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World Heritage Sites of Yunnan

From Kunming, 'City of Eternal Spring', via the medieval towns of lakeside Dali and World Heritage Lijiang plus awe-inspiring Tiger Leaping Gorge to the edge of the Tibetan Plateau

South China, Yunnan Tour

Presenting our South China tour – ‘World Heritage Sites of Yunnan’. Without doubt, Yunnan is China’s most diverse and fascinating region, both culturally and scenically. Bordering Burma, (Myanmar), Vietnam and  Laos, this remote, border province has everything from tropical jungles and wild elephants in its far southern reaches to yaks and snow-capped mountains on the Tibetan Plateau in the north. The province is also home to well over 25 different, major, ethnic minorities as well as myriad minor groups.

Incorporating our regular mixture of essential sites and hidden gems, from our starting point in Kunming, the tour shows you cultural highlights and historic towns such as Dali and Weishan, UNESCO-listed, World Heritage sites Lijiang and the surreal Stone Forest as well as natural wonders of Tiger Leaping Gorge and the dramatic mountains of the eastern Tibetan Plateau plus leaving plenty of time to explore the exotic markets, check-out the bustling street life and meet the local people, of what is undoubtedly China’s friendliest province.

For those with more time a 16-day version of this Southern China tour – South of the Clouds – begins in Vietnam’s Hanoi and includes the colourful Flower Hmong market at Bac Ha, the old French hill station of Sapa and the awe-inspiring World Heritage Hani rice terraces of the Red River Valley before joining the below tour at Kunming.

Please note that while Yunnan is, of course, a land-locked province, Kunming’s International Airport has daily connections to most regional destinations so for anyone seeking some qual[ity downtime after your tour a range of beach and island extensions are available in either neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam.

Finally, while this tour concentrates on Yunnan Province pretty much any other destination in this vast country can be added on prior to or after your tour such as Guilin, Hong Kong, Xian, Chengdu’s famous panda reserve or even the Lhasa railway!



Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

Day 1 - Kunming - arrival and afternoon at leisure

Arrival in Kunming, transfer to a centrally located hotel and time to relax and recover from jetlag or explore the area before a local-style welcome dinner.

Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package.

Overnight: Kunming Transport: Walk,  Meals: D,

Day 2 - Kunming - the Stone Forest

Morning trip to the spectacular karst formations known as the Stone Forest – one of Yunnan’s most celebrated UNESCO World Heritage sites – with an afternoon at leisure in Kunming to discover some of the city’s pagodas, perhaps the lively flea market or just a walk in the fascinating Green Lake Park?

Overnight: Kunming Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L,

Day 3 - Kunming to Dali - via the ancient town of Weishan

Ancient and modern today as take the famous ‘bullet train to historic Dali  – capital of the Dai minority. From here we take a side trip to nearby Weishan – one of the oldest and best-preserved towns in Yunnan yet one of the least visited – before a late afternoon arrival in the old walled city of Dali.

Overnight: Dali Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D,

Day 4 - Dali - explore the town or head into the mountains

Day at leisure to explore this scenic old walled town, former capital of the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom, now centre for the ethnic Bai people and beautifully situated between the slopes of the Azure Mountains and the shores of Lake Erhai. Explore the old streets, check-out the market or handicrafts, stroll the city walls or take the cable car to a nearby mountain nature reserve?

Overnight: Dali Transport: Walk,  Meals: B,

Day 5 - Shibao - a lakeside market and Shibao sacred mountain

Early departure to catch the bustling morning market in the lakeside, Bai village of Xizhou, before continuing north to Lijiang by way of the superb temple grottoes of sacred Shibao Mountain.

Overnight: Lijang Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D,

Day 6 - Lijiang - explore the World Heritage Old Town

Discover the ancient centre of the Naxi Culture and now World Heritage Site Lijiang: – wander the beautifully preserved cobbled streets that line the streams running through the picturesque old town – dramatically situated beneath the towering peaks of the 5,500m Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and visit the picturesque Black Dragon Pool Park.

Overnight: Lijang Transport: Walk,  Meals: B,

Day 7 - Tiger Leaping Gorge - into the heart of the mountains

Morning visit to one of the outlying villages to discover more of the unique Naxi culture before heading north towards the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge via the famous ‘First Bend in the Yangtze’. Our overnight stay will be at friendly, family-run and stunningly situated Sean’s Guesthouse in the village of Walnut Grove in the centre of the Gorge itself.

Overnight: Walnut Grove Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D,

Day 8 - Tiger Leaping Gorge - visit the village or optional hike

Day in Tiger leaping Gorge: options, depending upon ability and inclination, include a day hike along the gorge, pony trekking, a walk around the scenic village and surroundings or merely relaxing on the guesthouse terrace taking in the superb views.

Overnight: Walnut Grove Transport: Walk,  Meals: B,

Day 9 - Zhongdian - onto the Tibetan Plateau

Scenic morning drive to the Baishui limestone terraces & up to the Tibetan Plateau itself and the town of Zhongdian – now officially renamed Shangri La. Lunch at a Tibetan family’s house followed by a visit to the spectacular Tibetan monastery, Ganden Suntseling, with a short hike through the surrounding hills to check out the scenery and the local villages!

Overnight: Shangri La Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D,

Day 10 - Zhongdian to Kunming - afternoon return to Kunming and departure

Free morning, afternoon flight to Kunming and end of tour.

Note extra nights in Kunming are available before or after the tour.

Overnight: Departure Transport: Plane,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary


The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

China, Home cooking

Just a few of the many highlights

Amazing natural sites; the Stone Forest and Tiger Leaping Gorge plus the ancient walled city of Dali, UNESCO heritage Lijiang, Shibao Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau. A fascinating and relatively little-known region of China.

  • The amazing Stone Forest; hike through the weird limestone formations of another of China's World Heritage site
  • Stay in the unusual destination of Zhongdian - now officially renamed ‘Shangri La’
  • Stay in the heart of World Heritage Lijiang and explore the labyrinth of narrow cobbled lanes, ancient houses, streams and bridges
  • A trip to the atmospheric Shibao sacred mountain - a remote cliff-top cave temple amidst vast forests
  • Hike down the dramatic Tiger Leaping Gorge - spectacular scenery guaranteed
  • Sample the superb and highly varied regional food of southern China

Air Departures (UK) *From

Land Departures

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Kunming

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Jinhua International Hotel Kunming view

  • Freshly renovated rooms at the Jinhua International Hotel
  • Spectacular views over the City's skyline
  • Well-appointed, comfortable rooms

Landscape Hotel Dali view

  • Central location in UNESCO World Heritage Dali Town
  • Recent construction but faithful to traditional style
  • Choice of bars and restaurants and in-house massage and spa

Old Town Castle Hotel Lijiang

  • Hill-top location overlooking Lijiang Old Town
  • Set in the heart of the World Heritage City
  • Great views, comfortable rooms, helpful staff

Sean’s Guesthouse Tiger Leaping Gorge view

  • Simple but comfortable family run Sean's Guesthouse
  • Vertiginous views across Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Meet Sean & his wonderful family & try their awesome cooking

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

China: A visa must be obtained before arrival in China. Your entry point in Hekou on day 6 of the itinerary. You will be arriving by road from Vietnam. Your address in China is c/o China Panorama travel & Yunnan Panorama International Travel Service Co. Ltd


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