Yunnan, which refers to ‘the place south of the colorful clouds’, is the most southwest province of China. Externally, it borders Vietnam, Laos and Burma; internally, it is neighbour to Guizhou, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan and Tibet. It is a land that has the most ethnic minorities in China. The natural and diverse scenery has plenty to offering including Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Meili Snow Mountain, and the Stone Forest which was formed 270 million years ago. There is an array of wildlife in the province, with the two main attractions being the Asian elephant and the protected golden monkey. The two popular ancient towns in the Yunnan province are Dali and Lijiang, where you can explore the willow-lined canals, cobbled streets , markets and cafes.
Known as the “city of eternal spring” for its temperate year-round climate and flowers that bloom all year long, Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province. In days of old it was the gateway to the renowned Silk Road. Today, it is the provincial political, economical and cultural center of Yunnan, along with being the most popular tourist destination in south west China. There are plenty of temples and national parks nearby, the most famous and impressive being the Stone Forest. The city has thriving nightlife, with plenty of restaurants in which you can sample the region’s mild, herb-infused cuisine.
Lijiang is both the name of the city and of the county, with the population of Lijiang city being just over a half million people. The Old Town District has the well preserved Lijiang Old Town, a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. The famous bar street in the Old Town, combining tradition and fashion, is well worth a visit. The Naxi People, one of China’s 55 minority ethnic groups, inhabit this area. Lijiang is a natural area of beauty, offering scenic locations including the stunning Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Black Dragon Pool and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Located on the shores of Erhai Lake and surrounded by mountains, Dali is about 50 minutes by plane from Kunming. Popular places to visit include the impressive The Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple and Zhonghe Temple which was built in the Ming dynasty. During you time in this area it is well worth spending time with Bai Minority and learning about these hospitable people and their traditional cultures. Dali’s Ancient Town provides opportunities for shopping with an array of retail outlets offering a variety of local products.
Shangri-La, formerly known as Zhongdian County, is a Tibetan word meaning land of sacredness and peace. It is the capital of Diqing Autonomous Prefecture and located 198 miles north of Dali and from 400 miles from Kunming. The most popular sight in the area is the magnificent Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province.