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Yunnan Travel

Yunnan Travel Guide

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Yunnan, the South of Colorful Clouds, is the most southwestern province in China. It borders Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou in the east, Sichuan in the north, Tibet Autonomous Region in the northwest. Besides, Yunnan shares a borders of 4060 kilometers with Burma in the west, Laos in the south and Vietnam in the southeast.

No matter you want to dig in-depth into the stunning sites within colorful Yunnan or travel outside to Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi, you can fulfill your dream today.

Why Visit Yunnan Province:

  • World Heritage Site of China.Yunnan is rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Old Town of Lijiang (Lijiang, 1997), Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas (2003), South China Karst (Stone Forest, 2007), Chengjiang Fossil Site (Chengjiang County, 2012), Cultural Landscape of Honghe Rice Terraces (Yuanyang County, 2013)...
  • Breathtaking Natural Views Everywhere. No matter you stroll in the maze of cobbled streets of the old towns or travel out of time-honored towns to the rural villages, you can enjoy fantastic natural scenery. Feel intoxicated by the amazing wonders - Stone Forest, Yuanyang Rice Terrace, Dongchuan Red Land, First Bend of Yangtze River, Tiger Leaping Gorge, etc.
  • Earthly Paradise in Lost Horizon. In this permanently happy land, travelers can enjoy the clear air, the nearer white clouds in the blue sky, the breathtaking beauty of landscape, the warm heart of the honest and enthusiastic ethnic people…
  • Colorful Ethnic Culture. Yunnan is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the highest number of ethnic groups among all the provinces and autonomous regions in China. Besides Han people, there are 25 ethnic groups found in Yunnan, including Yi, Bai, Hani, Naxi, Dai, Tibetan, Pumi, etc. Delicious ethnic food, colorful costumes, unique architecture and special ethnic culture are all fascinating.
  • A Heaven for Photographers. Yunnan is absolutely an heaven for photographers. You can head to God’s Magic Palette - Dongchuan Red Land to shoot the most colorful land. Yuanyang Rice Terraces like ladder towards heaven are worth your time waiting and shooting. Everything here is your subjects - sunset, sunrise, sea of clouds, Hani folk houses, rice paddies, cattle, ox...
  • Slow Pace and Leisure Exploration. Relaxing and interesting activities are designed in every scenic spot. Travelers can take leisure walk in old towns, do some light hiking in the breathtaking national park, cruise happily on the emerald Lakes, watch the sunset going down...Traveling is a kind of life here without any rush.
  • ......

Top Travel Destinations in Yunnan

Traveling to Yunnan is a dream to many travelers. In this ethnic kingdom, travelers can explore in Lijiang - a Naxi minority city which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997; Shangri-La, an ethic Tibetan township with Lost Horizon scenery; Dali - Bai ethnic group inhabited as well as a historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms; Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraced mountains; Kunming - the capital of Yunnan also being the gateway to Stone Forest and Dongchuan Red Land...Check the travel guide of each destination now!

>> 10 Best Places to Visit in Yunnan

Popular Attractions in Yunnan

Yunnan is the most diverse province in all China, both in its extraordinary mix of ethnic groups and in the splendor of its landscapes. From snow mountains and emerald lakes, from magical red land to superlative rice terraces, from stone forest to karst caves, from Tibetan monastery to holy pagodas, you have got so many to explore. Below are the top visited tourist spot, you can take a look at their detailed travel before you decide where to go. For more attraction information, please go and see Top 25 Attractions in Yunnan.

>> 5 Fascinating Ethnic Minority Festivals in Yunnan

Lijiang Old Town
Lijiang Old Town

Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lijiang Old Town is ancient town for Naxi ethnic group. It is one of the four best-preserved ancient cities in China.

Stone Forest
Stone Forest

Formed 270 million years ago, Stone Forest is the oldest karst landform in China. The whole scenic spot is made of stone forest, karst caves, waterfalls, underground rivers, etc.

Dali Old Town
Dali Old Town

Dali Old Town is a historic town with rich culture and Bai ethnic characters. Wander leisurely to explore city gates, old towers, old streets, temples, museums, shops and bars...

Three Pagodas
Three Pagodas

It is the symbol of Dali located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain. It was first built in the time of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom in 9th and 10th century.

Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world, making it a world-famous hiking destination. It consists of Upper, Middle and Lower Gorge.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, known as the Littile Potala Palace, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Yunnan.

Pudacuo National Park
Pudacuo National Park

Pudacuo National Park is the first national park in China with the most breathtaking natural view. It consists of Shudu Lake, Bita Lake and Militang Pasture.

Dongchuan Red Land
Dongchuan Red Land

Reputed as the God’s Palette, rich in dreamy colors, Dongchuan Red Land is less than a scenic spot, but more a paradise for photographer…

Duoyishu Rice Terraces
Duoyishu Rice Terraces

Duoyishu Rice Terraces is the best site to watch SUNRISE shine down over the 400-hectare rice paddies, shoot sea of clouds and enjoy harmonious Hani folk life.

