Yunnan Itinerary and Travel Guide
It is almost religious for those traveling to Yunnan to start their journey at the capital Kunming, before proceeding to Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La respectively.
|The highlighted route above shows the most common tourist trail in Yunnan|
- The provincial capital Kunming serves as a transport hub. A highly-populated city just like Shenzhen, Kunming is overpriced and is not a place worth staying over for a lengthy period.
- Dali offers tourists a taste of ancient Chinese city (completed with olden days architectures) in Dali Old Town (古城), as well as a touch of modernity in Xiaguan (下关) where convenient stores and KFCs are a breeze to find. The Old Town is obviously where you'd want to be heading to.
- Just like Dali, Lijiang also has its very own Old Town. I personally find that the ambiance in Dali is by far more authentic, while the latter has been turned into major tourist spot with very limited local vibes and characters.
- Shangri-La and Deqen are wonderlands of breathtaking snow mountains in the vicinity, boundless grasslands, beautiful Yaks and free-roaming wild boars, friendly locals with an extensive Tibetan influence. Less touristy than Dali and Lijiang, Shangri-la is a haven for those seeking for a quiet and relaxing getaway. A perfect place for those who have just hiked Haba Snow Mt. or Jade Dragon Snow Mt.
Since all the places mentioned above are situated at a distance above ground (Kunming is already at 2000 meters) and the altitude increases with each passing destination, tourists might succumb to altitude sickness (a very common complaint among Chinese tourists from neighboring provinces). Spending a few days at each destination will allow your body to adjust and adapt accordingly. I have met a male hiker from Hong Kong who have just flew into Yunnan and started hiking the following day. He obviously wasn't coping well with the sudden change in oxygen level and this has greatly affected his whole hiking experience.
- To get from Kunming to Dali, read the following article
- To get from Dali to Lijiang, take a three-hour bus ride from Xiaguan at 60 Yuan. Alternatively, if you are staying in Old Town, you can ask your guesthouse to arrange a ride for you so a time-consuming trip to Xiaguan can be avoided. Buses leaving for Lijiang from Dali Old Town cost around 87 Yuan. Train is possible too, takes two hours and 40 Yuan.
- To get from Lijiang to Shangri-la, a 4-hour bus ride is necessary as there isn't a rail line here. Feast your eyes on the beautiful mountains and picturesque villages along the way. Deqen is a further 4-hour ride from Shangri-la.