Southwestern China

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Southwestern China - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Cangshan

    With a peak that rises to more than 4,500 meters (14,765 feet), "Green Mountain" can be seen from just about anywhere in Dali. A 16-km...

    With a peak that rises to more than 4,500 meters (14,765 feet), "Green Mountain" can be seen from just about anywhere in Dali. A 16-km (10-mile) path carved into the side of the mountain offers spectacular views of Dali and the surrounding villages. There are also several temples, grottoes, and waterfalls just off the main trail. To get to the footpath, follow Yu'er Lu to the foot of the mountain. If you don't want to climb, there are two cable cars to take you up the mountain.

    Dali, Yunnan, China
  • 2. Green Lake Park

    Filled with willow- and bamboo-covered islands connected by stone bridges, Green Lake Park is a favorite gathering place for Kunming's older residents, who begin to...

    Filled with willow- and bamboo-covered islands connected by stone bridges, Green Lake Park is a favorite gathering place for Kunming's older residents, who begin to congregate in the park for singing and dancing in the late morning and stay until the gates close at 11 pm. In summer the lake is filled with pink and white lotus blossoms. In winter the park fills with migrating seagulls from Siberia, attracting large crowds. The lake was once part of Dianchi Lake, but it was severed from that larger body of water in the 1970s.

    Cuihu Nan Lu, Kunming, Yunnan, 650031, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 7 am–11 pm
  • 3. Huangguoshu Falls

    The Baishui River tumbles over nine sets of rocks, creating nine waterfalls over a course of 2 km (1 mile). At the highest point, Huangguoshu...

    The Baishui River tumbles over nine sets of rocks, creating nine waterfalls over a course of 2 km (1 mile). At the highest point, Huangguoshu Falls drops an eye-popping 230 feet, making it the tallest in China. You can enjoy them from afar or by wading across the Rhinoceros Pool (Xiniu Jian) to the Water Curtain Cave (Shuilian Dong) hidden behind the main falls. Seven km (4½ miles) downstream is the Star Bridge Falls (Xingqiao Pu).

    160 km (99 miles) southwest of Guiyang, Guiyang, Guizhou Sheng, 561000, China
    400-683–3333

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y180, Daily dawn–dusk
  • 4. Stone Forest

    The forest's groups of karst, first formed 270 million years ago, have been given names to describe their resemblance to creatures real (turtles) or mythological...

    The forest's groups of karst, first formed 270 million years ago, have been given names to describe their resemblance to creatures real (turtles) or mythological (phoenixes). Walking through the park you'll find plenty of Sani women eager to act as guides and sell you their handicrafts. The main trail has become rather commercialized, but there are plenty of similar formations in other parts of the park.

    Shilin, Kunming, Yunnan, 652200, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y175, 24 hrs
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  • 5. Tiger Leaping Gorge

    The deepest gorge in the world is hard to forget once you've seen it in person, and it makes an excellent trekking destination. If you're...

    The deepest gorge in the world is hard to forget once you've seen it in person, and it makes an excellent trekking destination. If you're hiking along the upper trail, the 40-km (25-mile) route can be finished in a day or two. The upper trail connects the towns of Qiaotou in the west and Daju in the east, and there is a ferry across the river near Daju. The easiest way to tackle the walk from Lijiang is to take the 8:30 am or 9 am bus on Xianggelila Ave to Qiaotou and hike toward Daju. There are several guesthouses in the gorge, scattered at distances to accommodate hikers at any stage of their trek. All offer food, hot showers, and beds for Y20 to more than Y100, depending on season and weather. Many of the guesthouses have expanded and upgraded accommodations in the past couple of years, so there is more selection and even some higher-end rooms for Y150. The guesthouses have put up signs and arrows to let hikers know how much farther until the next lodging. If you don't mind not hiking the whole gorge, stop in Walnut Garden, where you can take one of the regular buses back to Lijiang. If you continue to Daju, there are only two buses a day to Lijiang, at 8:30 am and 1 pm. Also remember that the road connecting Daju to Lijiang goes through the Jade Dragon Park and tickets cost around Y220 per person just to go through. Daju is a very pleasant—though quiet, because of the road fee—town that offers basic rooms for around Y50 a night. For those only interested in seeing the point that gives the gorge its name, the river's narrowest point, which a tiger is supposed to have leaped across to evade a hunter, there are two options: the prettier one is on the Lijiang side of the gorge, includes a nice 4-km (3-mile) walk along a path cut out of the cliffside, and costs Y50 to enter; the Shangri-La side can be reached directly by minivan but will include a few hundred steps down to where the water rages most fiercely. The entrance fee costs Y70, which also includes the rest of the gorge. Most hotels will also gladly arrange tours in minivans—expect to pay more than Y140 per person each way.

