Cover - China's Heartland.JPG Logo China (1)
Back to Listing


Yunnan, meaning ‘south of the clouds’, is a vast province in southern China that shares a long land border with Burma (Myanmar), Laos and Vietnam. Populated by over nine minority groups, and with 25 minority languages spoken, the culture is incredibly diverse. If visiting southern China on a tailor made holiday, one should not miss out on Yunnan; the attractions are numerous.

Biologically speaking, Yunnan is incredibly diverse and well-blessed. The province is said to contain up to 50% of China’s mammals and birdlife, even though it comprises less than 5% of the country’s landmass, so it is perfect for bird lovers and wildlife holidays. The diversity of flora in the province is also impressive, owing to its unique location next to the Tibetan plateau, and that it contains both snow-capped mountains and tropical zones. One of the world’s most impressively spectacular gorges lies in Yunnan province, and it goes by the name of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The legend goes that a tiger was escaping a hunter and managed to leap over the gorge at the narrowest point, a mere 25 metres! Visit Tiger Leaping Gorge and you’ll find bright green rice-paddy terraces flowing down to a deep blue river, carving though rock formations to create immense cliffs jutting up on either side, as visitors cling to the edges on constructed walkways and viewing platforms. A truly spectacular sight.

The UNESCO protected old town of Lijiang is a must visit. Spend hours wandering around the ancient town, with the spectacular mountain scenery as the backdrop, listen to traditional folk music, as locals dance merrily in the squares or go hiking in the surrounding hills - one can easily spend a couple of days here before moving on. A great holiday idea would be to combine it with the town of Shangri-La, just north of Lijiang. Formerly Zhongdian, Shangri-La is an old town that has much in common with the neighbouring Tibet Autonomous Region, with a large part of the population being ethnically Tibetan. Although some of the old town was lost in a fire a few years back, Shangri-La has not lost its soul and vibrancy, and its unique culture is still very much alive and there to be experienced. Shangri-La is a wonderful place to visit on the way to Tibet, or as an easier, much more accessible alternative.

Heading south, Dali is another old town in Yunnan worth spending a few days. Sitting on the shores of the huge Erhai Lake, the quaint town has been a draw for adventure travellers for many years. In more recent times, the town has expanded, but by Chinese standards remains small, and the old part of the town is packed full of charm and character. Base yourself here to soak up all that Yunnan has to offer; spend time trekking in the Cangshan mountains where you’ll find serenity and awesome scenery, walk or cycle around the shores of Erhai Lake where you’ll find many small villages and be able to sample local foods, and try your hand at bartering in the colourful local markets. 

Continuing deeper into the far south of the province, lies Pu’er, famous for its fragrant tea, and south of this is Jinghong, a perfect base to explore diverse border areas. It is also possible to continue onto Laos, if you wish to combine the two countries. Kunming, the busy and sprawling capital of Yunnan province is well connected with the rest of China, whether by rail on the country’s superb rail network, or by plane from somewhere further afield.

Hotels in Yunnan are remarkably diverse and luxury hotels and boutique hotels are not in short supply. As we are the leaders in luxury tailor made travel, we are able to recommend the most suitable accommodation in Yunnan, depending on your tastes and requirements. Whether you seek wildlife holidays, adventure holidays, or culture holidays, we offer unique experiences, where we can take you off the beaten track, to a national park, or an ancient town. China’s Yunnan province is not only the perfect place for luxury honeymoons and couple’s holidays, but equally for families and solo travellers looking for stunning scenery and wonderful culture.

For tailor made tours to Yunnan, the best time of year to visit is April to May and September, when the weather is kinder and flora is at its best.

Yunnan, China (2).jpg Yunnan, China (2).jpg
Yunnan, China (3).jpg Yunnan, China (3).jpg
Dali, Yunnan, China.jpg Dali, Yunnan, China.jpg
Lijiang, Yunnan, China (1).jpg Lijiang, Yunnan, China (1).jpg
Lijiang, Yunnan, China (2).jpg Lijiang, Yunnan, China (2).jpg
Shangri-La, Yunnan, China.jpg Shangri-La, Yunnan, China.jpg
Yunnan, China (1).jpg Yunnan, China (1).jpg
Yunnan, China (5).jpg Yunnan, China (5).jpg
Yunnan, China (4).jpg Yunnan, China (4).jpg
I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

Client Testimonials

Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences