We were arranged to take the Shenzhen Airway to and fro, from Guangzhou to Yunnan. The flight was 2.5 hr from GZ to Yunnan but only 1 hr 45 mins from Yunnan back to GZ on our return flight. (I'm not sure why)
Surprisingly! The Shenzhen Airway flight was comfortable, the air stewardess were very friendly and they even performed a song performance using sign language on flight! On my flight to Yunnan, the sir stewardess also stood along the alse and invited all passengers to do some simple stretching exercises. Hey, I find taking Shenzhen Airway much more comfortable trip than China Southern, their services were much better! Try it for yourself!
It's about 40 miles bus ride from Lijiang to Qiatou (near Tiger Leaping Gorge), at time of this posting cost RMB 30. Flights to Lijiang are usually via Kunming. From Hong Kong, the flight cost about HKD $3000 - 4000.
When you are at Dali, try not to miss the cruise on the beautiful Erhai Lake where you have a very good view of the lake and its beautiful surroundings and mountains. These cruises are usually very crowded, so do be careful.
If you want to go up to the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain near Lijiang but do not want to do hiking, you can take the cable car. However, be careful of altitude sickness as you will be ascending up very quickly. Most of the tourists will take this route up the mountain.
In the unlikely event that you travel to the beautiful Shizong County and Nan Pan River in Yunnan Province, you might want to try a boat ride along the Nan Pan. The reason I say it is unlikely you will get here is because this is a very remote part of the province. Right now, the river is still undeveloped, but the town of A Nai Hei on the river promises to become a boom town in a few years once the dirt roads are paved and once the dams are completed. If you are able to get to A Nan Hei (by bus or private car south from the G324 highway), you can hire a boat to take you up or downstream. If you arrive in the Winter, the water level will be very low, and the boatmen will not want to take you very far unless you pay a hefty fee (i.e. RMB1000+). If it is the Summer, you can arrange to take a cruise all the way to the town of Gaoliang or further afield to the Guangxi border. This is a specactular journey that most foreign tourists don't get to do, but the scenary is stunning and the river beautiful.
If you are just in A Na Hei and want to continue moving toward the Guangxi border, you will need to take a boat about 30 minutes downstream just to pick up the dirt road to coninue going. You will have to negotiate fiercely, and it will be difficult if you cannot speak Chinese. I paid the boatman RMB50 to take 3 people and 3 bikes 30 minutes down the river. This was a nice pay day for him, but also represented intense negotiation over 2 rounds on my part. The local price for such a ride would be much cheaper, but you could easily be asked to pay much more than this.
Two men carry tourists in these wood little cabins along the steep slopes of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. I did not try one, but I bet there are cheap! Even if you do not want to tent one, be sure to be harrassed the whole way down and up the trail by the guys begging to give you a lift.
Ah! I think this type of transportation has been my favorite in Yunnan! I did not ride in any, but I found these "cars" very funny looking and sounding!! The engine is completely exposed with the most prominent features being the belt and the popping lid of the cooling fluid reservoir letting boiling water spitting out. Quite a sight, and quite a common one at that!
Given the huge number of bicycles in China, and the fact that these bicycles are generally old and beat-up, you see a lot of these small tire repair shops in towns and cities.
The picture is not great, sorry, but I took it from a moving bus, so...
Taking a night train might spare you a day ride of bus in the red dust of Yunnan. I took the one from Kunming to Dali. It left at 9:30 pm and arrived at 4:00 am. In other words the night was too short! The people liked to play cards and talk but I could start sleeping around 11 with ear plugs. It was really quiet after midnight.
There are 3 categories you can pick from, cheap to expensive and luxury. I was, I believe (I did not take the tickets myself!), in the medium category with 4 to 6 bunks per cabin with no door. It was very clean, with sheets, pillow and blanket provided, and all a non-smoking area. However, as people smoke at the ends of the car, the smell got in the air system anyway, without counting diesel smells when the train was in tunnels. There is no room for big suitcases.There was one toilet and 3 sinks (the bathroom) per car and not separated between men and woman. The sinks were basically along the corridor. Everything was reasonably clean for the amount of people using it all night.
Gas stations seems dominated by one brand, Sinopec. I have seen 2 other brands. The most impressive gas stations, such as that one on the picture, were found along the newly built freeways. The price of the gas is not much cheaper than in the US (3.5 yuan per liter, i.e. $ 0.44 per liter or $1.75 per gallon).
Taxis are really cheap in Yunnan. We paid 7 to 10 yuan for inner-city trips in Kunming or Lijiang. There are not always comfortable (I guess the bad roads bear on the suspension!) and clean, but they are very practical. Renting a taxi for half or a full day is a good way for short excursions from your hotel.
The taxi in this picture is very typical: light blue and this brand of car (do you recognize which? I am not sure...).
Taking the train is a nice alternative to roads in construction! It will be quicker than bus or car. The trains seems modern, on time and cheap. I took the night train from Kunming to Dali once (see below). There is also an express train from Kunming to the Stone Forest.
We were a big group of 50 or so participating to a workshop in Kunming and then touring Yunnan for a week. The organisers rent 2 big buses such as this one from a company in Kunming. The buses were nice and comfortable.
The downside of travelling by bus in Yunnan is that many roads are under construction. For example only half the freeway between Dali and Kunming is built. That means delays and very bumpy rides going around on small roads full of holes, cyclists, small vehicles of all types (see below!) and pedestrians.
Kunming airport is very nice and modern, and not very crowded. I flew in from Guanzhou (a horrible airport that one!). You can fly from and to any airport in China from Kunming (in particular to Lijiang or Dali which are other cities in Yunnan). From Houston, with changes in Los Angeles and Guanzhou, I paid a total of $1400 round-trip with Orbitz.com.
I took this picture because it was so funny to be welcomed by big posters of Yao Ming, a famous Chinese basketball player, who lives in the US ... in Houston (that's where I live), playing for the Rockets!!
Nowadays, there are modern expressways connecting the major cities, towns and tourist attractions in central Yunnan, so it is convenient to move around. However in the northern and rural areas, especially those with high mountains, transportation is still a challenge.
exellent hotel in lijiang especcilly the villa rooms. 5 minutes from the old town, rmb 10 by taxi....more
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This is NOT Jim's Tibetan guest house, the popular guest house in the old town.This hotel is just...more