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Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Tour

KM-4: 6-Day Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Highlights Tour
From: $1,449
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This tour includes the essential attractions in the three main tourist cities of Yunnan — Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang. You will enjoy the elegant scenery, discover Yunnan’s history, and experience the minorities’ unique customs. Our no shopping policy ensures you will have a memorable trip in China.


  • Lose your way in the less-visited karst landscape of the Stone Forest
  • Hop in a horse-drawn carriage to explore well-preserved Xizhou Ancient Village
  • Capture a postcard-perfect photo at the Black Dragon Pool Park
  • Visit the legendary Dr. Ho in Baisha Village
  • Take a cable car up to the holy Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
  • Check out the power of the water and the towering mountains at sensational Tiger Leaping Gorge

What's Included

  • Entrance to the attractions listed in the itinerary
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private transfers between the airport, attractions, and hotels
  • Private local English-speaking tour guide and driver service (except for voluntary tips)
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast, free Wi-Fi and service fee
  • Horse-drawn carriage tour in Xizhou Ancient Village
  • Specified round-trip cable car at the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
  • Specified flights

Price Per Person in US Dollars

Nov.1 - Mar.31 5-star 4-star
2-5 People $1,679 $1,449
6-9 People $1,419 $1,169
Apr.1 - Oct.31    
2-5 People $1,759 $1,529
6-9 People $1,469 $1,209

The price for children is about 60–70% of the adult price, depending on the number of people in the group and the room arrangements.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 Kunming Arrival

When you walk out of the luggage claim area, you will find your private guide waiting for you outside the gate, holding a welcome sign on which your name is clearly written. A professionally-chauffeured vehicle will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you check-in and make sure everything at the hotel is satisfactory. Relax for the rest of the day.

Good to know:
If you arrive early in the morning and have some time to kill, you may consider enriching your day by visiting Yunnan Minority Village, which gives a very quick view of the various minorities in Yunnan and their cultures, costumes, and customs. If you are interested in the history of the American Flying Tigers during World War II, Kunming Museum is recommended.

Kunming New Era Hotel (4-star)/Green Lake Hotel (5-star).

Day 2Stone Forest and Yuantong Temple Tour

After a 1½-hour drive, visit a fantastic natural phenomenon located 90 kilometers southeast of Kunming — the Stone Forest. The various shapes of limestone were formed due to millions of years' movement of the Earth. The Stone Forest area is the home of the Naxi people, and their folk customs have become a spectacular scene. The colorful embroidery and minority dances combined with the natural scenery will surely leave you with a lasting impression. Enjoy a local lunch in a quaint courtyard with the Stone Forest Park in the background.

In the afternoon, transfer back to Kunming and visit the Yuantong Temple, the largest and most ancient Buddhist temple in Kunming, to learn about the differences between the halls of the three denominations of Buddhism.

After the tour, your guide and driver will escort you back to your hotel for a good rest.

Good to know:
For Chinese tourists, the Stone Forest Park is a must-see attraction; therefore, the countless tourist groups there during the peak season rank among travelers’ pet peeves. Due to the gigantic size of the park, your guide will help you find quieter, more remote areas to avoid the crowds, especially in the winter months.

Stone Forest and Yuantong Temple

Day 3 Kunming to Dali Flight and Dali Ancient Town Tour

You will be transferred to your morning flight to arrive in Dali within one hour. Upon arrival, your Dali guide will be waiting to start a colorful day with you. First, visit the houses of the Bai minority people> in Xizhou Village. You will see typical Bai traditions and dresses. Some buildings are old and have typical ancient architectures, and are the ‘real local’ houses. Then hop in a horse-drawn carriage to enjoy a relaxing tour along the lakeshore of Erhai, which is blessed with a mild climate and stunning scenery. Have lunch at a popular local restaurant.

Located at the foot of the Cangshan Mountains is Dali Ancient Town, where clear springs flow and local minority people live. In a quiet corner of the town, you will also find a Chinese-style Catholic church that was built in 1927. Stay overnight in the ancient town and relax.

Good to know:
The Three Pagodas between the Cangshan Mountain and Er'hai Lake are considered the landmark of Dali. Towering aloft in a triangle shape, the Three Pagodas were built more than 1,000 years ago. It's recommended if you have extra time or interested in landmark photography.

Dali Landscape Hotel (4-star)/Gurong Hotel (5-star).

Er'hai and Dali

Day 4Dali to Lijiang Transfer and Lijiang Ancient Town Tour

Your personal guide and driver will transfer you directly from Dali to Lijiang. Enjoy lunch and start the tour in Lijiang. Lijiang Ancient Town is the best-preserved minority ancient city. Most of the people living there belong to the Naxi minority, some of whom still make a living by making handicrafts of silver, leather, textiles, and some local snacks. Enjoy the quaint city scenery and see plenty of handicrafts in a distinctive style only found in this area of China. You can climb up to Lion Hill to have a bird’s-eye view of the whole town.

Then pay a visit to the Black Dragon Pool Park, where the view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is one of the most famous postcard-perfect sceneries in southwest China. Stay overnight in Lijiang Ancient Town.

