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When it comes to diversity, China’s Yunnan offers this in bucket loads. From the range of cultures to the landscapes it boasts, there is so much to see and do in this wilder part of China.

Below, we explore some of the top things to expect when you journey to Yunnan:

Lijiang’s Old Town

Lijiang’s Old Town

Here you’ll find a fascinating mixture of bars, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and guesthouses littered among the (often confusing) cobblestone streets. Despite many of these buildings being newer, they still pay homage to the heritage of the town, which adds to its wonderful charm.

In fact, in 1997, UNESCO made it a World Heritage Cultural Site. But all of this culture doesn’t mean there’s no nightlife, as when dark falls, the destination becomes a raucous area to hear plenty of Indie music.

Hani Rice Terraces

First built more than 1,000 years ago, these rice paddy terraces are a feat of engineering. Their irrigation system is a sight to behold with the terraces covering 166sq/km in the region’s southeast area.

Being there when the sun rises or sets just adds to its magic as the pools of water reflect the light to give an array of colours and views that constantly change as the sun changes position.

There are three admission-only viewing points but if you befriend the locals they’ll be able to take you to other areas.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

tiger leaping gorge

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, this is one of the deepest canyons in the world. Tiger Leaping Gorge has cliffs over 3,700 metres high and is where the Yangtze River’s mighty waters rush through.

If you fancy a challenge, you may want to take one of the 2- or 3-day hikes across the upper path where you’ll be able to take in the rapids, mountains and skies. For something slightly less strenuous, though, there are day hikes available that take you along the river bank or down the canyon.



When it’s time to relax, Xishuanbanna is the place to do it. It feels more like Thailand thanks to its palm trees and it really is as pretty as a picture. Daily temperatures tend to get high, with them climbing as high as 30°C, even in December.

You’ll also find ethnic minority parks, the Mengla Tropical Rainforest and Buddhist temples that are ideal places to visit and explore.

Rice Noodles, Stir-Friend Insects and Fried Cheese

No trip to Yunnan would be complete without a taste of its unique culinary creations. Try the rice noodles (guoqiamixian or ‘crossing the bridge’ noodles) which are served in an exquisite chicken broth, the stir-fried insects which include cicadas, silkworms, bamboo grubs and dragonflies, and fried goat’s cheese that’s firmer than many Western ones.

Overall, Yunnan has something for everyone. And because of its diversity and vast range of attractions, it’s highly likely you’ll need more than one trip to this stunning location.

This post was created in collaboration with Exodus Travel.

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