Kunming is the Capital City of Yunnan Province and also the biggest city. Yunnan Province is in the south region of China, a mountainous, lush area with lots of beautiful natural attractions.
Because of all the ethnic diversity in this province there are loads of cultural festivals and historical attractions. Tourism has grown into a major source of revenue for Yunnan.
Here’s good feedback from Kath, our favorite tour operator, A&K
“Hi all, I have just returned from our 9-day visit to the Northern part of Yunnan and have gathered first hand advice on accommodation, trips and guides for visiting this emerging destination in China.
Myself and Austin (our Chief Representative for Beijing) travelled to Yunnan in June. Our main focus of the trip was to experience the Songtsam Lodges (opened – Bezilan, Meili, Shangri-la, Tachen; not yet open – Cizhong).
We stayed in all 4 open lodges with an average over-landing time of 3-4 hours. The boutique lodges were decorated with Tibetan trinkets and proved to be a comfortable stay. Our guide is Chema, a local Tibetan with an education background in India, and her English is perfect; it was her in-depth knowledge in the area made the trip so perfect. Hot drinks were kept warm in thermos during long drive and blankets were also prepared.
We started the tour in Shangri-la which is situated at the altitude of 3,300 m. Our first sightseeing stop was the Songzanlin Monastery, a unique piece of architecture marrying the Tibetan culture and Buddhism. Our stay in the lodge is housed in a traditional Tibetan dwelling, where the lodge is part of the self-sufficient Tibetan farming village. The next day, we were transferred to Tacheng, passing stunning highland scenery on Tibetan Plateau, mountains lush and green in summer, dotted by crystal lakes. Enroute Chema slotted us in a morning session to spot the amazing Yunnan Golden Monkeys, it was at this hour we could see how vibrant they were during feeding. This endangered creature is so lovely and can only been found in this region. Our next stop is Benzilan with an excursion to hidden Yangtze valley, home of pristine Tibetan culture unknown to outsiders. Our final stop was Meili before our return to Shangri-la. The lodge overlooks the Meili Snow Mountains ,“ famous for its thirteen majestic snow peaks with the major peak considered to be one of the holiest mountains in Tibetan area. The Summer Tibetan pastures hidden in the mountains are so beautiful but unknown to many outsiders.”
Here are a few of the best places to visit in Yunnan:
Shangri-La County an ethnic Tibetan township and county set high in Yunnan’s north-western mountains.
Lijiang, a Naxi minority city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Dali, the historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms.
Xishuangbanna, a national scenic resort, famous for its natural and cultural attractions
Chuxiong, the first stop on the way to Dali and Lijiang. Home of the Yi ethnic minority and their respective ancient town.
Jinghong, the center and prefectural capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai minority autonomous prefecture.
Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraces.
Shilin (Stone Forest), a series of karst outcrops east of Kunming.