Bada Rice Terraces
Bada Rice Terraces

The 950-hectare rice terraces is like the ladders to the heaven with over 3700 levels, rising up from 800 meters to 2000 meters. It’s the best spot for spectacular sunset.

Cangshan Mountain
Cangshan Mountain

Cangshan Mountain is with nineteen peaks and eighteen streams. Enjoy breathtaking view at the top of the mountain and along amazing Jade Cloud Road.

Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), reputed as "Pearl of Plateau", is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan. Cruising and cycling are recommended way to enjoy Erhai Lake scenery.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the southernmost mountain in China and famous for its chaming sightseeing, excellent Impression Lijiang show, Dongba culture, etc.

Lugu Lake
Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake, located between Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province, is the mysterious land for Mosuo people. Diverse experience and fun are waiting for you in the “Kingdom of Women”.

Western Hill
Western Hill

It’s a forest park sitting next to the beautiful Dian Lake, and historical sites spread among the green forest. This is a great place for relaxing and hiking.

Green Lake Kunming
Green Lake Kunming

As the jade of Kunming, Green Lake has very fancy sceneries. Diverse summer lotus flowers and black-headed gulls in winter are really worth appreciating.

Jingmai Mountain
Jingmai Mountain

Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er was listed as China's 57th World Heritage Site in 2023, and it is also the first World Heritage of tea culture.


Weather & Places to Go for Each Season

Yunnan has an average elevation at 1980 meters and the highest point in the north is Kawagebo Peak in Deqin County on the Diqi Plateau and the lowest is in the Red River Valley in Hekou County with an elevation of 76.4 meters. Because of the complex terrain and geomorphology, the climate of Yunnan is very complex, including tropical monsoon climate, subtropical monsoon climate, temperate climate and plateau climate. It has mild to warm winters and tempered summers. The average temperature in summer is around 19~22℃ and the average temperature in winter is 6~8℃. The rainy season in Yunnan falls from June to August that you should take rainproof when travel in Yunnan during the period.

Best Places to Visit in Spring: Dongchuan Red Land, Stone Forest, Dali Old Town, Cangshan Mountain, Luoping Rape Flowers;
Best Places to Visit in Summer: Lugu Lake, Lijiang Ancient City, Erhai Lake;
Best Places to Visit in Autumn: Pudacuo National Park, Dongchuan Red Land, Songzanlin Monastery;
Best Places to Visit in Winter: Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Kunming Green Lake.

Learn more about Yunnan Weather & Seasons >>



Get to Yunnan

Yunnan Province at the southwest China could be easily get to and off by flights and high speed trains from major tourist destinations and transportation hubs in China.

Among all the 14 airports in Yunnan region, Kunming Changshui Airport, Lijiang Sanyi Airport and Dali Huangcaoba Airport are your top good choices for landing in Yunnan from other destinations. The most frequently and largest is Kunming Airport, which has direct flights from Beijing (3.5-4 hrs), Shanghai (about 3.5 hrs), Xian (2-2.5 hrs), Hong Kong (2.5-3 hrs), Chengdu (1.5-2 hrs), Lhasa (about 2.5 hrs), Guangzhou (about 2.5 hrs), Hangzhou (3-3.5 hrs), Chongqing (about 1.5 hrs), Guilin (about 1.5 hrs), Zhangjiajie (about 1.5 hrs), etc. and international cities like Singapore (4 hrs), Bangkok (2-3 hrs), Phuket Island (2.5-3 hrs), Kuala Lumpur (3.5-4 hrs), Seoul (about 5 hrs), Taipei (about 3.5hrs), etc. And the short way between those airports and the downtown areas would take you about 1 hour by a car. Furthermore, if you are getting in Yunnan by landing in Shangri-La, you could fly from Chengdu, Chongqing, Lhasa, etc. with a short flight of less than 2 hours. Only for about 15 mins’ taxi time, you could get to the downtown area to start your exploration of this mysterious wonderland.

So far, Kunming has high speed trains connecting to other provinces in China. You could depart from Chengdu (about 6.5 hrs), Chongqing (about 5 hrs), Guilin (about 5 hours), Guiyang (2-2.5 hrs), Guangzhou (about 6.5 hrs), etc. to Kunming South Station.

Transfer within Yunnan

Direct flights are available between Kunming and Dali, Kunming and Shangri-La. Besides, to transfer between Kunming, Lijiang, and Dali, normal trains and long distance buses are the top chosen good ways. However, to Shangri-La, you could now only take a coach from Kunming, Dali, or Lijiang, which would take 4-6 hours. If you want to get to Yuanyang, the distance coach is a better choice. >> Check more information of Yunnan Transportation.


