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Yunnan Traditional Games

Like watching sports? What if you could combine your love for sports with your desire for traveling?

Yunnan has 26 different ethnic groups, a lot of which have developed their own sporting events and games.

​Tibetan Horse Riding

Although  horse riding can be found all over the world, Tibetan and Mongolian people have taken horse riding to a whole new level. Every year during the summer, riding competitions are organized in the Tibentan regions of north-east Yunnan. There are not only races, but also horseback archery, horseback acrobatics and a whole range of different games. During these events Tibetan, Chinese and foreign visitors also share bowls of yak butter tea and barley wine while looking at colorful traditional dancing performances.

If you are interested in riding a horse at 3200 meters altitude, take a look at our Shangri-La tours.


Crossbow is another very popular sport in Yunnan. It can be found in a lot of different ethnic groups like Miao, Lisu, Wa, Zhuang, Dulong, etc. as they've used crossbows to hunt small game and birds in the mountains for centuries. Although hunting is now illegal, they still practice their archery skills in local competitions. In Nujiang you can also find craftsmen who make and sell crossbows at local markets.

Spinning Top


We all used to play with spinning tops when we were kids. But what do you think of Yunnan's big wooden spinning tops? They can weigh up to 2 kilograms. You can play a lot of different games with spinning tops. One of the post popular is called "Hit the Top". For this game you need both accuracy and skill because the goal is to throw your top accurately and knock down the adversairies top while your own top keeps on turning inside the circle.

You can find people spinning tops in some squares or parks in Kunming and other smaller cities in Yunnan.

​Plank Shoes

This sport was invented by the Zhuang ethnic group 400 years ago. They used it to train soldiers to work together and be united. In Chinese it’s called banxie, which can be literally translated as plank shoes. It consists of two wooden planks that can be used as shoes by three people, but it’s not as easy as it seems because they need to be perfectly coordinated to be able to run without falling down.

Want to try these out?! Check out our tours, design your own or get in touch with us for more information!