    Lijiang, Yunnan, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y70
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  • 6. Black Dragon Pool Park

    Outside the Old Town, Black Dragon Pool Park has a tranquil pavilion where locals come to play cards and drink tea. The park is one...

    Outside the Old Town, Black Dragon Pool Park has a tranquil pavilion where locals come to play cards and drink tea. The park is one of the most popular places to photograph nearby Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The park is home to the Dongba Research Institute Museum (Dōngba wénhuà bówùguǎn), devoted to Naxi Dongba culture.

    Lijiang, Yunnan, 674100, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y80, Daily 6:30 am–8 pm
  • 7. Ching Chung Koon Taoist Temple

    This temple has room after room of altars filled with the heady scent of incense. On one side of the main entrance is a cast-iron...

    This temple has room after room of altars filled with the heady scent of incense. On one side of the main entrance is a cast-iron bell with a circumference of about 5 feet—all large monasteries in ancient China rang such bells at daybreak to wake the monks and nuns for a day of work in the rice fields. On the other side of the entrance is a huge drum that was used to call the workers back in the evening. Inside, some rooms are papered with small pictures; the faithful pay to have these photos displayed so they can see their dearly departed as they pray. Hundreds of dwarf shrubs, ornamental fishponds, and pagodas bedeck the grounds. The temple sits adjacent to the Ching Chung MTR Light Rail station near the town of Tuen Mun. The entrance isn't obvious, so ask for directions.

    Tsing Chung Koon Rd., New Territories, n/a Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    2462–1507
  • 8. Drum Tower

    This tower in Jinquanhu Park is the Dong people's gathering place for celebrations....

    This tower in Jinquanhu Park is the Dong people's gathering place for celebrations.

    Jinquanhu Park, Kaili, Guizhou Sheng, China
  • 9. Elephant Trunk Hill

    On the banks of the river in the southern part of the city, Elephant Trunk Hill takes its name from a rock formation arching into...

    On the banks of the river in the southern part of the city, Elephant Trunk Hill takes its name from a rock formation arching into the water like the trunk of an elephant. Nearby is a grotto covered in poetic inscriptions inspired by the beauty of the place, some by the greatest poets of the Song Dynasty.

    Xiangshan Rd., Guilin, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, 541001, China
    0773-258–6602

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y60, Daily 8–5:30
  • 10. Erhai Lake

    Almost any street off Fuxing Lu will bring you to the shore of Erhai Lake. from which you can marvel at the looming Cangshan peaks....

    Almost any street off Fuxing Lu will bring you to the shore of Erhai Lake. from which you can marvel at the looming Cangshan peaks. You may catch a glimpse of fishermen with teams of cormorants tied to their boats. In good weather, ferries are a wonderful way to see the lake and the surrounding mountains. The ferries cost between Y30 and Y70 (depending on your ability to bargain). More interesting—and cheaper—is hiring fishermen to paddle you wherever you want to go. Boats depart from the village of Zhoucheng.

    Dali, Yunnan, China
  • 11. Ganlan Basin

    One of the more scenic areas of Xishuangbanna is this valley 37 km (23 miles) from Jinghong. Locals still live in bamboo huts in the...

    One of the more scenic areas of Xishuangbanna is this valley 37 km (23 miles) from Jinghong. Locals still live in bamboo huts in the beautiful rain forest. The area is famous in Yunnan for its tropical flowers and its millions of butterflies.

    Jinghong, Yunnan, China
  • 12. Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Museum

    This museum focuses on Guangxi's numerous ethnic minorities. In the back are magnificent full-size reconstructions of houses, pagodas, and drum towers set among attractive pools...

    This museum focuses on Guangxi's numerous ethnic minorities. In the back are magnificent full-size reconstructions of houses, pagodas, and drum towers set among attractive pools and bridges. A collection of more than 300 bronze drums made by local people is also on display.

    34 Minzu Dadao, Nanning, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, 530022, China
    0771-281–0907

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Tues.–Sun. 8:30 am–5:30 pm
  • 13. Hebin Park

    Filled with bamboo groves, Hebin Park sits on the banks of the Nanming River. In many ways it's the archetypical Chinese park, with senior citizens...

