Ethnic Yunnan Photo Spree

PT04: 11 Days China Tour from Colombo Sri Lanka to Kunming - Stone Forest - Jianshui Yuanyang Kunming  Lijiang - Shaxi - Dali Kunming
Day 1 Colombo - Kunming - Shilin County
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Lijiang
Photo by our clients Mr. Karl Dutton & Mr. Mark James De Garis
Based on the present flight schedule, it is quite convenient to take China tours from Sri Lanka. Among the top destinations, Yunnan is favored by a substantial proportion of travelers who are interested in admiring both unique natural scenery and rich ethnic folklores. To travel from Sri Lanka to Yunnan, we would like to suggest you take advantage of the direct flight between Colombo and Kunming. The Sri Lanka Airlines flight UL828 1835/0150+1 is available on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And the China Eastern flight MU714 0010/0735 is scheduled on every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The flying time of both above flights is less than 5 hours. If you take the first flight, you need to leave one day prior to this tour. Also as you will arrive in Kunming very early in the morning, we would like to suggest you book a hotel for the night ahead nearby Kunming airport. In this case, you can have a good rest right away in the very early morning and then continue your tour with enough energy in the afternoon.

Welcome to Kunming! Upon your arrival, our experienced guide will greet you at the airport. A comfortable private van will drive you about two hours to a hotel in Shilin County, which is the home to the renowned Stone Forest.

To avoid the crowds, we will head to the Stone Forest by the afternoon. Being crowned as "the essence of karst landforms in the world" and "one of the eight natural wonders on earth", the Stone Forest evolved 270 million years ago. It is widely distributed over 1100 square kilometers with numerous stone peaks, stone stele, stalagmites and etc. Particularly, the Stone Forest displays a rare geological vestige that covers various kinds of karst landscapes worldwide. You can give full play to your imagination while appreciating and taking photos of the different rock formations. If it is clear, you will also have the opportunities to shoot this natural wonder at the spectacular sunset.

Meals: No meals, advice freely available
Accommodation: Yinruilin International Hotel
Day 2 Shilin County - Jianshui
Stone Forest, Kunming
This morning we drive about 3.5 hours to Jianshui. After a short break at the hotel, let's visit the Zhu Family Garden, a dazzling display of the dwelling building complex of the Qing Dynasty. In addition to many photo opportunities, the place also provides you an authentic insight into the lifestyle of wealthy families in the early 20th-century. We then get to the more than 600 years old Chaoyang Gate, which is a landmark of Jianshui. Our next stop is the Zhang Family Garden. Its delicate wood carvings will definitely offer you some photographic inspiration. Afterwards, we will explore the Jianshui Old Town at leisure. Over 100 wells, a thousand years old, rare to see in anywhere else, are still in use today by the locals.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Lin An Hotel
Day 3 Jianshui - Yuanyang
Terraced Fields in Yuanyang
After having breakfast, we drive 3 hours to Yuanyang. It owns the world's largest and most imposing Terraced Fields, which have been cultivated by the Hani ethnic minority since one thousand years ago. Varying with time, weather and season, the charming scenery here is frequently photographed.

This afternoon we focus on admiring the alluring views and taking photos of the Azheke Rice Terraces. Should the conditions be right, you will have the very chance to shoot the extensive terraces sparkling with colors in the flickering sunlight.

Photo Tips:
1. In the months from November to April, the rice terraces are quite a sight to behold. You can see the terraces are filled up with water glittering like mirrors in the sunlight, so photos taken at this season are easily of good light and shadow effects. You may also challenge yourself to capture creative pictures of Yuanyang terraces in other months. Scenes like hard-working farmers in early May, verdant rice fields in June and July, and golden terraces in fall harvest season all make great subjects for photography.  
2. It is hard to get a properly exposed shot when the variation of the light is complex at sunrise and sunset. In this case, you can use bracketing and auto white-balance for a better result. Also, a GND filter and CPL will also help you a lot to maintain correct exposure.
3. 135 SLR, wide angel lens and zoom lens are very useful in the entire shooting.

Meals: Chinese breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Yunti Hotel
Day 4 Yuanyang
Yunnan minority people
We will get up early to shoot the Doyishu Terraced Fields at sunrise, weather permitting. It is extremely fantastic to watch the terraced being folded in the morning mist. We will then visit a local market, which is as fetching as the striking natural attractions in Yuanyang. The minorities of Hani, Yi, Dai, Miao, Yao and Zhuang flock in from all quarters by wearing their individual colorful costumes and dresses. The narrow streets are full of the assorted vending booths, which features the folk custom all in it. Next we visit Qingkou Hani Minority Village for its strong flavor of primeval country life. When seeing from afar, the peculiar mushroom-shaped houses dot the village fields just like a scene in the fairy-tale world. Today's private trip will end with a local family visit in Shengcun Yi Minority Village.

