Take a tour of of the Yuantong Temple, considered the most famous Buddhist temple in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.  Unlike other Buddhist temples into which you ascend, Yuantong is unique in that you enter into the temple grounds from above and descend from the city streets along a garden path and into the center, a large pond with wondrous stone bridges and surrounded by magnificent buildings.

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Dali old town in China full of surprises, culture and history

On our entire trip through the Yunnan province in China, monks were irresistible subjects. Mostly they were quick to get out of the way of photos, and you had to be quick at stealing a snap. These two, though, were casually strolling down the street in Dali old town.

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Discover Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang

The waters of the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang come from a spring fed by Jade Dragon Snow Mountain that serves as a picturesque and often-photographed backdrop to the pool on clear days. Within the park are ancient monuments such as the Longshen Temple, the Deyue Pavilion, the Suocui Bridge and the Hanyue Stage.

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What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

Old town Lijiang is not unlike Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco in its tourist-trap draw; however, as you will see in this video, like Fisherman’s Wharf, if you look, you will find plenty of history and beauty amid the almost unimaginable concentration of shops and vendors. The maze of streets and canals of old town Lijiang invites you to get happily lost — and lost you will get. Hopefully, the sound of running water from the many canals will serve as a soothing backdrop to the press of tourism from mostly Chinese tourists. If you were wondering what to see in Lijiang, this video is a good place to start.

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What to do in Lijiang, China – 3 insider travel tips

Wondering what to do in Lijiang? Lijiang earned its UNESCO world heritage listing in large part because, until a massive earthquake in 1996, it was a picture-perfect example of a traditional Naxi village. However, the rebuilding process has taken its toll on...
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Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

It was while wandering old town Lijiang with iPad in hand that I became fascinated with the colors and textures of an old restaurant with the word “whiskey” emblazoned over its windows. I am not really sure what street I was on as I had been happily wandering for several hours in this tangled world of artistic inspiration.

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Supreme Dr. Ho Shi Xiu holds court in Baisha Village near Lijiang

Dr. Ho Shi Xiu has turned himself into a destination in the center of Baisha Village. He still works as a medicine man and herbalist but, our guide warned us, do not buy anything since he is very expensive. Talking to him and taking photos is free. And Dr. Ho does love to talk in his rather broken English.

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Pray for peace: Riot of colorful prayer flags in Shangri-la

Most tourists end up on the Shangri-la main square where the huge golden Prayer Wheel and glittering Golden temple sit. Amazing, yes. But I had been eyeing a small temple I could not quite make out on a low hill on the edge of town. “What is that?” I kept asking and never quite got a satisfactory reply. Michael and I headed up and out of town on our break, thinking we’d just explore a little bit. And what a fantastic temple it was.

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Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming

A UNESCO World Heritage site in part since 2007, the Stone Forest (“Shilin” in Chinese) in the Yunnan province of China is considered to be a unique natural wonder and represents one of the best examples of karst rock formations in the world. Simply put, it is magical, mystical place where culture, legend, and natural history share the stage with limestone rock formations that will delight visitors of any age.

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Map of China

In the map below, pins mark the location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on China. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information. 

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Michael Hodgson

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Born to British parents in Canada, Michael Hodgson had been schlepped back and forth across the pond since he was a toddler. In college, he took the big leap and spent a few months in Kenya – and never looked back. His biology major somehow led him into a writing career, focusing on the outdoors, hiking and gear testing. Building on his lifetime of travel with travel writing was a natural, although he still loves to seek out the wilder side of a mountain – or a city -- for a good story. Michael also is a partner in a consulting business (www.NewNormalConsulting.com) built on a passion to help specialty businesses and brands succeed both domestically and internationally.
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