Yunnan Travel Maps

We have collected some useful Yunnan maps including Yunnan Province Map, Yunnan Tourist Maps and so on to help you have a better understanding about Yunnan and plan a Yunnan tour easily. For more maps, please check 2024 Overall and Detailed Yunnan Maps.

Yunnan Province Map

Yunnan Province Map

Yunnan Tourist Map

Yunnan Destinations Map


2024 Speical Theme Tours for Yunnan Travel

3 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour
(in-depth hiking along the world class trail)
5 Days Dali Tour with Cangshan Mountain Hiking
(old town, Erhai Lake + Cangshan Mountain hiking)
4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking with Lijiang Highlights
(Lijiang / Tiger Leaping Gorge / Lijiang)
5 Days Shangri-La & Meili Snow Mountain Pilgrimage Tour
(Shangri-La / Deqin / Shangri-La)
8 Days Dongchuan, Yuanyang & Jianshui Superlative Photography Tour
(Kunming / Dongchuan / Kunming / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming)
8 Days Classic Yunnan Photography Tour
(Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)
8 Days Yunnan Golf Tour with Stunning Landscape Sightseeing in Leisure
(Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-La)
4 Days Dali Leisure Vacation for Nature & Culture Savory (in Luxury Boutique Hotel)
(Dali / Shaxi / Dali or Lijiang)

Other Scenic Destinations in China

Besides Yunnan, China offers you with many other scenic destinations, such as Jiuzhaigou, Chengdu, Guilin and Zhangjiajie. Check the following for detailed information.

Other Popular Destinations in China

China is vast and diverse. You can choose your favorite destinations among more than 70 tourist destination and regions, like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, etc. Following are 4 popular destinations you may get interested in. Check all destinations in China

Chinese Name: 云南

Chinese Pinyin: yún nán

English IPA: /'ju:n'næn/

Capital: Kunming

Population: 47.14 million

Ethnic Minorities: Yi, Bai, Naxi, Tibetan, Hani...

Language: Mandarin, Yi, Bai, Naxi, Tibetan & Other Ethnic Languages

Climate: Subtropical Monsoon Climate, Tropical Monsoon Climate

Area: 394000 Square Kilometers

Rivers: Jinsha River, Lancang River, Nu River, Honghe River

Lakes: Dianchi Lake, Erhai Lake, Lashi Lake, Lugu Lake, Napa Lake

Mountains: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Haba Snow Mountain, Cangshan Mountain, Meili Snow Mountain

Highest Point: Meili Snow Mountain (6740m)

Time Zone: (UTC+8)

Plan your Yunnan Tour

Yunnan is an earthly paradise which is worth visiting for many days. Usually, travelers would spend 4~11 days visiting the popular destinations, such as Kunming, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Dali as well as Yuanyang and Jianshui. If you have 4~5 days, you can choose your favored two destinations for one go, like Lijiang-Shangri-La tour, Kunming Lijiang tour, etc. If you have about 6 days, you can add three destinations into your travel list, like Lijiang Shangri-La Kunming tour, Kumming Dali Lijiang tour, etc. If you have about 8 days, you can put the four hot destinations - Kunming Dali Lijiang Shangri-La in one trip. If you want to cover all the highlights of Yunnan, arrange 10 days or longer will be great for the in-depth exploration. >> Read More about How to Plan a Yunnan Tour

Travel with China Discovery

We have helped many global travelers enjoy their memorable trips to Yunnan for the past few years. Among them Mr. Elie & his wife from Belgium had 15 great days in Yunnan during their 69 days China trip customized with us and shared us their special travel story. Travel with China Discovery to create your wonderful Yunnan trip memories!

Top Yunnan Tours

Three Pagodas, Dali, Yunna - TJ Maa's group from USA
8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour

Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La

Our guest Alexander from Netherland visited Dongchuan Red Land in 2020
10 Days Beautiful Yunnan Tour with Dongchuan Red Land

Kunming / Dongchuan / Kunming / Stone Forest / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La

Magnificent sunrise at Yuanyang Terraces-2017-Olivia
11 Days Amazing Yunnan Tour

Kunming / Stone Forest / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La

Dileeni from Canada - Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
19 Days China Panoramic Tour with Iconic Nature & Culture Exploration

Beijing / Xian / Chengdu / Guilin / Lijiang / Dali / Kunming / Zhangjiajie / Shanghai

Susa's Group from Germany - Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
8 Days Brilliant Yunnan & Zhangjiajie Avatar Mountains Tour

Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming / Zhangjiajie

Claire from UK - 20 RMB Note View, Li River, Guilin
9 Days Guilin Karst Landscape & Diverse Yunnan Tour

Guilin / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming

Xianggong Hill, Yangshuo, Guilin
15 Days Vast China Tour with Yunnan Highlights & Guilin Karst Landscape

Beijing / Xian / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming / Guilin / Yangshuo / Shanghai


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