THE LAND OF ETERNAL SPRINGS
Yunnan is a place for natural beauty lovers. The place has an abundance of rivers, forests and hills, mountains, great dams, reservoirs, lakes and other water bodies. The place is full of rich culture with a perfect blend of Chinese Buddhism as well as Tibetan Buddhism. The government has done well to make the place a comfortable and tourist-friendly one and the infrastructure in the place is quite impressive, especially given that we are not talking about the more industrialized East.
Travelled in 2012
Click on the cities for more details
- Kunming – Ideal for stopover while travelling to other cities in Yunnan, there are 1-2 sites there as well
- Dali – Ideal for natural beauty lovers and history lovers
- Lijiang – Ideal for natural beauty, history and culture lovers. World Heritage Site.
- Shangri-La – Ideal for natural beauty lovers, history and culture lovers.
- Airport/transfers: Kunming International Airport is about 30min from the city centre. We strongly recommend pre-booking a private car/tour before arriving.
- Phone connection: Can buy sim cards from local shops using the passport as ID proof.
- Money exchange: There are 1-2 in the airport itself but again, best to do before making the trip or within the city.
- Language: It would be a bit of a challenge to find English speaking people even in many local restaurants. But people are warm and do try to help, especially in other Yunnan cities.
- Getting around: Ideally, pre-booking a tour for non language speaking is best. That would really save the hassle to manage things while getting around. The taxis seem quite reasonable and easily available. But, be prepared to know the Chinese name of destinations or have it written, to show.
- Food: As with most Asian cities now, Western and local food is quite widely available in most places. We took Indian food with us just in case, but if one can eat meat (even if only the poor chap chicken!), they can do ok there. Mind you, the non-Chinese food may not be authentic at all places, if that is a concern. No, right?
OUR MODEL ITINERARY FOR REFERENCE
Since there are multiple cities and locations to be visited, we think it is useful to have the following itinerary handy. We did book a private tour but made this itinerary after careful understanding of all those places we liked (mostly natural beauty, temples and little bit of history). We made an 8-day trip in total, which is possible if taking one week off and include the weekends before and after.
As a rule, we try to be back Sunday before 5pm, so we can relax at home before office next day.
Day 1: Arrive in Kunming and hotel transfer (30min). Visit nearby areas and markets, most of which offer local flavor. Visit Stone hedge park (Two hours one way, we skipped it!).
Day 2: Car/Bus transfer to Dali, takes 4 hours.Visit Three Pagodas temple. Evening, stroll in local markets.
Day 3: Cruise on Erhai Lake, Mt. Cangshan (with cable car)
Day 4: Morning (8am)- take car to Lijiang (4 hours) and stay in Lijiang old town. Visit Mu Palace and local markets in evening.
Day 5: Jade Snow Mountain, Yufeng Temple, The Murals in Baisha Village
Day 6: Take car to Shangri-La (4 hours if non-stop). Enroute, visit Tiger Leaping Gorge at stone drum village)
Day 7: At Shangri-La, Baishui Terrace, 3 hours each side, through windy mountains.
Day 8: Jiantang Old Town, Songzanlin Lamasery, Potatso National Park (Shudu Lake and Bitatai Lake)