The mountains of Yunnan are a world away from industrialised contemporary China. A Yunnan holiday offers a serene mountain getaway with classic spots like Tiger Leaping Gorge and World Heritage Lijiang. But it’s also worth planning a few days in Shangri La.
Maybe it’s the consequences of landing at an elevation of 3300m above sea-level. Or perhaps it’s the dreamy landscape of mudbrick villages, monasteries and monks. Or the strange sights, like little black pigs stopping traffic as they trot across zebra crossings. Whatever is in the air in Shangrila leaves me feeling like I’m on another planet.
Yunnan holiday in the mountains of China
After being in Shangri-La for a few hours, my head starts to throb and if I exert myself I feel breathless.
About one third of the people living in the region are Tibetan and Tibetan traditions run strong. The Tibetans believe in karma and that your next life will be influenced by the actions in this life.
So it’s not surprising Shangri La is a peaceful place to spend your Yunnan holiday.
My guide, Lobsang, is a local man who was a monk in India and Tibet. Lobsang speaks Tibetan, Nepali and English fluently. But his Chinese is a little rusty.
At the Little Potala Palace, I’m amazed at the temples and statues. One temple has an eight-metre-high statue of Buddha, exquisite paintings of Buddha’s lifestyle and communion tables decorated with yak-butter lamps.
The view of Little Potala Palace from my room at MGallery Songstam is captivating. It’s a serene vista of a place that seems far away from everything and everyone. While in China, a Yunnan holiday is something you’d choose to get away from the crowds.
Yunnan Holiday in luxury
My hotel captures the essence of the region in its design, with its decor of mantras, thankas and Tibetan door drapes.
There’s a Tibetan restaurant as well as a western restaurant. The menus are dominated by yak. It’s interesting to taste the local food at first but after awhile, the novelty of downing fried yak yak soup and yak hot-pot soon wanes.
The Tibetans believe the mountains around Shangrila have a magical energy. So a visit to the hotel’s Linka Spa is a calming experience.
The spa’s menu has a list of intriguing treatments and ingredients, such as yak-butter, honey and roseroot.
Pudacuo National Park
Pudacuo National Park is beautiful in autumn. There are walking circuits and bus circuits. You can do a combination of walking and when you get tired hop on a bus.
It’s worth walking around Shudu Lake, which has timber boardwarks along the shore.
China Southern Airlines has flights to Guangzhou in southern China, with connections to Shangri-La. Another lovely place to visit in Yunnan is Lijiang, for World Heritage wonders and a busy bar street. For more things to do in China read this and this.
While in China, visit Xiamen’s Gulangyu Island for British history and Chinese culture.