It is spring all year round in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province and a famous historical and cultural city in the center of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau 1,891 metres above sea level, with mild humidity, an average annual temperature of a pleasant 15 degrees Celsius, and flowers blooming in all four seasons. A world-famous tourist resort, Kunming holds such major attractions as Dianchi Lake, West hill, West Hill forest Park, Yunnan thnic Village, Grand View Pavilion, Qiongzhu Temple, Golden Hall, Yuantong Temple, Cuihu Park, and the Garden of the World Horticultural Exposition. The 300-square-km dianchi is Yunnan’s largest alpine lake known as “Highland Bright Pearl” for its vast expanse of liquid silver and graceful scenery. Standing by dianchi Lake is Yunnan Ethnic village, a huge congregation of ethnic villages in which visitors are entertained with a diversity of folk singing and dancing and folklore gigs. Dianchi Litself is surrounded by many scenic attractions, including Dianchi National Holiday Resort, West Hill Forest Park, and Grand View Pavilion. China’s largest cast-bronze hall is found in Jindian (Golden Hall) Scenic Zone on the camellia-covered Mingfeng Mountain to the northeast of Kunming. From May 1 to October 30, 1999, Kunming was the venue of the last international horticultural exposition, which was a resounding success. The large group of buildings erected for this exhibition are found in the Garden of the World Horticultural Exposition, now open permanently as a new tourist attraction.
Eighty-four km southeast of Kunming is Stone Forest in Shilin (Stone Forest) County, a 350-square-km topographical turmoil wrought by a jungle of 100 or so groups of monoliths in shapes ranging from overhanging cliffs to grotesque boulders. “Number One Bizarre Spectacle Uner Heaven, “as the Stone Forest is nicknamed. The natural spectacle is made all the more alluring by its inhabitants, the Sani people, whose peculiar habits and customs never fail to keep the visitors mesmerized. Grand celebrations are held during the Torch Festival, which falls on the 24th day of the 6th lunar month.
Jiuxiang Scenic Zone
Jiuxiang is a national scenic zone in Yiliang County, 90 km from Kunming. It is famous for its 100 or so limestone caves of transcendent proportions.
Ancient Alu Caves
The ancient Alu caves are found 169 km from Kunming. A 3,000-metre-long travel route threads through this group of colossal karst caves in which underground rivers and numerous stalaco-stalagmites and stalagmites form a natural wonder in its own right.
Puzhehei Scenic Zone
Puzhehei Scenic Zone, 200 km to the southeast of Kunming, is extolled as south Yunnan’s answer for Guilin. The mountains are heavily wooded, the rivers look like emerald ribbons, and the landscape is graced with so many lakes, mountains and caves. Age-old traditions remain very much alive and kicking among local residents in xis ethnic groups including Zhuang, Miao, Li, and Yao.
Northwest Kunming Travel Route：(Shangri-la Route) Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Diqing.
Dali in northwest Yunnan is a famous Chinese historical and cultural city and a national scenic zone. A rich heritage dates back to the days when the city was the capital of the kingdoms of Nanzhao and Dali. Dali is a major habitat for the ethnic Bai people, whose folkways are at once time-honoured and distinctive. The ancient city of Dali was first built during the early Ming; today only two city gate-towers are still there. The dwellings of the Bai people, however, are in perfect condition. There is somethingtranquil about the streets, and one of them “Foreigners’ Street”, is, as the name suggests, frequented by foreign visitors shopping or having a good time in teahouses. The Three Pagodas of the now defunct Chongshen Monastery, standing stately at the foot of Cangshan Mountain and by Erhai Lake, have been around for more than 1,100 years. The pagodas, the mountain and the lake are representative of the serene scenery of Dali. Dali’s another attraction is the Butterfly Spring, where the congregation of thousands of butterflies in the fourth lunar month every year is indeed a feast to the eye.
Lijiang Naxi County
Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County 200km from Dali is another famous historical and cultural city which prides itself with age-old towns, imposing mountains, and virtuous folk traditions. Major attractions: Ancient Dayan Town, Snow-capped Yulong Mountain, Hutiao Gorgen on Jingsha River, first Bend of the Yangtze, 10,000-flower Camellia Tree in Yufeng Temple, and Yuqian Park. The naxi people, with a venerated history and tradition, are marked for their unique dwelling architecture, dress and living habits, and they are still using one of the few pictographic languages in use in today’s world. Listening to the classical naxi music is an unforgettable experience. The Ancient city of Lijiang is located at Dayna, the seat of Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County and a 1.4-square-km town with an 800-year-old history and 4,000 or so Naxi families. The entire county is laid out according to a well-conceived plan. The streets are tidy, the back alleys are tucked away in remote corners, brooks and streams flow through every courtyard, and every courtyard is a captivating garden of trees and flowers. In 1997, Dayan made the UNESCO world cultural heritage site list. The Snow-Capped Yulong Mountain, 15 km north of Lijiang, is a national scenic resort and the site of a natural skiing ground open in all four seasons. At an altitude of 5,596 metres above sea, it is the Northern Hemisphere’s southernmost mountain in snow all year round. The Yangtze River’s first Bend is found at Shigu town, which is 53 to the southwest of Lijiang. There, the Jinsha River, which is the upper reaches of the mighty Yangtze, flows from northeest into a mountain cliff, and makes a V-turn before tumbling away to the northeast.
Scenil Cugu Lake
Ninglang County, some 200 km northeast of Lijiang, is the venue of the Lugu Lake, where the blue smudge of mountains is reflected quiveringly in its by far uncontaminated water. The place is home to an “unusual matriarchal kingdom” -the local Mosuo residents have, despite the passage of time, managed to keep their matrilineal tradition very much intact in their daily life, dress, dwellings, marriage, etc.
Diqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest Yunnan is a major stop on the Shangri-la travel route. A 315-km section of the Kunming-Lhasa Highway conducts from Dali to Zhongdian County, theeat of the prefecture 659 km from Kunming. Situated where Jinsha, Nujiang and Lancang rivers run abreast on the southeast edge of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, Diqing’s landscape encompasses snow-clad peaks, deep ravines, vast prairies, alpine lakes and virgin forests, a landscape with all the elements implied in the word “Shangrila”. Major attractiona: Snow-Clad Meili Mountain, Hutiao Gorge on Jinsha River, Bitahai Nature Reserve, Baishui Terrace and Gedun Songtsan’s Forest and Temple.