Yunnan Photography Travel Tips

At present, with the improvement of living standard and economic level, people can be able to travel other places and see the different landscapes and experience the different folk customs. Of course, taking photos play an important role in the most travels, especially when in a place as beautiful as Yunnan. Here are some helpful tips for photography in Yunnan, which can make you have the better photos to record your travel in details. Memories will fade, but photos will always remember the good old days.

Why Is Yunnan Photography So Special

Yunnan, referred to as Yun (滇), is located in the southwest of China, and is one of the important birthplaces of human civilization. The mountains here, the cloud dreams linger; the water here is full of  the spring in the air; the flowers here compete for beauty; the people here are simple and kind. The history of thousands of years and multi-ethnic and multi-cultural integration formed a unique the south of colorful clouds. Yunnan is known for its beauty, richness and magic. It has always been called the “mysterious area” and attracts tourists from all over the world. The world-famous Jinsha River, Nujiang River and Lancang River flow side by side to the distant. And the dangerous peaks are criss-crossed. The rivers and streams flow long distance, and the lakes and hot springs are scattered all over the place, creating this magical and beautiful land. Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, Dali-place of interest the famous “wind,  flower,  snow and moon — romantic themes”, Lijiang-water city on the plateau, the magical “Shangri-La”-Zhongdian, Xishuangbanna-the Peacock Dance, the Stone Forest-the “First Wonder of the World”,  the different Yuanmou Earth Forest, the rare Three Parallel Rivers, the grand Tiger Leaping Gorge…, these different mountains and rivers are like a natural museum. For every visitor who steps on this land, he/she will fall in love with this land that is a magical place full of passion and charm.

Yunnan is a paradise for photographers. Whatever the spectacular Hani Rice Terraces, the rape flower sea all over the mountain in April, or the colorful Dongchuan Red Land, are the most beautiful sceneries in the photographer’s lens. It seems that every corner here can inspire people’s creative inspiration and enthusiasm. The majestic of Meili Snow Mountain, the spectacular scenery of Rizhao Jinshan, the azaleas in the mountains, the colorful folk customs, and the smile of the minority people… are the the sources of beauty.

Photography for Various Themes in Yunnan

Yunnan is known as the “South of colorful clouds”. The mountains and rivers are magnificent and the natural scenery is beautiful. It has the snow-capped mountains in the southernmost tip of the northern hemisphere, the lush virgin forests, the steep and deep gorges, and the typical karst landforms, making Yunnan a natural beauty museum. The many historical sites in Yunnan, colorful folk customs, mysterious religious culture add even more infinite charm in Yunnan.

1. Karst Photography

Known as the “first hole in Yunnan”, the Alu Cave is one of the most spectacular natural caves in Asia. The caves are ancient, strange, dangerous and unique. The stalagmites, stalactites, stone pillars, stone curtains, stone waterfalls and stone flowers in the cave are all in various poses, and almost all the landscapes defined by geological karstology are available. Alu Cave is a group of strange and grand underground caves, namely underground karst landforms. Similar to the Alu Cave, the Stone Forest on the ground is known as the “first spectacle in the world”. It is located in the Shilin Yi Autonomous County in the south of Kunming. The Large Stone Forest and Small Stone Forest are in in thousands of postures and in different peaks.

2. Folk Customs Photography

Yunnan is a large family of 26 ethnic minorities. The rich folk customs make Yunnan have different tourism resources than other provinces. The Torch Festival and the Flower Arrangement Festival of the Yi People; the Pear Blossom Festival of the Bai People; the Water Splashing Festival of the Dai People… The countless national festivals have made people in Yunnan feel different folk customs, see unusual national goods.

3. Flowers and Plants Photography

Yunnan’s special natural conditions have enriched extremely rich biological species, with only 15,000 species of seed plants. Yunnan’s plant resources are not only ranked first in the country, but also in the front rank of the world. There are 93 families, 346 genera and 1734 species of horticultural ornamental plants. Yunnan is known as”the mother of the world garden”, “flower kingdom” and “natural garden”.

