Ethnic Culture Travel Guide

Yunnan is a multi-ethnic province with the Han nationality and 25 ethnic minorities. Different ethnic minorities bring up rich and colorful ethnic culture in Yunnan. Yunnan is featuring rich and colorful ethnic languages and characters, various religions and cultural art forms, as well as a lot of ethnic festivals and activities. 

Culture of Ethnic Minorities in Yunnan

Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-la, Yuanyang and Xishuangbanna are the most popular destinations in Yunnan. When travelling in Yunnan, you will probably explore the typical ethnic cultures, including Yi culture in Kunming and Chuxiong, Bai culture in Dali, Naxi culture in Lijiang, Hani culture in Yuanyang, and Dai culture and Jinuo tea culture in Xishuangbanna. 

Yi Culture in Yunnan

In Yunnan, Yi ethnic minority is mainly distributed in Chuxiong, Honghe, Yuxi, Dali, Pu’er and Kunming. Festivals are the concentrated expression of Yi people’s life style and customs. There are agricultural festivals based on agricultural production, sacrificial festivals to worship gods and ancestors, commemorative festivals to commemorate heroes and major events, celebration festivals to celebrate the harvest and victory, and recreational festivals with activities of singing and dancing, etc. Among all of these festivals, Torch Festival is one of the grandest ethnic festival of Yi, and is popular among tourists. 

Torch Festival Celebration of Yi Minority

Deemed to be “the oriental carnival”, the Torch Festival is celebrated by several ethnic minorities including the Yi, Bai, Naxi, Jinuo and Lahu etc. Enjoying a long history as an important festival of these minorities, the festival exhibits quite profound cultural connotations. Although the origin of the festival is slightly different among these minorities, it takes place on lunar June 24 or 25. In Yunnan Province, Kunming, Chuxiong, Dali, YuxiWenshan, Pu’er, Honghe, Lijiang and Zhaotong are the major areas for the Torch Festival as they are inhabited by the Yi or Bai people. Our torch festival tour usually involves Chuxiong and Shilin. In this tour, you will experience and understand the ethnic culture of Yi minority better. Join our Torch Festival Celebration tour and lost yourself in the joyful atmosphere of Torch Festival.

Festivals of Yi Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

Bai Culture in Yunnan

Bai ethnic minority is mainly distributed in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan province. Dali is the origin, ancestral home and main settlement of the Bai minority, about 80% of Bai inhabit here. Bai minority is unique in art, its architecture, sculpture and painting art enjoys a high reputation. In the process of formation and development, with the surrounding ethnic mutual exchanges, Bai people created a brilliant economic culture. The Bai minority is divided into three branches, namely Minjia, Lemo and Nama, and they are deeply influenced by Han culture. 

Tie-dyeing of Bai Ethnic Minority

Tie-dyeing is a traditional handicraft of the Bai minority and has a long history. Because the cotton cloth is bundled, different patterns will be created. Therefore, the tie-dyeing method is diverse, and the products are very rich, such as tablecloths, curtains, clothing, ethnic bags, hats, etc.

Festivals and Activities of Bai Ethnic Minority

Hani Culture in Yunnan

Hani ethnic minority is mainly distributed in Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous prefecture, especially Yuanyang and Lvchun. Hani is famous for its Hani rice terraces, long street banquet and mushroom house. Every year, a crowd of tourists are attracted to photograph the breathtaking sunrise and sunset of Hani rice terraces, taste the long street banquet and experience Hani culture in Yuanyang.

Well-known Hani Rice Terraces in Honghe

Hani Discovery Tours

Naxi Culture in Yunnan

In Yunnan, Naxi ethnic minority is mainly distribution in Lijiang and Diqing. Naxi ethnic minority is famous for its Dongba culture. Mosuo ethnic people by Lugu Lake, a branch of Naxi ethnic minority, owns unique ethnic culture like matriarchal society and walking marrigae. 

Mosuo People Discovery Tours

Festivals of Naxi Ethnic Minority

Tibetan Culture in Yunnan

Tibetan ethnic minority in Yunnan is mainly disrtibuted in Diqing prefecture. Shangri-la of Diqing is the best place to experience Tibetan culture in Yunnan. Most Tibetans generally observe Tibetan Buddhism or a collection of native traditions known as Bön (also absorbed into mainstream Tibetan Buddhism). Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, is the must-see when travelling in Shangri-la, and is popular among believers. Our Shangri-la city tour will bring you to experience Tibetan culture in Yunnan. 

