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Top Reasons to Visit Yunnan

Reading Guideline:

Why Should I Visit Yunnan

dongchuan red land
(Above picture/ Dongchuan Red Land)

Colorful Yunnan, best natural sceneries. Yunnan is a place where you must visit, and it will never let you down. When you are recommended “travelling to Yunnan” many times, you must have such questions“ why should I visit Yunnan” and “ What is Yunnan famous for”.  The following will briefly tell you Yunnan’s highlights and best of Yunnan:

  1. Beautiful Landscape. Yunnan is a land loved by colorful lands, high mountains, and blue lakes. Tourists always praise Yunnan being a place where you could have great random pictures.
  2. Distinctive Ethnic Culture. Yunnan is a province living with many ethnic groups, and tourists would be captivated by ethnic beautiful buildings and delicious food.
  3. Snow Mountain. Thrilling and Challenging, yes, you could definitely have such an experiencing in climbing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Holy and pure, is what you would say to Meili Snow Mountain.


→Recommended Tours: 

10 Days Best of Yunnan

10 Days Amazing Yunnan with Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking


Yunnan Facts & Convenient Yunnan Transportation

►Yunnan Facts: Yunnan is famous for its colorful landscape, with large rivers, high mountains and colorful lands.

Location: Yunnan Province is located in southwestern China, adjoining Guangxi(Guilin), Guizhou(Guiyang), Sichuan(Chengdu), Tibet( Lhasa), Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam.

Cities: Yunnan has decades of cities, with Kunming as its capital, and popular cities for tour are Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangrila.

China city map
(Above picture/ China city map/ Yunnan province)

►How to Get to Yunnan

1. International flights to Yunnan.

Yunnan has an international airport in Kunming and several domestic airports in other cities. Kunming Changshui International Airport has many international flights, covering countries like Thailand, India, Malaysia, Australia, America, and Canada, which is very convenient for foreign tourist to visit Yunnan. If tourists do not plan go to Yunnan directly, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou as entry cities are recommended to you.

International flights to Kunming Yunnan
City London Paris Madrid Moscow Vancouver New York Sydney Bangkok Delhi Kuala Lumpur
Duration 15 hours 11.5 hours 16 hours 16 hours 18 hours 20 hours 14.5 hours 2 hours 4.5 hours 4 hours

2. Domestic flights to Kunming

Domestic flights to Yunnan. Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangrila all have an airport for saving time to travel  Yunnan. Since Kunming is usually the first stop in Yunnan, the below introduces some flight information about flying to Kunming from other cities.

Domestic flights to Kunming
City Chengdu Beijing Shanghai Xian Hangzhou Guilin Chongqing
Duration 1.5 hours 4 hours 3.5 hours 2 hours 3.5 hours 2 hours 1.5 hours

3. Transport within Yunnan

Yunnan map
(Above picture/ Yunnan map)

  Flight Train
city  Kunming- Lijiang Kunming-Dali Kunming-Shangrila Kunming- Dali Kunming- Lijiang Dali-Lijiang
duration 1 hour 1 hour 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 2 hours

Yunnan Tourist Destination

► Kunming

Dianchi Lake
(Above picture/ Dianchi Lake)

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan, with Kunming Changshui International Airport. Kunming has got its name as Spring City, due to its favorable weather-warm at four seasons, and it has beautiful sceneries, covered by fresh flowers and lush trees. Kunming has splendid landscape which creates impressive sceneries.

Don’t miss: Stone Forest and Dongchuan Red Land. Stone Forest is formed due to geologic process, where a large number of sharp stones stand together and make a forest . Dongchuan Red Land is a visual feast, and a party to photographers.

→ Recommended Tours: 

4 Days Kunming and Stone Forest Tour

6 Days Dongchuan Red Land Tour


Nujiang Canyon
(Above picture/ Nujiang Canyon)

Dali is located in the west of Kunming, about 330 km from Kunming, within 5 hours driving. Dali is known as an ancient city in Yunnan, with hot spots like Dali Ancient City and Chongsheng Temple where tourists could experience its old history and outstanding culture.

Don’t miss: Erhai Lake, Dali Ancient City, and Chongsheng Temple. Riding a bike along Erhai Lake, feeding birds at Erhai Lake and taking a boat are interesting activities to do at Erhai Lake.

→ Recommended Tours:

4 Days Best Dali Tour

► Lijiang

lashi lake
(Above picture/ Lashi Lake)

Lijiang is located in the northwest of Yunnan province, close to Dali, about 192 km from Dali, which is within 3 hours driving. Lijiang, a beautiful city in Yunnan, is famous for natural scenery, most challenging Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and azure Lugu Lake, and also a historical spot- Lijiang Ancient City.

