garden produce the main make-up of your meals, and guests often like to get stuck into some gardening themselves!
During your time here you may want to do some serious hiking or some leisurely strolling; guides and advice will be on hand whatever your preference. Explore the local town and its temples, learn about the local wildlife and go to see some of the local handicrafts and learn how they are made.
There are 10 spacious deluxe rooms which all have a similar décor to the suites of Songstam Shangri-La. They are homely and have traditional Tibetan décor with modern comforts, handpicked furniture and artefacts adorn the room.
Three meals a day are inclusive with the rate and they are taken in the small but cosy restaurant located in the main building offering views of the green valley and village field. The food is simple yet deliciously fresh, much of it having come from the hotel's own vegetable garden and fruit trees. There is also a small bar located on the second floor which provides a great venue for guests to socialise.
Whilst at Benzilan you will undoubtedly want to make the most of the wonderful area you find yourself in. There are of course many hikes or leisurely strolls you can embark on to take in the scenery and local wildlife. Benzilan town itself has much to offer culturally as it was once the most important stop of the Ancient Tea and Horse Trail, the trade route that linked Southwest China to India. The area is now renowned for its handicrafts, especially lacquer bowls and boxes and black pottery - get to know how it is made!
Today, we make a half day trip to Balagezong Grand Canyon. Enjoy a dramatic ascent to view the panoramic valley, followed by a guided nature walk through a suspended walkway above the river and a short boat trip.
Hosting many cultural relics such as the gilded Maitreya Buddha, statue of White Drolma, Buddhas of Three Worlds and more, a visit to Dongzhulin Monastery is essential during your time at Benzilan.
Nixi Tangdui Black Pottery Village
Get your hands on as you watch local pottery makers knead and fire their famous black clay products. Have a chance to make your own pottery too!
Shuibianhe Valley with Picnic Lunch
We will start by visiting the small Tibetan hamlet known as Shiyi village the watch the making of traditional Tibetan incense stick before continuing for a Tibetan-styled picnic lunch in the Shuibianhe Valley.
Tibetan Bowl Painting Workshop
Visit Gonjo village and learn about the arts behind the Tibetan wooden bowl painting.
Location & directions
Benzilan, Yunnan, China
Songstam Benzilan sits 3 hours from Meili and 2 hours from Shangri-La.
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