Yunnan is one among China’s most numerous provinces and this two-week Yunnan itinerary will take you to all of the highlights. I’ve been to China plenty of occasions and this travel guide describes my journey from Kunming to Shangri-La. It’s appropriate for a first time visit to China but greatest advisable for a second go to until you don’t care about China’s massive 5 sights. I’ll offer you some concepts on how to combine this China itinerary together with different space’s on the finish too. Yunnan is so giant that it’s unimaginable to cowl each single point of interest but these I did cowl are all the must-see places. I’ll give a number of ideas on how to prolong the journey too. Whenever you read my day trip reviews please notice that I have re-scheduled this itinerary for better planning after my very own experiences. Now be a part of me by automotive, practice and aircraft on this Yunnan travel adventure.
- 1 Planning a Yunnan itinerary
- 2 Yunnan itinerary day 1 & 2: Arrival & Kunming
- 3 Yunnan itinerary day Three: Shilin Stone Forest
- 4 Yunnan itinerary day 4 & 5: to Dali & city journey
- 5 Yunnan itinerary day 6: to Lijiang by way of Shaxi
- 6 Yunnan itinerary day 7: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain hike
- 7 Yunnan itinerary day eight: Lijiang
- 8 Yunnan itinerary day 9: Tiger Leaping Gorge hike
- 9 Yunnan itinerary day 10: Yuhu, Baisha and Shuhe previous cities
- 10 Yunnan itinerary day 11: to Shangri-La
- 11 Yunnan itinerary day 12: Shangri-La
- 12 Yunnan itinerary day 13: Potatso Nationwide Park hike
- 13 Yunnan itinerary day 14: departure
- 14 Gallery Yunnan itinerary
Planning a Yunnan itinerary
Planning a Yunnan trip is plenty of fun and there are numerous varieties. This Yunnan itinerary nevertheless does include all the highlights alongside the Kunming to Shangri-La route. Consider Shangri-La is usually referred to as Zhongdian or Diqing. The latter can also be the identify of the airport.
This itinerary might be completed in each ways however until you’re already in China you in all probability arrive in Kunming. Kunming Changshui International Airport has several international flights worldwide and if that doesn’t go well with you, you might want to examine Chengdu. From Chengdu it’s a 1:30 hour flight to Kunming or you possibly can mix the journey with a Sichuan itinerary from Chengdu. Diqing Shangri-La Airport doesn’t supply international routes but solely to a number of airports in China including Lhasa, Tibet. If you’d like to visit Tibet too that’s easily combined with my 7 days in Lhasa Tibet itinerary. When you don’t combine further journeys in China, you’ll be able to return to Kunming with a direct flight from Shangri-La and return house from there.
For the remainder of the trip it’s essential to ebook the next:
- Kunming lodge: In Kunming I like to recommend staying at the Intercontinental Kunming or Crowne Plaza Kunming.
- Kunming to Dali: E-book the practice prematurely and have the tickets delivered to your lodge. On the time of my travel there wasn’t a highspeed choice yet however there will probably be sooner or later. My journey took about 6-7 hours.
- Dali lodge: In Dali make certain to stay in a lodge in one of the previous homes which might be inns now.
- Dali to Lijiang to Shangri-La: If you need to visit Shaxi on the best way from Dali to Shangri-La as a half day trip you have to hire a automotive with driver for this part. You’ll be able to maintain the driving force also for the day trips in Lijiang and the transport to Shangri-La.
- Lijiang & Shangri-La motels: In Lijiang the Intercontinental Lijiang or the Indigo Lijiang are nice decisions situated in the previous city. In Shangri-La attempt a homestay!
That’s all! In all the cities you should use native taxi’s as they are very low cost. Now let’s take a look at a daily description of this good Yunnan itinerary.
A number of cities in China have the choice for 24-144 hours visa on arrival however should you do a street journey they gained’t be of any use. You’ll be able to’t depart that city and you need to proceed to one other country and never return to the identical. I’m from the Netherlands and getting a Chinese tourist visa is simple and often takes just some days to approve. This also needs to be the case for other European Union nations. I recommend checking with the Chinese Embassy in your nation for specific info as they know one of the best.
A summary of this Yunnan travel guide in your personal use to copy paste!
Yunnan itinerary day 1 & 2: Kunming, Yunnan itinerary day Three: Shiling Stone Forest, Yunnan itinerary day 4 & 5: to Dali & city trip, Yunnan itinerary day 6: to Lijiang by way of Shaxi, Yunnan itinerary day 7: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain hike, Yunnan itinerary day 8: Tiger Leaping Gorge hike, Yunnan itinerary day 9: Lijiang & small towns, Yunnan itinerary day 10 & 11: Lijiang town and to Shangri-La, Yunnan itinerary day 12: Shangri-La, Yunnan itinerary day 13: Potatso Nationwide Park hike, Yunnan itinerary day 14: departure
Yunnan itinerary day 1 & 2: Arrival & Kunming
Kunming is the logical place to start a Yunnan itinerary as the town may be reached by international flights. I never like to do a lot on the day of arrival and usually just go to a spa for a massage, sleep early and be fit the subsequent day with out jetlag.
