Yunnan Travel Guide

What come up to your mind when you think of Yunnan, China? Dali, Lijiang, Shangari-La, diverse ethnic minorities or moderate weather? Yes, Yunnan offers diversity both people and landscapes, which make it a dream destination for travelers. If you are in China, never miss this wonderful land.

Brief Introduction

Yunnan, whose name literally means south of the clouds, is situated in the southwest of China. The capital of the province is Kunming, formerly also known as Yunnan. Yunnan province borders other Chinese provinces including Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. With over 2400 years of history, exotic indigenous cultural heritage, a pleasant climate and picturesque scenery, Yunnan is renowned tourist destination for millions of travelers every year. Yunnan is a perfect showpiece of China’s many natural wonders, rugged, wild, and unspoiled. Yunnan is so rich in natural resources and has the largest diversity of plant life in China; here visitors could find snow-capped Cangshang Mountain and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, mysterious deep valleys like Tiger Leaping Gorge, peaceful highland lakes like Erhai Lake, magnificent Karst hills, tropical rainforest in Xishuangbanna, and torrential rivers.

Yunnan also has the most ethnic minorities in China, which account for about 1/3 of the province’s population. Of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, the province is home to 51 and 25 of them exceed populations of 5,000. And 8 cities and 8 minority autonomous prefectures are under the jurisdiction of Yunnan province.

No matter what you want to dig in-depth into the stunning sites within colorful Yunnan or travel outside to Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi, Yunnan Exploration will fulfill your dream. All our travel packages are flexible and can be customized according to your needs.

What You Will Enjoy in Yunnan

1. 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, Miao, etc. Delicious ethnic food, colorful costumes, unique architecture and special ethnic culture are all fascinating.

2. Breathtaking Natural Views. 

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 – The Stone Forest, Yuanyang Hani Rice Terrace, Dongchuan Red Land, First Bend of Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, etc.

3. UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Until 2016, there are five sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Lijiang Old Town(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).

4. Earthly Paradise in Lost Horizon.

Shangri-La, also named Zhongdian, an earthly paradise, is located in Diqing Prefecture, Yunnan Province. It was the British writer James Hiltons novel, The Lost Horizon, some 80 years ago, that brought fame to an unknown and uncontaminated place – Shangri-La – a household name. In this wonder land, travelers can enjoy the clear air, the nearer white clouds in the blue sky, the breathtaking beauty of landscape, the honest and enthusiastic ethnic people.

5. 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 Hani Rice Terraces like ladder towards heaven are worth your time waiting and shooting. Everything here is your subjects – breathtaking sunset, sunrise, sea of clouds, Hani folk houses, rice paddies, etc.

6. 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.

Hot Destinations in Yunnan

Yunnan Province, due to its beautiful landscapes, mild climate and cultural diversity, is one of China’s major tourist destinations. Most visitors are Chinese tourists, although travels to Yunnan are attracting an increasing number of foreign tourists as well. There are several hot destinations favored by millions of travelers, such as Kunming – the capital of Yunnan Province as well as Known as the Spring City of China, Lijiang – Ancient Naxi Kingdom with heaven like scenes, Shangri-La – the earthly paradise as Lost Horizon described, Yuanyang – known for spectacular rice-paddy terracing made by Hani people, and Dali – a treasure land for ethnic Bai people.

1. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province and “Spring City”, is generally served as the gateway city in your Yunnan Tour, from which you will transfer to its amazing surrounding wonders. You won’t miss the Shilin (Stone Forest), a series of karst outcrops east of Kunming, as well as Dongchuan Red Land, which has the reputation of “God’s Palette”.

2. Dali, the historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms, is one of the oldest cultural birthplaces of Yunnan Province. You can find Dali Old Town surrounded by Cangshan MountainErhai Lake and other natural sceneries. The Three Pagodas as the landmark is surely included in Dali Tours. 

3. Lijiang, a Naxi minority city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Well-preserved Lijiang Old Town(composed of Dayan Old Town, Shuhe Old Town and Baisha Old Town) is incredibly rich in natural and cultural resources. Other highlights include Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lashi Lake and Lugu Lake, etc, amazing and fantastic.

4. Shangari-La, an earthly paradise at 3,450 meters high, located in Diqing, Yunnan.  Here, you’ll lose yourselves in old towns, mysterious Buddhist monasteries, picturesque lakes, breathtaking beauty and meet the hospitality of unsophisticated Tibetan people. Noted Songzanlin Monastery and Dukezong Old Town are right here.

5. Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraced mountains. Every year, a crowd of photographers are attracted by the spectacular view of Yuanyang hani rice terraces like sunrise, sunset, sea of cloud. More and more people admire the charm of Yuanyang rice terrace. The Best-known Rice terraces include Laohuzui(Tiger Mouth) Rice Terrace, Duoyishu Rice Terrace, Bada Rice Terrace and Longshuba Rice Terrace.

6. Xishuangbanna, a national scenic resort, noted for its natural and cultural attractions. Jinghong is the center and prefectural capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai minority autonomous prefecture.

Combined Kunming with Dali, Lijiang and Shangari-la is the most classic tour in Yunnan. Spending 8-11 days extending from Kunming to Dali, Lijiang and Shangari-la, even Xishuangbanna, can be a good way to appreciate more in the dreamland. Check more information about Yunnan Classic Tour.

All tours are private and flexible, and will be customized to satisfy your diversified needs.