26 Days Grand Yunnan Ethnic Minority Discovery

This 26 Days Yunnan ethnic minority tour includes: Kunming, Nanjian, Manwan, Lincang, Cangyuan, Nanggun River, Zhenkang, Mangshi, Reili, Yinjiang, Tenchong, Baoshan, Dali, Shangrila and Lijiang. Drive down Mekong River valley, meet colorful minorities in border area with Burma, Cross Nu River (the Salween ), enjoy the hot spring bath in Tengchong, surely you can take some unusual pictures. 


  • Appreciate the fabulous Yunnan natural sceneries, including the world natural heritage-the Stone Forest, acres of Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Xishuangbanna Tropical Rainforest, Pudacuo National Park, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Erhai Lake.
  • Meet colorful ethnic villages and tribal groups to appreciate the diverse ethnic cultures.
  • Visit anacient towns, historical heritage and ancient villages to discover the mysterious history of Yunnan.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kunming Arrival
  • Day 2: Kunming – Shilin – Jianshui
  • Day 3: Jianshui – Yuanyang
  • Day 4: Yuangyang – Lvchun
  • Day 5: Lvchun – Jiangcheng
  • Day 6: Jiangcheng – Jinghong
  • Day 7: Jinghong
  • Day 8: Jinghong – Lancang
  • Day 9: Lancang-Menglian-Ximeng
  • Day 10: Ximeng – Cangyuan
  • Day 11: Cangyuan
  • Day 12: Cangyuan – Gengma – Zhengkang
  • Day 13: Zhengkang – Mangshi
  • Day 14: Mangshi – Ruili
  • Day 15: Ruili – Tengchong
  • Day 16: Tengchong
  • Day 17: Tengchong – Yunlong
  • Day 18: Yunlong – Tacheng
  • Day 19: Tacheng – Shangrila
  • Day 20: Shangrila
  • Day 21: Shangrila –  Lijiang
  • Day 22: Tiger Leaping Gorge – Lijiang
  • Day 23: Lijiang – Shaxi – Dali
  • Day 24: Dali
  • Day 25: Dali – Kunming
  • Day 26: Kunming Departure

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Kunming arrival

Our guide and driver will pick you up from Kunming Changshui Airport. Then transfer to your hotel in Kunming downtown. Take a good rest after long flight.

Day 2 Kunming-Stone Forest-Jianshui

Sightseeing and Activities:the Stone Forest, Jianshui Old Town, Tuanshan Village

Large Stone Forest in Shilin County, Kunming

Start in the morning from Kunming, drive to the Stone Forest, which lies around 90 km in the southeast of Kunming, well-known both at home and abroad. It is a spectacular Karst landform that took shape about 270 million years ago in the Carboniferous Period.

After lunch drive in the southeast from the Stone Forest to Jianshui of Honghe Prefecture, a state-level historic and cultural city that has been standing there for over 1300 years.

Arrive in Jianshui County. Stroll around in the old part of Jianshui Town, see ancient wells that have been used by local residents for centuries and admire the grand Chaoyang Gateway Arch built in 1389, which is now serving as the landmark of this city. Have a study on local Tofu workshop, where it can be found out how this popular food is produced traditional way.

Move to Tuanshan, an age-old village enlisted amongst the 100 Protected Cultural Architectures of the World by WMF in 2005, for its well-maintained style and features of 19th Century. Return to town, see the Double-dragon Bridge aged over 200 years, it’s a combination of science and art, in elegant shape and ranking the first in Yunnan Province in terms of size and artistic value. 

Day 3 Jianshui-Yuanyang

Sightseeing and Activities:Confucius Temple, Garden of Zhu Family

Visit Confucius Temple, which is the biggest in Yunnan and the second biggest of country. Take a relaxing walk in the Garden of Zhu Family, a grand complex constructed 100 years ago by a local family surnamed Zhu, with well-arranged yards, well-furnished rooms and halls, labyrinthian lanes and passages, various ornamental plants and flowers, it enjoys the fame ”the Grand View Garden at a Border Town”.