Kunming can also be referred to as the City of Everlasting Spring because climate is good year-round. Spending a day in Kunming ought to be enough to discover the locations of interest. Within the morning I like to recommend going to Guandu Previous Town which is a properly restored previous city. There are two Buddhist temples, pagoda’s, and lots of outlets within the previous streets. You possibly can take lunch there in one of many many shops that serve road food.
In the afternoon go first to Yuangtong Temple in downtown Kunming. It’s a temple that’s well-known all through South East Asia as it has a singular format. You’ll in all probability spend an hour there. After that it’s time to explore trendy Kunming. Buy groceries or simply chill out. I spend the rest of the day at the swimming pools of the Intercontinental Kunming.
Read all about my Kunming day trip in my journey report:
CHINA – A day in Kunming, the Metropolis of Everlasting Spring
Yunnan itinerary day Three: Shilin Stone Forest
The Shilin Stone Forest UNESCO World Heritage Website day trip from Kunming is one that you have to embrace in your Yunnan itinerary. It’s not a real forest in fact however has stones that seem like they “grow” from the earth. Getting there takes 2-Three hours by automotive/taxi so ensure to depart early and arrive around 9-10AM if potential. The world is giant and anticipate to walk around for 3-4 hours to get a superb impression.
The formations on the Shilin Stone Forest have been shaped tens of millions of years ago when and previous sea evaporated, and the surface lifted. Gentle stone has eroded leaving the exhausting ones behind. This shaped arches, caves, and all types of sculptures. One appears identical to an elephant!
After the visit you possibly can both return to Kunming or discover a bit more of the world. There are extra caves, lakes, and fascinating small rural cities. Suogeyi city is a part of the UNESCO inscription and a nice non-touristic rural town. From there continue to Changhu Lake before heading back to Kunming. Alternatively go to one of the other places of interest; directions are straightforward.
Need to know extra concerning the Shilin Stone Forest UNESCO website? Verify my complete day trip report:
Shilin Stone Forest UNESCO World Heritage Website day journey from Kunming
EXTEND YOUR TRIP: Are you a history buff? Or a UNESCO website collector? Then verify my 520 million years of history at Cambrian Chengjiang Fossil Website day journey report. This website might be reached as a day journey from Kunming, however I solely advocate doing this if it pursuits you. Determine your self if you’d like to prolong your trip by a day.
Yunnan itinerary day 4 & 5: to Dali & city journey
The journey from Kunming to Dali takes 7 hours by mushy sleeper practice. There can be a highspeed connection some day in the future too decreasing time to just 2 hours. I’ll update this text as soon as it’s finished. I recommend spending 2 nights in Dali so that you’ve a full day to discover town. To be trustworthy I rushed my Yunnan itinerary with only a night time stay, and I can’t advocate that. On the day of arrival, you gained’t have much time left to discover city. Simply exit for road food but I can’t instantly advocate one place as locations change so typically and thus, I don’t cowl them in this Yunnan weblog.
Dali is a gorgeous “new” previous town. Because of this most homes are restored and rebuild in conventional means. That doesn’t matter a lot because the environment is nice. If you’d like actual previous cities then Xidi and Hongcun (in east China) are two value testing. Earlier than exploring Dali go first in the morning to the Chongsheng Temple 3-pagoda temple. It’s a must see simply outdoors of Dali. Then go for lunch again to Dali and take a look at the gates, temples, the slender streets, and other Yunnan highlights. Should you go during Chinese holidays you possibly can stroll over the individuals as you possibly can see within the photograph under. Attempt to keep away from that because it ruined my go to a bit as I could not take pleasure in this pretty town to the fullest.
Want to know more concerning the Dali day journey and Shaxi day trip then verify my complete in depth trip report:
CHINA – Exploring lovely Dali & Shaxi on the best way from Kunming to Lijiang
Yunnan itinerary day 6: to Lijiang by way of Shaxi
One of the simplest ways from Dali to Shaxi (2 hours), and additional to Lijiang (1.5 hours) is by automotive. This enables you to go to Shaxi on the best way to Lijiang for a number of hours and should you go early even have an early morning stop at Erhai Lake too. I recommend to rent the automotive for the subsequent days too until arrival in Shangri-La. It is going to make your trip rather more convenient then on the lookout for transport each day once more.
