Travel to Yunnan in Winter

Yunnan, the most southwestern province of China, is home to mild weather, diverse culture, delicious foods, and stunning scenery. Winter is a decent time to travel Yunnan. The highest mountains and the coldest temperatures in winter can be experienced in the northern part of Yunnan which borders Tibet. However, travelling around Lijiang, Dali and Kunming of the central Yunnan would be a great experience. The weather is good enough with bright sunshine, azure sky and less rainfall. Flowers are in full bloom, and you may feel like it is in spring not in winter.

1. Why Visit Yunnan in Winter

Pleasant Weather

Yunnan is a warm winter holiday destination in China. From December to February, the generally temperature is between 12ºC – 18ºC, and if there is sunshine, the temperature can rise above 20 ºC. Popular destinations in Yunnan like Lijiang and Dali have an average high of around 16ºC in December, and Xishuangbanna (home to the only tropical rainforest in China) averages 26ºC in December. It makes being outdoors really enjoyable in the winter months in Yunnan. Please note that the time difference between day and night is great, bring enough warm clothes too.

Read more about Yunnan Climate

Colorful Festivals

Yunnan is home to 25 of China’s ethnic minority groups, which make up over 34% of the local population. In the winter days of Yunnan, except for the Chinese Spring Festival, there are numerous local festivals that happen in accordance with their minority traditions such as the Sword Pole Festival which is one of the earliest of the season. Experiencing the festivals themselves, or even helping with the preparations, is a great way to understand the ethnic minority cultures that inhabit so much of this diverse province. 

Read more about Yunnan Ethnic Festivals.

More cost-effective

Yunnan is a big tourist province. Compared to other times, crowds of domestic tourists are much lower in winter, while the prices for hotels, transportation, etc, become much more negotiable. During the popular travel seasons, many hot destinations are overcrowded while winter is a good time to appreciate these beautiful places at your own pace. However, you’d better avoid the holiday of Chinese Spring Festival due to many Chinese people will choose to spend their holiday outdoors with their family during the holiday. All kinds of travel costs will rise sharply during by then.

Unique Scenery

Yunnan is suitable to visit all the year round for its abundant tourism resources. It is a very diverse province with the Himalayas in the north and subtropics in the south. In winter, you can enjoy its unique scenery that cannot be seen during other seasons. Mainly birds from Sibiria come to Yunnan during the winter months such as red-beaked seagulls and Black-necked Crane. The rice terrace fields are completely filled with water before fresh rice grows again in spring. The fields along the mountain sides offer spectacular views especially during sunrise and sunset when you can see a colorful sky in the waters.

2. Top Yunnan Winter Tour Destination 


Northern Yunnan, which borders Tibet, has the highest mountains and the coldest winter temperatures. If you would like to visit Haba Snow MountainMeili Snow MountainJade Dragon Snow Mountain(Lijiang) and other snow mountain, winter is a good time to visit. Otherwise, you should prevent to go north to Shangri-La or Deqin


As a popular destination in Yunnan, Lijiang is considered as a fairyland blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snow mountains and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by Naxi ethnic minority. In winter, Lijiang enjoys more sunshine than other seasons. Choosing a favorable local guesthouse and having a warm sun bath on a sling chair is a perfect way to spend your holiday in Lijiang.


Walking around Dali, you will witness the magical power and charm with your own eyes. Dali has around 126 days in the year with temperatures around 18-21℃(54-66 F) which is the most appropriate temperature for taking a break. In addition, it enjoys abundant sunshine which is most welcome during the winter months thanks to its high altitude.


With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the “Spring City”. Every winter, black-headed gulls from Siberia fly to Kunming and settle in Green Lake and Dianchi Lake, forming a harmonious scene of human beings and nature. Besides, Dongchuan Red Land and Jiaozi Snow Mountain are worth visiting.


Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces is marked by spectacular terraces that cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Honghe River. In winter, there is only water in paddy field. With the change of sunray, terrace presents different beautiful scenery. Sea of cloud often appears at these months. If you want to experience rice transplanting, come and visit Yuanyang Terraces in late April.


Located south of the Tropic of Cancer, Xishuangbannan enjoys the tropical monsoon climate. November to next May is dry season with cool weather so that it is the hot tourism season. Try to avoid the peak holidays due to crowded Chinese tourists such as Chinese Spring Festival (usually in late Jan or early Feb.) While if you would like to taste the rich tropical fruit here, traveling during the period from June to September is a good choice. 