4. Dining Photography

The characteristics of Yunnan dining can be seen as two concentric circles or five different regions. The first circle is the Dianchi Lake and Kunming area, which is the provincial capital and central area of ​​Yunnan. On the basis of Chinese culture, there are distinct characteristics of “marginal culture”: on the edge of the Central Plains Culture, on the edge of Qinghai-Tibet Culture, on the edge of the Bally culture in Southeast Asia. In general, Yunnan’s food culture has the distinct local ethnic features, and at the same time, is influenced by a variety of foreign cultures. The food culture in Yunnan reflects not only the distinctive local characteristics of the border, but also the obvious national features. For more details about Yunnan Dining, please refer to Yunnan Cuisine, and you can know what to eat, where to eat. Generally, every place has its own unique food in Yunnan.

5.  Birdwatching Photography

Yunnan’s complex ecological environment has spawned a variety of abundant bird resources. In Yunnan, which only accounts for 4% of the country’s land area, it has 64% of its birds, and it has the largest number of species, ranking first among all provinces in the country. According to the recently published “Yunnan Biological Species List (2016 Edition)”, there are currently 954 species of birds in Yunnan, among which there are many rare birds. Such as, black-necked crane, hornbill, red-billed acacia. Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve is the best place to watch birds.

6. Religion Photography

Yunnan is the province with the most religious types, the widest distribution and distinctive religious beliefs in China. Religion has a long history of spread in Yunnan, and various religions exist together. There are Buddhism (Theravada Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism), Taoism, Islam, Christianism, Catholicism, local religion (Dongba, the local deity worship). The freedom of the belief is vividly reflected in Yunnan. In the same region, the same nation, and even the same family can believe in a variety of religions (except for Hui people). While ethnic minorities in Yunnan generally believe in their original religions, they have also accepted two or more other religious beliefs.

7. Wildlife Photography

The unique climate and geographical environment of Yunnan have formed a peculiar phenomenon of the convergence of cold and warm tropical animals. There are 1,737 species of vertebrates, of which there are 300 species of animals, 793 species of birds, 143 species of reptiles, 102 species of amphibians, 366 species of freshwater fish, and more than 10,000 species of insects. Among the fish, there are 5 families, 40 genera and 250 species, which are only found in Yunnan.

8. Kora Photography

The area around Meili Snow Mountain is a sparsely populated region. Most of the inhabitants are Tibetans. The biggest event should be the Inner Circumambulating Pilgrimage and the Outer Circumambulating Pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is the custom of Tibetan people, it’s an act of religious observance and respect for nature, undertake a pilgrimage on foot around some sacred places like a mountain, a lake or a temple. Each year multitudes of pilgrims spare no efforts and travel long to conduct their Buddhist Circumambulating to Holy Mountains and Lakes for good luck and ascending to the paradise after death.

9.  Snow Mountain Peak Photography

There are many mountains in the northwest of Yunnan, and mountains are covered by snow. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the southernmost snowy mountain in the northern hemisphere. It is located in the northwest of Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China, facing the Haba Snow Mountain and the  Jinsha River. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has a large area of ​​snow sea and is an excellent natural ski resort. Meili Snow Mountain is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. In the 1930s, they were praised by American scholars as the most beautiful mountains in the world. Meili Snow Mountain boasts numerous snow-clad ridges and peaks, thirteen of which are more than 6,000 meters above the sea level. The highest peak Kawagebo, which rises to 6,740 metres, has never been summited.

10. Border Photography

The border line of Yunnan is long, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, and facing Thailand. The natural connection has created the incomparable convenience of Yunnan and Southeast Asia since ancient times. In Southeast Asia, there are many ethnic groups, rich cultures and unique folk customs. The mysterious sceneries attract countless tourists. 

