8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Yunnan in Winter
Looking for a travel destination to escape from the winter cold? Yunnan should definitely be on your list if you plan to tour China. After entering the winter, most northern areas and the east coast of China have encountered their cold weather, in some northeast regions, the temperature will drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius, together with heavy snow. However, Yunnan at this time is a completely different scene: blue sky and white clouds, sunny weather, lush mountains, clear and crystal lake, and the booming flowers.
Apart from the spring-like climate all year round, there are several good reasons for travelers to consider visiting Yunnan in winter, such as the magnificent natural scenery, the interesting festivals, ethnic groups on the beautiful rice terraces, etc. Please do not hesitate and get started your winter Yunnan tour!
Unlike the other parts of China, Yunnan Province enjoys the reputation of being like spring all year round, especially the provincial capital Kunming. The climate in Yunnan is basically a subtropical plateau monsoon type, with small annual temperature differences, large daily temperature differences, and distinct dry and wet seasons.
The average winter temperature in Yunnan Province is 8°C to 19°C. In many areas of Kunming, the daytime temperature is above 20°C. With 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, Kunming is full of sunshine, which is especially suitable for the growth of plants and animals, and more beneficial to people's health. Dali and Lijiang are slightly higher in elevation and have more plenty of sunlight. Xishuangbanna and Yuanyang in southern Yunnan are especially sunny and warm in winter, even a little bit hot. The average temperature in Xishuangbanna in winter is 13°C to 25°C, while Yuanyang is warmer with the average temperature in winter being 17°C to 27°C. The Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where Shangri-La in northern Yunnan is located, has a relatively cold climate in winter. It is located on the southeast edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the average temperature in winter is from -4°C to 10°C.
Rich ethnic diversity with interesting festivals
Yunnan is the province with the largest number of ethnic groups in China. The ethnic minority population in the province amounts to 16,221,600, accounting for 33.6% of the province’s total population. As we all know, ethnic minorities are good at singing and dancing. According to statistics, there are more than 70 festivals held by ethnic minorities in Yunnan each year, many of which are held in winter.
The Yi, Dai, and Naxi ethnic groups have many festivals in January and February every year, including sacrificial rites, singing and dancing, hot spring bathing, and other activities. There are also many large festivals of the Lahu, Nu, and Yao nationalities from November to January each year. The featured festival activities are bonfire parties accompanied by various singing and dancing performances. At the end of each year, Hui people will slaughter some cattle and sheep, offer sacrifices, and hold some Muslim-related activities. The Hani people in Yuanyang will worship the guardian gods and worship the dragon for rain in winter. On the day of the festival, every household will cook dishes with Hani-style flavor. More than 40 kinds of dishes are arranged on hundreds of tables together, just like a long queue, hence the name "Long Street banquet". The Long Street Banquet is the longest banquet in China.
Fewer crowds with cost-effective
Every year from late October until the Chinese Lunar New Year (January or February), flights to Yunnan are discounted and even up to 30-50% off. Hotel prices in most places are also the lowest prices of the year. However, like Luoping and Yuanyang, their most beautiful scenery occurs in winter and early spring each year, so hotels in these two places will be more expensive from November to early March. Ticket prices for many attractions are only half the price in winter. There are no public holidays in China in November and December, hence you won't encounter a large number of Chinese tourists during this period.
Photography colorful rice terrace and ethnic groups at Yuanyang
Yuanyang County is located in the south of Yunnan Province and has 11,333 hectares of rice terraced fields. Here is a masterpiece left by the Hani people for generations. Yuanyang Rice Terraces is the core area of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. The Hani rice terraced fields in Yuanyang have a history of more than 1,300 years. Traveling here is not only to enjoy the magnificent sunrise and sunset of the rice terraced fields but also to experience the unique customs of the Hani villages.
Yuanyang people planted seedlings in May, harvested in September, and irrigated the fields in December. The best shooting time for the terrace is from November to April. The scenery is most gorgeous in January and February, often with a sea of clouds. In late February, wild cherry blossoms, wild kapok, wild peach blossoms, and pear flowers are in full bloom, and the scenery is spectacular. Duoyishu Rice Terraces is one of the photographers' favorite spots. With an altitude of 1,900m, it is a scenic spot for viewing and photographing the rice terraced fields in the sea of clouds, sunrise, and villages. It is often shrouded in fog, then will form a miraculous view of the sun at sunrise, and the sunshine and colorful clouds are reflected in the rice terraces.
Escape from the winter cold to Xishuangbanna
Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is one of the eight autonomous prefectures of Yunnan Province. It is located at the southern end of Yunnan Province, connected to the mountains and rivers of Laos and Myanmar, and close neighbors to Thailand and Vietnam. "Hot" is a major feature of Xishuangbanna's climate, with an average temperature of 21.9℃. The climate in Xishuangbanna is warm and humid all year round, with no four seasons, only the difference between the dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from November to April of the following year, and the wet season runs from May to October. During the dry season, there are few clouds and rain, but the blue sky and strong sunlight always, which is the best time of the year to travel.
