6 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Yunnan

Jul 22, 2021

Located in southwest China, the Yunnan Province region is known as the "Land of the Four Vast Rivers" because it straddles four different rivers: the Xun, the Yalong, the Mekong, and the Salween. Yunnan is rich in biodiversity, attracting more than 300 kinds of birds and wild animals to its forests, mountains, and plateaus. It also hosts some of China's most beautiful landscapes, like the famous Bamboo Sea, the peaks of the famous Sleeping Buddha mountain range, the towering Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range, and the highest concentration of active volcanoes in Asia.

The province is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the famous Monkey Mountains that offer some of the best views of the Bamboo Sea. You can spend your time trekking through the charming villages and rolling hills or relaxing on its breathtaking beaches.

But Yunnan is far from just natural beauty. The area is also the cradle of the ancient Chinese nation, so visiting the region today means also getting a peek into the history of this incredibly rich and fascinating nation.

Treat yourself to this unique, stylish, and culturally exciting province with our list of the top tourist attractions in Yunnan.

Yunnan Provincial Museum

Photo of Yunnan
Yunnan: en.wikipedia.org

Yunnan Provincial Museum is housed in a bright, modern building. Its vast collection includes more than 800,000 objects in a variety of media, including furniture, ceramic vases, jades, and ivory artifacts, which date back over 5,000 years. The Museum has a special collection of Yunnanese porcelain and the city is famous for its local-made handmade ceramics. The Boalishan Site is a more modern temple set on the Kuijangsong Hillside at the southern entrance to Kunming.

Dali

Photo of Dali City
Dali City: en.wikipedia.org

Dali, known as the city of the moon, is about 300 kilometers northwest of Kunming. The beautiful city nestled on the limestone cliffs surrounding a small volcano was called Xingping and the Heqing (Black Star) Monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the area. The most attractive of Dali's monasteries are the 17th-century Yuanmingyuan Palace and Temple, the large pagoda perched on the base of the peak which is a two-story replica of a Daoist temple from AD 400, and the rock carving of the Black Dragon. The village of Dalahu also has a series of natural caves and can be reached by following the lane from Baoyuan. Today, Dali is the commercial hub of northwest Yunnan province and can be reached by train from Kunming.

Dali Old Town

Photo of Dali Town, Yunnan
Dali Town, Yunnan: en.wikipedia.org

This old part of the beautiful old walled city of Dali in southwestern China is an easy day-trip from Kunming. In addition to the town's unique architecture, there are several old shrines here. The main shrine is the Guan-Ao Liou, the Triple-Arched Pavilion, which dates from the 13th century and which has an interesting history. Although Dali can be visited at any time of the year, it is best to visit during the summer months, when the weather is more temperate and the population is smaller and more relaxed. The southern side of town faces the Langxi River, and the annual Dragon Boat Festival is held here. In late June, there are regular dragon boat races here.

Mount Emei

Photo of Baoguo Temple (Mount Emei)
Baoguo Temple (Mount Emei): en.wikipedia.org

Mount Emei, Yunnan, is the tallest and longest mountain in Asia and is covered with more than 1,500 waterfalls. In the remote Yunnan-Guizhou border region, the beautifully emerald green mountain ranges rise up more than 5,000 meters and are never lower than 1,400 meters from sea level. Visitors have had difficulty finding the site for years because of the steep, winding mountain road leading up to the mountain from the city of Kunming, as well as its remote location. The best way to visit the mountain is by vehicle. A beautiful two-hour trip will take you to the foot of the mountain at the town of Jianchuan. There is an airport in Jianchuan that also has daily flights to Kunming.

Haba Snow Mountain

Photo of Haba Snow Mountain
Haba Snow Mountain: en.wikipedia.org

The 8,166-meter high Haba Snow Mountain is the highest mountain of the Dali region of southwestern Yunnan. It is one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China and home to one of the oldest and largest of the country's forest parks, namely Black Dragon Nature Park. Despite its lofty status, Haba Snow Mountain can be climbed relatively easily by experienced hikers or campers. A lengthy but enjoyable hike takes visitors through a range of weather conditions and scenery. Highlights of the hike include watching the sun set against the backdrop of the magnificent snowcapped mountain and visiting the Buddha Temple and Hutong Pavilion, the ruins of a mining town and nearby two of the prettiest natural pools you are ever likely to see.

Lijiang

Photo of Lijiang
Lijiang: en.wikipedia.org

Lijiang, known to the locals as Rugao, is a market town in southeastern Yunnan that is slowly awakening to the fact that it is now on the world traveler's map. It's the major gateway to the world's only 800-year-old fortress town, Jinjia (also known as Baoshan). The 13th century walls that surround the city are the world's only surviving multistory defense structure from the Tang and Song dynasties. They are worth visiting for the ruins that remain. Another area worth visiting is the Gao River canyon, a natural wonder formed over 15,000 years ago by an annual flash flood.