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Trip to Yunnan Province

Travel Trade Manager - Brian Langford

Brian’s Trip to Yunnan Province

by Brian Langford | December 4, 2019

In November 2019 I was lucky to be invited to travel to Yunnan Province in China, by the Chinese Tourist Office. Part of the trip was to attend the CITM conference, and the rest of the time was spent exploring this stunning area.

Our hosts told us about the Go-Yunnan App, which is a must for all travellers to Yunnan. It’s a free app sponsored by Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and Tencent. It literary gives you everything you need to know to make the most of this beautiful region. It also has translations for those who don’t speak Chinese, which I found invaluable.

There are no direct flights to Kunming, so we flew in via Guangzhou which is about 2 hours from Kunming. Here we were able to clear immigration and fill out the arrival card. The luggage was booked through by South West China Airlines, which made the transit very easy. On arrival at Kunming International Airport, if you need any assistance, the Tourist Office is visible and easy to find.


Kunming is known as the City of the Eternal Spring, it has an almost tropical latitude, but its 2,000 m (6,600 ft) altitude gives it a very temperate climate. Coming from the south coast of England, I must admit that it took me a day or two to acclimatise.

No visit to Kunming without a visit to the Yunnan Military Academy, a famous military academy school in the modern history of China. In 1983, it was listed as a Provincial Key Cultural Relics Conservation Unit, and in 1988, the State Council announced it as a National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit. The Academy site is opposite Green Lake, a famous meeting place for the locals which also attracts black headed gulls from Siberia. You can also see locals using water to write on the pavements, a pastime that tourists are encouraged to join in.


The main visit to Kunming was to attend CITM, held at the Kunming Dianchi International Centre. This is an opportunity to make contact with key suppliers, for future travel arrangements. The event had a stunning opening ceremony with the national TV (CCTV) covering the event. Sadly we missed the coverage that featured our small group on China Today news. No such thing as catch-up!

Here’s a short video of me trying to say Zhangjiajie Click Here

The evening was spent at the Kunming Theatre Centre watching costume and dance performances by the YI ethnic minority. This was an amazing spectacle and certainly worth attending.


After visiting the CITM it was time to explore more of China and Yunnan Province. We left Kunming by bullet train to Dali, which was probably one of my highlights of the trip. We travelled at speeds of 198 km per hour, but I understand on other routes, speeds of 400km can be reached. Dali and especially the Old Town was probably one of the favourite cities I visited, it can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. The cable car to Cangshan World Geopark is a must, and the views of Erhai Lake are spectacular.  The most amazing sight for me was the Three Pagodas and Congsheng Temple, with a history dating back over 1,200 years. It was also a great opportunity to meet with locals in national dress, although they did not seem too happy about having their pictures taken.


The next stop on our tour was Lijiang, home of the famous Snow Mountain. This has to be one of the most spectacular settings in the world. Taking the cable car was amazing and should be on most people’s places to visit. I was surprised to see so many wedding couples having their pictures taken, but when you see the backdrop you can understand why. Shuhe Old town was another opportunity to meet the locals and do some shopping.


The final stop on our tour was to Shangri-La. A small town in Tibetan autonomous county, called Zhongdian officially changed its name to Shangri-La after a local man read the British novel Lost Horizon and discovered that the mythical realm of Shangri-La depicted in the novel bore a strong resemblance. This area was so different from the other places we visited in China. During our stay, we explored the Pudacua National Park, where during our visit we met a local who wanted to marry me!

The one thing that I didn’t realise was because of the high altitude, it’s 3,160 m, some found themselves getting breathless, but oxygen canisters are readily available.

I had a wonderful time exploring Yunnan Province and have come back with lots of memories and tales to tell.

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