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Yunnan (云南) is a province in southern China, bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam as well as the Chinese provinces and regions of Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Tibet.



Old town canals, Lijiang


Its name literally means south of the clouds. The province is one of the most diverse in China. The North of the province is heavily influenced by Tibet, with whom it shares a border. The South is influenced by its proximity to Laos and Myanmar. The province is famed for its multitude of ethnic groups, whose diverese customs can still be seen today. Of China's fifty-five officially recognized ethnic minorities, twenty-five can be found in Yunnan: about one-third of the population is not ethnic Han-Chinese. An introduction to the minorities in Yunnan can be found at


The official language of Yunnan is Mandarin Chinese (or Putonghua as it is known). The region is home to a plethora of dialects from Chinese, Tibetan and Thai language families. Yunnan is home to many minority groups who each have their own different language. Furthermore, local towns will often have their own dialect of Mandarin, which may make understanding the local language difficult. Interestingly the area around Lijiang is home to the world's only pictographic language still in use, the language of the Naxi.

Get in


Until 2005, Kunming was accessible by rail from Hanoi (Vietnam) via a narrow-gauge railroad built by the French. This rail route is now closed, though, so the best way to get down to the border is by bus, or by air from Kunming directly to Hanoi.

There is a railway from Nanning in Guangxi with some sensational scenery.


Kunming has non-stop service from Beijing, Xiamen and other Chinese cities.

Get around

From Kunming you can take a train to Dali, but from there you'll need to travel by bus north to Lijiang and Shangrila.

From Kunming you can take a short flight into Jinghong (Xishuangbanna)

By Bicycle

for a bicycle travel Fact Sheet see http://www.wuyiting.netfirms\.com/cyclingyunnan.pdf


  • The Caves of the Liujng (Wenshan region)
  • The Stone Forest (Kunming region)


  • Hike the Mekong (Lancang) River
  • Soak in the hot spring waters at Anning - 34 km from Kunming
  • Hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge


If you play the game of Go (wei qi in Chinese), or you have friends who do, consider getting some Yunzi, China's best Go stones. They are quite different from Japanese stones and much more affordable. See the Go Wiki Sensei's Library page [1] on these.


  • Guo Qiao Mi Xian, meaning "Crossing the Bridge" Noodles, is a local style of steamy noodles with a variety of vegetables and meats.


  • Yak butter tea
  • Yunnan coffee

Stay safe

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