Don’t miss: Lijiang Ancient City, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lugu Lake. Tasting gourmet and go shopping in Lijiang Ancient City, having a boat tour on Lugu Lake, and climbing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain are the most interesting things in Lijiang.

→ Recommended Tours:

3 Days Best Lijiang Tour

6 Days Lijiang Tour to Lugu Lake

► Shangrila

potatso national park
(Above picture/ Potatso National Park)

Shangrila, mysterious and renown, has its own magic and charms. Shangrila is located in Diqing, the northwest of Yunnan province, close to Lijiang, about 180 km away and 3.5 hours driving. Shangrila is far away, well protected from human activities. Shangrila has untouched, spotless attractions, such as Potatso National Park, Meili Snow Mountain, and Ganden Sumtseling Monastery.

Don’t miss: Meili Snow Mountain and Potatso National Park. Potatso National Park won’t let you down if you are searching for a pure and beautiful land. Meili Snow Mountain, holy and majestic , is a mountain that you are not allowed to climbing.

→ Recommended Tours:

4 Days Best Shangri-la Tour


Wonderful Landscape, Unstoppable Surprising

Kunming Stone Forest, Kunming

Stone Forest
(Above picture/ Kunming Stone Forest)

Kunming Stone Forest is a landscape attraction, famous for a large number of its standing stones. Stone Forest is formed due to Karst Landscape, with spinous stones in various shapes and caves together, featured with grandness, and uniqueness. Stone Forest Scenic Area has two areas of stone forests, and other beautiful sights, like lakes, grassland and lush greenery.

Travel tips for Kunming Stone Forest:

  • Kunming Stone Forest is located in Shilin county, around 78 km from Kunming.
  • Tourists  could take train or bus to Stone Forest from Kunming.
  • Stone Forest Scenic Area covers an area of 350 square kilometers, and tourists are recommended to take a shuttle bus in the Stone Forest Scenic Area.

→ Recommended Tours:

One Day Tour from Kunming to Stone Forest

► Dongchuan Red Land, Kunming

Dongchuan Red Land

(Above picture/ Dongchuan Red Land)

Dongchuan Red Land is a natural scenery of landscape, and as its name tells its highlight is the colored land. Dongchuan Red Land is a paradise to photographers, with the colorful land, and distinctive layers as the most attractive, where lands, flowers and plants fit together.

Travel tips for Dongchuan Red Land:

  • Dongchuan Red Land is formed because the land has lots of iron and aluminium, and this colorful land is poor for planting.
  • Dongchuan Red Land is located in a town of Dongchuan, around  180 km from Kunming, within 4 hours driving.
  • Tourists could take bus or charter a car to Dongchuan Red Land from Kunming. Expressway is available from Kunming to Dongchuan.
  • Best to Dongchuan Red Land: April- December. April and May are mature seasons of wheat, and September to December are flowering season of rapeseed. At this two periods, Dongchuan Red Land is gorgeous with bright colors.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang

Tiger leaping gorge
(Above picture/ Tiger Leaping Gorge)

Tiger Leaping Gorge is the biggest gorge in the upstream of Yangtze River, which is named Jinsha River, and composed of three parts. In the gorge, there are rapids,  roaring water, rocks and waterfalls. Jinsha River is raging forward in the gorge, with cliffs in the two sides. The  winding and dangerous cliffs and uneven roads make Tiger Leaping Gorge the perfect place for hiking. In Tiger Leaping Gorge, the howling river, magnificent mountains and beautiful natural sceneries are  what exactly tourists want.

Travel tips for Tiger Leaping Gorge

  • Get to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang: Tiger Leaping Gorge is located in Yulong county, about 80 km away from Lijiang, within 2 hours driving. Tourists could take bus from Lijiang Bus Station  to Tiger Leaping Gorge, or charter a car.
  • Best time to Tiger Leaping Gorge: May to September. In this period, the water volume of Jinsha River is  big, due to rainy season.


Snow Mountain, Fantastic Mountain Climbing

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
(Above picture/ Jade Dragon Snow Mountain)

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a holy mountain to Naxi ethnic group, is composed of 12 peaks, with the highest 5596 meters covered by snow all year round. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Scenic Area has several parts, such as Ganhaizi, Yunshanping, Lanyuegu, and with rivers, valley, grassland and ski resort for tourists to visit and have fun. Mountain scenery, snow scenery, climbing experience and stunning Impression Lijiang Show are set up to tourists to enjoy local culture.

