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Travel in Yunnan – Everything You Need to Know

Popular destinations you can explore in Yunnan

Yunnan is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in China. Ethnic minorities make up 33.6% of the province’s total population. Because of its location on the southwestern border, Yunnan also has its own unique natural geographical advantage, where there are multiple collisions of Chinese cultures, which is beneficial for understanding China, experiencing Chinese culture, learning Chinese in Yunnan, and learning more about China.

There are countless places for you to explore in Yunnan, and the wonderful scenery will definitely make you linger. Now I’ll introduce several popular destinations for you, like Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-la, Yuanyang, and Jianshui.

A Brief Introduction to Dali

Things to do in Dali

Xizhou Old Town

If you don’t want to visit some too commercial attractions, Xizhou Old Town would be more perfect for you than Dali Old Town, which is about 10 km away from downtown Dali. You can also find many traditional architecture and residential dwellings of the Bai people if you are interested in Chinese ethnic culture.

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake, located in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province, Erhai is a windy and beautiful plateau freshwater lake. The water surface is about 1900 meters above sea level rise. I really recommend you can ride a bicycle beside Erhai Lake. there is an ecological corridor beside the west of the lake. The scenery is really gorgeous and the air is so fresh when you walk or ride in the corridor.

Keats has a perfect program including learning Chinese while visiting Dali, you can choose four hours of Chinese lessons in the morning, and then experience colorful minority culture and gorgeous natural scenery after class. It’s a wonderful program for you to learn the Chinese language while exploring Yunnan, China.

Minority Culture

As an ethnic minority area, Dali not only has the natural scenery of flowers and snow but also contains unique and diversified ethnic customs. Under today’s rapidly urbanizing context, the culture of the Bai villages in Dali is as precious as a bright pearl.

The Bai use Chinese characters to write but have their own language and rich and colorful literary art. Three courses of tea is a traditional way of drinking tea when the Bai people of Yunnan entertain their honored guests. The Bai have a traditional grand festival called March Street, also known as the “Guanyin City”, which is a grand festival of the Bai people and good times. Every year in the summer calendar March 15 and 20 in the west of Dali city at the foot of Dancang Mountain. At first, it was with religious activities, and later gradually became a grand exchange of materials.

Beautiful scenery, the pleasant climate in this beautiful and fertile land, and the hard-working, courageous Bai people with their long history, developed culture, and colorful customs attract many travelers.

Dali Popular Cuisine

Er Kuai

Er Kuai is a famous snack unique to Yunnan and one of the most common traditional foods in the Dali area. It is made from high-quality rice, and the process of making it is to wash, soak, steam, pound, and knead the rice into various shapes. It is generally divided into three kinds: block, silk, and slice. Production methods of burning, boiling, frying, brining, steaming, and frying can be, with different flavors.

Milk Fan

The milk fan sold by the sister-in-law dressed in Bai nationality clothes is a famous household food. Milk fan is easy to carry, special shape, easy to eat, baked, fried, cold can be eaten, sweet, and salty are suitable. Roasted milk fan is sold at street stalls in Dali.

A Brief Introduction to Lijiang

Things to do in Lijiang

Yulong Snow Mountain

Along the old town of Lijiang to Naxi, the towering Yulong Snow Mountain comes into view. The rolling thirteen mountains meet each other. At an altitude of more than 5,000 meters, no one has conquered the virgin peak, and it is also the only snow mountain in China that is allowed to be climbed.

As a sacred mountain and Lingshan in the Naxi people’s minds, Yulong Snow Mountain has unparalleled charm. It is said that Yulong Snow Mountain is golden in the sunshine, and the jade belt is the most beautiful when it crosses the waist. The beauty of Yulong Snow Mountain awaits your exploration.

Blue Moon Valley

There are many beautiful sceneries in the world, but there is only one Blue Moon Valley, which is located in Yulong Naxi Autonomous County of Lijiang City. Because the riverbed of the Blue Moon Valley is composed of white limestone, the whole river has a white luster and looks so pure, so it is also known as the “White Water River”. The origin of its “Blue Moon” name is that when the weather is clear, the color of the water in the Blue Moon Valley river is azure, and the valley presents a crescent shape, from a distance, it looks like a round of blue moon set in the foot of the Yulong Snow Mountain.