3. Things to Do in Yunnan Winter


In the cold winter, some parts of Yunnan are still as warm as spring. Winter in Yunnan is not too cold and some regions still have temperature of over 20˚C. The warm sun in winter is more attractive, so many places are suitable for sunbathing. With bright sunshine, azure sky and bloom flowers, you can enjoy the winter time whatever around lakes, on the mountain or at the old town.


Since the weather in most areas of Yunnan is mild in winter, thousands of various birds migrate to Yunnan, Mainly from Sibiria during the winter. In the season of winter when migratory birds flock into Yunnan, many (wetland) parks are highlighted by such birds such as the wintering grounds for the red-beaked seagulls in Kunming and black-necked cranes in Nianhu(Qujing) and Huize(Zhaotong). 

Flower Watching

Early every late winter(January) or early spring, the blossoming Luoping rapeseed flowers draws flocks of tourists and photographers. Sprawling farmland covered in golden rape stretches right up to the horizon, forming a sea of yellow buds and filling the air with the refreshing smell of spring. In recent years, Luoping Rapeseed Flowers Tour has been popular and enjoyed good fame.

Hiking & Climbing

Yunnan is the paradise for hikers. The popular winter hiking routes of Tiger Leaping Gorge, Cangshan Mountain, Laojun Mountain favored by thousands of adventure tourists. Besides, climbing up a snow mountain such as Haba Snow MountainMeili Snow MountainJade Dragon Snow Mountain, Jiaozi Snow Mountain,are worth to have a try.


If you are a shutterbug, you can choose Dongchuan Red Land and Yuanyang Rice Terraces as your destination. The bright red land with blue sky, white cloud and unpredictable light form the spectacular scenery of Dongchuan Red Land, hence the name ‘God’s Palette’. Every winter, a crowd of photographers are attracted by the spectacular view of Yuanyang terrace like sunrise, sunset, sea of cloud. More and more people admire the charm of Yuanyang rice terrace.

4. How to Plan Yunnan Winter Tours

More and more people choose to travel to Yunnan in winter because there is no severe cold, and with no withering grass and flowers. So there is a question: how to plan you Yunnan holiday in winter? It depends on your holiday duration and your preferred destination. Generally, Kunming-Dali-Lijiang is most favored by first time travelers. If you are a shutterbug, you can choose Dongchuan Red Land and Yuanyang Rice Terraces as your destination. If your are an enthusiastic birder, Dianchi Lake Dam(Kunming) Nianhu Lake Black-necked Crane Nature Reserve(Qujing) and Zhaotong Dashanbao Black-necked Cranes National Nature Reserve are your top choice of Yunnan Winter tour. If you want to experience the summer of Yunnan, undoubtedly Xishuangbanna is the best option. Below we recommend some popular Yunnan Winter Tour Packages for your reference. You can also contact our consultant to tailor-make Yunnan Winter Tour of your own kind!

Suggested Yunnan Winter Tours:

2 Days Kunming Dongchuan Red Land and Jiaozi Snow Mountain Tour
5 Days Kunming Spring City and Luoping Rapeseed Flowers Photography Tour
6 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang Tour
6 Days Northeast Yunnan Winter Birding Tour to Dianchi Lake, Nianhu Lake and Dashanbao
6 Days Kunming Yuanyang Jianshui Photography Tour with Honghe Hani Rice Terraces
7 Days Kunming, XishuangBanna and Puer Family Tour with Tropical Forest and Ethnic Culture Discovery
8 Days Yunnan Photography Tour with Dongchuan Red Land and Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces

Read more about Yunnan Winter Tours.

Keep Reading:
How to Plan a Kunming Tour?

How to Plan a Dali Tour?
How to Plan a Lijiang Tour?
How to Plan a Shangrila Tour?
How to Plan Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Shangri-La Tour?
How to Plan a Honghe and Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces Photography Tour?
How to Plan a Xishuangbanna Tour?

5. What to Pack for Yunnan Winter Tours

▪ Pay attention to keep warm in winter. Because of the relatively high altitude, the temperature difference is large between day and night in winter, it is suggested to bring the thick coat and windproof jacket. 

▪ Pay attention to sun protection. Due to the strong solar radiation in the daytime, sun cream, sun hat, sunglasses and other sunscreen products will be needed.

▪ Take some medicines for emergency, like cold medication and and medicines for a stomachache.

▪ Don’t forget your Chinese visa and passport. If you will go further to Tibet, Tibet travel permit is also required.