Travel to the Yunnan Province of China – Episode 319

categories: asia travel


The Amateur Traveler talks to Lee Moore again about China. Lee comes back on the show to talk about his time in the Yunnan Provence in the southwest corner of China.

Yunnan is on the border with Laos, Myanmar, and Tibet. Yunnan is all about the scenery and the different ethnic groups.

Lee focuses on 3 major places: Lijiang which is in the Northwest, Zhongdian (Shangri-La) which is on the border with Tibet and Xishuangbanna on the border with Laos and Burma. Lee also talks about Kunming the capital of the province.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

Lee Moore
Chinese Journeys on Amazon:
Chinese Journeys on Barnes and Noble:
Photo Set:
Three Weekend Trips From Shanghai – Episode 227
Independent Travel to Beijing, China – Episode 193
Travel to the Guangxi region of China – Episode 282
Qiongzhu Temple
Yunnan Provincial Museum
The Hump Hostel
Lijiang, Yunnan
Black Dragon Pool
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Forest Cafe
Shangri-La County
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery
Meili Xue Shan
Dali City


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

2 Responses to “Travel to the Yunnan Province of China – Episode 319”



Great info! Seems like a real change of pace from the other side of China.

Barry S. Kramer


Hi Chris and Lee;

Listening to the recent podcast on the Yunnan province brought back some wonderful memories of a trip my wife and I took to the region five years ago. We travel to China almost every summer and while we are there we like to choose a region or series of cities to explore. We prefer to design our own excursions and do a good deal of online research before choosing our places to stay and visit. Since my wife is native Chinese and I am American, I do not have to worry about language and cultural barriers. We take advantage of her background and make it a point to seek out some experiences that foreign tourists often do not have the opportunity to enjoy.

We visited the majority of places that Lee discussed in his podcast, and we can confirm that this a unique and exciting region to visit in China. Our major reason to go there was to enjoy the scenic beauty and while we indeed did find unrivaled beauty, we also fell in love with the culture and people of the region.

Since the theme of the podcast was scenic beauty, we can confirm that the places Lee visited were indeed spectacular in their scenic beauty. There are also a few things that we would add.

Our major reason for starting our visit in Kunming was to visit the Stone Forest of Shilin. It is a series of karst formations that seem to grow from the ground thereby creating the illusion of being a forest of stone. The stone formations are very unique and the Stone Forest is said to be one of only two such formations that can be found around the world. Yes, it is very touristy, but it is a fascinating geological formation. Also visiting the places the Chinese visit is part of the fun in exploring China. We feel that this is definitely a must see sight near Kunming.

We would also suggest not to skip the ancient walled Old Town section of Dali. With mountains to one side and the pristine Erhai Lake to the other, it is in a beautiful natural setting. We had a great time visiting the shops and restaurants on Foreigners’ Street in the Old Town. We also spent an enjoyable day relaxing on a lake boat ride and visiting the Butterfly Springs. My wife sought out this place because it holds special meaning to many Chinese because of a movie that was filmed there.

Lijiang was our favorite stop on our trek through the Yunnan. The night life in the Old Town is not to be missed. This area definitely gets crowded at night, but if you prefer quiet there are many sections where you can get away from the crowds. The Old Town is built on a hill and features many crisscrossing narrow streets and walkways next to swift moving canals and mountain streams. On one night, my wife and I listened to program on native Naxi music, had a wonderfully romantic dinner at a restaurant next to a stream, and then finished the evening dancing in one of the clubs on the Old Town Bar Street. Lijiang is definitely the place to have fun and let loose.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is visible from almost everywhere in Lijiang and is itself an excellent attraction. Many tours to the region will not take foreign tourists to the top of the mountain, but we were able to arrange a local tour. The easiest access to the top of the mountain is by way of a cable car that travels above the snow line to an elevation of 4,506 m (14,750 ft). After departing at the summit station, we then made our way further up the mountain on a series of wooden walkways. The main reason to go to the top of the mountain is to see the summit glaciers, which are said to be closest glaciers to the Equator in the northern hemisphere. The air is definitely thin, but the views are spectacular.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is said to be the deepest gorge in the world, is definitely not to be missed. The thunderous force of the fast flowing Jingsha River as it cascades through the gorge is incredibly impressive. Even more fascinating is the crazy mix of buses and cars that are parked along the very narrow access road (without guard rails, of course). The climb down to the gorge by way of a series of steps is long, but easy, and in true Chinese tradition every landing on the way back up is packed with souvenir and food shops. It’s a perfect mix of awesome natural beauty and cheesy tourism.

One of the highlights of our trip was the drive from Tiger Leaping Gorge to Zhongdian, sometimes known as Shrangri-La (my wife pronounced the name of the city Shan-ga-li-la and insisted that this is the way the Chinese pronounce it). Driving to the city requires an ascent up winding mountain roads that are built next to fast moving streams and waterfalls. The scenery was breathtaking! After climbing many miles the drive ended on an equally impressive high mountain plateau near Zhongdian. We actually found Zhongdian to be a little dull, but definitely were impressed by the Songzanlin Monastery, which actually looks like a slightly smaller version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. We have never been to Tibet, but we felt that this area of China must be as close as you could get without actually traveling there.

There are many more stories we have about the culture and people of this region, but I wanted share a few major scenic attractions that we really enjoyed and thought were worth adding to an itinerary.

I could not emphasize enough the incredible beauty of this region of the world. It is very uniquely Chinese with just enough Western amenities to make a foreign traveler feel comfortable.

Sorry about the length of this post.

As always, love the podcast,
Barry S. Kramer

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