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Yunnan Travel Guide & Tips

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China's southwest province Yunnan, literary "South to the clouds" in Chinese, is a place bond with exotic cultures and beautiful tales. "Spring City" Kunming, ancient Dali city with Erhai Lake, romantic Lijiang Ancient Town, the "Lost Horizon" Shangri-La, and the world deepest gorge "Tiger Leaping Gorge", the magnificent red land terraces, snowy mountains and ice glaciers. Yunnan takes pride in its rich natural and cultural resources. The most attractive of which is the folklore and culture of the area's 25 ethnic minority groups. It's rare to see so many different ethnic minority groups living harmoniously in one province. Majestic and colorful are the most frequently used words to describe people's life in Yunnan. Take Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La tour as your best Yunnan discovery or you can contact us for tailor-made Yunnan tours.

Why Visit Yunnan Province:

Colorful Ethnic Culture. Yunnan is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the highest number of ethnic groups among all the provinces and autonomous regions in China. Besides Han people, there are 25 ethnic groups found in Yunnan, including Yi, Bai, Hani, Naxi, Dai, Tibetan, Pumi, etc. Delicious ethnic food, colorful costumes, unique architecture and special ethnic culture are all fascinating.

Breathtaking Natural Views Everywhere. No matter you stroll in the maze of cobbled streets of the old towns or travel out of time-honored towns to the rural villages, you can enjoy fantastic natural scenery. Feel intoxicated by the amazing wonders – Stone Forest, Yuanyang Rice Terrace, Dongchuan Red Land, First Bend of Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, etc.

World Heritage Site of China. Until 2016, there are five sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Old Town of Lijiang (Lijiang, 1997), Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas (2003), South China Karst (Stone Forest, 2007), Chengjiang Fossil Site (Chengjiang County, 2012), Cultural Landscape of Honghe Rice Terraces (Yuanyang County, 2013).

Earthly Paradise in Lost Horizon. In this permanently happy land, travelers can enjoy the clear air, the nearer white clouds in the blue sky, the breathtaking beauty of landscape, the warm heart of the honest and enthusiastic ethnic people…

A Heaven for Photographers. Yunnan is absolutely an heaven for photographers. You can head to God’s Magic Palette – Dongchuan Red Land to shoot the most colorful land. Yuanyang Rice Terraces like ladder towards heaven are worth your time waiting and shooting. Everything here is your subjects – sunset, sunrise, sea of clouds, Hani folk houses, rice paddies, cattle, ox...

Slow Pace and Leisure Exploration. Relaxing and interesting activities are designed in every scenic spot. Travelers can take leisure walk in old towns, do some light hiking in the breathtaking national park, cruise happily on the emerald Lakes, watch the sunset going down...Traveling is a kind of life here without any rush.


The Most Popular Tourist Cities in Yunnan

Yunnan Province is endowed with abundant tourist attractions, and its regions attract visitors with their unique features:

Kunming: the capital of Yunnan Province; praised as the Spring City, with a year-round mild climate — see minorities, the Stone Forest...

Lijiang: a backpackers Mecca that blends historical sites, snow-capped mountains, lakes, and ethnic minority cultures — see the ancient town, Tiger Leaping Gorge...

Dali: famous for its beautiful natural scenery and well-preserved Bai minority customs and culture — see the Three Pagodas, Erhai Lake...

Shangri-La: a place with continuous snowy mountains and Tibetan culture — see Meili Snow Mountain, Songzanlin Lamasery...

The Must-See Attractions in Yunnan

Yunnan is the most diverse province in all China, both in its extraordinary mix of ethnic groups and in the splendor of its landscapes. From snow mountains and emerald lakes, from magical red land to superlative rice terraces, from stone forest to karst caves, from Tibetan monastery to holy pagodas, you have got so many to explore. Below are the top visited tourist spot, you can take a look at their detailed travel before you decide where to go.

The Stone Forest: the spikiest karst landscape in the world with thousands of stone peaks, towers, spires, and oddly shaped monoliths.

Lijiang Ancient Town: China's best-preserved minority ancient city, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tiger Leaping Gorge: one of the deepest canyons in the world and part of a UNESCO natural preservation area.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: Near Tiger Leaping Gorge, it has good hiking, a glacier park and high-altitude meadows.

Dian Lake: Hailed as "a Pearl on the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau", it is the largest lake in Yunnan Province and the sixth largest freshwater lake in China.

Yuanyang Terraced Rice Fields: With more than 10,000 hectares of terraced rice fields and quaint ethnic Hani villages, it is an ideal place for photography.


