Travel the ancient trade routes, which brought prosperity to one of the nation’s most remote corners and explore a region outmatching any other in diversity of landscapes, architecture, cuisine, and ethnicities. Learn more about the independent kingdoms that once ruled these far-flung lands, and whose descendants still dwell the same plains and mountains. Venture off the tourist trails and experience the thrills of frontier life, as you unravel Yunnan’s vibrant story.
>> BAI CUSTOMS & ARCHITECTURE
Stroll the daily market at a lively Bai community, which also boasts a collection of authentic merchant houses still inhabited by the town’s elders. Visit the remnants of a once active Christian community in Dali, try out local snacks or hop on bicycle and cruise shoreline roads along China's very own Mediterranean Sea.
>> BAI ARCHITECTURE & CUISINE
Once a thriving commercial centre due to its salt extraction, the otherwise dormant hillside Bai village rose to national fame thanks to its artisan cured hams. Continue along the curves of the Bi River, spanned by wooden and wicker bridges that boosted trade in this remote corner of Yunnan and are still used by local farmers to get their livestock across.
>> BAI & BUDDHIST ARCHITECTURE | HIKING
Despite its recent commercial transformation, this former caravan town still retains some of its original character. Stroll or cycle the serene valley or hike to nearby Buddhist temples with local Bai carvings, which survived the Cultural Revolution but are now taken over by cheeky monkeys...
>> NAXI CULTURE & ARCHITECTURE
Visit the former residence of a foreign explorer, who made the last village of the valley his home for 20+ years in the first half of the 20th century, before you continue to the original Naxi capital and learn more about Dongba culture and traditions.
>> NATURAL ENVIRONMENT | HIKING
A natural wonder carved out by the rushing waters of the mighty Yangtze River over the course of millennia. Leave the masses behind and hike the less-frequented trails that criss-cross the picturesque hillsides and edge the river.
>> NAXI CUSTOMS | NATURAL ENVIRONMENT | HIKING
Venture to a remote Naxi village, located on the upper banks of the Yangtze River and where life continues in a traditional way. Descend the terraced mountainside to the riverbank for a boat ride upstream to a small village sited on top of a huge boulder, overlooking the spot where Kublai Khan’s armies crossed into Yunnan on inflated goatskin rafts more than seven centuries ago.
>> LISU CUSTOMS | NATURAL ENVIRONMENT | HIKING
Stop for panoramic views of the Yangtze River’s First Bend, which influenced the course of Chinese history, before you head deep into Lisu territory. Go on a wildlife patrol with local poachers-turned-rangers, learn how to set up infrared camera traps and roast your own BBQ meal over an open fire.
>> TIBETAN CULTURE, CUISINE & ARCHITECTURE
Ascend mountain roads to 3,300 meters altitude in order to reach Shangri-La, at the eastern edge of the Himalayas. Drop by the quirky Long March museum in the rebuilt ‘old town’, before you dig a bit deeper into the culinary aspect of local culture with a beer tasting at a Tibetan brewery, followed by a yak hotpot for dinner.
>> TIBETAN & BUDDHIST CUSTOMS | HIKING
Travel to a hidden valley to visit a small Buddhist temple, frequented only by local Tibetans who come to pray here for good health, to be cured of illnesses and to be blessed with children. Go for a hike in the nearby grasslands, dip into natural hot springs after, and you might find your inner spirit at a sacred cave.
>> TIBETAN & BUDDHIST CUSTOMS | NATURAL ENVIRONMENT | HIKING
Visit an artisan incense maker before you head out to a lesser-known Yellow Hat Monastery, founded in the late 1600s, and witness the Tibetan monks chanting their daily prayers, or have a quick chat during one of their breaks. Go for a pleasant hike in the forest and look for a sacred Tibetan waterfall.
Our Yunnan programs include a selection of authentic homestays, charming guesthouses and boutique hotels. While conditions at the Laojun Mountains homestay may be rather Spartan, all other types of lodging come equipped with all necessities for a restful night, have family-friendly amenities, and are managed by helpful owners and staff we know personally.