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Yunnan Province Travel Guide

Provincial capital: Kunming

Population: 44 millions

Geological location: Yunnan is the most southwestern province in China, with the Tropic of Cancer running through its southern part. The province has an area of 394,000 sq km, 4.1% of the nation's total. The province borders Guangxi and Guizhou in the east, Sichuan in the north, and Tibet in the northwest. It shares a border of 4,060 km with Myanmar in the west, Laos in the south, and Vietnam in the southeast.

Map of Yunnan Province Kunming City Lijiang Dali Ancient Town

Climate: An unusual combination of low latitude and high elevation means that Yunnan enjoys long sunshine hours and a varied, but mild, climate. In this province, areas with an elevation of between 1500-2000 meters are like spring all year round. In areas less than 1300m above sea level, it is relatively hot, while in highlands 2000m above sea level, it is cool all year round.

Generally speaking, the province enjoys a climate characterized with a fairly even spread of annual temperatures of between 10 and 12 degrees . Rainfall is abundant in the area and falls mainly in May and October each year. The weather varies greatly in line with the elevation, hence the frigid, temperate and torrid zones within the province.

Tourism resources: Yunnan Province, due to its beautiful landscapes, mild climate and colorful ethnic minorities, is one of China's major tourist destinations. Most visitors are Chinese tourists, although trips to Yunnan are organized by an increasing number of foreign travel agencies as well. Mainland tourists travel by the masses; 2.75 million Chinese visited Yunnan last October during National Holiday. Also a different trend is slowly developing; small scale and environmentally friendly ecotourism. At the moment projects in this field are often being set up with help of NGO's.

In 2004, tourism revenues amounted to 37 billion RMB, and thus accounting for 12, 6% of the provincial GDP. Another fact indicating the importance of tourism in Yunnan Province is capital Kunming hosting the China International Travel Mart every two years. This tourism trade fair is the largest of its kind in Asia and serves as an important platform for professionals in the sector. More than 80 countries and regions were present during the 2005 edition.

Tourist centres in Yunnan include:
• Dali, the historic center of the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms.
• Chuxiong, the first stop on the way to Dali and Lijiang. Home of the Yi ethnic minority and their respective ancient town.
• Jinghong, the center and prefectural capital of the Xishuangbanna Dai minority autonomous prefecture.
• Lijiang, a Naxi minority city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
• Shangri-La County (formerly Zhongdian), an ethnic Tibetan township and county set high in Yunnan's north-western mountains.
• The Stone Forest, a series of karst outcrops east of Kunming.
• Yuanyang, a Hani minority settlement with vast rice-terraces.
• Xishuangbanna

By Air: Although generally speaking Yunnan Province is in a mountainous region, it still boasts modern air traffic facilities. Kunming, the provincial capital, is the transportation hub of the province, with direct flights to and from major cities, such as Shanghai (2 and a half hours), Beijing (3 hours), Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai (all around 1 and a half hours), Chengdu (1 hour), Haikou (2 hours) and Hong Kong (2 hours).

Dali, Xishuangbanna, and Lijiang all have air connections with cities in other provinces. There are also flights available within the province.

For those traveling to or from southeast Asia, there are numerous flights from Bangkok, Rangoon, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to Yunnan.

By Train: Apart from by air, Yunnan is also easily accessible by train. The biggest train terminal here is Kunming. There are trains to and from Chengdu, Guiyang or Nanning and on to various cities throughout the country. There is also an international train for Vietnam.

Within Yunnan, some of the tourist destinations are also linked by railway, for instance, Dali and the Stone forest are both reachable by train.

By Bus: Within the province itself, the best way to travel to all destinations is by bus. Yunnan has a well established public transportation system. Some express buses are also available linking the major tourist destinations such as Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La.