Shaxi is a lovely genuine city and one of many oldest surviving horse Caravan towns in China. The streets are lined with outlets and restaurants the place you possibly can see what locals do. It’s not over touristic. Make certain to visit the Bai Buddhist Xingjiao Temple and the arch bridge. Two iconic sights in Shaxi. I wandered around Shaxi for a number of hours after which I continued to Lijiang the place I might keep on the Intercontinental Lijiang which is situated inside the previous town.
Want to know more concerning the Dali day trip and Shaxi day journey then verify my complete in depth journey report:
CHINA – Exploring lovely Dali & Shaxi on the best way from Kunming to Lijiang
Yunnan itinerary day 7: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain hike
I really like to make a hike from time to time and that’s why I added some nice Yunnan trekking in this itinerary too. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain hike is the first simply 30 minutes outdoors of Lijiang. With an altitude up to 4800 meters it’s an extended hike but the first half is by cable automotive as in any other case it wouldn’t be potential to go up and down in a day. A robust hike the final 1000 meters as oxygen is low. When you’re not used to altitude you should purchase oxygen on the entrance which can assist you to get there.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain gets its identify from the 13 peaks resembling a jade dragon. On the prime the altitude is nearly 6000 meters, however you’ll be able to’t go there until you’re an expertise mountain climber. When you attain the highest make certain to buy a medal engraved together with your identify. You probably did nicely! Just some stairs down you can also make a slide in the snow but be mindful it’s not truly allowed. Be rigorously of rocks under the snow. It’s by yourself danger. When you’ve got power left, you possibly can go climbing within the country aspect. The surroundings is superb there. I went back to Lijiang the place I modified motels to Indigo Lijiang where I had a personal BBQ in my villa.
Examine my day journey report about Jade Dragon Snow Mountain for extra info:
CHINA – A Jade Dragon Snow Mountain day journey from Lijiang
Yunnan itinerary day eight: Lijiang
With a history of over 1000 years Lijiang wasn’t recognized to the surface world until after the earthquake of 1996. The previous town was principally destroyed but reconstructed shortly. In 1997 it obtained the UNESCO World Heritage Website standing along with the small cities Yuhu, Baisha and Shuhe. These events made Lijiang a Yunnan highlight and recognized to the world and inside China. Lijiang has a wonderful previous town the place I stayed in luxury at each the Intercontinental Lijiang and the Indigo Lijiang.
Lijiang was once a part of the Previous Tea Horse Caravan Path and dominated for five centuries by the Mu family. The Mu family complicated is the primary attraction in Lijiang previous city. All streets are lined with lovely typical Naxi houses. Walking via the slender streets will get you “lost” sooner or later however that’s the great thing about exploring. A day is definitely spent in Lijiang previous town which is certainly one of Yunnan’s highlights.
Learn all about Lijiang Previous City including all highlights in my day journey report:
CHINA – Two days in Lijiang previous town and outlying small villages
Yunnan itinerary day 9: Tiger Leaping Gorge hike
Tiger Leaping Gorge is situated between two snowcapped mountains referred to as Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain. Every of them are holy mountains and Haba Snow Mountain space is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas UNESCO World Heritage Website. The gorge is among the deepest on the earth with a size of 15 kilometers. A true Yunnan highlight. To succeed in Tiger Leaping Gorge it takes simply over an hour by automotive from Lijiang. A taxi isn’t a superb choice as it will possibly’t cross into the Shangri-La county so be sure that to have a personal driver.
This Tiger Leaping Gorge hike is amongst the most effective Yunnan trekking you will get. First make a brief cease firstly of the gorge and see the spot where legend says a tiger jumped throughout the river escaping a hunter. The complete hike is troublesome to do in a day, so I went with automotive all the best way up to Halfway Guesthouse. I had a really early lunch there and hiked from there to the top at Tina’s Guesthouse. The 2nd half of the complete trail is probably the most lovely part and takes up to 4 hours. I went again to Lijiang for the night time.
Learn all about my Tiger Leaping Gorge hike in my day trip report:
CHINA – A day journey from Lijiang: the Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike
EXTEND YOUR TRIP: It’s attainable to hike the complete gorge too. You’ll be able to prolong this Yunnan itinerary by going to the Tiger Leaping Gorge before the day you go to Shangri-La. Do the primary part of the trek the first day. Keep in a single day within the gorge and end the second part (the part I did) the subsequent day and go to Shangri-La. If you would like to go trekking in Yunnan the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike is probably the most well-known to do.
