10 Days in Yunnan – Minorities of China

Day 1 – Kunming

Day 2 and 3 – Dali

Day 4 – Lijiang

Day 5 and 6 – Tiger Leaping Gorge

Day 7 and 8 – Shangrila

Day 9 – Lijiang

Day 10 – Kunming

Trip highlights:

  • Visit the stone forest in Kunming
  • Enjoy the beautiful lakes and mountains in Dali, the backpacking capital of China
  • Explore several of the best preserved and most famous old town in the south of China in Lijiang.
  • Experience natural scenery at its best while hiking and sleeping on the Tiger Leaping Gorge; the deepest gorge in the world.
  • Mingle with some of China's ethnic minorities in the countryside of Shangri-La.


This guide will provide you with a travel plan for a 10 day route through Yunnan Provence.  Included destinations are Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Shangrila. We know how frustrating planning a trip can be. This is why we have provided you with this field-tested, travel plan. If you feel that this guide helped you we just ask you share backpackinchina.com on facebook. Prepare an experience of a lifetime!

Map of Yunnan Provence

Day 1 - Kunming - 昆明

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan province, and has several attractions worth seeing. These attractions include the center of town, the golden temple, Stone forest, and make sure to eat the local specialty “cross bridge noodles”. All of these destinations can be covered in one day. The stone forest outside of Dali is great, but is often overrun with tourists. We recommend spending one day in Kunming and moving on to Dali. Plan to maximize your time enjoying the amazing natural scenery that Yunnan has to offer. Another option is to spend another day in Kunming on the return portion of your trip. Skip the minority park; it is very touristy.

Accommodations in Kunming:

Recommended****-  Camellia Youth Hostel - Cheap and CLEAN! YHA hostel. Youth hostel is around the back of the Camilla hotel. It can be a bit confusing at first but trust us its there! A bit far out from the center of Kunming, but all areas are accessible by bus. Friendly hotel staff will direct you to interesting places around town.  Ask them for the list of bus routes to popular destinations in Kunming. Address -  昆明市 盘龙区 东风东路96号  Phone - (0871)316300

Hump hostel downtown Kunming – Hump hostel is located in the center of Kunming. At times it can be difficult to get rooms in this hostel as it does become pretty full during peak season. It has a great location, but is more expensive than Camillas. A lot of backpackers also complain about trouble sleeping at night because of noise and music. There is a rooftop bar in this hostel and they can carry on partying pretty late at night. If this is what your looking for, than you can definitely find it at the hump.

Attractions in Kunming – See your LP (Lonely Planet) or Wikitravel for more details. Make sure you try the famous cross-bridge noodles.

Cross-bridge Noodles In Kunming


Getting from Kunming to Dali: Be sure to ask your Hostel for specifics. Buses from Kunming West Bus Station take about 4,5 hours and cost 100 yuan for an ordinary bus and around 130 yuan for an express luxury bus. Some of the busses will drop you off at the bus station in the new part of Dali. If this happens just hop on bus 8 or bus 4 to the Dali old town. It should be about 20 minutes to the old town. Just keeping looking out the left side of the bus and you will eventually see the gate from the old town.

Dali Old town – 大利古城


 Day 2-3 – Dali – 大利

View From Mountain Top In Dali


Accommodations in Dali:

Recommended***** - Sleepy fish Lodge –  15331670214 - One word sums up the Sleepyfish Lodge; NICE. Very comfortable, clean, and affordable inn in Dali. The lodge is run by a few foreigners who have been living in Dali for many years. They are very friendly and knowledgeable about Dali and the surrounding areas. Consult LP for activities or ask hotel staff.

The Sleepyfish Lodge In Dali


Getting from Dali to Lijiang: The high-speed train from Dali to Lijiang is now in operation. Take a bus or taxi back to the main train station in the new part of Dali. You must ask the hostel about train times the night before you departure. The new train to Lijiang takes only 1.5 hours. Otherwise ask the hostel about bus / minivan routes and times. The bus / minivan takes around 4 hours.

NOTE******– Upon arrival at the train station in your next destination (Lijiang). Purchase your tickets for the overnight sleeper train from Lijiang back to Kunming for the return portion of your trip. This will ensure that you have a spot on the train and can spend your last night sleeping on the overnight train and arrive in Kunming in the morning before your flight. Its always handy to use a calander or write down the dates and times that you would like the tickets as to avoid confusion.


View From Mountain Top



Day 4 – Lijiang – 丽江市:


Accommodation in Lijiang:

Reccomended***** - Nomad Guesthouse and Café – Run by a foreigner who lived in Lhasa for several years running a vegetarian restaurant. Fantastic and healthy vegetarian food. Clean and affordable accommodations. Please note when the temperature drops outside you will find a bed heater switch on the side of your bed. Almost all hotels and hostels have this luxury in Yunnan. Without it turned on you may freeze during the cooler months!

Nomad Guesthouse in Lijiang

There are many, many guest houses in Lijiang as it has become a very popular tourist destination over the years.

Lijiang is comprised of several “old towns”. Please consult your LP for information on where to visit and activities to see. We personally recommend spending more time on Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La.



Getting from Lijiang to Qiaotou (Tiger Leaping Gorge) - Bus services are available from the main bus station. Just catch a bus from any old town and tell them train station (火车站) You can also take any Shangrila bound bus and have the driver drop you off at Qiaotou. Costs about ¥25. If you take a Shangrila bus, make sure to ask for the ticket to Qiaotou only, otherwise they will charge you the full fare to Shangrila.

Day 5-6 – Tiger Leaping Gorge – 虎跳峡

Tiger-leaping Gorge


Tiger Leaping Gorge – Experience some of the most beautiful natural scenery in China as you spend several days hiking along the worlds deepest gorge. Leave your hiking bag at Janes hostel in Qiaotou.

This hike is not for anyone with physical limitations. You must be in decent physical condition to complete this hike. You can go at your own pace, but be prepared to spend 5 hours per day hiking up steep paths. However, it is completely worth the effort!

Note: you can rent a horse and guide near the beginning of the hike for your first day on the mountain. The horse will take you up past the “28 bends” which is the most difficult part of the hike. Sometimes the paths are very narrow and if you are not comfortable on a horse you might feel crazy! Watch out for falling rocks where you see piles of rocks.


Accommodations on Tiger Leaping Gorge – There are quite a few guest houses along the way. We suggest breaking the hike into two days staying at the Tea-Horse guesthouse for the night. However stop along the way at a guesthouse if you need a snack or a break. Make sure you find a guesthouse before dark as it is quite dangerous to be hiking after dark.

Reccomended***** - Tea Horse Guest house

Upon completion of the hike you will end up at the walnut garden guesthouse. There are regular van transfers back to Qiaotou from walnut garden. The cost should be about 80 yuan.


Getting from Qiaotou to Shangrila – If you stand on the main road you can flag down any busses heading to Shangrila. Hop on and buy a ticket. A few hours later you will arrive in Shangri-La.

Bus Transfer Back to Jane's Hostel



Days 7-8 – Shangri-La – 香格里拉:

Photo Stop At Entrance To Shangri-La Town


Shangri-La – Consult your LP for more information on what to do in Shangri-La. We recommend renting bikes and getting out in the fields to the north of the old town. Check out the temple to the North of the city and spend a day on your bikes riding through the farms outside of the town. There are several other excursions that are available in the old town. At night the locals will come out and dance in the square. Feel free to join them!

Talking With Locals

Accommodations in Shangri-La:

There are very many hostels in Shangri-La downtown. Usually you do not need to make reservation ahead of time. Be careful to make sure that if you are traveling during peak travel seasons or during a national holiday that you make reservations ahead of time otherwise you will have a hard time finding lodging for a reasonable price. Local hostels raise their price very high during the national holidays.

Temple In The North Part Of City


Day 8 Afternoon – Catch a bus back to Lijiang from the bus station in Shangri-La.

Spend evening in Lijiang.


Day 9 – Lijiang - 丽江市:

Spend one more day in Lijiang exploring the old city. You can leave your bags at the Nomad hostel if you choose. Nomad hostel can also arrange a taxi to transport you to the train station in the evening.


Day 9 evening – Catch the overnight train back to Kunming from the train station in Lijiang. Make sure you previously purchased your ticket upon arrival in Lijiang 3 days prior.


Day 10 morning –Kunming - 昆明:

Arrive in Kunming at 7am. Kill time until your flight out of Yunnan.

Enjoy your trip!