What to Visit in Yunnan

Yunnan is the most diverse province in all China, both in its extraordinary mix of people and in the splendour of its landscapes. 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.

1. Enjoy Natural Scenery

Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with high elevations in the northwest and low elevations in the southeast. There are a large number of mountains in Yunnan, of them, 150 mountains with an altitude of more than 4000 meters above sea level. It has hundreds of plateau freshwater lakes and six river systems providing spectacular scenery. Besides, Yunnan boasts half of China’s plants and animal species which is also worth visiting.

Stone Forest in Kunming, is a spectacular set of limestone groups and the representative of south China’s karst landscape. Known since the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644) as the ‘First Wonder of the World’, it is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan. Dongchuan Red Land, a new rising tourist destination near Kunming, is loved by photographers and backpackers, and praised as “God’s palette”. Jade Dragon Snow MountainTiger Leaping GorgeThree Parallel Rivers are all nature wonders of Yunnan province.

Please read more about Mountains in YunnanLakes in YunnanRivers in Yunnan; Floras in YunnanWildlife of Yunnan.

2. Discover Profound Culture

Yunnan’s cultural life is one of remarkable diversity. Archaeological findings have unearthed sacred burial structures holding elegant bronzes in Jinning, south of Kunming. Many Chinese cultural relics have been discovered in later periods. The numerous minority groups in Yunnan have created lasting and splendid cultures due to their diligence and wisdom over centuries. Among these cultures, as acknowledged in the history of cultures in Yunnan, three major ones are the highlights, namely the Ancient Dian Culture, the Cuan Culture, and the Nanzhao-Dali Culture. 

Lijiang Ancient Town, a well-preserved old city of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture, is a central town of the Lijiang Autonomous County of the Naxi Ethnic Minority in Yunnan Province. Jianshui Ancient Town, with a history of about 1200 years and an abundant distinctive cultural heritage, the Ancient Town enjoys a great reputation as a ‘Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses’ and attracts a lot of visitors at home and abroad. Songzanlin Monastery has another alias – ‘the little Potala Palace’, so named because the whole monastery is in the traditional style with mysterious atmosphere.

Please read more about Yunnan Culture.

3. Taste Local Yunnan Food

Yunnan cuisine, often referred to as Dian cuisine, has its own unique style because of its geographic location, diverse local plant and animal species and numerous ethnic minority groups. Many ethnic minority groups are located in Yunnan Province and they have each added their own cooking styles to Yunnan cuisine, making it a beautiful mix of many different styles of cooking and preparation styles. Yunnan cuisine is known for its sour and spicy dishes. Tough commonly seasoned with chilies, Yunnan Cuisine, unlike the mouth-stinging fiery food in neighboring Sichuan, strives to keep the original taste of its ingredients, which are freshly plucked from mountains and caught from the sea.

Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodles is the most celebrated specialty in Yunnan, served with a large bowl of hot chicken broth and a platter of side ingredients. Steamed-pot Chicken is famous for its tender meat, delicious soup and nourishing values. Yunnan Mushroom Hotpot, Xuanwei Ham, Rice-flour Cake(Er Kuai) are all famous local food.

Please read more about Yunnan Food.

4. Experience Border Atmosphere

Yunnan province borders the Chinese provinces Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Tibet, as well as the countries Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Most people travel to Yunnan for the tour to Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la. Except these, tourist could also go to the border between China and neighbouring counties. 

Hekou in South Yunnan Province, at the border between China and Vietnam. People could find various and quite different features of this border town. Ruili is an important border, neighboring Burma. There are some representative spots with thick exotic flavor, like Jiegao Border and A Village in Two CountriesMangshi is closed to Burma, thus it’s an important window for culture exchange between China and Burma and border port for trading and transportation.

5. Buy Yunnan Specialties

Known as a treasure house of natural resources and ethnic minority culture, Yunnan has many unique items that cannot be found elsewhere in the world such as its production of traditional Chinese medicine and medicinal herbs. When travel to Yunnan, you really should take some Yunnan specialties to friends and your family. 

Yunnan tea is one of the world’s finest, with its industry dating back 1,700 years. Green tea, jade green tea, mixed tea, Xuanchun tea, Hongbao and Yinzhen tea are all available. Rich in medicinal plants and herbs, a wide variety of locally manufactured traditional medicines are available. Dai Embroidery, dating back thousands of years, created by women of the Dai ethnic minority group, is famous for its high level of quality. Jade objects have been crafted in Yunnan for centuries and are sold throughout China and around the world. 

Please read more about Yunnan Shopping.