Top Things To Do In Yunnan

Top Things To Do In Yunnan Province, China

Words: Louise Miller
Photos: Monica Tindall

If I had to summarise Yunnan in just one word, my choice would be an easy one – diversity. This fascinating province in south-west China is known to be one of the country’s most diverse not only in terms of its ethnic groups (twenty-five of China’s fifty-five officially recognised ethnic minorities can be found here) but also in its landscapes and climate. There’s a local saying that ‘four seasons can be found along the same mountain slope and different weather conditions over a distance of 5km.’ No wonder then that there is such agricultural and culinary variety too!

Possibly the biggest challenge you will have when planning a trip here is shortlisting what to do and see. To help you with this, here is our list of ‘must do’ activities in Yunnan, China.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Absolutely not to be missed, this section of the Jinsha River produces spectacular rapids that are utterly mesmerising to watch from the observation decks.

What To Do in Lijiang - Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Tiger Leaping Gorge
What To Do in Lijiang
Tiger Leaping Gorge

The Stone Forest

Visit this UNESCO world heritage site of spectacular karst landscapes. The rock formations are truly breathtaking and rich in folklore. Spot the various animal shaped formations as you traditionally dressed guide points them out to you and explains the legends behind them.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Stone Forest

Potatso National Park

Covering an area of 115 square miles this national park 13 miles from Shangri-la is known for its primitive landscapes of lakes, forests, streams and meadows. There’s also an abundance of wildflowers, rare plants and animals that can be admired from the network of beautifully constructed wooden walkways.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Potatso National Park
Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Potatso National Park

Visit a Mushroom Market

You may think that you know a thing or two about mushrooms but the sight of the myriad of unrecognisable varieties heaped up in the markets will have your jaws dropping in disbelief. Take some time to savour the sights and smells and enjoy a mushroom hotpot lunch afterwards.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan Wild Mushroom Market Kunming
Wild Mushroom Market Kunming

Lijiang Old Town

A gorgeous labyrinthine ancient town of cobbled streets lined with serried shop fronts. A stroll amongst the plethora of artisanal boutiques, restaurants and bars will take a few hours at least even if you don’t get lost doing so.

What To Do in Lijiang - Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Lijiang at Night

Dali Old Town

On a smaller scale to Lijiang but equally quaint and full of character, Dali’s old town is very much worth exploring to discover the ancient Bai architecture within the gated city walls. Be sure to sample the array of great street food snacks as you go!

Where to eat in Dali - Top Things To Do In Yunnan

The Flower Market, Kunming

Whether you are a floral fan or not, this market is worth a look just for its size and the variety of its produce. We absolutely loved wandering around amongst the lilies, roses, orchids and so very much more. Make sure that you visit the market next door too as you will see all sorts of floral byproducts such as potpourri, florals teas, soaps, cakes to name but a few.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Flower Market Kunming
Top Things To Do In Yunnan
Flower Market Kunming

Western Hills Park, Kunming

A stunning park full of temples and pagodas linked by cable cars and eco-buses. The hills offer vistas of Dianchi Lake and the city of Kunming and there are trails that lead to the famous Heaven Terrace and Dragon Gate.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan Travel Tips Kunming, Yunnan
Dragon Gate Western Hills Park


There’s so much to say about the food in Yunnan that it really can’t be adequately summarised in a short paragraph. However, the big highlights would be all of the new foodie experiences we had in this province: yak meat, yak butter tea and yak cheese balls, fried insects, flatbreads, crossing bridge noodles and of course the incredible mushrooms.

Top Things To Do In Yunnan Street Food Yunnan
Mi Xian (Rice Noodles)

Where have you been in Yunnan? What are your top things to do in Yunnan?

Visit our China travel section for more tips on culinary travel through Yunnan here.


  1. The wild mushroom market looks really interesting!

  2. Fast moving water looks scary

  3. I’d be totally enchanted by the flower market for sure! 😉

  4. I find the Tiger Leaping Gorge scary!

  5. Those flowers are gorgeous. I wish that I can visit Yunnan one day! 🙂

  6. What an excellent series of photos highlighting China’s beauty!! The Tiger Leaping Gorge that you’ve captured from above really show’s nature’s relentless power in the water!

  7. Wish I had the chance to explore. Cheers Diane

  8. everything looks amazing, scenery, food, market, and flowers…

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