We are planning a 12-day trip with our parents (in their fifties) to different parts of Yunnan this November.
There are four of us and we are looking at covering Kunming > Dali > Lijiang > Shangri-La. We are planning to do the trip free and easy, but as we are travelling with our parents, we do not want too much walking/trekking. We do not mind engaging a local guide for areas that are less accessible to provide transport and to bring us to less touristy and more authentic places. Please recommend if there are any good guides you know of.
We have not decided on any accommodations yet and are open to a mixture of hotels/ inns/ home stay as long as they are convenient, clean, comfortable, safe and with central heating (important since we are travelling in winter).
Below are some places of interest we are interested to visit and the time we have allocated for them. Please advise if it is doable and what is the best way to get about doing them (sequence/transport etc):
KUNMING (2 days)
1. Green Lake翠湖公园
- Besides the scenery, what else can we do here? Any nice food?
2．Dongchuan Red Land 东川红土地
- Are the colors nice in November? How do we get there? Is it worth it to visit this?
3. Stone Forest 昆明市石林风景区
- Is half day enough for this? Which spots in this scenic area are worth visiting?
4. Sani Ethic Village 撒尼族
- I read online that there is a Sani Ethnic village at Yuehu Village昆明月湖村. Is this place the same as Lake Yue 月湖 in the Stone Forest? Can we visit this village without a guide? How do we get there?http://en.ynta.gov.cn/Item/577.aspx
- The Yuehu villagers are said to be good at singing and dancing. Any related activities that we can do here? The above link mentioned that Yuehu household delicacies are “pork soup with pseudo-ginseng”, "highland buckwheat cake with honey” and rice wine etc. Where can we try these dishes?
5. Food to try in Kunming
We are thinking of trying the following local dishes in Kunming. Any good eateries or restaurants to recommend?
- Qijiguo Chicken (三七汽锅鸡) – I heard there’s a place called福照楼 that serves this dish. Is it near anywhere near the places that we are planning to visit?
- Wild mushroom hotpot (野菌火锅) – Read online that there is a famous place in Kunming called野菌火锅一条街 where there’s a restaurant called老房子 (五华区东风西路吉祥巷18-19号). Is it really good?
- Guo Qiao Mi Xian (过桥米线) – Any recommendations for having authentic过桥米线?
DALI (2-3 days)
1. Intending to visit these 3 places in one day, is that possible?
Dali Ancient Town大里古镇,
what there to see and eat in these places?
2. Zhou’s Village tie-dye周城扎染
Planning to visit 周城 in the morning to see the tie-dye workshops, then move on to Xizhou Village喜洲镇 (hope to be in time to visit the morning market), when do we have to set off in order to in time for the market? How much is it if we want to rent a car to visit Zhou’s Village and Xizhou Village?
3. Xizhou Village喜洲镇
- Planning to visit here to see the Bai people’s culture and to try the 3 course tea (白族三道茶). Heard that the best place to have the tea is at the Yan’s Courtyard (严家院), but also heard that it comes with a dance performance and is very commercialized. Anywhere that we can get to try authentic 3 course tea without the commercialized performance?
- where is the best place to try the local cuisine, Xizhou Ba Ba (喜洲粑粑)? Besides Xizhou Ba Ba, what other cuisine should we try?
4. Food in Dali
Read online that the following dishes are specialties in Dali, any recommendations on where to find these food?
饵丝, 一根面(these two dishes are said to be only available at Wei Shan old town巍山古城, which seem to be a little out of the way. Any other location has these dishes? If not, what is there to do at Wei Shan old town and how long do we need to spend there?)
1.Lijiang Old town 丽江古城
Planning to visit these few places in the old town in one day - is it possible? Do we need to hire any transport?
- Mu’s Residence 木府(Besides architecture, what else can we expect? How long do we need to spend there?)
-Naxi Music Performance大研纳西古乐会(Read that the performance includes a talk show. Is that true? How long is the performance and do we need to book in advance?)
-Black Dragon Pool黑龙潭(Is the scenery nice during November?)
-Square Street四方街(Besides shopping, are there any other activities to be done here? Read that there is a sluice at the center of town that is opened late in the night and the resulting current of water flushes and washes all the streets to keep the town clean. That sounds interesting. How does this work? Do we get to see it?)
-Wangu Tower万古楼(said to provide an excellent view of the Lijiang Old Town. Is it true? Is it worth a visit?)
2. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain玉龙雪山
-Planning to get up this mountain to view the scenery, but read that we might get altitude sickness up there. What is the best way to go about getting up so that we can enjoy the scenery and avoid getting altitude sickness? Do we need a guide?
-Read that we can go up by renting mules. Is it advisable in terms of safety and comfort? How much does it cost? Can we ride all the way to the peak? Is it better to go by mules, car or cable car? I read that to avoid altitude sickness we can’t ascend too fast.
-Is there any authentic Naxi Village that we can visit here? Read about the Shuhe Ancient Village 束河古镇. Is that worth visiting?
-What else can we do on the mountain besides sight-seeing? Read about a ski resort up there…
3. Lugu Lake泸沽湖
Looking at getting a homestay, trying their authentic cuisine (any recommendations?) and doing a fire party (is that a dance/dinner kind of party?)
Is it very touristy? Any other villages that we can visit to get a real feel of how the Mosuo people carry out their daily lives? Do we need a guide there?
4.Tea-horse Ancient Path 茶马古道
Read that we can travel this path on horses to experience how tea was traded in this area in the past. Is this worth doing? Is this a day trip? How long do we need to ride on the horses (worried that it will be too tiring for our parents)? What other activities are involved? How much does it cost?
5. First Bend of Yangtze River + Stone drum 长江第一湾, Tiger Leaping Gorge 虎跳峡
Planning to do these two locations on the last day, on our way to Shangri-la.
-Where is the best place to stop for a good vantage point of the bends in the river?
-For the gorge, possible to do this as a day trip? Or need to stay overnight here? Don't want to hike too much. Can we drive? Is it worth visiting the gorge in November?
6. Food to try in Lijiang – any recommendations?
1.Songzanlin Monastery松赞林寺/归化寺or Flying Temple 德钦飞来寺?
Looking to visit an authentic Tibetan temple – which one of these should we go? Do we need a guide there or can we just visit on our own? If we go to the Songzanlin Monastery, should we also visit the Zhongdian (gyalthang old town)? What can we do there? Any local specialties?
2. Bitahai Lake碧塔海or Shuodu Lake屬都湖
Which one of these lakes is better in terms of scenery? Should we just choose one? Or both? Any activities to be done there beside scenery?
3. Nixi Black Pottery Village尼西土陶村
What is special about the black pottery? Do we need a day here? Does this village count as an authentic Tibetan village? Possible to do a Tibetan family visit here?
4. Meili snow mountain 梅里雪山
How different is this mountain from the Jade Dragon Mountain? Is the Deyong Glacier名永冰川worth visiting? What other attractions can we visit on the mountain? Anyway up besides hiking?
5. Food to try in Shangri-La – any recommendations?
We are also interested to visit a local tea mountain, which of the above locations can we fit that in?
Also, I saw that Shangri-La is very close to Tibetan, would you advise us to continue our trip to Tibet from Shangri-La? Or is visiting Shangri-La sufficient to get a feel of the Tibetan culture?
We are also worried about altitude sickness, since most of the places we are visiting are highlands. Any preparations and precautions that we could take?
Sorry to ask so many questions! Thanks in advance!