Do you want to get away from crowds of tourists and see the real Yunnan? We highly recommend these five exceptional places off the beaten track. All of them have very well preserved traditional architecture, twisted alleyways and relaxed local lifestyle.
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Old Towns of Yunnan
Some 70 km south of famous Dali Old Town, a cozy, picturesque and secluded little city is located: Weishan (巍山). Not as famous but also not as crowded as the ancient centers of Dali, Lijiang or Shangri-La, Weishan's old town enjoys a long history as well as a great diversity of culture.
As a small city in Yunnan's very west, Tengchong is known best for its hot springs, the volcanic and geothermal surroundings as well as Heshun Ancient Town. But one more thing should not be missed on a visit close to the Myanmar border: the local jade art, unique and excellent in its kind!
Yunnan Province is famous for its numerous old towns. Some of them have been renovated, rebuilt and made pretty for visitors from all over the world. Many people have heard of the old towns in charming Lijiang, cozy Dali or vivid Jianshui. Ever heard of Zhouzheng (州城) though?
While the Stone Forest is widely known to visitors from all over the world, only few of them have ever heard of nearby old and cozy Danuhei Village. This little hamlet is home to the local Sani ethnic minority and a visit can easily be connecterd to a day trip to the Stone Forest Scenic Area.
The old Naxi town of Baoshan Stone Village (宝山石头城) is worth a visit when you're around the area of Lijiang. Nestled at the banks of the Yangtze River (here known as the Jinsha River), Baoshan is home to about hundred families who have built their houses on a mushroom-shaped giant rock.
Located at the southern end of the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage Site, cozy Nuodeng Village is nestled at the banks of Bijiang River, which is known for it's beautiful winding bends here. Nuodeng is one of the earliest economic centers of the local Bai minority.
The ancient village of Chengzi is another yet barely known but very beautiful little hamlet in Yunnan's remote south-east, close to Wenshan. It's worth a visit not only due to its location but also because of its house construction style, combining the influence of the Yi and Han.
Situated right south of Dali and the Er'hai Lake, Weishan City is still an insider tipp, a bit off the beaten track and at the same time relatively easy to reach. Once a year in spring, people from the area gather to celebrate and offer their 小吃 (xiao chi) - snacks!
The quite fameless Old Town of Heijing - today one of the nicest in Yunnan - used to be famous for the high-quality salt which was produced there since hundreds of years. The once most important town of Yunnan is hidden at the banks of Longchuan River and is waiting to be explored!