China Railway has announced that a brand new high-speed train line traversing Yunnan Province is set to begin operation in July 2018. Forget jumping on a 1-hour flight from Kunming to Lijiang or riding the 6-hour-long train from Kunming to Dali – this new route will allow you to sit back and experience Yunnan’s idyllic countryside from the comfort of a train traveling at 200km/hr.
From July, you’ll spend almost a third of the current travel time getting from place to place which means you can spend longer enjoying the local sights. Let’s take a look at what awaits you in the region:
RELATED READING: Top 5 Things to Do around Dali and Lijiang
Yunnan High Speed Train – What to Do in Dali
Dali is home to one of China’s most thriving artisanal communities. The local population is predominantly Bai, one of China’s 55 recognized ethnic minority groups, and the Bai people have their own unique shamanistic religions and local customs. One of our favorite Dali experiences is the Bai three cup tea ceremony, a ritual often performed to teach the younger generation about life’s hardships. You’ll be invited into a Bai minority elder’s courtyard home to participate in the ceremony and be served three cups of tea: one sugary to reflect life’s sweetness, one bitter to reflect the tough times, and one final cup to symbolize the harmony of each. There will then be time to chat with your hosts and ask questions – your local WildChina guide will be happy to translate the conversation and help you understand the importance of these traditions to the Bai people. Get a glimpse of local ethnic minority life on our Artisanal Dali tour.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Phung
RELATED READING: A Foodie’s Yunnan Voyage
Another of our favorite activities in Dali is a cooking class with a local auntie: Cheng Ayi. You’ll go with her and your WildChina guide to the local market to pick up the freshest produce. Then she’ll give you a lesson on how to cook, Yunnan-style, with ingredients such as mint and jasmine. After a hearty meal like Cheng Ayi’s, you can take a refreshing cycling tour around Erhai Lake, which got its name because it is shaped like an ear. And if you’re in the mood for exercise, we can also arrange for you to hike in the Cang Mountains. Here, you’ll enjoy a bird’s eye view of Dali, enter temples located at the top, and visit a local tea farm.
In Dali, you can easily spend a few days exploring the area and dining on regional specialities. You can learn more about the type of cuisine that awaits you in WildChina Founder Mei Zhang’s book, ‘Travels Through Dali: with a leg of ham’. Mei will be leading her first expert-led tour to the region this December so if it’s a foodie experience you’re after, Mei can help you gain access to some of Dali’s most unique local kitchens. Join her on our Travels through Dali with Mei Zhang journey.
Yunnan High Speed Train – What to Do in Lijiang
Like Dali, Lijiang is also home to a rich minority culture. Instead of Bai, it’s the Naxi culture and traditions that are ingrained in Lijiang daily-life. Naxi people are known for their colorful turquoise clothing and can often be seen singing and dancing in large groups. We’ll arrange for you to join in on this fun in a courtyard home with a lively Naxi feast, complete with singing, dancing, and a hot meal of signature Lijiang cuisine.
RELATED READING: Yunnan Food According to Mei Zhang
In the mountains around Lijiang, several Naxi and Yi minority villages exist where people still live according to strict tradition. On a WildChina Lijiang tour, we’ll arrange for you to meet with a local shaman, a spiritual leader of the animistic faith practised by ethnic minorities in this region. Your local WildChina guide, who is fluent in both Mandarin and local dialects, can help translate your conversation and the shaman will perform a blessing for you: what will you wish for?
When you’re planning a trip to Yunnan with WildChina, your personal trip designer can help to organize and book your high-speed rail tickets. Your local WildChina guide will then be with you every step of the way, accompanying you along the journey so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.