Home China Tours Yunnan Tours Yunnan Tour Highlights: Local Culture Experiences

Yunnan Spotlight Experiences

Yunnan, meaning 'south of the beautiful cloud', attracts people with its various landscapes, rich minority cultures, and unique regional history. Many people are deeply impressed by it even though they have found out a lot about its beauty before going there. It always lives up to expectations.

Besides sightseeing, we would like to help you have a more in-depth experience in Yunnan, no matter whether you are interested in the history of the Tea Horse Road, the old and mysterious minority cultures, or the legend of Shangri-La. Our spotlight experiences connect you with the local people. They will show you the splendid cultures they have created and the hometowns they love.

Trip Advisor Yunnan tour reviews
I booked a 3 day tour of Lijiang with an extension to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Our advisor (Owen) was profession and helpful. Our guide (Jack) was very flexible and made sure we got a chance to see all of the sights we were interested in. Our driver was safe and courteous. I definitely recommend China Highlights as a tour operator and the Lijiang Tour for anyone in the area!— Tricia from the US

Find the Lost Tea Horse Road

Duration: one day

 Shaxi ancient town
Tea and Horse Road
Buzha of Bai nationality

Just like the Silk Road, the Tea Horse Road is a great example of the trade that took place in ancient China. It also helped with cultural exchange among different ethnic minorities in Southwest China.

In this tour, you will visit two old towns hidden between Dali and Lijiang to find the last remnants of the Tea Horse Road, to cross the bridge that the horse caravans crossed, and to stay in the old town where they stayed.

Starting from Dali, you will drive for about 1½ hours to get to the ancient town of Jianchuan. It used to be an important stop on the Tea Horse Road. It is regarded as the cultural center of the Bai nationality. The residential houses, the city gates, the temples, and the bridges are still in the ancient Bai style.

To help you understand the Bai culture, we will introduce you to a handicraft of the Bai nationality — Buzha. It comprises colorful cloth with embroidery and wormwood to keep insects and evil spirits away. You will visit a workshop belonging to a Buzha master in the ancient town to discover this beautiful folk art and see the excellent skill involved. You will meet people who love and protect their nationality's culture.

After enjoying some local food that was also enjoyed by the horse caravans, you will continue to Shaxi Old Town, the last remaining market town on the ancient Tea Horse Road. This ancient building complex contains some traditional Bai architecture including a shining wall, a pavilion, the Xingjiao Temple, Square Street, an ancient stage, a bridge, and a grand courtyard. All of them tell stories of the horse caravans in the past.

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Discover the Colorful Culture of the Naxi Nationality

Duration: 4 Hours

 Baisha village
A Shaman of Naxi nationality
Naxi embroidery

If you would like to experience the culture of the Naxi nationality, visit Baisha Village at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Enjoy the mysterious Baisha Murals. Painted over 1,000 years ago, the murals display the life stories of China's main religions, including Confucianism, Taoism, and Tibetan Buddhism.

Visit Baisha Naxi Embroidery Institute, the best ethnic embroidery institute in China. You will have an opportunity to learn how to make a cup mat with the traditional Naxi embroidery from a local master in the institute.

In an ordinary Naxi family's house, you will meet a shaman who is a master or wise man in the village. A shaman is called a Dongba in the Naxi language. In ancient times, a Dongba created the characters of the Naxi nationality's written language, so the style of writing is now called the Dongba script. Nothing could be better than visiting a Dongba and his family if you are interested in the mysterious Naxi culture, its words and music, and the Naxi people's understanding about the relationship between nature and humans. Learn some Dongba characters and enjoy a piece of Naxi music. You will be impressed by the Naxi people's passion for their lifestyle, homeland, and love.

After the family visit, you will learn about the Naxi cooking culture. You will learn to make a Naxi pancake in a local restaurant run by a local family. A Naxi pancake is a popular food for the Naxi nationality. Locals call it Naxi baba. You will make your own Naxi baba as the main dish for your lunch.

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Discover the Life of a Tibetan Lama

Duration: 2.5 Hours+

Songzanlin Lamasery
 A lama in Songzanlin Lamasery
 A lama's dormitory

Have you ever dreamed of finding Shangri-La from Lost Horizon, visiting the mysterious lamasery, and meeting the senior lama, just like the characters' experiences in the novel? When you go to Songzanlin Lamasery, this dream might come true.

Songzanlin Lamasery is the biggest Tibetan Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province. There are about 400 lamas studying in the lamasery and they live in the dormitories around it. After visiting the main halls of the lamasery, your guide will take you to a dormitory, which is not normally open to tourists. The lamas who live there will show you their hospitality and will be happy to talk with you in their study room. If you are curious about their lifestyle, religious beliefs, practices, and discipline, this is a great chance to get close to and interact with them. If you are lucky, you might meet a living Buddha.

Note: This visit cannot be arranged in March, October, or November due to the religious activities of the lamas during these times. It could also be suspended at other times if the lamas need to attend to some activities, such as being invited by villagers to host a ceremony.

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