1. Travel tips for Jade Dragon Snow Moutain :

  • Take a bus at the gate to cableway entrance and take a cable car to the high of 4506 meters
  • Climb mountain from the high of 4506 meters, to the high of 4680 meters
  • Watch Impression Lijiang Show at Lanyuegu

  • Take warm clothes and buy oxygen cylinder
  • Best time to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: November to May

2. How to get to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is located in Yulong county, around 21 km from Lijiang, within 1 hour driving. Tourist could take taxi, bus or charter a car to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from Lijiang.

Meili Snow Mountain, Shangrila

Meili Snow Mountain
(Above picture/ Meili Snow Mountain)

Meili Snow Mountain is a holy mountain to local people, Tibetan ethnic group, and has much religious meanings to them. It has 13 peaks, and the highest peak has an altitude of 6740 meters, which has never been conquered by any climbing teams or climbing professional persons. Nowadays, nobody could climb Meili Snow Mountain due to tremendous difficulties and appeal from local people.

Meili Snow Mountain has two routes for sightseeing, one is from Feilai Monastery to Mingyong glacier observation deck, another is to Xiaonong Base Camp, and the latter one is very challenging. Seeing snow mountain scenery and glacier, visiting monasteries and Tibetan buildings, and watching sunset and sunrise would be great experiences to your Meili Snow Mountain tour.

1. Travel tips for Meili Snow Mountain:

  • Prepare warming clothes suitable for climbing and hiking, because it is really cold.
  • Best time to Meili Snow Mountain: October to May

2. How to get to Meili Snow Mountain from Shangrila

Meili Snow Mountain is located in Diqing, about 200 km from Shangrila and 4 hours driving. Tourists could take bus or charter a car to Meili Snow Mountain from Shangrila.


Crystal Lake, Shinning Pearl on Land

Erhai Lake, Dali

Erhai Lake
(Above picture/ Erhai Lake)

Erhai Lake is a huge lake in Dali, remembered by people for its crystal water and refreshing scenery. A lovely day in Erhai: ride a bike around the lake, feel the breeze, and feed birds with food, take a boat tour on Erhai Lake and have a big view of Erhai Lake. You could always find your easiness and Erhai Lake’s beauty in four seasons.

How to get to Erhai Lake from  Dali

Erhai Lake is located in Dali, about 4 km from Dali Ancient Town and 10 minutes driving. Tourist could ride a bike, or take taxi from Dali Ancient Town to Erhai Lake.

Lugu Lake, Lijiang

Lugu Lake
(Above picture/Lugu Erhai Lake)

Lugu Lake is a blue highland lake surrounded by mountains, praised as a pearl in highland, with crystal water shining under sunlight. Lugu Lake is a big lake with several islands, and its highlights are Heiwawu Island, Liwubi Island, and Lige Island, and local people live in the lakeside. You could take a boat to enjoy Lugu Lake’s beauty, and have a night staying in villages to experience countryside life.

How to get to Lugu Lake from Lijiang

Lugu Lake is located in northeastern Lijiang , about 200 km from Lijiang and 4 hours driving. Tourists could charter a car, or take bus from Lijiang to Lugu Lake, or  take tourist bus from Lijiang Ancient Town to Lugu Lake.


Historical Footprint, Ancient Prosperity

Dali Ancient City, Dali

Dali Ancient Town
(Above picture/ Dali Ancient City)

Dali Ancient City was the political and economic center of Yunnan for over 500 years, and now it is a significant historical and cultural site of Yunnan. Dali Ancient City has been under good protection, with well preserved ancient buildings still standing here. Tourists could have a walk in Dali Ancient City, visit ancient buildings, buy souvenirs, and taste Dali food and snacks.

How to get to Dali Ancient City

Dali Ancient City is located in Gucheng district, close to Erhai Lake and Chongsheng Temple, about 30 km from Dali Airport. Tourist could take taxi or take bus to Dali Ancient City.

Lijiang Ancient City, Lijiang

Lijiang Ancient Town
(Above picture/ Lijiang Ancient City)

Lijiang Ancient City is one of the most renown ancient cities in China, and like Dali Ancient City, it was a prosperous place in the past, and now it is a hot spot of Lijiang Tour. Lijiang Ancient City is a place where you could have a quiet visit in the morning, and have a big party in night.