Meals: Chinese breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 Yuanyang - Kunming - Lijiang
We set out to Kunming Railway Station after breakfast. The transfer can take up to six hours. We will take a late afternoon bullet train to Lijiang which takes around 3.5 hours. Upon your arrival, the equally obliging local guide along with the driver will meet you duly at the railway station and escort you to the hotel for three nights stay.

Meals: Chinese breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Ivy Garden Hotel Resorts
Day 6 Lijiang
Local villages in Lijiang
We start the pleasant day with a morning market. You can see the locals hunt their daily supplies like fresh vegetables, meats, fruits and other commodities. Next we explore the Lijiang Old Town, a World Heritage attraction. The charming town is teeming with little cobbled lanes and alleys, beautiful buildings and bridges over running waters all around. There are rich pickings for you to capture with your camera lens.

Afterwards, we head to the Lion Hill, which provides a nice panoramic view of the Old Town, especially the folds of dark tiled roofs. In addition to capturing images, you can also get a good orientation of the town when climbing up to the Wangu Tower that sits on its summit. Following this, we visit the Mu's Residence. Beautifully restored and maintained, the Mu's Residence, a mix of Naxi architecture and traditional imperial palace, is undoubtedly a hidden secluded place in Lijiang. You can have some most satisfying photos taken here. We conclude the day after paying a visit to the tranquil Tibetan Lamasery, Zhiyun Temple. If you happen to travel in the winter season from November to March, we can also guide you to the nearby Lashi Lake, where you may have the chance to shoot thousands of migratory birds.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 Lijiang
Local free market, Lijiang
After breakfast, we head to the Baishui River and Dry Sea, both of which are located at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The Dry Sea, now a vast meadow, is considered as the best position to get a panorama of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Following that we take a cable car to the Spruce Plateau to overlook the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. One thing to note here is that the best season for capturing snowcapped mountain is from November to May. We will spend the afternoon to explore the Baisha Mural and a Local Naxi Family in Baisha Village.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 Lijiang - Shaxi
This morning we drive about 2.5 hours to Shaxi, an authentic and peaceful ancient town still in its original form hundreds of years ago. It is also a wonderful place to take some pictures you desired to have. If you come here on a Friday, you can see its most alive market when all the ethnic communities come to the town. We will have the rest of the day explore the photogenic old town at leisure.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Laomadian Lodge
Day 9 Shaxi - Dali
Three Pagoda Temple, Dali
We drive to visit the Shizhongshan Grottoes after breakfast. Dating back over 1,300 years, the well preserved grottoes and carvings bear distinctive ethnic features. Afterwards, we head to Dali. En Route, we visit the Bai Minority Traditional Houses in Xizhou and the traditional hand-made Tie Dyeing in Zhoucheng. You can capture the colorful customs and architectures of Bai Minority with your camera lens. Upon arrival in Dali, we will show you the Three Pagoda Temple, which is the icon of the city. The Reflection Pond inside the scenic area is the most stunning photo spot. As its name suggests, the pond provides an almost mirror image of the Three Pagodas and the surrounding landscape.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Gurong Hotel
Day 10 Dali - Kunming
Bai Minority Traditional House in Xizhou, Dali
We will explore the captivating Dali Old Town in the morning. The tree-lined streets, clear waterways, well-kept buildings, local Bai minority in their unique costumes all make the town a great relaxing place. Then pay a visit to the serene Erhai Lake Park. The fishermen and their cormorants make for some interesting photos for you to take. You will take an afternoon bullet train for 2 hours to Kunming. The local guide and driver will meet at the railway station and take you to the hotel.

Meals: Western buffet breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Jinjiang Hotel
Day 11 Kunming - Colombo
We finish the private China tour from Colombo, Sri Lanka today. Our guide and driver will escort you to the airport and see you off based on your flight information. You can book the China Eastern flight MU713 1550/1820 or the Sri Lanka Airlines flight UL829 0255/0545 back to Colombo. The first flight is scheduled on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, while the second one is on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you happen to travel on Friday or Sunday, you may take a flight to Chengdu or Bangkok and then board a connecting flight to Colombo. We bid you adieu!

Meals: Western buffet breakfast
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