The buttons below link to details of our trip through Yunnan. The gallery link takes you to photos of our trip and 'About' includes travel practicalities as well as a reading list.

Introduction Kunming to Dali Places - Shaxi to Shangri LaPeople AboutGallery

Vicky's blog has a lot more detail and colour. You can read the first episode here




Since living in Singapore we have travelled to China a lot but only to the big Eastern cities of Beijing and Shanghai and surrounding towns and countryside. South Western China has always had a big appeal because of exotic stories of the Tibetan trade routes, the beautiful scenery and wild minority tribes. There is not much wild about Yunnan these days but we were still drawn by the stories of places like Lijiang and Shangri La and the people that live there.

Yunnan is strategically placed to the South East of Tibet and East of Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. It has always sat on trade routes and is also crossed by some great rivers - the Jing Shan turns into the Yangtse while the Mekong and the Lu Jong - which feeds the Ayerawadhy also flow through the country.

It is also home to a wide variety of 'minority people' - we meet some of these during our travels: Yi, Bai, Morso, Naxi and Tibetan. There were a number of Kingdoms in Yunnan, firstly in Kunming and then around Dali, until first the mongols and then the Han emperors took control. Up until the mid twentieth century the area was still wild and remote with heavily armed caravans of Tibetans trading goods with the locals in places like Lijiang.

We start our trip by flying from Singapore to Kunming. After one night there we drive about 4 hours to Dali on a very good highway and stay there for 3 nights before spending one night in Shaxi then three nights in Lijiang. From there we drive to Shangri La for a further three nights before returning to Kunming and home.

Tibetan farmhouse

It is Chinese tourist policy that you use local guides so as we move north we are passed from one guide to another. All are charming and helpful, although at times somewhat hard to understand. We quickly discover that it is hard to get off the beaten track as China opens up to huge numbers of its own tourists. For example at "Jade Dragon Snow Mountain", near Lijiang, tourists are shipped up and down the mountain by cable car on an industrial scale. The trick we found was to walk - if you take a footpath through the woods you suddenly have the place to yourself as the Chinese tourists all take electric carts up to "Spruce Meadow".

If I came back I would try to arrange excursions with some of the local hotels. For example the Linden Centre in Xizhou can organise cookery courses while Thebivou in Shushe will organise treks to remote villages. We struggled to find international tour operators who could do this. Having said this we still greatly enjoyed the trip and our grateful to our guides, Bamboo, Mon, NiNi and Norgay for looking after us.

Erhai Lake