Weather & Places to Go for Each Season

Sichuan Tours

Yunnan has an average elevation at 1980 meters and the highest point in the north is Kawagebo Peak in Deqin County on the Diqi Plateau and the lowest is in the Red River Valley in Hekou County with an elevation of 76.4 meters. Because of the complex terrain and geomorphology, the climate of Yunnan is very complex, including tropical monsoon climate, subtropical monsoon climate, temperate climate and plateau climate. It has mild to warm winters and tempered summers. The average temperature in summer is around 19~22℃ and the average temperature in winter is 6~8℃. The rainy season in Yunnan falls from June to August that you should take rainproof when travel in Yunnan during the period.

Best Places to Visit in Spring: Dongchuan Red Land, Stone Forest, Dali Old Town, Cangshan Mountain, Luoping Rape Flowers;

Best Places to Visit in Summer: Lugu Lake, Lijiang Ancient City, Erhai Lake;

Best Places to Visit in Autumn: Pudacuo National Park, Dongchuan Red Land, Songzanlin Monastery;

Best Places to Visit in Winter: Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Kunming Green Lake.

Transportation in Yunnan

Get to Yunnan

Transportation in Yunnan

Yunnan Province at the southwest China could be easily get to and off by flights and high speed trains from major tourist destinations and transportation hubs in China.

Among all the 14 airports in Yunnan region, Kunming Changshui Airport, Lijiang Sanyi Airport and Dali Huangcaoba Airport are your top good choices for landing in Yunnan from other destinations. The most frequently and largest is Kunming Airport, which has direct flights from Beijing (3.5-4 hrs), Shanghai (about 3.5 hrs), Xian (2-2.5 hrs), Hong Kong (2.5-3 hrs), Chengdu (1.5-2 hrs), Lhasa (about 2.5 hrs), Guangzhou (about 2.5 hrs), Hangzhou (3-3.5 hrs), Chongqing (about 1.5 hrs), Guilin (about 1.5 hrs), Zhangjiajie (about 1.5 hrs), etc. and international cities like Singapore (4 hrs), Bangkok (2-3 hrs), Phuket Island (2.5-3 hrs), Kuala Lumpur (3.5-4 hrs), Seoul (about 5 hrs), Taipei (about 3.5hrs), etc. And the short way between those airports and the downtown areas would take you about 1 hour by a car. Furthermore, if you are getting in Yunnan by landing in Shangri-La, you could fly from Chengdu, Chongqing, Lhasa, etc. with a short flight of less than 2 hours. Only for about 15 mins’ taxi time, you could get to the downtown area to start your exploration of this mysterious wonderland.

So far, Kunming has high speed trains connecting to other provinces in China. You could depart from Chengdu (about 6.5 hrs), Chongqing (about 5 hrs), Guilin (about 5 hours), Guiyang (2-2.5 hrs), Guangzhou (about 6.5 hrs), etc. to Kunming South Station.

Transfer within Yunnan

Direct flights are available between Kunming and Dali, Kunming and Shangri-La. Besides, to transfer between Kunming, Lijiang, and Dali, normal trains and long distance buses are the top chosen good ways. However, to Shangri-La, you could now only take a coach from Kunming, Dali, or Lijiang, which would take 4-6 hours. If you want to get to Yuanyang, the distance coach is a better choice.

Things You Should Know

Respect local customs and traditions. Many inhabitants of Yunnan are minority peoples with a wide variety of beliefs and traditional rules. In order to respect the traditions and customs of the local people, please remember the customs listed below.

Generally:
Do not enter the bedroom of the host.
Do not enter the room of a pregnant woman.
Foreign pregnant women are not allowed to enter a bridal chamber, and cannot attend a wedding ceremony.

In Tibetan areas:
Do not touch the head of a monk.
Do not stand on the threshold when visiting a Tibetan family.
Wearing short trousers is regarded as a sign of disrespect.

In Yi areas:
Do not walk over or stand astride the fire pit when visiting a family of Yi nationality.

In Dai areas:
Take off your shoes when visiting temples or Dai nationality bamboo buildings.

In Jingpo Minority areas:
Do not touch the cattle bones that are hung up in a Jingpo village.

The Most Popular Yunnan Tours

Want to discover Yunnan — the most ethnically diverse province in China, with awesome scenery? Tell us your interests and requirements, and we will help you to tailor-make a Yunnan tour.

Here are our most popular tours, for inspiration:

8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Highlights Tour — beautiful natural landscapes, charming villages, and colorful ethnic minorities

6-Day Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Tour — including the essential attractions in Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang

Ultimate Yunnan Travel Guide & Useful Articles

Recommended Yunnan Tours

Top 4 Yunnan Tours chosen by most customers to explore Yunnan in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

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