Good to know:
Lijiang Ancient Town attracts more tourists than the Forbidden City in Beijing during peak season. Here are some tips to escape the hordes of tourists:
1. Stay overnight in Lijiang Ancient Town and start early: 80% of the tourists will be in 20% of the places. Get up early and find the best spots with the help of your guide.
2. Stay overnight in Shuhe Ancient Town: 20-minutes away from Lijiang by car, Shuhe ancient town is less touristic and quieter.

Lijiang Wangfu Hotel (4-star)/InterContinental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort (5-star).


Day 5Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Baisha Murals Tour

The Baisha Murals in Baisha Village were painted hundreds of years ago, and the paintings took about 300 years to complete. By appreciating these unique murals, you will learn about the cultures of central China, the Naxi Minority, and Tibet, as well as the stories of Tibetan Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. A visit to Dr. Ho’s Clinic (a professional doctor who practices traditional Chinese medicine) is included. Enjoy lunch and have a short rest.

The Spruce Meadow is a vast meadow at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with an altitude of 3,240 meters. Besides appreciating the elegant natural landscapes and view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, you will unlock the romantic legends with the help of your guide. If you are interested in photography, you will find it a perfect destination. After the tour, transfer back to Lijiang for another peaceful night.

Spruce Meadow and Baisha

Day 6Tiger Leaping Gorge Tour and Flight from Lijiang to Kunming

In the morning, enjoy 1½-hour private transfer to Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest and most marvelous gorges consisting of precipitous cliffs and rapids. The dashing water from the magnificent Jinsha River flows into the narrow valley with a stone in the center. There is an ancient saying that the gorge is so narrow that a tiger was able to leap over to the other side of the river, hence the name.

After lunch, your guide and driver will escort you back to Lijiang to catch the flight to Kunming and end this colorful tour.

Good to know:
Apart from Kunming, you can fly from Lijiang to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Lhasa. If you prefer to end your tour in other cities, please inform your trip advisor and we will check the best price for you.

Trip Notes

1. Tour Map (click to enlarge)

Map of yunnan

2. Tailoring Your Tour

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, and extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest, and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we will be happy to help you arrange a tour using our professional knowledge and experience. We promise a "No Shopping Policy".

3. Getting There and Traveling Away

Kunming is a convenient transportation hub. There are domestic flights to most of China's major cities, such as Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, Chengdu and Shanghai. International routes include flights between Kunming and Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Rangoon and Singapore.

4. Hotel

Standard hotels with a convenient location and good reviews are recommended in the itinerary. If you prefer other hotel options (boutique hotels, economical choices, or Chinese-style hotels) or would like to book the hotels on your own, please feel free to inform us and we will be happy to adjust the details. Here are some alternatives for your reference:

City Luxury & Special Boutique Economical
Kunming Silver Chest Hotel Kunming Quanji Hotel
Dali The One Resort Linden Centre in Xizhou Fairyland Hotel
Lijiang Indigo® Lijiang Ancient Town Banyan Tree Lijiang Manxin Hotels & Resorts

Note: The boutique hostels in Yunnan offer good value for money: a decent environment, local-style decoration, and a convenient location, but most of them only have 10–20 rooms and there may not be any English-speaking staff. Early booking is highly recommended.

5. Optional Extension:

If you are interested in Tibetan Culture and natural scenery, you can further extend the tour to Shangri-La after Lijiang. Check the Shangri-La Exploration Tour here.

Show and Entertainment
The following shows are recommended to enrich your tour. It is recommended to book with your guide a day before, or on the day, to allow flexibility.
Dynamic Yunnan in Kunming is a large-scale song and dance performance featuring the remarkable and diverse local ethnic culture. It is another masterpiece from the famous Chinese dancer Yangliping who directs and heads the cast.
Lijiang Impressions Show was directed by the world famous director Zhang Yimou, and performed by more than 500 locals of the 10 ethnic groups. Take the enchanting scenery of Jade Dragon Mountain as a natural background, the show aims to provide an insight into the lives of the region's ethnic groups through song and dance.

Dali Er'hai Lake Cycling
If you are athletic enough, cycling is also an exciting way to explore Erhai Lake. You can spend either one day going round the lake with a mountain bike or just two hours to cover the most scenic part of the west shore.
The Erhai circuit: 120 kilometers (75 miles), one to two days.
West Shore: 50 kilometers (31 miles), 3½ hours one way. This is recommended as you can visit several local villages and markets as well as enjoy the scenic view.
East Shore: 70 kilometers (44 miles), 4½ hours one way. This trail focuses on the beautiful natural scenery.

Shaxi Ancient Town
Shaxi Ancient Town is listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the world's 100 most endangered sites but is a place where you can breathe in fresh air around-the-clock. This time-warp of an ancient town was once a crucial node on the tea-horse roads and has not yet been invaded by hordes of tourists. The Xinjiao Temple on Sideng Street is the only Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) Bai Buddhist temple. You can visit it during the transfer from Dali to Lijiang.

6. More Trip Information

Want to learn more about this trip? Please click here to see details about traveling in China, booking, payment and responsible travel.