Xishuangbanna is the most well-preserved area in China's tropical ecosystems, where virgin forests and tropical rain forests can be seen everywhere. Wild Elephant Valley is the only place in Xishuangbanna where you can easily see wild elephants. If you are lucky, you can find the wild elephants coming out of the jungle at night and see their normal life form up close. There are many tropical fruits in Xishuangbanna that will definitely make you salivate. Mysterious fruits, Sakya fruit, and jackfruit are all delicious fruits. If you come across fruits you haven't seen before, don't miss the chance to taste them. Xishuangbanna is an ethnic autonomous prefecture dominated by Dai people. It is a very interesting travel experience to come here to experience the folk customs of the Dai people. In addition, the architecture of the Dai nationality is very distinctive, and the song and dance of the Dai nationality have an important position in the national song and dance of Yunnan.
Sunny hike at the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest canyons in China, with an average altitude of more than 3,300 meters. Tiger Leaping Gorge is divided into the Shangri-La section and the Lijiang section, while the hiking section of Tiger Leaping Gorge is located in the Shangri-La section. Even in August, there may be light snow. Every year from June to September is the rainy season on the Diqing Plateau. Mudslides and rockfalls are prone to occur in Tiger Leaping Gorge, we do not recommend hiking in that period. However, in wintertime, there will be sunny days in most of the days, making the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek one of the few popular trekkings in winter.
There are several hiking routes in Tiger Leaping Gorge. You can choose the most suitable one according to your physical condition and travel time. The entire gorge of Tiger Leaping Gorge is 17 kilometers long and can be divided into three sections: upper tiger leaping gorge, middle tiger leaping gorge, and the lower leaping gorge. The upper section of Tiger Leaping Gorge is wide, with spectacular river views and continuous terraces along the river. The middle section becomes narrow, the river becomes extremely turbulent, the journey down to the river is not easy, and the scenery is also unusually attractive. It rewards hikers who are not afraid of hardships. After going to the lower leaping gorge, the river rushed out of the deep gorge, and ushered in a flat dam, with a gentle and unpredictable appearance.
See the Siberian red-headed gull in spring city Kunming
Since the Siberian red-headed gull came to Kunming for wintering for the first time in 1985, Kunming people have met, and kept company with this group of white elves for 35 years. The Siberian red-headed gull has become a beautiful business card in Kunming, and “Spring City - Kunming" has become the warmest and most sentient home of the Siberian red-headed gull. In recent years, the number of Siberian red-headed gulls flying to Kunming for winter has been increasing year by year, which has become a unique landscape of Kunming Dianchi Lake.
The Siberian red-billed gulls that come to Kunming for the winter come from the Ubusu and Khyargas lakes in Mongolia, Lake Baikal in Russia, and Lake Bosten of Xinjiang in China. The number of red-billed gulls that come to Kunming for wintering every year keeps an average of more than 30,000. With the continuous improvement of the ecological environment in Kunming, the distribution of red-billed gulls in Kunming will appear in the trend of diffusion.
Soak into Tengchong geothermal hot spring
Tengchong County is located in the southwest of Baoshan City, Yunnan Province, adjacent to Myanmar in the west. It is one of the necessary places from Yunnan to Myanmar, India, and Thailand. Tengchong County has a tropical monsoon climate, with an annual average temperature of 14.9°C, a minimum temperature of 10°C, and a maximum temperature of 28°C. There is no severe cold in winter or intense heat in summer. It is suitable for tourism throughout the year. Tengchong is densely forested, with green mountains and rivers everywhere, and the scenery is beautiful and charming.
Tengchong is an area where volcanoes are concentrated in Asia, and there are many active volcanoes in it. It is rich in geothermal resources, with many hot springs and springs. Traveling in Tengchong in winter, you can choose a distinctive hotel or guesthouse to relax in hot springs and relieve the fatigue of the journey. You can also try the eggs that are steamed by the natural geothermal heat on the roadside, and the hot spring eggs that are cooked in the hot spring.
Useful travel tips
- Yunnan is a plateau province with low air pressure, a complex climate, and a large temperature difference between morning and evening. It is recommended to bring clothes for the four seasons, short-sleeved, long-sleeved, sweater, down jacket, etc.
- Lijiang and Shangri-La are at a higher altitude, so if you have heart disease, hypertension, cerebral hemorrhage, pulmonary heart disease, etc., make preparations in advance, or do not go to these places. In order to prevent high altitude sickness, please do not do strenuous exercise, do not walk fast, do not run in high altitude areas.
- Yunnan is located in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and the outdoor ultraviolet radiation is very strong, so pay attention to sun protection. Even in winter, ultraviolet rays are very strong.
- Yunnan is an area where ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities. When traveling in Yunnan, please respect the customs of local ethnic minorities.
- From November to March, dawn time 7:00-7:50, dark time: 19:00-20:00.
- Hotels in various parts of Yunnan generally have no heating facilities, and the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor is not large. Hotels in Lijiang and Shangri-La areas use electric blankets as much as possible. Air conditioning does little to raise indoor temperatures in higher altitude areas.
- Many cities in China have opened direct flights to and from Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La. Kunming Changshui International Airport also opened international flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Paris, Sydney, San Francisco, and other cities.