How to get to Lijiang Ancient City

Lijiang Ancient Town is located in, about 30 km from Lijiang Airport and  10 km from Lijiang Railway Station. Tourist could airport shuttle bus, or take taxi to Lijiang Ancient town.


Religion Piety, Beautiful Buildings

Chongsheng Temple, Dali

Chongsheng Temple
(Above picture/ Chongsheng Temple/ the Three Pagodas)

Chongsheng Temple is a famous Buddhism temple in Yunnan, impressive of its three pagodas. Chonegsheng Temple has many buildings of Buddhism, Buddhist golden sculptures, and stores historical relics and Buddhism scriptures. The Three Pagodas enjoy great name in historical pagodas, the big pagoda has a quadrate base, with 16 floors on the base, in a height of 69.13 meters, and the two small pagodas are 42.17 meters high, with 10 floors on the bases. The Three Pagodas are valuable in its history and culture, and lots of relics had been found in the pagodas.

► Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Shangrila

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

(Above picture/ Lijiang Ancient City)

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is the largest monanstery of Tibetan Buddhism in Yunnan, , with splendid buildings grandly built. In here, tourists could visit the monastery, learn Tibetan Buddhism, enjoy its beautiful sceneries, and experience believers’ great piety.

How to get to Ganden Sumtseling Monastery from Shangri-la

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is close to Shangri-la, only 5 km away. Tourist could take taxi or take public bus to Ganden Sumtseling Monastery from Shangri-la.


Tastebud Teasing Food, Benefit from Nature

Yunnan is a land of diversity, plant diversity and animal diversity, and unbelievable food made in Yunnan is benefited from nature and this land. When coming to Yunnan, what to eat is a big question to you. Here introduce some tastebud-teasing food to you.

Guo qiao mi xian
(Above picture/ Guoqiao Mixian)

Guoqiao Mixian. Guoqiao Mixian is an outstanding one among Yunnan food, renown in China and loved by people from everywhere. Guoqiao Mixian is a dish of rice noodles in Yunnan, with ingredients like various fresh vegetable, and fresh meat.

stone pot fish
(Above picture/ Stone Pot Fish)

Dali Stone Pot Fish. Stone Pot Fish is a dish of fresh fish, full of Dali flavor, and its fresh flavor has won great fans.

Ribs Hot Pot. Ribs Hot Pot is a local dish in Lijiang, highly recommended to tourists and visitors. Its soup is made by ribs, and eaters could order other meats and vegetable as they like.

Mushroom.  Yunnan is a producing area of various mushrooms, due to its comfortable weather. In any city of Yunnan, you could taste various fresh and delicious mushrooms.

Yushan and Erkuai. Yushan is grilled cheese in a fan shape, and Erkuai is local rice cake, and they are popular Dali snacks.  


Diverse Ethnic Culture, Vigorous Yunnan

26 ethnic groups live in Yunnan, and 25 of them are minority ethnic groups. Every ethnic group has language, culture, food, etc., which makes Yunnan dynamic and vigorous. Two ethnic groups are mainly introduced to you, because you may meet them in Dali and Shangrila.

Bai ethnic group cloth
(Above picture/ cloth of Bai ethnic group)

Bai ethnic group. Bai ethnic group is a big ethnic group in Dali, who has created brilliant culture in Dali. Bai ethnic group has its own festivals, ethnic clothes, delicious food. Tourists could see their ethnic clothes, and enjoy those delicious food in Dali Ancient City. Erkuai( rice cake), and Yushan( grilled cheese) are popular snack of Bai ethnic group.

prayer flags
(Above picture/ prayer flags/ Tibetan ethnic group)

Tibetan ethnic group. Tibetan ethnic group or Tibetan nationality lives in places close to Tibet, like Shangri-la. Tibetan ethnic group has religious believing in Tibetan Buddhism, and tourists and visitors should respect their religion and custom. In Meili Snow Mountain Scenic Area,  please show respect to Meili Snow Mountain which is a sacred mountain to Tibetan ethnic group, do not tear or step on prayer flags.

In the above, i have introduced lakes, mountains, ancient cities, and beautiful buildings, but they are not all about Yunnan, and the beauty and holiness of Yunnan tour are beyond words. Tourists should really go and see those turquoise lakes, white snow mountains, taste local delicious food, and experience original rural lifestyle. I guess you won’t miss an opportunity to see its attractive sceneries.

♦ Recommended Readings:

How to plan a Yunnan trip

Top Reasons to Visit Chengdu Sichuan, Best of Chengdu

Top Reasons to Visit Sichuan, Best of Sichuan