Shangri-la City Tour

Festivals of Tibetan Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

Dai Culture in Yunnan

Dai ethnic minority in Yunnan mainly live in Xishuangbanna and Dehong, especially in Xishuangbanna. Dai minority regards peacock and elephant as mascot, and folk story of Dai is rich and colorful. Dai people like to live by water, love cleanly, bathe frequently, women love to wash hair, so Dai is known as “ethnic minority of water”. Dai ethnic minority is famous for its water-splashing festival, stilt style architecture and torpical rain forest they live. 

Festival Celebration Tour

When you travel to Xishuangbanna, if you are lucky enough, you will have the opportunity to experience the Water splashing Festival of Dai Minority. The Water splashing Festival is scheduled to be held on April 13-15 in the solar calendar. But water splashing festival celebrated in Jinghong could last longer, about 7 days(April 12-18). The Water splashing Festival is Dai’s biggest activity, people splash each other meaning best wishes at that day. If you can get to Xishuangbanna during water splashing festival, join the local people and enjoy the water fight. That will be an exciting experience.

Festivals of Dai Ethnic Minority

Jinuo Culture in Yunnan

Jinuo people mainly live in Jinoshan Jinuo Ethnic Township of Jinghong city, Xishuangbanna, as well as MengwangMengyang and Menghan in neighboring areas. Jinuo tea mountain is one of the six major tea mountains of puer tea. More than 18,000 hardworking and brave Jinuo people live there. More than 40 Jinuo villages are distributed in the deep mountains and forests of Jinuo mountain in Xishuangbanna, which are good places to study the social history of Jinuo and enjoy the customs.

Jinuo Culture Discovery Tours in Xishuangbanna

Festivals of Jinuo Ethnic Minority

The grandest traditional festival of Jinuo ethnic minority is Temaoke festival. Temaoke(特懋克), which means celebrating New Year, is a festival held by the Jinuo people to commemorate the creation and use of ironware. 

Hui Culture in Yunnan

In Yunnan, there are some places where Hui ethnic minority gather, such as ZhaotongQujing, Kunming, Baoshan, Dali, Chuxiong and the like. There are also some famous mosques, including Shadian Grand Mosque in Gejiu, Nancheng Mosque in Kunming, Donglianhua Mosque in Weishan CountyHuize Mosque in Huize County and Najiaying Mosque in Tonghai County, etc. Our Yunnan muslim tours are carefully arranged for travelers to visit the ancient mosque, taste delicious Muslim food and explore the lifestyle there. In the meantime, you will not miss the famous attractions in your itinerary.

Yunnan Muslim Tours

Festivals of Hui Ethnic Minority

Wa Culture in Yunnan

Wa ethnic minority in Yunnan mainly live in Lincang and Pu’er. Lincang is one of the birthplaces of Wa culture. In Cangyuan of Lincang city, Wengding Wa ethnic village and Monihei carnical attract a lot of tourists every year. Wa is also well-known for its Wooden Drum

Cangyuan Monihei Carnival

Monihei Carnival” (making you black) is a mud smearing carnival of the Wa ethnic group. It is originated from the folk custom that people smear the pot ash, ox blood and mud on their faces to frighten the evils and seek peace. The Monihei Carnival is held in late April or early May(usually April 29-May 1) each year in Cangyuan County, one of the only two Chinese Wa autonomous Counties in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. During Monihei Carnival, you can not only experience the joyful atmosphere which is full of ethnic features, but also appreciate the various natural and human scenery in Cangyuan. With pleasant weather, you can walk in the famous cliff painting valley and have a visit to Wending Village to discover the unique, extensive and profound culture of Wa minority.

New Rice Festival of Wa Ethnic Minority

New Rice Festival is one of the traditional festivals of the Wa ethnic minority. In the past, it used to be celebrated when the rice was ripe for harvest, and would last three days. During the festival, ladies would collect some rice from farmlands; dry and then husk them. Early next morning, the doors of the house would be closed to reject visitors and animals, and all the family members would stay at home enjoying the newly-harvested rice when eating, any waste wouldn’t be allowed. After the family finished, they would open the door and invite neighbors to enjoy the rice together. In 1992, the local government of Menglian Dai, Lahu and Wa Autonomous County determined the festival as a mandatory holiday for the Wa and Lahu minorities, and the date has been confirmed during lunar August 13-15.

Festivals of Wa Ethnic Minority in Yunnan

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Yunnan Minority Discovery Tours will take you to tradtional ethnic villages and ethnic towns in Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Honghe, Chuxiong, Dehong and Xishuangbanna, ect. You can visit local family, local ethnic market, cutural sites such as temples and monasteries and inheritor of intangible cultural heritages in Yunnan, or join in local ethnic festivals like Munao Zongge FestivalWater Splashing FestivalLong Street Banquet Festival to get a better understanding of Yunnan ethnic culture and folk customs.

Ethnic Minority Discovery Tours