11.  Rice Terraces Photography

Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces in Honghe is located in the south of Ailao Mountain in the southeast of Yunnan Province. It is a masterpiece left by the Hani people for generations. It is the outcome of the wisdom of the Chinese nation. It is also a rare tourist attraction in China that integrates with natural landforms. The Yuanyang Rice Terraces are large in scale and magnificent. They stretch across Honghe, Yuanyang, Lvchun and Jinping counties on the south bank of the Longhe. There are 170,000 mu terraces in Yuanyang County. It is the core protected area for the World Heritage of the Honghe Hani Rice Terrace..

12.  Lakes and River Photography

The six major river systems in Yunnan Province are rich in water resources, mainly in rivers and lakes. A number of rivers run through it. The Jinsha River, the Lancang River and the Nujiang River flow side by side in the mountains and form a unique Three Parallel Rivers. The Three Parallel Rivers formed a unique natural geography landscape in the world. What’s more, the three rivers coexist without intersecting.” Dianchi Lake, located in Kunming, is China’s sixth largest inland freshwater lake. Known as the “Pearl of the Plateau”, it is the center of Kunming’s scenic spots.  The beautiful Lugu Lake in Lijiang also attracts domestic and foreign tourists.

The Most useful Tips for Photography in Yunnan

  • Bring extra batteries and adaptor units for recharging batteries.
  • Keep weather conditions in mind to gain the best photographic effects.
  • Besides photography, videography is also a good way to remember your trip.
  • Do not buy roll film or memory cards in local tourist areas; bring what you need from home.
  • Certain places or backgrounds may incur fees. Be sure to clarify the amount before taking photos.
  • Before taking photos of Chinese people which show their way of life or a street scene, you should first ask permission.
  • It is illegal to take photos regarding other people’s private actions or some embarrassing scenes by using the telephoto lens.
  • Film processing is convenient and fast in China, with good print quality. Photography studios can be easily found in most Chinese cities.
  • As you take photos in museums or some exhibition halls, for the protection of cultural relic, photoflash lamp and A-frame camera should be avoided.
  • In some special wildlife reserves, taking photos close to the animals is not allowed for the sake of tourists’ safety. Please pay attention to the signs in these places.
  • In special areas such as Tibet, photography is strictly limited. Typical local customs and religious places such as palaces or monasteries can not be photographed unless you pay for your photo taking or get the permission.
  • For religious reasons and for relic protection, many scenic spots such as museums, grottoes, temples, monasteries, palaces and cultural relics do not allow the taking of photos. ‘No Photos’ signs mark restricted areas.
  • Do not take photos in politically sensitive areas such as military bases, customs or airports. Otherwise, you might be regarded as a terrorist or a person who has certain threat.

Best Place and Best Time to Photograph in Yunnan

1. Shaxi Ancient Town

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: 8:00-9:30, 5:00-6:30

2.  The Source of Honghe (Red) River

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: 6:00 -9:00

3. Napahai Lake Area

  • Best Season: summer and autumn
  • Best Time: 6:00 -9:00

4. Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces

  • Best Season: November to April of the next year
  • Best Time: 18:00-19:30

5.  Ailao Mountain

  • Best Season: Winter
  • Best Time: 6:00-7:30

6. Meili Snow Mountain

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: 6:00-8:00

7. Luoping

  • Best Season: February-March, summer and autumn
  • Best Time: 7:00-10:00, 17:00-19:00
Please Note: February-March for rape flower, sea of clouds at the sunrise, peak wonders and summer and autumn for  the red sorghum. 

8.  Shigu Town

  • Best Season: November – June of the next year
  • Best Time: 9:00-16:00

9. Jiyi Grand Valley in Wuding County, Chuxiong

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: all day long

10.  Lugu Lake

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: all day long

11. Puzhehei in Qiubei County, Wenshan

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: all day long

12.  Nie Er Cultural Square, Yuxi

  • Best Season: autumn
  • Best Time: in the dusk and evening

13. Lijiang Ancient Town

  • Best Season: all year round
  • Best Time: all day long

The Recommend Most Classic Yunnan Photography Tours

It is not easy to list all the tours, if you are interested in tours, please feel free to contact us and we can customize the most suitable tour for you.