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“Songtsam Circuit - Hotel No. 4”

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Songtsam Benzilan Hotel
Ranked #2 of 32 Hotels in Deqin County
Reviewed 27 January 2014

Drive from Songtsam Meili to Songtsam Benzilan takes about two & a half hours. We drove through Baimang Snow Mountain & were admiring the scenery when it started snowing again & the sky was gloomy. One car in front of us stalled & could not move despite several pushing it. We waited about 1 hour before we could continue our journey. The sun appeared & brought lots of warmth & relief. Roads were extremely slippery but our Songtsam driver was very cautious & drove slowly. Halfway through the drive, in front of us we saw mountains dotted with autumn hues & looking back, we see the rest of the mountain blanketed in snow, what a contrast. In the late afternoon we went for a 1 hour village walk with the hotel staff. Next morning, we took a day tour from the hotel which is hiking from Niding village. Drive took about 45 mimutes. We hiked through the forest to two pastures. Hike (2 way) took about 4 hours & the terrain is mostly flat with gradual slopes. In the morning, part of the terrain was covered in snow & at noon time, the snow melted revealing mud, rocks & fallen leaves. At one pasture we were able to see yaks grazing while the other was covered in snow. Dongzhulin temple was having their annual celebration & we are so honoured to witness this event together with the locals. Staff, as usual are very friendly & warm. They helped us to re-confirm our stay in Kunming. It took almost half an hour as the Kunming hotel could not find our online reservation. Greatly appreciate the assistance or else we would be in trouble upon arrival.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank funtraveller76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 21 January 2014

We stayed at Benzilan lodge on our way back to Shangrila, having spent the 2 previous nights at the fantastic Meili lodge (see separate review). To be fair, Meili lodge was SO outstanding that it's hard to rate objectively Benzilan after that, but let's try. First: Benzilan is a great stop for transit between the 2 lodges, Meili and Shangrila. It cuts in half the time spent on the road. The house itself is magnificent, with carved stones and rich Tibetan decoration. The surroundings are beautiful and nicely remote: you get a really soothing sense of seclusion. Around the lodge, there are some home-grown fields, that grow lots of organic goodness for Customers' meals. In warmer season, it is possible to go and help pick the veggies: cool stuff.
The room was beautiful and spacious, very well equipped, and with quality bathroom amenities. I loved the cosy tea table by the window, with beautiful tea set, complimentary tea leaves and dried camomille flowers (a MUST try!). As for the food, 3 meals a day are already included in your room rate, along with a small tea-time buffet. And that would be perhaps the only small down-side: the food served during diner was just so-so; much more bland in taste, a tad too greasy. Nothing comparable to the healthy, abundant and fresh dishes served at Meili or Shangrila lodges. Same goes for the wine list, which had a smaller selection than Meili: we opted for an Italian Chianti that was really below average. So bring one or two good ones in your bag if you are a wine lover. Now, I want to make justice to the staff, who were absolutely awesome and professional: it was my birthday, and they somehow managed to get a birthday cake delivered by car from Shangrila!! This was so cool from them despite the massive logistics hassle!! I really want to thank them again for this personalised touch. Last, what to do around the lodge: mainly hiking. You can freely wander on the dirt roads around the lodge, and ask to get lunch boxes packed for you. Probably in the warmer season there are more activities, nevertheless even though it was winter we enjoyed our stay and could really have a relaxing time at Benzilan. I was lucky to meet the man behind the Songtsam project in Meili: a very interesting gentleman from Yunnan who studied Art and worked many years at CCTV; it was inspiring to hear how he decided to launch this lodge concept, and I have no doubt that he will do the needful to keep improving on the above points, and maintain the highest level of service possible, as well as homogeneity between the lodges! (Definitely NOT an easy mission!). Lastly, I find that traveling between different Songtsam lodges was a really nice way to discover Yunnan "in style", so I would recommend it to anyone hesitating between one or more lodges. Everything is done to ease the transfer from lodge to lodge, especially if you chose the Songtsam private car. We really felt like privileged guests all way through!

Room Tip: If no budget constraint, get the superior rooms.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Acidinmyfridge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2014

we did the songtsam circuit back in apr2013: shangrila - benzilan - meili - shangrila

this lodge shares most of the same characteristic as other songtsam lodges.. the only reason why this got a 4-star and not a full one is because it is just marginally below the other 2 lodges which have spectacular feel.

refer to the other 2 reviews i did on songtsam shangrila and meili.

specifically for benzilan, this one is a mid-point break for the trip from shngrila to meili. it is in a valley, nestled in a small farming village. the memorable part of this lodge:

1. meals: mostly using vegetables that songtsam staff farmed net to the lodge, simple yet tasty. very strong village feel.
2. for tea time, we went around orchards in the village to pick some fruits. along with songtsam handmade cookie, just great lazy afternoon tea in the library.
3. remarkable quiet village at night. very peaceful, an eniching experience to the soul. living in hong kong, we are so used to all the glaring lights, loud noise, background noise (evn at night).. so being in such. small village we got to see starry night sky, and the singing of insect at night before we fll asleep.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank LeeshAsianTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2013

To those of you have spent time in any of the Mediterranean countries, you will feel at home in the small valley with a balmy climate where Songtsam Benzilan is located. The lodge sits on a terrace in front of its own vegetable patch, backed by wheat fields, and decorated by fruit trees, particularly pomegranates and cherries. Around the lodge is a Tibetan village of 18 homes, and after a day or two you probably will know most people in the village and have visited one or two of their homes. You will also visit the village temple, sitting opposite the hotel on a hill and sitting right in the middle of your view of the great mountains of the Jinsha River (Upper Yangtze) valley. The hotel is very comfortable, the food wonderful (and as much as you want), the local Benzilan wine is definitely worth a try, the spacious library is full of books about explorers of the region and National Geographics, and the staff are very friendly and caring. We really liked the hotel excursions to Dongzhulin temple and nunnery, and up 1000 m in altitude to Niding. Niding is a gorgeous spot, the unspoilt forest full of rhododendrons in May and then wild irises in June is definitely worth a stroll - both the village and the alpine clearings (alps) there reminded us of Switzerland. A lot of Kunming locals don't know that there is this magical valley so close to the rather dreary county seat of Benzilan, so it is best to follow the recommendations of the Songstam booking office in planning your trip. If you go straight from Shangri-la to Meili without stopping in Benzilan you will miss a lot. Often in the evenings (both nights while we were there) the villagers gather together in their cultural centre and rehearse their local Guozhuang dance. Of course, you will be invited to join in. I particularly liked the functioning water mill. As we approached, and passed a local woman carrying a huge sack of freshly milled wheat, we saw the creek and the millstone, and broke out into Schubert's "Das Wandern ist der Muellers Lust"! We are grateful to Songtsam for letting us share in the comfort of their lodge and the hospitality of their village.

Room Tip: I think all rooms were well situated
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank DavidWJ115VW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2013

We spent an overnight at the Songtsam Lodge in a small village outside of Benzilan (which is not very big to begin with), high above the Yangtse as it flows out of Tibet. Getting there was half the fun. It involved a three-hour drive north from Shangri-La along a spectacular, switch-backing highway high above the river, passing through small villages (some of them offering various local crafts, e.g., black pottery, wood carving, etc.) This is well beyond the tourist hordes and a far cry from Lijiang or even Shangri-La.

The hotel, with its kitchen gardens, sits by a stream in a lush ravine. It is a new 3 story building in the Tibetan style, with eleven comfortably large rooms. Our room was on the third floor and had a very nice bathroom, comfortable beds and windows on two sides overlooking a Buddhist shrine and the mountains across the river.

The welcome is warm, the food is fresh and delicious and the staff and service excellent. The hotel manager can recommend various activities in the neighborhood, including visits to a nearby Lama monastery and villages higher up in the mountains.

The hotel is part of a chain of four boutique lodges in this remote and beautiful part of China and we plan to spend some time in the other lodges on our next trip.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Madmonk_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2012

We stayed in Songtsam Benzilan lodge one night, as part of our 7-day 'Summer Family Package', booked directly through Songtsam website.
Just like Tacheng, Benzilan was impressive for its delicious, healthy food; wonderful accommodation and friendly staff.

There were plenty of activities: a walk in the mountains, visiting local Tibetan villages, Buddhist monasteries, hanging prayer flags, hunting for mushrooms, a BBQ under the stars, chatting with the locals, it was fantastic! The lodge is full of character and beautifully decorated. I would love to go there again!

See also reviews for Tacheng and Shangri-La

Room Tip: You can take wonderful landscape photographs in the morning from the room, with your pyjamas still o...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with family
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Thank chelinmiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2012

This was a return visit to this hotel and this like all of the Songtsam Hotels in the chain is a wonderful magical place. It is set in a village and from your window can see how village life goes on. The staff are genuinely warm and welcoming and go out of their way to make you feel part of their 'family'. They arranged a lovely lunch with a local family and took us to the high virgin forest for a marvellous trek through the trees to a beautiful meadow beside a crystal stream. We recommend this to anyone travelling in the area.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Kiddell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Songtsam Benzilan Hotel

Address: Bairen Village, Benzilan Town, Deqin County 674501, China
Region: China > Yunnan > Deqin County
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 32 Hotels in Deqin County
Price Range: £182 - £250 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 10
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