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Yunnan Adventure: 9-day
Luoping Rape Flower and Yuanyang Rice Terraces Tour

Highlights:

• This tour is the photographer’s dream as you will see some exquisite examples of China natural beauty, such as the vivid golden fields of the rapeseed flower and the Nine Dragon Waterfalls, to the glorious rice terraces and fields of Yuanyang
• Yunnan is a melting pot of different ethnic minority groups, and you’ll get to experience that with trips to authentic ethnic bazaars, villages and townships, and this will give you a greater understanding and appreciation of China’s vast diversity
• On your tour you will be accompanied by a professional and experienced English-speaking guide, so you can worry about getting the most fun and enjoyment out of your trip while your guide handles all the logistical work

B=(Breakfast) L=(lunch) D=(dinner)  DEPARTURE: Daily

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Tour code:
AYN-10
Day 1: arrive in Kunming (D)

You will fly to Kunming, and upon arrival at Kunming International Airport you will be met by your English-speaking guide. Kunming is the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, a primarily agricultural province of 45 million. Kunming has a population of five million and is located in one of the world's most geographically, ethnically, biologically and linguistically diverse regions. Situated at 1,900 meters (6,233ft) above sea level and 25° north of the Equator it has a rather unique and pleasant climate for a Chinese city. Kunming is also well known as the Spring City because of its nice climate all year round.

After checking in to your hotel you will have the night to yourself. You might want to take a stroll along Green Lake, Green Lake (Cuihu) is Kunming's answer to Central Park in New York. Lined with willows, the lake is gorgeous, crisscrossed by small arched bridges in imitation of Hangzhou's more famous West Lake. The best season is winter, when days are warm and sunny and the large flocks of "Laughing Gulls" with their cackling cries as they arrive from their breeding grounds in Siberia. The gulls enjoy the legendary "eternal spring" weather in Kunming.

You also might want to check out the flower markets in Shangyi Street, which are quite famous. The florists there sell their wares by weight, so one can buy as little as a single rose. There is a flower & bird market in Jingxing Street, with numerous market stalls and shops run by ethnic minorities where one can buy all manner of ethnic handicrafts, including flowers and even live birds. Kunming is renowned for its handicrafts such as ivory carvings, woodcarvings, Burmese jade and other stone items. The food specialty shops of Kunming also offer many unique food and health-food items (aka Medicinal Foodstuffs) that are not available elsewhere in China, including tropical fruits.

In the evening, you’ll sample the regional cuisine at a local restaurant, with the notable standout being cross-bridge rice noodles. You also have the option of watching the Dynamic Yunnan Ethnic Show, an extravaganza of traditional singing and dancing, which plays at the Kunming People’s Hall.

Day 2: Kunming–Jiuxiang-Stone Forest-Luoping (B, L, D)

After breakfast in your hotel we will drive to the city of Jiuxiang in Yiliang County in order to see the brilliance of the underground karst caves. The "museum of karst caves", which boasts its caves as the largest in scale and number (there are about a hundred karst caves), has the most wonderful in-cave scenes in China. They were formed in the Sinian Period 600 million years ago, created by the erosion of water and rise of the earth’s crust through millions of years, and the caves in the area are praised for their grandeur, wonder grotesquerie and natural beauty.

Then we will move on to 90km southeast of Kunming, where we will see the Stone Forest. Being one of the National Scenic Resorts in China, the Stone Forest Scenic Resort has a complete range of karst formations. Among the most wonderful attractions in this area are the following eight scenic spots: Large & Small Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forests, Large & Small Zhiyun Caves, Qingfeng Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Fairy Lake, Feilong Falls. Standing upright in the Stone Forest are innumerable cliffs and peaks, lofty and majestic, steep and precipitous, charming and enchanting. From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees" are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. The Yi and Sani ethnic group who live there are hardworking and good at singing and dancing. Their folklore and culture are colorful and multifarious, backed up by a long history.

Then we will head to Luoping, a small county at the convergence of the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi. Luoping lies in the relatively underdeveloped eastern part of the province, 228km east of Kunming, and is dominated by karst features with small basins among mountain ranges. Once in Luoping we will get our first look at the rape flowers. Sprawling farmland covered in golden rape stretches right up to the horizon, forming a sea of yellow buds and filling the air with the refreshing smell of spring, as you will see thousands of Yellow Rapeseed Flowers in full bloom. It is also the perfect opportunity for amateur photographers, so make sure to take plenty of pictures! For the evening we will stay at a guesthouse in Luoping.

Day 3:
Luoping (B, L, D)

After breakfast we will make the short 22km drive to view the Jiulong (Nine dragon) Waterfalls. In a section no longer than 4 kilometers along the Nine-dragon River, diversified landforms created 10 falls in different sizes and shapes, some grand, some graceful, some elegant and some small, this is the biggest waterfall group through whole country, as well one of the “Six Most Beautiful Waterfalls in China” assessed by Chinese National Geography.