Minority Culture

In Lijiang, there is an ancient ethnic people – Naxi, which is the main ethnic minority in Lijiang, they have their own literature and art, folk customs, and profound, which is an important attractions to see in Lijiang.

The Naxi people have created a splendid national culture in the course of the development of their own people. The Dong ba script, which was produced in the 7th century AD, is the only remaining hieroglyphic script still in use in the world. The Dong ba Sutra, the classic text of the Dong ba religion written in the Dong ba script, is precious material for studying the history of social development of the Naxi people. With the development and progress of the society, the Naxi folk houses have formed their own architectural style according to the characteristics of the region and the nation, blending the architectural features of the neighboring Han and Bai nationalities, and absorbing the architectural constructions of the Tang and Song central plains.

We have a tour program for learning Chinese in Lijiang, which is really enjoyable if you can view the gorgeous scenery while still learning Chinese. Keats will provide you with a guide and all the other travel expenses and help you to arrange the travel schedule. All you need to do is just enjoy your travel and learning process.

Lijiang Popular Cuisine

Lijiang Naxi people generally eat steamed bread for breakfast or Lijiang baba, and the food for dinner is richer, generally with no special taboos. More varieties of vegetables, widely planted taro, cranberries, and beans, and local specialties are made into a variety of flavorful dishes. Meat to pork-based, most of the pork is made of cured meat, especially Lijiang preserved pork ribs are the most famous. The staple foods are rice, pasta, and Lijiang baba.

A Brief Introduction to Shangri-la 

Things to do in Shangri-la

Pudacuo National Park

Pudacuo National Park is located 22 kilometers east of Shangri-La County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, and consists of the Bita Lake and the Zhidu Lake ecotourism area. With an altitude of 3,500 meters to 4,159 meters, it is a provincial-level nature reserve and an important part of the “Three Parallel Rivers” scenic area. Pudacuo basically includes all the natural landscapes on the plateau, with lakes like mirrors, pastures with abundant water and grass, wetlands with blossoming flowers, and primitive forests frequented by birds and animals. Bita Lake and Zhidu Lake the two beautiful freshwater lakes are known as the pearl of the plateau, the original ecological environment is well preserved.

Songtsam Forest Monastery

Songtsam Forest Monastery, also known as the Naturalization Monastery, is 5 kilometers away from Zhongdian County. Yunnan Province, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery, or Sichuan and Yunnan area of the Yellow Religion Center, in the entire Tibetan region has a pivotal position, known as the “small Potala Palace”.

Minority Culture

The Tibetans of Diqing call themselves “Bo” and use the Tibetan language. While preserving the traditional culture of their people, the local Tibetans also continue to draw on the excellent cultures of different ethnic groups, which are characterized by multiculturalism.

The marvelous and beautiful mountains and rivers have nurtured the kind and open-minded character of the Tibetan people, and also made the festival culture of the Tibetan people in Diqing uniquely reluctant. The Tibetan New Year is the grandest festival of Tibetan people, but due to the influence of the surroundings and the influence of the culture, most of the Tibetans in Diqing are used to the Lunar New Year and regard the Spring Festival as the grandest festival.

Shangri-la Popular Cuisine

Diqing Tibetans’ diet is varied and colorful. Barley and wheat are the main food, and ghee and tsampa are the main diet. Diqing Tibetans love to drink wine, a more famous barley wine, which is the celebration, the festival must drink, a kind of home-brewed barley sweet wine.

Tibetan Style Hot Pot

In Shangri-La, hot pot is a favorite food of local people. The hot pot here is quite special, the main ingredients are local mutton and yak meat, which are delicious. Meanwhile, the hot pot soup base is also unique to Shangri-La, made with various local herbs and sauces for a rich flavor.

A Brief Introduction to Yuanyang

Things to do in Yuanyang

Yuanyang Hani Terraces

Yuanyang Hani terraces are mainly Hani people of various ethnic groups with a special geographic climate with the reclamation of agricultural civilization wonders of the terraces, the scale is grand and magnificent. Yuanyang terraces are the landscape and idyllic scenery that the Hani people have been “carving” for more than 1300 years. It has been listed on the World Heritage List. The sunrise and sunset of Yuanyang Terraces are the most impressive: the visual shock will make you forget the hard work of running all the way and getting up early in the morning. There are large and small ethnic minority fairs in Yuanyang, so if you stay for a day or two, you will definitely be able to catch a bustling fair. The Lao Meng market is particularly famous in the region and is even larger, gathering six ethnic groups: Hani, Miao, Yi, Dai, Yao, and Zhuang.

