Flying relatively under-the-radar on an international level (so far!), Yunnan Province is not as widely known for its landscapes as Guangxi to the east, nor famed for spicy delicacies such as Sichuan to the north. In this article, we shine a light on why Yunnan is our top pick for a getaway this winter.
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4. Visit Yunnan in Winter: Temperate Weather
With such a varied landscape, Yunnan’s weather can differ dramatically across the province. Traveling in winter you’ll avoid the rainy season, making it the perfect time to get active and enjoy the diverse nature on offer. Hiking is a particular favorite activity of ours because it gives our guests access to remote local minority villages and stunning rice terraces. Do bring layers because during winter, temperatures drop quite dramatically at night.
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3.Visit Yunnan in Winter: The Joys of Festivals
Do you often suffer from post-Christmas blues? Well, this could be the year to avoid them. In Yunnan, as well as celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year, there are numerous smaller festivals that happen in accordance with local minority traditions. These can start as early as February and last well into spring.
If watching men jump into a sea of fire is your thing, try the Sword Pole Festival which is one of the earliest of the season. Experiencing the festivals themselves, or even helping with the preparations, is a great way to understand the ethnic minority cultures that inhabit so much of this diverse province. With our team of experienced travel designers, we’ll be sure to sniff out the most festive of festivals to make your journey even more special.
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2. Visit Yunnan in Winter: Fewer people, better guides, cheaper accommodation
Another thing to consider is how busy Yunnan’s major tourist spots can get during popular travel seasons. While you’re unlikely to see hordes of tourists on hiking routes between remote villages, the ancient towns of Lijiang and Dali can become crowded. Winter is a good time to appreciate these beautiful towns at your own pace.
Outside of the main holiday periods, accommodation costs drop significantly and it’ll be easier to secure one of our top local WildChina guides.
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1. Visit Yunnan in Winter: Travels Through Dali with Mei Zhang
Of course, our list of top reasons to visit Yunnan this winter would not be complete without a mention of our very own WildChina Founder Mei Zhang and the expert-led tour she’ll be guiding in December.
This trip skips the cities found on your average tour of China and immerses travelers in the culture and cuisine of Dali, Mei Zhang’s hometown. In 2016, Penguin published Mei’s first book Travels through Dali: with a leg of ham. Chronicling Mei’s return to southwest China in search of the region’s specialty cuisine, the book has become a globally recognized and critically acclaimed insight into the importance of cultural preservation and cultivation in a rapidly urbanizing China.
On this journey, you’ll embark on the same adventure of cultural and culinary discovery that Mei Zhang took for her book research. Accompanied by Mei herself at every turn, you’ll veer off the highway into forgotten villages and into the kitchens of Dali’s culinary artists. You’ll experience cheese making in Shaxi and get to wander through the beautiful town of Dali. With Yunnan cuisine growing in popularity across the US, this is the perfect opportunity to discover its roots and take home some top-secret recipes.
Whether it’s for a chance to whet your appetite with a new cuisine, or the need to get out and active in some beautiful surroundings, Yunnan really does have a bit of everything for everyone. To us, it’s the perfect solution for an outdoorsy, yet cultural travel experience, all while escaping that bitter cold of a northern winter!