I visited this region in May 2007 so what I write will be of great interest to anyone planning a vist to north western Yunnan in the month of May.
I travelled by taxi all day for a price of 400RMB about $A66 from LiJiang to Zhongdian, known as Shangrila. We stopped off at Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in China, on the Yangzte River.
Remember when reading these prices that $1.00 Australia will give you 6 RMB.
Down in the lower climate near Lijiang farmers were harvesting potatoes but as we entered the high plateau potatoes and barley were just emerging from the soil.
Then came the greatest surprise of all, valleys and hillsides covered in a wildflower similar to a small azalea bush. All flowers were either mauve or pink.
At various places along the road through these wildflowers there were waiting Tibetan families in costume. For 1 RMB per person, these women and children offered to pose with me to have photographs taken. I gladly agreed.
Further on, at a Dongba village I found children of that racial minority offering me unlimited opportunities to photograph them, their sheep and cattle for 1 RMB.
My advice to travellers is to carry lots of small RMB notes for such occasions.
It was also here that we began to see Yaks amongst the cattle.
Amidst a wildflower meadow stood a single Yak waiting with his owner who offered us unlimited photographic opportunities to sit on the Yak for 10 RMB.
Here the houses were two storey high, faced the south and had pressed earth walls. Although simpler, they reminded me of Bavarian farm homes.