Yunnan itinerary day 10: Yuhu, Baisha and Shuhe previous cities
On day 10 of this Yunnan itinerary you’ll discover Naxi minority villages and see rural China. There are 3 small previous towns inscribed together with Lijiang as the UNESCO World Heritage Website. I visited Yuhu, Baisha and Shuhe on a day trip from Lijiang by automotive. Yuhu is legendary for its Naxi homes manufactured from stones and dirt. It doesn’t see many guests and stored its authentic look. Baisha Previous City was once the middle of the Naxi individuals before they moved to Lijiang. It’s about 10 kilometers away. It’s not but absolutely commercialized but Shuhe Previous City is. Shuhe is simply 2 kilometers from Lijiang. Each city has household homes, temples, and workshops you possibly can visit. Anticipate to spend 2-Three hours in every. You gained’t have time to discover every single road however the core area you possibly can see. If you need extra time, I like to recommend skipping Baisha regardless that Shuhe is extra commercialized. I all the time take pleasure in going away from the tourist and subsequently Yuhu is my favourite.
Read all about Yuhu, Baisha and Shuhe in my day trip report:
CHINA – Two days in Lijiang previous town and outlying small villages
SHORTEN YOUR TRIP: If you need to shorten your journey by a day, I recommend visiting one of many small cities after your trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Do go early to the mountain preferable earlier than opening time to be within the front of the queue. You gained’t find a way to visit more as one in this case.
Yunnan itinerary day 11: to Shangri-La
I began the day with enjoyable in the morning at the pool of the Intercontinental Lijiang. After lunch the driving force picked me up for my switch to Shangri-La. The drive from Lijiang to Shangri-La takes in all probability Four-5 hours which may be quicker as this completely depends visitors. In the course of the drive you’ll cross numerous meals stalls alongside the street selling dried Yak meat. Be sure to purchase some. It’s delicious. The altitude will increase all through this Yunnan itinerary so that altitude illness gained’t be a problem. One more reason to start in Kunming. I arrived late evening at my lodge in Shangri-La. Visitors was dangerous.
Examine additionally my Lashi Lake day trip report in case you prolong your trip:
CHINA – Lashi Lake from Lijiang: horseback driving & canoeing
EXTEND YOUR TRIP: You for positive have time to make a cease at Lashi Lake should you go within the morning to Shangri-La however to absolutely expertise the world you gained’t. My unique Yunnan itinerary was longer as I deliberate a full day leisure at Lashi Lake. The world is legendary for horseback driving which I did within the morning. After lunch I loved numerous water actions together with canoeing on the lake. A utterly totally different day compared to most different days of this Yunnan itinerary.
Yunnan itinerary day 12: Shangri-La
Day 12 was a time without work for me. I did take a look at a bit of previous Shangri-La including the Golden Temple. The rest of the day I used to meet up with work emails. I did that because I combined this Yunnan itinerary with a Tibet itinerary which totaled over 3 weeks. This present day was in the center. I’ve plans to return to the world anyway but when you don’t make sure that to go to Songzanlin Monastery. It’s a Tibetan monastery just 30 kilometers away. I’ll go to one other time once I’ll go deeper into the mountainous Tibetan space. Within the evening I went with the driving force to an area place for Yak meat. That was the spiciest yet scrumptious dish I ever had. I don’t know where it was exactly however simply ask round and also you’ll discover an awesome place too.
Yunnan itinerary day 13: Potatso Nationwide Park hike
Should you arrive at Potatso Nationwide Park (additionally referred to as Pudacuo National Park) you may assume I’ve added a bizarre road meals place on this Yunnan itinerary. The entrance is a sort of alley with many food stands. A good place to purchase some native yak dishes to have new power for the walk ahead. The altitude is 3600 meters so you might want to buy some chocolate too. It is going to assist with the shortage of oxygen.
The Potatso National Park was the primary national park in China and for positive a Yunnan spotlight. It’s residence to both the Bita and the Shudu lakes of which the first is a UNESCO World Heritage Website. The hike goes alongside the 2 lakes over a picket walkway so that you simply really get close to the nature with out having to climb over timber or walk by way of mud. The world is magnificent with crystal clear water, smelling pine timber and fields filled with yaks.
Read all concerning the brief hikes in Potatso Nationwide Park in my day trip report:
CHINA – A hike via the Potatso nationwide park near Shangri-La
Yunnan itinerary day 14: departure
All the things comes to an finish and so does this Yunnan itinerary. I hope my number of Yunnan highlights, Yunnan trekking and every part else Yunnan will make you want to go to. This Yunnan travel information for positive covers all the primary places of curiosity. I continued to make a 7 days journey in Tibet however in the event you must return residence you possibly can catch a flight back to Kunming. You may also fly elsewhere in China as it’s an enormous country. I’ll add extra China itineraries over time!
For those who don’t want extra China, I like to recommend checking my 2 weeks Vietnam itinerary, 2 weeks Thailand itinerary, 2 weeks Japan itinerary or my Three weeks in Indonesia itinerary. Utterly totally different cultures however just some hours away. Do let me understand how you travelled in Yunnan after you have got visited in the comments under!
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Gallery Yunnan itinerary
Examine the gallery for more photographs taken throughout this journey. In the event you like to use any photograph for business, personal or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.