Drive to Yuanyang, a place inhabited by Hani, Yi, Yao, Zhuang and other ethnic groups. Stay in Yuanyang.

Day 4 Yuanyang-Lvchun

Sightseeing and Activities:Duoyishu, Bada, Laohuzui

Duoyishu Rice Terraces in Yuanyang County,Honghe-20

See the morning market in Yuanyang, where the most lively side of local ethnic life is displayed. Drive to Duoyishu near Shengchun Village, see the spectacular rice terraces cultivated by Hani people through generations, this is one of the most inspiring scenes in southern Yunnan, reputed as the Sculpture on Mother Earth.

Move to Bada and Laohuzui, another two places famous for different types of terrace view. Drive to Luchun County, a small town situated on mountain and surrounded by rice terraces. Drop in ethnic villages en route, explore their authentic lives. Stay in Luchun.

Day 5 Luchun-Jiangcheng

Sightseeing and Activities:Yi and Hani ethnic villages

Full day car ride from Luchun to Puer City via Jiangcheng, random stops on the way for stretches or short visit to villages. Visit Yi and Hani ethnic villages in Jiangcheng County.

Day 6 Jiangcheng-Zhengdong-Jinghong

Sightseeing and Activities:Menglun tropical botanical garden, village of Jinuo people, Ganlanba

Drive to Jinghong City in XishuangBanna. Xishuangbanna is the southernmost prefecture of Yunnan, bordered with Laos and Myanmar, rich in fauna and floral resources, famous for exotic culture of different ethnic groups. Arrive at Menglun, a small town lying quietly beside Luosuo River, where the biggest tropical botanical garden of China is situated. Stay in the Botanical Garden.

Sightseeing in the garden, learn about various indigenous and introduced plants, take a relaxing walk in the rainforest zone of garden to gain a rough idea about this most biologically-diversified ecosystem in our world. Visit village of Jinuo people, who’s the last ethnic nationality classified by Chinese government in 1979, now only live in Xishuangbanna region.

See villages and Theravada Buddhism temples of Dai nationalities around Ganlanba area. Dai is the majority in this prefecture, they mainly stay in the basins near river and are good at rice growing. Theravada Buddhism is the prevailing religion in locality, and people are still carrying on the traditions of sending boys to temple.

Arrival in Jinghong City, which is the capital of Xishuangbanna, a quiet and tropical town near Myarmar border. Stay in Jinghong.

Day 7 Jinghong-Menghai-Menglun-Jinghong

Sightseeing and Activities:Octagonal Pavilion, ethnic villages

Jingzhen Octagonal Pavilion in Menghai County, Xishuangbanna

Excursion in the west to Menghai area, a place famous for production of tea. See a farmer market where people sell all kinds of native produces and purchase daily commodities, market is always the most lively part of every place, and always candidly mirrors the most authentic sides of local people’s life. Visit the Octagonal Pavilion beside Jingzhen Village, a building in peculiar shape; it’s one of the three most famous Theravada Buddhism buildings in Yunnan, used to serve as a meeting room for local senior monks’ monthly conference.

Move to Menghun, drop in a village where Dai villagers produce paper with tree bark in their very original way, then to village of Bulang, an ethic group who stay on mountains and are good at tea planting, see the nice tea plantations around village and try gaining information about their traditions, customs and way of living through chatting with villagers. Return to Jinghong, stop on the way for visit to Aini, the second biggest ethnic nationality in Xishuangbanna, descendant of ancient Qiang tribe, who used to live nomadic life and kept migrating. Fly back to Kunming in the evening.

Day 8 Jinghong-Lancang

Sightseeing and Activities:Laiyanghe River Nature Preserve

In the morning drive to Lancang via Puer City, visit Laiyanghe River Nature Preserve. Cross the Lancang River. Stay in Lancang.

Day 9 Lancang-Menglian-Ximeng

Sightseeing and Activities:Lancang Lahu minority villages

Visit Lancang Lahu minority villages and then drive to Ximeng. Visit villages on the way. Stay at Ximeng.