The biggest waterfall with a drop of 56 meters and 112 meter in width is called Sacred Dragon, the Number One Nine dragon, at the foot of which is an unfathomably deep round pool. Behind the curtain of water lies a cave some 10 meters deep. In the dry season, the elegant waterfall hangs like a sliver chain in the sky. The second biggest waterfall is called Lovers Waterfall is a deep pond. The other waterfall also has their distinctive characteristics. One the top of a hill, you can have a fantastic view of the ponds, shoals and the ten-level waterfalls. On the second day of the second month by the lunar calendar, young people of the Buyi, yi and the Miao gather on the sandbank near the waterfalls to have their Singing Festival. The Jiulong Waterfalls during the flood season, red earth accounts for over half of Yunnan’s area, and the province is known as the 'Red Earth Plateau.' In the flood season, the water flow increases dramatically, carrying with if lots of red earth and dyeing the waterfalls red.

We will then return to view more of the Yellow Rapeseed Flowers.

Day 4: Luoping (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will head to Jinji Mountain (Golden Rooster), in order to get a bird’s-eye view of the golden fields. What you will see is the biggest garden in the world and a sea of yellow flowers measuring over 130 square kilometers. It is this breathtaking view that made Luoping, a remote small town on the border of Yunnan, the most popular destination in the springtime. We’ll also head to Niujie (Cow Street) for a different type of field view, where the farmland is cultivated into interesting spiral shapes and terraces.

We’ll then head 33km south to the area of the Duoyi River, and this area is the central location of the Buyi ethnic minority group. Formed by the water from 5 underground springs, the river flows between its green banks for 12 km as if it were a tender Buyi girl. The clear river has more than 50 shoals formed by waterfalls, and the bamboo raft on the river, bamboo groves, trees, houses and waterwheels on the both bands of the river present an idyllic setting. Once we reach the Duoyi River area we will visit several villages and towns, and this will give you a better understanding of the Buyi people’s traditions, culture, and customs.

In the evening we will return to Luoping.

Day 5: Luoping-Yuanyang (B, L, D)

After breakfast we will make the long drive to south Yunnan in order to reach Yuanyang. Yuanyang is a little village inhabited by Hani, Yi, Yao, Zhuang and other ethnic groups. Before reaching Yuanyang we’ll visit some minority ethnic villages and bazaars along the way.

Yuanyang is renowned for its rice terraces crafted out, no sculpted by bare hands by the Hani people one thousand years ago, transforming a barren valley into a humid Eden; perfect for rice crops. The 1000m of mountain slopes of terraces is still in use today, claiming to be the world's most spectacular and extensive terraces. The terraced fields in Yuanyang are the home of the Hani nationality and have a vital part of the life of the Hani since ancient times and are still the fabric of the Hani people’s existence.

As with the rapeseed flowers, the rice terraces are a photographer’s fantasy, and you will have plenty of opportunities to take as many photos as you desire while we travail the terraced fields.

In the evening you will witness the spectacular sunset over the rice terraces. If we’re lucky we’ll have some clouds at dusk on a sunny day, which will make the scene even more perfect. For the evening we’ll stay in a guesthouse in Yuanyang.

Day 6:
 Yuanyang (B, L, D)

Following breakfast we’ll go for a walk through the morning market. This is where the most lively and bustling side of local life is displayed. The market, largely run by Hani and Yi groups, is extremely colorful, as the sellers often wear their traditional clothes. On display you can see authentic crafts, trinkets, and knick-knacks.

We’ll then drive to Duoyishu, which is near the Shengchun Village. At Duoyishu we will see another magnificent rice terrace. The rice terraces cultivated here are a product of the Hani people, and they have been cultivated over generations. The rice terraces here are so revered by the locals that in southern Yunnan it is revered as the “Sculpture on Mother Earth.”

We’ll next move on to Bada and Laohuzui, and at these two villages you will get different views of rice terraces. Along the way we’ll drop on some ethnic villages, and by doing so we’ll be able to explore and learn the day-to-day life of the ethnic groups here.

We’ll then return to our guesthouse in Yuanyang for the evening.

Day 7: Yuanyang-Jianshui (B, L, D)

In the morning we will drive to Jianshui, a town that contains some epic history. Once an important center of Yunnan and an obligatory stop on route from Kunming to Vietnam, the Dai kingdom of Xishuangbanna and the edge of the Chinese empire. Jianshui grew on the profits of its lucrative position as a center of trade. The town's extensive architectural legacy bears witness to this former glory, and charms those few visitors it does receive. Though it has a history dating back to the Hàn dynasty, Jiànshui garnered more recent historical attention when a brief rebellion was staged here during the 1911 Revolution and it became the base for the Southern Army garrison.

