When a Yunnanese Prince crossed the cloud-covered mountains of Sichuan Province to visit the imperial Chinese court he informed the emperor his kingdom lay ‘south of the clouds’ and the Mandarin translation – Yunnan – has stuck to the present day.
Without doubt China’s most diverse and fascinating region, both culturally and scenically; bordering Burma (Myanmar), Laos and Vietnam, this remote, border province includes everything from wild elephants and tropical jungles in the far south to the yaks and snow-capped mountains of the Tibetan Plateau in the north, and is home to a kaleidoscope of different ethnic minorities.
Linked to our existing network of Southeast Asian itineraries, this highly original Yunnan overland tour takes you to China by train through the picturesque mountains of Northern Vietnam via the old French hill station of Sapa and up the Red River Valley.
All Points East’s Yunnan tours cover our regular mixture of essential sites and hidden gems including cultural highlights and historic towns such as Dali and Jianshui, the awe-inspiring landscapes of Tiger Leaping Gorge and the dramatic mountains of Eastern Tibet plus the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Lijiang, the stunning Hani rice terraces of Yuanyang and Kunming Stone Forest. As usual, we’ll leave plenty of time to explore the colourful markets, check-out the bustling street life and meet the local people, in what is also reputed to be China’s friendliest province.
We offer either a comprehensive 2-week tour beginning in Vietnam’s vibrant capital Hanoi before finishing at Shangri La International Airport(!) with a return flight to Kunming while for those with less time a 10-day version, World Heritage Sites of Yunnan, starts and ends in Yunnan’s capital, Kunming.
Just a few of our favourite things to see, do and experience in Yunnan...
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Landscapes - the sheer range and variety of Yunnan's spectacular scenery is simply astonishing
Food - with the influences of India, Southeast Asia and myriad minority groups the superb Yunnanese cuisine is perhaps the most surprising and varied in China
The 1,000 year old Hani rice terraces - now with UNESCO World Heritage status, provide one of China's most atonishing sights
The old town - also a UNESCO site - with its delightful lanes, hidden squares and criss-crossing streams is a sheer delight to explore
Minority groups - no less than 56 recognised ethnic groups - many still very traditional - make up over 1/3rd of Yunnan's population
Culture and Customs
Knowing what to expect from local culture and customs will help you get more out of your Yunnan tour
Yunnan Province lies in the southwest of China, east of Tibet and south of Sichuan. Burma (Myanmar) forms its long western frontier with Laos and Vietnam to the south
Most of the province consists of rugged mountains, from the ranges along the Red River Valley to the high altitude Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan foothills to the northwest
A large province with correspondingly varied climatic zones from its tropical southern borders to the high mountains and pine forests of the north
Han Chinese comprise around 60% of the population, mainly in urban areas, while mountain regions are home to Yi, Hani, Hmong an myriad minorities. Ethnic Tai inhabit the south & Tibetans the northwest
Atheism or traditional Chinese folk religion applies to the majority of the population with Taoism, both forms of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all forming recognized minorities
Although classic Cantonese is widely found the distinctive Yunnanese cuisine including, surprisingly, goat's cheese, cured ham, pulses & chilies; not forgetting the local Tibetan Cab Sauv!
Genuine local knowledge is what turns a good travel experience into an unfforgettable one. Here's our shout-out to the locals that help maket that happen.'
Jovial Tony takes care of our Yunnan ground arrangements from his office in Kunming with a smile and attention to detail and with his passion for the regional cuisines of Yunnan this wouldn't be a tour to book if you're looking to lose weight.
A resident of Sapa highly experienced Khanh guides our tours through the Vietnam leg of these tours from Hanoi via Bac ha and Sapa to the Chinese border at Laos Cai.
Things To Know
Useful information and practical tips you should know before you travel to Yunnan/China
Helpful Country Info
People's Republic of China
Beijing, (Yunnan state capital is Kunming)
c 1,374 million (Yunnan 45 million)
GMT +8 (Yunnan)
Renminbi (aka Yuan)
ATMs widely available
220V; usually 2 pin but variable
WiFi widely available but many sites blocked
SIM cards are relatively expensive and difficult to obtain
Mandarin + numerous minority languages
Taoism with Buddhism widely found in Yunnan
Frequently Asked Questions
When’s the best time to go to Yunnan?
To avoid the extreme heat or cold of the Tibetan Plateau, we usually offer the Yunnan tours in March/April and September.
What innoculations do I need?
For most of Southeast Asia, there are no compulsory inoculations – however, Hep A, Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus are recommended. The malaria risk is low throughout the year in Yunnan. If do wish to consider antimalarials we recommend you consult a health professional. A useful resource for information on travel health is http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/
Do you recommend your tours for people travelling on their own?
Our small group tours make ideal holidays for solo travellers. Small fully escorted groups, eating together, family style, no compulsory single supplements all go towards making you feel like you are travelling with a group of friends. If you don’t want to share then ask about single room supplements.
How do I pay for the holiday, and is there a surcharge for credit cards?
We ask you to pay a 10% deposit upon booking your holiday with the balance being due 60 days prior to departure. There is no surcharge for paying by credit card. We accept most major credit cards including American Express.
If we book flights through you, which airlines do you use?
We are happy to book your flights from the UK to Kunming. There are no direct flights but we can offer a wide range of options, from regional airports as well as London using most major airlines – most often Thai, Emirates and Qatar. Prices on the website are a guideline and we find the best prices and routes for you. Upgrades to Premium Economy or Business class are available.
What’s your policy for tipping?
Tipping is discretionary. People always appreciate a gesture for their hard work and dedication but staff are paid and don’t rely on tips. It’s hard to give a guideline before a tour as it does depend on the group size. The tour leaders don’t collect money for tips but are happy to advise. ~What often works well is if the group appoint someone to collect and distribute tips on behalf of the whole group.
Packing light is a virtue, it'll make getting around easier and gives you room for souvenirs and the special things you find along the way. Packing "as little as possible" doesn't mean you have to forego comfort and any items you may forget are usually available locally for a fraction of the price.