It is not obvious that one knows about cities and local customs of a certain destination, before he travels there. Hitting the road and experiencing it on the spot is surely the best way to learn it truly. Yet South China may sound like an exotic place. You will discover in fact it is, though in a unexpected, far more interesting way as you may think it to be.
Kunming, the county seat of Yunnan region, is a nice starting point to get ready for the more adventurous moments that such a trip can offer. It is a most beloved city from Chinese tourists: next to its pretty gardens and parks one can also enjoy taking a stroll in its huge shopping alleys.
From there on you can head to the rice terraces located in the southern county of Yuanyang. Usual transport means in Yunnan are long-distance buses: they are cheap and you may be most flexible by planning when and where to leave for another destination. Bus travelling makes you really experience the amazing beauty of southern China landscapes. On the way to Yuanyang, southern from Kunming, and even more by travelling to Xishuangbanna, you will be surrounded by green mountains, rice fields and banana plantations. If you stay at least two days in Yuanyang, you may enjoy watching sunrise and sunset on the rice terraces.
Not to tell about the starry sky at night, absolutely the clearest and brightest one ever.
Proceeding on your way south, you will reach the most exotic region of Xishuangbanna. Its capital city Jinghong is the best spot to take cruises on the river Mekong and start for amazing jungle tours, visits to ethnic minorities villages and tea plantations.
Apart from its natural treasures, Yunnan also has some of the most beautiful cities, like the ancient town of Lijiang. The old city centre has been declared UNESCO cultural heritage: along its alleys and squares one can find plenty of traditional small shops selling typical food and handmade souvenirs. Lijiang is also well-known for its famous scenic spot on the Black Dragon Pool (Heilongtan), one of the most picturesque landscapes you will ever see in China.
From Lijiang on it is not a long way to come to Dali. Train connections between the two cities are really efficient, you can travel fast and be there in a couple of hours. Dali town has a much more relaxed atmosphere. The inner city resembles a precious stone in its beauty and it is still surrounded by the ancient town wall. Dali is also a nice place to go souvenirs shopping, but one can also stroll about and find a good coffee-place or a bakery to sit in. The three pagodas from the Tang Dynasty make up the most interesting monument outside the old town. The central one is over thousend years old. They are though all really good preserved and show the best of Dali’s ancient Buddhist tradition.
Once you start your trip in Yunnan you will be surely eager to see more!