Highlights of Southwest China

A fantastic and varied mixture of people, culture, and scenery make this a fascinating part of China to visit. The diversity of people gives the region a special feel and affords an opportunity to see many different ways of life at close quarters. The landscapes too are impressive and you are unlikely to forget the mystical majesty of the karst mountains that make up the backdrop in Guilin and Yangshuo or indeed the breathaking scale of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Add to this the wonderfully preserved old towns of Lijiang, Dali, and Shaxi, and the Tibetan influences that abound in Zhongdian and you have the perfect blend of ingredients for a wonderful holiday.

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Chengyang Bridge, Sanjiang
Chengyang is close to Sanjiang, the capital of the Dong community, and offers visitors the opportunity to get close to one of the region's most colourful ethnic minorities, while enjoying beautiful scenery in an undeveloped region of China's south.
Dali Old Town
A beautifully preserved traditional Chinese town, Dali enjoys a wonderful position sitting at the base of the Jade Green Mountains with the stunning Erhai Lake laid out in front of it. Perfect for relaxing, or exploring the countryside further by bike or on foot.
Deqin, Yunnan
Located at an altitude of 3,550m in the northwest of Yunnan Province, Deqin offers a real Tibetan experience for those willing to brave the journey. The surrounding area is excellent for hiking and the scenery is (quite literally) breathtaking.
A charming provincial city which sits on the banks of the River Li and is surrounded by truly wondrous landscapes. Guilin is a perfect base for exploring the surrounding countryside, either on foot, by bike, or by a spectacular cruise along the Li River.
Surrounded by forest, the provincial capital Guiyang has a few decent temples and some tranquil parks beside the river to enjoy. Nearby there are the picturesque Huangguoshu falls and dramatic Longgong Caves to admire.
Jiabang Rice terraces
This rural region receives few western tourists, and is famous for the surrounding rice terraces which are thought to be among the most beautiful in China. The rice fields extend over a large area and are dotted with several ethnic minority villages.
Jianshui has a charming ancient town, and is home to some well-preserved Ming & Qing Dynasty architecture. A convenient stop en route to the  Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Jianshui is well worth taking the time to explore in its own right.
Temple, Jinghong, Xishuangbanna
Capital of the Xishuangbanna region, Jinghong is located in the tropical south of Yunnan beside the Mekong River. The laid-back town has a Southeast Asian flair, and is a gateway to the lush tropical landscapes of southern Yunnan.
Langde, Rongjiang, Guizhou
Rongjiang County is found in the Miao-Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, of which Kaili is the largest city and the capital. This is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in China, with over 85% of the inhabitants belonging to a minority ethnic group.
Yuantong Temple, Kunming
Called the Spring City due to its wonderful climate, Kunming is hiding a wealth of ancient temples, delightful parks, and bustling local markets. Kunming provides a good starting point for those wishing to explore further afield in Yunnan.
Lijiang Old Town
Lijiang Old Town is made up of an intricate maze of cobbled streets, market squares, and picturesque streams. Fantastic scenery abounds just out of town with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and, further afield, Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, Longsheng
North of Guilin you some to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. Truly spectacular, the sculptured hillsides offer a different colour for each season, and they are home to a number of colourful minority villages.
Tours of Lugu Lake
Scenic Lugu Lake is located in the mountainous north of Yunnan Province, around 200km away from the tourist hotspot of Lijiang. The area is celebrated for its stunning natural beauty and the fascinating and unique culture of the local Mosuo people.
People's Park, Nanning, Guangxi
The capital of Guangxi province, Nanning is a pleasant provincial city, which reflects the diverse nature of southwest China. Known as the 'Green City' in China, Nanning is surrounded by the famous Guangxi countryside.
Old Theatre, Shaxi
Located halfway between Lijiang and Dali deep in the foothills of the Himalaya, the villages of the Shaxi Valley are set in a sun-drenched fertile plain that follows the gentle Heihui River, a lesser known branch of the Mekong.
Heshun, Tengchong, Yunnan
Located in the west of Yunnan, along the Myanmar border, Tengchong was an important stop along the Ancient Tea Horse Road. The surrounding area has outstanding natural beauty, and the landscape is scattered with volcanoes and natural hot springs.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Famously walked by Michael Palin in his Himalaya TV series, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges anywhere in the world. Day trips can be made from Lijiang, or if time allows, the full two day trek is well worth the effort.
Xingping, Guangxi, China
Located 25km down the Li River from Yangshuo, Xingping occupies a gorgeous position at a sharp bend in the Li River, and the town has a pleasant sleepy atmosphere which never fails to charm.
A delightful town best reached by the sublime boat trip from Guilin. Once the preserve of backpackers, Yangshuo has now opened its doors to a wider audience. Unwind and soak up some of China's most captivating scenery.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Yunnan
The Yuanyang Rice Terraces have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The steep layered hills are awe-inspiring at any time of year, and this is a popular destination for photographers.
Zhaoxing, Guizhou
Home to the largest Dong minority community in China, Zhaoxing offers a peaceful window into the lives of the minority people of China's southwest region. The town is particular famous for its collection of impressive Drum Towers.  
Songzanlin Monastery, Zhongdian
A Tibetan town but still in Yunnan, Zhongdian offers a glimpse into Tibetan life for those who can’t make it as far as Lhasa. Take a couple of days to discover the impressive Songzanlin Monastery, and the town’s surrounding nature reserves.