Once we arrive in Jianshui we’ll take a stroll around in the old part of Jianshui Town, seeing ancient wells that have been used by local residents for centuries and admire the grand Chaoyang Gateway Arch built in 1389, which is now the landmark of this city. Well get a little lesson at the local Tofu workshop, where we’ll see how this popular food is produced in the traditional way.

After touring around Jianshui we’ll move on to the nearby town of Tuanshan. Tuanshan Village is the only intact village of the Qing Dynasty that includes the continued habitation of the Yi ethnic minority in history. In Tuanshan Village, there are residential complexes built 600 years ago, which have preserved the characteristics and social and humanistic environment of the Southern Yunnan villages in the 19th century. In the village there are 26 preserved traditional folk houses and ancient buildings of the late Qing Dynasty, for which the village is reputed as "Loulan Ancient City in Yunnan". The extant old architectures consist of traditional Han Chinese courtyards built of grey bricks, tuzhangfang (earth-rammed house) of Yi ethnic group and the tuzhangfang with tile eaves of combined Han and Yi style.

Walking down the old flagstone paved road of the village, you will encounter the 19th-century farming culture of southern Yunan Province as well as the folk culture, which is reflected in various aspects from the architecture, sculpture, and paintings, to calligraphy, couplets, poems and local customs.

After walking through Tuanshuan we will return to Jianshui, and we will encounter the Double-dragon Bridge, at over 200 years old, it’s a combination of science and art, and ranks first in Yunnan Province in terms of size and artistic value. We’ll then visit the town’s Confucius Temple, as it is the biggest one in Yunnan and the second biggest in all of China.

We’ll stay in Jianshui for the evening, and our lodging will be in the Garden of Zhu Family, a charming guesthouse that is in the style of a Qing courtyard home.

Day 8 Jianshui-Jiangchuan-Kunming (B, L, D)


When you wake up today you may go for a relaxing walk in the Garden of Zhu Family, a grand complex constructed 100 years ago by a local rich family surnamed Zhu. The Garden contains well-arranged yards, well-furnished rooms and halls, spellbinding lanes and passages, various ornamental plants and flowers, it enjoys the moniker ''the Grand View Garden at a Border Town".

After taking in breakfast we’ll depart for our drive back to Kunming via Tonghai, and on the way to Kunming we’ll drop in on the town of Ximeng. Ximeng is only place in Yunnan where people Mongolian nationality reside. The people who reside here are the descendants of Mongolian soldiers who came on expedition at the beginning of Yuan Dynasty, approximately 750 year ago, when China was under reign of Genghis khan and his cavalries. We’ll walk around the village and visit with some local villagers, learning about how their life is getting on after getting off horseback!

We’ll continue the trip to Chengjiang Lake, driving along the lake to Jiangchuan County in Yuxi. In Yuxi you will visit Lijiashan Bronze Museum. The museum collects most of the unearthed relics from Lijiashan, a mountain that was a prime location for ancient burial grounds. The museum contains weapons, musical instruments, ceremony devices, production tools, weaving tools, living utensils, ornaments, horse decorations, and other articles. The materials are of copper, iron, gold, silver, jade, stone, wood, and lacquer, of which most are bronze. More than 5,000 bronze relics with the Cow and Tiger Bronze Table as the representative were unearthed in this ordinary-looking hill. The excavation of ancient graves in Lijiashan in 1992 was called one of the ten biggest recent archeological discoveries in China.

After visiting the museum we’ll continue on to Kunming, and we will stay at a hotel in the city for the evening.

Day 9 Kunming-depart Kunming (B, L)

Before ending your tour, we’ll have a chance for some final sightseeing in Kunming. First we’ll pay a visit to the flower trade market of Dou Nan. It is one of the largest flower markets in Asia, and is also the prime base of Chinese flowers where you will have the chance to see all sorts of Chinese species. Then we’ll head to West Hill. From atop West Hill you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of Dianchi Lake and Kunming city. West Hill has enjoyed great fame for its beautiful and unique natural scenery since ancient time and was renowned as " the most beautiful place in Yunnan". Looked from afar, the mountain looks like a sleeping beauty lying on the nearby Dianchi Lake. The girl looks so fascinating with her dark long hair flowing on the water face and you can even distinguish her head, breast, belly and two slim long legs. You’ll have a chance to return to the Shangyi street flower market to get some last minute souvenirs for all your friends and family back home (you should!).

Before leaving for the airport, we’ll stop at the Yunnan Ethnic Village, a theme park that displays the colorful folklore and architecture of 25 ethnic groups residing in Yunnan Province. The theme park offers shows and performances, folklore and wax museums, as well as replica buildings found in the villages of each ethnic group.

You’ll then be taken to Kunming International Airport, where you will fly on to your next destination, ending your tour with us.

Stuff to bring:
• Sturdy shoes or boots, sunglasses and sunscreen
• Bug spray and any other items needed in dealing with the tropical heat
• Tips for a job well done by your guides and drivers, money for any personal expenses not mentioned

 

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