Visit the remarkable Stone Forest (Shilin)
where strangely eroded pinnacles form
surreal shapes and images. Here the stone
columns protrude skyward surrounded by
trees and small sparkling pools in a striking
area recognised by UNESCO World Heritage
as part of the South China Karst. This region
is also known for its ethnic minority groups
and you are likely to encounter local people
in traditional costume as you walk around.
The Stone Forest can be accessed by a day
tour from Kunming, which is the provincial
capital of Yunnan and known as the
City of Eternal Spring.
Lijiang is the cultural and historical treasure
of Yunnan Province and is set in one of the
most beautiful areas of the country. The city’s
atmospheric Old Town is listed as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site and features cobbled
streets, small waterways and traditional
buildings. The pretty gardens and temples
at Black Dragon Pool possess a beauty that
A truly spectacular aspect of the local scenery
is Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest
and most dramatic gorges in the world. This
breath-taking landscape can be experienced
with a trek along local trails. Another natural
highlight is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
whose snowy peak is the backdrop to Lijiang.
Take a cable car to one of the high meadows
to experience the fresh mountain air and enjoy
the fabulous views.
Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La, has a
very strong Tibetan influence. Notable is the
Songzanlin Monastery which is the largest
Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan and
is filled with precious religious artefacts.
Also take a day tour to see the natural
beauty of the Baishui Terrace. These
limestone pools have been created by
the deposition of minerals from mountain
streams over the millennia.
Delightful Dali is a relaxing town where
you can stroll through the Ancient Quarter
and take a boat ride on Erhai Lake. Visit the
famous Three Pagodas, a beautiful sight
with the cream coloured pagodas set
against a dark mountainous backdrop
and mirrored in the reflection pool.
For a greater insight into the traditions
of the region also visit Xizhou, a local
In the far south of Yunnan, Xishuangbanna
prefecture is geographically and ethnically
similar to Southeast Asia. The region
is home to the Dai ethnic group and
their traditional villages feature bamboo
houses raised above the ground on stilts.
The tropical climate supports enormous
biodiversity which can be seen at the
Botanical Garden in Menglun which
displays many rare and unusual plants.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces
Yuanyang in southern Yunnan has some of the most spectacular rice terraces in the world and is home to the Hani minority group. The fields have been cultivated over a period of 1,300 years to create what is known locally as Land Sculpture. The area is popular with photographers who capture the reflections in the curving water-filled paddies.