Day 10 Ximeng-Cangyuan

Sightseeing and Activities:Wa villages
Accommodation:Wa Village

Yuesong is a town on the border of Myanmar. Visit Wa villages, stay in the town or camp in the village.

Day 11 Cangyuan

Sightseeing and Activities:Cangyuan Cliff Painting

Drive to Cangyuan, which is a border town with Burma, viewing the 3000 years old Cangyuan Cliff Painting. Cangyuan is a Wa minority autonomous county. 

Day 12 Cangyuan-Gengma-Zhengkang

Sightseeing and Activities:Nangun River Nature Reserve, ethnic villages

Drive 2 hours to visit the Nangun River Nature Reserve which is for the protection of wild elephants. (The Nangun river is the border between China and Burma), then continue the drive along the border road to Zhengkang county. On the way, visit several ethnic villages.

Day 13 Zhengkang-Mengyang-Mangshi

Sightseeing and Activities:Nu River

Drive 6 hours from Zhengkang to Mangshi (Luxi). On the way, you will cross the Nu River. 

Day 14 Mangshi-Ruili

Sightseeing and Activities:Wangdin, One Single Tree Forest, night market

Drive from Mangshi to Ruili, on the way, visit Wangdin, a border town with Burma, and the One Single Tree Forest. Upon arriving Ruili, check in the Hotel. After dinner, visit the well-known night market.

Day 15 Ruili–Longchuan-Yinjiang-Lianghe-Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities:minority villages and local markets, Jingpo Ethnic Village, Jingpo Square, Dayinjiang River, Tongbiguan Pass, Nandian Xuanwu Chieftain Office

Visit minority villages and local markets around Ruili. Arrive in Longchuan County, visit Jingpo Ethnic Village and Jingpo Square. Then drive to Yinjiang County. Visit Dayinjiang River and Tongbiguan Pass, a famous local scenic spot. 

Drive to Lianghe County and visit the Nandian Xuanwu Chieftain Office, the ancient houses of the Chieftains in the past. Drive to Tengchong in the late afternoon.

Day 16 Tengchong

Sightseeing and Activities:Heshun Ancient Town, Beihai Lake Park

Visit Heshun Ancient Town including the Museum of Yunnan-Burmese Anti-Japanese War, Heshun Library, the Archway, Dragon Pool, the Wanlouzi Museum of Native Residence, Wenchang Daoist Palace, Clothes-washing Pavilions, Yuanlong Daoist Pavilion, the Philosopher Ai Siqi’s Former Residence, Guanyin Ancient Spruce Trees an so on.

Visit the Beihai Lake Park and cruise to the lake.

Day 17 Tengchong-Baoshan-Yunlong

Sightseeing and Activities:Mekong River, Boan Ancient Caravan, Stilwell Road

Drive to Baoshan City and Yongping County. Take a look at the upper Mekong River. Visit Boan Ancient Caravan and the Stilwell Road on the way to Yongping. Arrive in Yunlong County in the late afternoon. Stay in the hostel in Nuodeng Old Town.

Day 18 Yunlong-Lanping-Tacheng

Sightseeing and Activities:Nuodeng Old Town, Ancient Tea Horse Road, Tianchi Lake, Shigu Old Town, First Bend of Yangtze River

Visit Nuodeng Old Town and the Ancient Tea Horse Road in the morning. Drive to visit Tianchi Lake, take a panoramic view of the natural Bagua Diagram from the mountain. Transfer to Shigu Old Town, visit the First Bend of Yangtze River. Drive along the Yangtze River and arrive in Tacheng Town.

Day 19 Tacheng-Nixi-Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities:Tacheng Snub-nosed Monkey Park, ethnic villages, Nixi Pottery Village

Visit Tacheng Snub-nosed Monkey Park, enjoy the feeding of the snub-nosed monkey in the morning. Transfer to Nixi Village, visit Lisu ethnic village on the way. Visit Nixi Pottery Village and learn the making pottery by Tibetan people. Arrive in Shangrila in the late afternoon.

