Top 7 Things to Do in Yunnan Province

Yunnan Province, covering an area of 394,000 square kilometers (the size of Texas and California, or Germany), combines unique ethnic cultures, magnificent highland scenery, graceful natural landscapes, authentic ancient towns, and delicious food.

China Highlights would like to introduce you to the top 7 things to do in this vast land.

4-day Shangri-la tour

1. Visit the Best-Preserved Ancient Town — Lijiang Ancient Town

Lijiang Ancient TownLijiang Ancient Town

Lijiang Ancient Town is the most popular ancient town among domestic and foreign travelers. It is characterized by old Naxi architecture and an ingenious ancient network of waterways. The cobbled streets, ancient bridges, and traditional houses add to the charming picture of this ancient town.

In contrast to the prosperity and glory of Lijiang Ancient Town, other small ancient towns and villages will draw you into a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.

  • Shuhe Ancient Town, Lijiang: This was the earliest settlement area for the Naxi ancestors, and is where you can appreciate simple and unsophisticated Naxi customs and architectures.
  • Shaxi Town, Dali: an important trading hub on the Yunnan–Tibet Tea Horse Road.

2. Photograph Picturesque Landscapes — Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice TerracesYuanyang Rice Terraces

The sunrise scenery of Duoyishu must not be missed and Bada is the best place to see the sunset scenery. Explore the Hani people's village, which is another highlight when visiting Yuanyang.The Yuanyang Rice Terraces were crafted by the Hani people 1,000 years ago. The site has since been extended by more than 10,000 hectares. It was acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site in 2013. The massive tiers upon tiers of rice terraces attract numerous photographers every year.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces are not the only ideal place for photography — Dongchuan Red Land is a new rising destination loved by photographers. Praised as "God's palette", it is believed to be the world’s most imposing red colored land.

Recommended Tour: Yuanyang Rice Terrace Fields and Kunming Tour

3. Visit Historical Sites — All Over Yunnan

The Three PagodasThe Three Pagodas

Yunnan used to be a respectively independent kingdom in many dynasties of China, so the culture in the province was a little different from that of central Chinese civilization. Its profound historic culture has provided the province with numerous historical sites. At these sites you can retrace the splendid civilization of Yunnan's past.

  • The Three Pagodas, Dali: Built over 1,000 years ago, the pagodas are famous for their size,beauty, antiquity, and their intact preservation.
  • Qiongzhu Temple, Kunming: This is a Buddhist temple, which is famous for the painted clay sculptures of 500 Buddhist arhats.
  • The Mural in Baisha Village, Lijiang: The mural depicts stories of Taoism, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism, and embodies artistic features of the Naxi, Tibetan, Han, and Bai ethnic groups.


4. Experience Minority Cultures — Bai, Dai, Naxi…

Yunnan is home to 25 ethnic minorities including the Bai, Yi, Dai, Naxi, Hani, Miao, Tibetan, Hui, and Yao. All these minorities have quite splendid cultures, especially the Naxi minority. There are more than 400 ethnic festivals celebrated throughout the year, which still maintain unique folk traditions and customs.

In Yunnan Ethnic Village, you can not only enjoy a variety of architectural arts, clothing, and remarkable customs, but also live presentations of cultural songs and dance.

If you are interested in Yunnan festivals, please check the dates before planning a tour there.

5. Hiking and Mountaineering —Tiger Leaping Gorge/Meili Snow Mountain

Tiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping Gorge

Yunnan has several great destinations for hiking and mountaineering. Most of these destinations have lofty snow mountains, and the sunrises and sunsets there are quite magnificent.

  • Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang: It is one of the deepest gorges in the world and considered to be one of China's best hiking trails.
  • Meili Snow Mountain, Shangri-La: It is one of China's most beautiful snow mountains and a holy land of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists.

Recommended Tour: 5-Day Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour

6. Visit Tibetan Monasteries — Songzanlin Lamasery

Sharing a border with Tibet, the northwest of Yunnan is heavily influenced by Tibet. In Shangri-La, you can see numerous ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and experience Tibetan culture. Many travelers go there to experience Tibet without having to enter the actual province.

  • Songzanlin Lamasery, Shangri-La: Praised as "the Little Potala Palace", it is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple complex in Yunnan Province.
  • Feilai Monastery, Shangri-La: a holy land for meditation; a nice position for taking photos of Meili Snow Mountain
Impression LijiangImpression Lijiang

7. Watch a Live Show — Impression Lijiang

Impression Lijiang is a magnificent outdoor singing and dancing performance given by more than 500 performers. It demonstrates the lifestyle and culture of the local ethnic people. This show is performed in an outdoor theater against the fascinating backdrop of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Tour Yunnan with China Highlights

6-day Shangri-la tour

See more Yunnan tours, which cover the highlights in Yunnan and also include exclusive programs to give a unique experience. Contact our travel expert to tailor make a tour.

Related Articles