Located in the south west of China, Yunnan province is a world of snow-capped mountains, authentic Chinese villages, tropical rainforests and temples unspoiled by visitors. Its stunning and diverse landscape is arguably the most breathtaking in China. If you are after an authentic, cultural experience amongst picture-perfect scenery then Yunnan is the destination for you!
Yunnan has the greatest diversity of any of China’s provinces, sharing borders with Vietnam, Myanmar, Tibet and Laos. Geographically, it ranges from tropical rainforest in the south to the snow capped peaks on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
The city of Kunming is a starting base for this area, and at the same altitude is Dali, a colourful town surrounded by a great city wall. On a scenic drive from Dali after exploring the Ancient City and the New District, you’ll stumble across the UNESCO World Heritage ancient town of Lijiang where you can explore a world of narrow cobblestone streets bordering canals, all against a magical backdrop of the snow-capped Dragon Snow Mountain.
Further north, at an altitude of 3200 metres, you’ll find yourself in the enchanting area of Zhongdian (or Shangri-La as it is now known), which is as close as you can get to Tibet without crossing the border. The Sumtsenling Monastery with over 600 monks in residence is an interesting visit, or for the more adventurous there are challenging treks across the remote countryside.
Kunming is the cultural, political and economic capital of the Yunnan province and is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ thanks to its idyllic climate. Kunming is also a melting-pot of Yunnan culture. To fully immerse yourself in the Yunnan culture, sample the delicious local dishes at the night markets and head to Jinbi Square to see Kunming’s famous eye-catching architecture.
Recently renamed Shangri-La, the county of Zhongdian is a haven of almost 100 snow capped peaks, with friendly people, small Tibetan villages and a rich history. On the outskirts of Zhongdian Town you shall find Songzalin Monastry and for the active traveller, the surrounding mountains are filled with opportunity!
The vast majority of Xishuangbanna’s landscape is made up of rolling hills and rice terraces. A highlight of the area is Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden, the largest tropical botanical garden in China. Other natural attractions include the Mandian Waterfall and the Single-Tree Forest.