While you are enjoying the beauty of the terraced fields, you can also experience the culture of China with our school’s Chinese teachers. Keats School has a one or two-week study tour program that includes the beautiful place of Yuanyang, and your Chinese teacher will accompany you throughout the journey and help you to learn Chinese in Yuanyang.

Minority Culture

In Yuanyang, hard-working and intelligent Hani people, over 1300 years, with both hands as carving knives, the towering mountains carved into the world’s most beautiful picture scroll. For more than 1300 years, generations of Hani people have been tied to the terraces all their lives. Their way of life, festivals, rituals, songs, dances, literature, and glittering costumes are all centered on the terraces.

The mushroom house is the traditional residence of the Hani people in Yuanyang Terraces, Honghe Prefecture, Yunnan Province. When you come to Yuanyang Terraces, you will find that a mushroom house mirrors the lofty mountain peaks, the charming sea of clouds, and the layers of terraces, forming a magnificent and colorful picture scroll. If you come across the “Long Street Feast” in Qing Kou Village, you must come and have lunch. It is also a festival for the Hani people to worship.

Yuanyang Popular Cuisine

Yellow Glutinous Rice

Yellow glutinous rice is the traditional food of the Hani people. Especially the Hani people in Yuanjiang each year, on the first day of rice planting, every family likes to make yellow glutinous rice, and dye red eggs this traditional customary diet, symbolizing the day to eat yellow glutinous rice and red eggs, long out of the rice will be like yellow glutinous rice as golden, like red eggs as harvest.


In the ant shrimp festival, the whole village of men, women, and children to the field to catch ants, and bring them home as a dish. The grasshopper caught early in the morning can also be soaked in wine to eat, which can cure rheumatism. Will also cut open the ants as bait to catch bees, bees deep-fried delicious food for the Hani people under the wine.

A Brief Introduction to Jianshui

Things to do in Jianshui

Jianshui Ancient Town

Jianshui, in the center of south Yunnan, has been known as an ancient “literature state”. Jianshui Ancient Town is a national historical and cultural town. Jianshui is an ancient city left over from the Qing Dynasty. This ancient city with a deep heritage of the late Qing Dynasty has now become the preferred destination for travelers to Honghe Prefecture. Jianshui is not big, half the size of the original old city based on the expansion of the bus can not drive for a few minutes and will slow down, scattered from the old stone-paved streets, you happen to be able to look around Jianshui Ancient City style.

Temple of Confucius

The temple is far away from the border of Jianshui, has a scale second only to Qufu and Beijing, ranked “the country’s top three” Temple of Confucius, which is also a witness to the cultural prosperity of Jianshui in the past.

Minority Culture

Jianshui County is inhabited by Han, Yi, Hui, Hani, Dai, Miao, and other ethnic groups, among which the Yi and Hani people are the most numerous. However, nowadays, with further social and cultural exchanges and integration, various ethnic groups are gradually coming and going closely together, promoting different ethnic cultures.

The Yi people in Jianshui have a very famous culture called Jianshui lanterns, which is a kind of folk art unique to the south Yunnan region. Experts and scholars call them “Yi lanterns”, while the local people commonly call them “old lanterns”. It is the result of the blending of Han Chinese lanterns and local Yi folk songs.

A detailed travel guide is essential if you want to experience different minority cultures in different areas of Yunnan. At the same time, if you still want to reasonably visit all the places worth visiting in southern Yunnan, then the tour program of Keats School is well worth your consideration. Learning Chinese in Jianshui and being able to use it immediately while traveling is certainly an excellent choice.

Jianshui Popular Cuisine

Steamboat Chicken

Yunnan’s famous dish, Steamboat Chicken, originated in Jianshui, the delicious steamboat is made of Jianshui purple ceramic. A flat round chamber of the pot has a hollow tube in the center, and the steam enters the pot along the tube to condense into a delicious chicken soup.

Baked Tofu

Jianshui’s signature dish, you can see people sitting around eating baked tofu everywhere in the old city, you can just join them together. You’ll try this amazing and delicious Baked tofu – crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.


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