Day 20 Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities:Songzanlin Monastery, Pudacuo National Park, Dukezong Ancient Town

Songzanlin Monastery in Shangrila

In the morning, you’ll visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. The Songzanlin Monastery is often called the little Potala Palace because of its traditional Tibetan architectural style. In 1679 the fifth Dalai Lama chose the monastery’s location by divination and it quickly became the most important Tibetan Buddhist temple in Yunnan.

And lunch you’ll go and visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake located in Pudacuo National Park, 30KM away from the downtown. Pudacuo qualifies as a natural wonderland according to any standard. It contains endemic species of fish found no where else in the world, rare and beautiful orchids, black-necked cranes, and taxus yunnanensis, a yew whose extracts are indispensable to the creation of many cancer-treating drugs. Nestled in the mountains of Southwest China, the park is an integral part of the Three Parallel Rivers Scenic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Chinas most popular tourist destinations.

Walk around Dukezong Ancient Town in the late afternoon; Taste the butter oil and Tibetan snack with Tibetan dance and song in a Tibetan family.

Day 21 Shangrila-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Tiger Leaping Gorge, the First Bend of Yangtze River, Iron Chain Bridge, Lijiang Ancient Town

From Shangri-La, you’ll drive about 100KM to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. With 34 rapids of the Yangtze River, it is called the Jinsha in this area because you can find gold in the river. Afternoon, you’ll head for Shangri La, the former Zhongdian. Upon arrival in Shangri La, you will have entered the Tibetan cultural area and a landscape of barley fields and yaks scattered in the valleys.

After lunch continue the driving 50KM more to visit the First Bend on the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, and the Iron Chain Bridge in the Stone Drum town. The town of Stone Drum got its name from a large, cylindrical, marble tablet shaped like a drum. The scenery is magnificent as the road running through the Lijiang valley which is filled with wheat fields and drying haystacks. Drive 60KM more to Lijiang. Explore Lijiang Ancient Town at night. After dinner, you will have an option to attend the Naxi Orchestral and Show in Lijiang Ancient Town.

Day 22 Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Yulong Snow Mountain, Baishui River, Spruce Meadow, Baisha Old Town and Murals

Enjoy the sunrise of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lijiang Ancient Town in the morning. Drive about 30KM to Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M), you will take the sightseeing bus for a short visiting through the Baishuihe River, take the chairlift up to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The cableway will be arranged according to the condition of the mountain. You will hike around 1 hour in the original forest in Spruce Meadow(3200M).

After lunch, you will enjoy the Impression Lijang Ethnic Show directed in Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M). A cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area. The show takes place inside Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at 3500m in an outdoor theater specifically designed to showcase the mountain which is used as a backdrop. The production itself was designed by Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang Chaoge, a cast of over 500 people, and a number of horses.

In the afternoon, you’ll stroll through Baisha Old Town, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan town. Visit the Baisha Mural about 600 years old, which is one part of the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997.

–Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a width of 20 kilometers (13 miles). Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15 kilometers (nine miles) away, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence, the name Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The highest peak named Fan Peak (Shanzidou in Chinese) which is about 5596 meters above sea level. There are three cablecars in the mountain, the fist to the Glacier Park(4500M),the second to Spruce Meadow(3200M),the third to Yak Meadow(3700M).

Day 23 Lijiang-Shaxi-Dali

Sightseeing and Activities:Shibaoshan Mountain, Xizhou, Zhoucheng, ancient city of Dali

Zhoucheng Old Town in Binchuan County, Dali

In the morning, transfer to visit the Shibaoshan Mountain as well as the ancient Shizhongsi Grottoes in the mountain.

