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Yunnan

Yunnan is in South China bordering on Vietnam, Laos and Burma. In the province are several unusual sights. These range from almost year-round snow-capped mountains to tropical jungles where elephants and monkeys roam. The camellias, eucalyptus trees and bamboos are lovely. One third of its people belong to national minorities. Women wear bright, neat and beautiful dress. Many nationalities still practice old customs, such as Water-Splashing Festival, Torch Festival and Moon Market. The people are artistic. Many famous dancers, singers and musicians come from nationalities such as Naxi, Yi and Dai.

Capital city, Kunming, is called City of Spring. It is blessed with the best weather among China's cities because of its altitude of 1894 meters and its subtropical location. The city is beautifully situated on the 330-sq-km Dianchi Lake, China's sixth largest. The city is surrounded by mountains. On the Western Hills are 14th-century Huating Temple, Taihua Temple, with the best view of sunrise over the lake, and Sanqing Tower, once a summer resort of an emperor. The Dragon Gate has stone corridors and intricate carvings cut in the 17th century. 18 km NW of Kunming is Qiongzhu (Bamboo) Temple, with 500 lively life-size arhats. The Stone Forest of Lunan is 80 km away. The Anning (Peaceful) Springs has hot springs containing calcium, magnesium and sodium.

Xishuang Banna, a tropical autonomous prefecture, is 742 km SW of Kunming. It is a beautiful place full of mysteries and legends. Thirteen minorities inhabit these lush tropics. The Dai people celebrate their new year in mid-April by holding water-splashing festival. Visitors will be wet all over then. The temples have intricate flaming roofs and snake designs. Near the border live 300 wild elephants in a nature preserve.

Another region to visit is around Lijiang in northwest Yunnan. The Yu Long Mountain rises spectacularly 6000 meters above sea level. The Naxi people here still use hieroglyphic writing and wear sheepskin capes.

Xiaguan is the capital of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. The prefecture has colorful nationalities, old cities, and views of snow-capped mountains. The Burma Road, built from to 1939 by thousands of Chinese and Burmese laborers, was used by the Allies until the Japanese capture of Burma in 1942. The Erhai Lake was believed to be manmade over 2000 years ago. The islands are inhabited by Bai fisherman. Santa Si (Three-Pagoda Temple) is on the west shore. It was built over 1000 years ago. The view of the lake, the three towers and the mountains behind combined are famous. Butterfly Spring, on the northern tip of the lake, is a natural spring with one huge tree covering it. In May, thousands of beautiful butterflies appear around the spring. The city of Dali, 10 km north of Xiaguan, produces some of the best marble in China. Some houses are made with marble. Dali has the Third-Month Market, when horses, mules, medicines are traded and races are held. Xizhou, just north of Dali, has remarkable Bai architecture, incorporating marble. Songs are sung at courtship rituals, at work, or during ceremonies.

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Site Created: September 16, 1998; Updated: September 23, 2007.