    Filled with bamboo groves, Hebin Park sits on the banks of the Nanming River. In many ways it's the archetypical Chinese park, with senior citizens practicing tai chi in the pavilions, young couples strolling hand in hand, and the omnipresent sound of music and public announcements playing from loudspeakers. For children, there's a Ferris wheel and other rides.

    Ruijin Nan Lu, Guiyang, Guizhou Sheng, 550002, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 5 am–midnight
  • 14. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

    Towering majestically over Lijiang, the 18,360-foot Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is one of China's most spectacular peaks. The mountain's jagged, snow-covered face is one of...

    Towering majestically over Lijiang, the 18,360-foot Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is one of China's most spectacular peaks. The mountain's jagged, snow-covered face is one of the defining sights of a trip to Lijiang. The well-maintained road to the scenic area passes numerous villages and has fine views of the valley. The park entrance is about a 30-minute drive from Old Town. Taxis should cost around Y40 one way, or Y100 or more if you want the driver to wait for you.

    Lijiang, Yunnan, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y130, Daily 7–5
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  • 15. Lancang River

    The Lancang River is the name of the Mekong River in China, where it originates before flowing through Southeast Asia. It is easiest to access...

    The Lancang River is the name of the Mekong River in China, where it originates before flowing through Southeast Asia. It is easiest to access the river from Jinghong at the Xishuangbanna Bridge. The southern bank is lined with bars and really livens up at night.

    Jinghong, Yunnan, China
  • 16. Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces

    These terraced rice fields cut into the hills make a mesmerizing pattern of undulating color. Amazing for their scale as well as their beauty, they're...

    These terraced rice fields cut into the hills make a mesmerizing pattern of undulating color. Amazing for their scale as well as their beauty, they're called the "Dragon's Backbone" because the peaks of the mountain range resemble the backbone of the dragon, and the water-filled terraces shimmer like a dragon's scales. They've been worked for generations, by rice farmers from the local Yao, Dong, Zhuang, and Miao communities, who build their houses in villages on the hills.

    Longsheng, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y100
  • 17. Lugu Lake

    If you have a few days to spare, Lugu Lake is a great getaway from Lijiang. The lake straddles the border of Sichuan and Yunnan...

    If you have a few days to spare, Lugu Lake is a great getaway from Lijiang. The lake straddles the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and is dotted with dreamy little towns belonging mostly to the Mosuo, a matriarchal subgroup of the ubiquitous Naxi. Exploring the Lake's 80 km (50 miles) of stunning lake and mountain scenery is possible by bus, but biking and hiking provide better views. Buses taking about five hours depart each morning from Lijiang. Tickets that grant entrance to the area are Y80, and a car ticket can set you back another Y30 for one day. There's an airport with flights from Chengdu and Kunming.

    Lijiang, Yunnan, China
  • 18. Manting Park

    On the southeastern edge of Jinghong is Manting Park, where you can have a closer look at some of the area's indigenous plants. Also worth...

    On the southeastern edge of Jinghong is Manting Park, where you can have a closer look at some of the area's indigenous plants. Also worth exploring is the large peacock aviary. The park is especially lively around mid-April, when people gather to celebrate the Water Splashing Festival.

    35 Manting Lu, Jinghong, Yunnan, 666100, China
    0691-216–1061

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y40, Daily 7:30–7:30
  • 19. Ming Tomb (Guilin Jingjiang King Tomb)

    East of downtown is the tomb of Zhu Shouqian, the nephew of the first Ming emperor, who founded a principality here. It makes a pleasant...

    East of downtown is the tomb of Zhu Shouqian, the nephew of the first Ming emperor, who founded a principality here. It makes a pleasant excursion by bicycle, and its gates combine with the surrounding hills to make for good photo opportunities. To get here, take Jiefang Dong Lu east about 9 km (5 miles).

    Jiefang Dong Lu, Guilin, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, 541004, China
    0773-589–7276

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y20, Daily 8:30–5:30
  • 20. Minorities Museum

    This museum displays arts, crafts, and relics of the local indigenous peoples....

    This museum displays arts, crafts, and relics of the local indigenous peoples.

    5 Guangchang Lu, Kaili, Guizhou Sheng, 556000, China

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Y10, Mon.–Sat. 9–5

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