After lunch drive south on the old road to the ancient city of Dali. Dali, a historically and culturally famous city of China, is renowned for her historical interest. Before Dali Ancient Town, you will visit Xizhou Ancient Town to fully appreciate Bai-style architecture, taste their fragrant three-course tea and explore their distinctive culture. Drive 10 KM more to visit Zhoucheng Town, where you will experience how Bai people make the Tie-Dyed Cloth in the work shop. You will be free in Dali Ancient Town and explore the local ethnic life in the late afternoon as well as enjoy the panoramic view of Erhai Lake from the City Wall of Dali Ancient Town.

–Dali Ancient Town History of Dali Ancient Town can be dates back to 1382 during the Ming Dynasty and it has been listed among the top historic cities of China.The town’s layout was uniform, with five main streets from south to north and eight main streets from east to west, while marketplaces were neatly arranged within the town, which has remained unchanged to this date. Besides the Bai houses, the houses with gray-green roof tiles, peculiar workshops, temples, schools and churches with antique flavor are scattered.

Day 24 Dali

Sightseeing and Activities:Dali

Reflection Park of Three Pagodas in Dali City

In the morning, visit the Three Pagodas in Chongshen Monastery which has a history of over 1,800 years located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain facing to the Erhai Lake. Three Pagodas are made of three ancient independent pagodas forming a symmetrical triangle.

After lunch, you’ll cruise in Erhai Lake by the small boat to the Jinsuo Islet in the east Erhai Lake. There are 200 Bai ethnic families around 1000 people in Jinsuo Island. In Erhai Lake cruise, you will enjoy the green Cangshan Mountain and the Three Pagodas from a far as well as lots of birds and seagulls flying over the lake. 

Day 25 Dali-Yunnanyi-Chuxiong-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Yunnanyi Old Town, Stilwell Road, Museum and Exhibition of the Flying Tigers and the history of Stilwell Road, Chuxiong Museum and the Ten Month Lunar Calendar Park

Drive to Xiangyun County and visit Yunnanyi Old Town and the famous Stilwell Road. Visit the Museum and Exhibition of the Flying Tigers and the history of Stilwell Road. Transfer to Kunming, stop to visit Chuxiong Museum and the Ten Month Lunar Calendar Park of Yi ethnic minority. Arrive in Kunming in the late afternoon.

Day 26 Departure from Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Departure from Kunming

Departure from Kunming. Service ends.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostels
Kunming Sofitel Hotel Jingjiang Hotel Long Teng Hotel Tu Tu Inn
Jianshui / / / /
Yuanyang Yuanyang Twelve Manor Yunti Hotel Shuiyunjian Hotel Guanjing Heaven Hotel 
Lvchun / / Yunti Hotel /
Jiangcheng / / Tianhao Hotel /
Jinghong Hermit Hotel Xile Hot Spring Hotel Tai’ anmeng Holiday Hotel Rainforest Paradise Inn
Lancang / Hualong Hotel Lancang Hailan Hotel Lalong Yuqi Xiaozhu Inn
Ximeng / Mijing Wazhai Rice Field Manor Qiansheng Hotel /
Cangyuan Mengluo Hotel Jialinsai Hotel Jingwa Hotel Eighteen Tribe Hotel
Mangshi Huafeng Peacock Lake Hotel & Resort Mangshi Dabo Hotel Mangshi Hotel Xiaochenggushi Inn
Ruili Jing Cheng Earthsea SPA Holiday Center Ruili Sidawo Hotel Hesheng Hotel Lingfeng Inn
Yunlong / / Yulongwan Hotel Nuo Deng Fu Jia Liu Fang Inn
Tacheng Guanfang Hotel Tengchong Pumi Wenlv Zhang’s Courtyard (Hepan) Yongle Holiday Resort and Spa Yonder Way Hostel
Shangrila Shangri-La Hotel E-outfitting Boutique Hotel Bodhi Boutique Hotel Wu Fu South Yunnan Boutique Inn
Lijiang InterContinental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort E-outfitting Boutique Hotel Liwang Hotel Flowers Hall Inn
Dali Hilton Dali Resort and Spa E-outfitting Boutique Hotel Gnosis Hotel Fengxuegucheng

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;.

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs.