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Breathtaking Photography Tour to Yunnan Yuanyang Terrace Fields

Trip Length
17 Days
Yuanyang Terrace Fields, Swallow Cave, Confucian Temple, Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden, Olive Basin-Ganlaba, Wild Elephant Valley, Jinuo Ethnic Group Village, Manting Park, Three Pagodas, Erhai Lake, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang Old Town, Sumtseling Monastery, Mingyong Glacier, Meili Snow Mountain
Tour Map
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Itinerary day by day

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Bamboo MonasteryToday's Highlights:

Airport Pickup; Bamboo Monastery


You'll begin your journey to the diverse and captivating province of Yunnan from the capital city, Kunming. Upon arrival at the Kunming International Airport, your local guide will meet you. And then you will be transferred to your hotel.

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan province, and due to its warm weather for the whole year, it has a nick name of 'the City of Eternal Spring'. Guide will pick you up at the Kunming airport and transfer to the hotel.

If time enough, we will have a visit to Bamboo Monastery, which is first built in Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). It is the most famous of Kunming's temples, and was rebuilt in the Guangxu Era. (1833-1890BC). Overnight in Kunming.


1. Kunming is located at the high altitude, due to the heavy sunshine, the sunglasses and sunblock are necessary to bring; 2. The temperature here varies a lot between day and night, keeping warm in night is important; 3. Many minorities live toghether in Yunnan, when travelling here, please respect their culture and protect the environment.

Day 2 Kunming - Stone Forest - Yuanyang

Stone ForestToday's Highlights:

Stone Forest; Old Town of Yuanyang; Free Market

Special Experience:

Taste the typical Yunnan food which is named Bridge Crossing Noodles.


You will drive 86 km to the Stone Forest. There is a local saying: 'It is a shame not to visit the Stone Forest while visiting Kunming', which vividly expresses the deep love of the local people toward this world wonder. The quintessential karst landscape makes every tourist lost in wonder.

Then we will drive to Yuanyang. Yuanyang County was once crowned as one of the China's 17 most attractive scenic places. 326 km south of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. it is located in the depth of the Ailao Mountains in Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture. Yuanyang becomes a big draw to tourists and photographers for the amazing rice-terraces built on the red-soil mountains.


Situated at subtropical area, Yuanyang is wet and misty spring and summer. The best time to visit is autumn and winter. At that time the terraced fields are filled with water, ideal for taking pictures.

Day 3 Yuanyang

Picture of Terrace Fields in YuanyangToday's Highlights:

Yuanyang Terrace Fields (Bada, Mouth of Tiger); Jingkou Hani Villages; Yi Minority Village; Sunset over the Rice Terraces.


Not only are the Yuan Yang Rice Terraces among the world's largest and most spectacular rice terraces, they are the least known among them, which keeps the tourist count low. You get an extra sense of adventure when you are there.

Yuanyang becomes a big draw to tourists and photographers for the amazing rice-terraces built on the red-soil mountains. 2500 years ago, the ancestors of Hani People came from Tibetan Plateau to this land and worked out the terraced fields on mountains generations after generations. Now we can see the terraced fields step upwards over range upon range of slopes from a height 144 to 2000 meters. From the tidy and well-constructed fields, anyone has to admit that it is a human engineering feat only made by those hard working people.


The highlight is visiting at sunrise and sunset when the light reflects off of the pools of water, creating a magnificent color show.

Day 4 Yuanyang -Jianshui

Zhu Family in YunnanToday's Highlights:

Swallow Cave; Confucian Temple; Chaoyang Gate; Double Dragon Bridge; Private Garden of Zhu Family; Tuanshan Ancient Village


With a 1200-year history, Jianshui is rich in cultural heritages from the ancient time. In the peaceful town, you won't be disturbed by the flocks of tourists from home and abroad. The highlight is that you can even stay overnight at the guestroom of Zhu Family Courtyard House, which is a well-preserved ancient residence for Family Zhu. 28 delicate traditional guestrooms are opened to the tourists. The atmosphere and surrounding are incomparable to any other hotels.

Followed by the Confucius Temple in Qufu, hometown of Confucius - Shandong Province, Jianshui has the second largest one of the whole country. It is quite miraculous to be found in this tiny remote town southwest of China. The temple was first built in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) with a history of 700 years. It covers an area of 76,000 square meters.

Praised as Lesser Gate of Heavenly Peace, Chao Yang Gate is now more than 600 years old. It has become a symbolic building of Jianshui. In front of the gate, a small market is gradually formed. The tourists can see and experience the life of local people.

Other attractions include the ancient wells at every corner of the town with many different styles, Tuanshan ancient village (Zhang Family House), and Double Dragons Bridge.

Day 5 Jianshui - Kunming - Xishuangbanna

Jianshui Ancient WellToday's Highlights:

Ancient Daban Well; Xiushan Park; Fuxian Lake; Night Flight to Xishuangbanna


Jianshui is very famous of its Ancient Wells, not only because of the amount, but also they have different shapes. Some wells cut in early Yuan Dynasty are still used by today.

Just 65 kilometers south of Kunming, Fuxian Lake is China's second-deepest lake and Yunnan's deepest, reaching more than 150 meters below the surface. This depth gives the water a striking cobalt color. We arrived at Fuxian Lake's windy north shore, the vast body of water feeling more like a sea than a lake.

Take night flight to Xishuangbanna.

Day 6 Xishuangbanna

Ganlan SandbarToday's Highlights:

Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden; Olive Basin-Ganlaba; Dai Ethnic Village


Today we will visit the biggest tropical botanical garden in China - Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden, it is a research belonging to Chinese Academy of Science, about 80 kilometers far from Jinghong. Garden covers an area of around 900 hectares, more than 3000 kinds of plants growing here, formed a picturesque garden and attracted countless visitors.

Then we will go to visit the Ganlan Sandbar on the Lancang River is a world famous peacock tail, meaning the most beautiful part of xishuangbanna. Trip to Xishuangbanna is incomplete without a visit to Ganlan Sandbar, as the popular saying goes.


The well-known traditional festival is the ethnic Dai's Water-Splashing Festival. It begins on April 13 and lasts for 3 days. People will splash the water to any other's bodies, which is meanning to wash out the bad luck of the bad luck of last year and bring good luck for the coming year. Traditional celebrations will be seen during that period, just like the peacock dances, dragon boat race, and fireworks.

Day 7 Xishuangbanna

Wild Elephant ValleyToday's Highlights:

Wild Elephant Valley; Jinuo Ethnic Group Village; Manting Park


The wild elephant in China live only in the tropical rainforest of Xishuangbanna and Banna Wild Elephant Valley is the place that the wild elephants mostly move about. In the main scenic spot, tourists can walk on the overhead corridor to enjoy the scene of wild elephants bathing, playing water and seeking for food.

Then we will go to visit Jinuo (Jino) Ethnic Group Village, Jinuo ethnic people mainly inhabit the Jinuo mountain in Jinghong county, numbering around 18,000 and making up 3% of the total population of local ethnic minorities. And Manting Park is the oldest park in Jinghong city with a history of 1,300 years.

Day 8 Xishuangbanna - Dali

Three PogodaToday's Highlights:

Three Pagodas; Mt. Cangshan; Dali Old Town


We will take morning flight from Xishuangbanna to Dali.

Dali, a historically and culturally famous city of China, is renowned for her historical interest.

And then, you will visit the Three-pagoda in Chongshen Temple, which is a typical historical symbol of Yunnan. It is also one of the oldest sublime architecture in South China. At last, you will visit the Old Dali Town, which is located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain.

Day 9 Dali - Lijiang

Erhai LakeToday's Highlights:

Erhai Lake Cruise; Xizhou Town; Zhoucheng Town; Private car to Lijiang

Special Experience:

Taste the Bai Three Course Tea and enjoy Bai Tea Art with ethnic dance and music.


In the morning, you'll travel in the Erhai Lake by boat and visit Jinsuo Island. After landing, you will head for Xizhou Town to fully appreciate Bai-style architecture, taste their fragrant three-course tea and explore their distinctive culture.

At last, you will visit Zhoucheng Town. Then drive 180km to Lijiang. On the way you will visit Xinhua Bai ethnic village and some farmland with local ethnic people.

Day 10 Lijiang - Jade Dragon Snow Mountain - Lijiang

Picture of Jade Dragon Snow MountainToday's Highlights:

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain; the Yak Meadow; White Water River Terrace; Baisha Village.

Special Experience:

Enjoy Naxi Orchestral and Show in Dongba Palace at night.


Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a width of 20 kilometers (13 miles). Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15 kilometers (nine miles) away, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence, the name Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The highest peak named Fan Peak (Shanzidou in Chinese) which is about 5596 meters above sea level. There are three cable cars in the mountain, the fist to the Glacier Park (4500M), the second to Spruce Meadow(3200M), the third to Yak Meadow(3700M).

In the afternoon, you'll stroll through Baisha Village, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan village. Visit the Baisha Mural about 600 years old, which is one part of the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997.

After dinner, you will attend the Naxi Orchestral and Show in Dongba Palace.

Day 11 Lijiang

Picture of Lijiang Dayan Old Town in the MorningToday's Highlights:

Free in Lijiang Old Town; Explore the Naxi ethnic life by yourself.


(Optional Tour) Shuhe Old Town is a charming town to visit for every travelers, because there is a traditional Naxi village where you can enjoy the drinking and food at the bank of the river in the farmland. You can rent a bike in Lijiang Old Town and ride to Shu about 5KM away from the Lijiang Old Town.

In the afternoon, you can visit the Wangu Pagoda on the top of the Lion Hill behind Lijiang Old Town; here you will have a wonderful panoramic view of Lijiang Old Town. You will walk down from the Lion Hill to Mu Emperor Palace which is the local chieftains former residence.

Day 12 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri La

Tiger Leaping GorgeToday's Highlights:

The First Bend of the Yangtze River; Shigu Town; Tiger Leaping Gorge


From Lijiang, you'll drive about 60KM to the First Bend on the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, and the Iron Chain Bridge in the Stone Drum town. The town of Stone Drum got its name from a large, cylindrical, marble tablet shaped like a drum. The scenery is magnificent as the road running through the Lijiang valley which is filled with wheat fields and drying haystacks.

Continue the driving 40KM more to visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. With 34 rapids of the Yangtze River, it is called the Jinsha in this area because you can find gold in the river. Afternoon, you'll head for Shangri La, the former Zhongdian. Upon arrival in Shangri La, you will have entered the Tibetan cultural area and a landscape of barley fields and yaks scattered in the valleys.

Day 13 Shangri La

Picture of Songzanlin Temple in ShangrilaToday's Highlights:

The Ganden Sumtseling Monastery; the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake; the Old Town of Shangri La and the Guishan Park.

Special Experience

Tibetan home made at night and have dinner in Tibetan family with butter oil tea and Tibetan food.


In the morning, you'll visit the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan. And afterwards you'll go and visit the tranquil Bita Lake & Shudu Lake. After having finished touring the Bita Lake & Shudu Lake, you'll visit the Old Town of Shangri La and the Guishan Park.

At night you will visit a Tibetan family and taste the butter oil tea and Tibetan food.

Day 14 Shangri La - Deqin

Sunset on Baima Snow MountainToday's Highlights:

Bengzilan Town; The First Bend of Jinsha(Yangtze) River; Dongzhulin Monastery; Baimang (white horse) Snow Mountain.


In the morning, drive 6 to 7 hours to Deqin County (3400m altitude) which is 187km away from Zhongdian through Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, you will be able to view Baimang Snow Mountain if the weather is clear, pass the top part of today at 4292m altitude at 156km.

After traversing mountain ranges, you will make a short stop and have lunch at Benzilan town, take some shots on the First Bend of Jinsha(Yangtze) River, Dongzhulin Monastery and Baimang (white horse) Snow Mountain. The view along the way is fantastic with different kinds of trees, streams down the valley, prayer flags and stupas, and Tibetan villages.

Day 15 Deqin

Mingyong GlacierToday's Highlights:

Mingyong Glacier; Sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain; Mingyong Village


Try to get up early in the morning, drive 10km to Feilai Monastery to view the magic sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain.

Then drive another 1.5-hour to Mingyong Village, where you will walk on the trails for about 4km to the bottom of Mingyong Glaciers, walk another one hour or so, you will get to Tibetan Taizi Monastery-another good spot to view the magnificent Mingyong Glaciers. (You can choose to hire a horse to go up to the glacier in order to save your energy.) After the tour, get back to Deqin County.

Day 16 Deqin - Shangri la

Today's Highlights:

Private Car to Shangrila and Relax


After breakfast, drive from Deqen back to Shangri La. Relax in Shangri La Old Town.

Day 17 Shangri La - Kunming by Air Departure

Today's Highlights:

Flight from Shangri la to Kunming


Take the flight to Kunming and change the flight for your next destination.

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