South-West-China: What’s there to see?

China – which places to visit? Given the sheer size and diversity of China this can be a hard decision to make. In order to decide what to visit during your next visit to China we put together a list of interesting travel destination in China. We fully understand the following list of sightseeing spots in China is not complete and probably never will be.

This is an ongoing project as we are adding new destination on a regular base. So please bear with us – should your dream destination not show, please contact us directly for further travel information about a specific location.

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     The best time to visit Babao town is in autumn during the rice harvest or in spring, when rape fields are blooming. About 10km outside of Babao town is the lovely San La Waterfall.

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    The idyllic Zhuang village of Bamei is located about 40km north-west of Guangnan in the south-eastern part of the Yunnan Province. The magnificent landscape around Bamei can be compared with the impressive and famous Karst landscape of Yangshuo.

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    Baoguang Monastery

    Baoguang Monastery Chengdu Travel Information: A visit to the Baoguang Monastery of Chengdu is best combined with the Panda Breeding Station. The Panda Station and the Baoguang Monastery are both located in the north of Chengdu.

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    Baoshan or Yongchang as it was called in the old days is located in south west Yunnan about half way between Dali and Ruili. The city of Baoshan also played an important role during WW II when the Flying Tigers were operating an Airbase in the area.

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    Bingling Grottoes

    On a journey along the Silk Road to Lanzhou, we recommended making a small detour to the Bingling Grottoes south-west of Lanzhou. Work on the fascinating Bingling Caves near Lanzhou began in the late 5th century and is considered as one of the earliest Buddhist stone works in China.

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    Cang Shan Geopark

    Cangshan Geopark located in Yunnan Province in Southwest China west of Dali. The Geopark covers almost the entire Cangshan Mountain Range and is well-known for its biodiversity. By the Ximatan Cable car you can reach almost the top of Cang Shan at over 4000 meters above sea level.

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    Chengdu, the bustling capital of the colorful Sichuan Province, is located in the western section of the fertile Sichuan Basin in western China. Arguably the most prominent inhabitant of Chengdu is the Giant Panda "Bear" in the Panda Breeding Station located on the outskirts of the city.

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    Chongqing is a fascinating place. The bustling capital capital of the Chongqing Municipality is located in the Southeast of the Sichuan Basin at the confluence between the Yangtze River and the Jialing River. The 32 Million people make Chongqing one of the most populated cities in the world.

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    Cizhong, the Tibetan village situated on a sunny terrace above the Mekong River, is mainly famous for its Catholic Church, which was built here in 1846 by French and Swiss missionaries. Apart from the Catholic Church and the Christian faith, the missionaries left another precious thing in Cizhong - the grapes from which wine is still made today.

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    Dali is one of the up and coming tourist locations in Yunnan. It's long and old history makes for a colorful experince, while recent renovation and infrastructure projects make exploring the old town more comfortable and enjoyable.

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    The sleepy town of Damenglong is located about 60km south of Jinghong, the capital of the Xishuangbanna autonomous region. Via the recently finished new road, Damenglong can now be reached within an hour from Jinghong.

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    The magnificent Buddhist Yungang Grottoes are the main reason for a trip to Datong west of Beijing. The Yungang Caves were created in the 5th century during the Northern Wei Dynasty. The easiest way to get to Datong is by bus from Beijing in about 4 hours, or by high-speed train via Taiyuan.

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    The Dazu Rock Carvings are among the best preserved and most impressive rock carvings in the world and are considered to be the best representatives of the latest phase of rock art in China. These exceptional series of rock carvings date from the 9th to the 13th century and consist of over 10’000 cliff side figures.

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    The Tibetan town of Deqin (also called Diqin or Deqen) is located in the North-West of the Yunnan Province at 3500 meters above sea level in a side valley of the Mekong River. Deqin serves as the capital of the Deqin Tibetan Autonomous Region.

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    The idyllic village of Dimaluo is located in a side valley of the Nu Jiang (Nujiang River) Valley in the north-eastern part of the Yunnan province. About 80% of the population are Catholic which is a result of some missionary activities by Swiss and French Jesuit Priests, who arrived in the area around 1850 and 1960.

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    Journey along the Silk Road. The Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang are among the most outstanding Buddhist stone works in the world. The town of Dunhuang is located on the eastern edge of the Taklamakan and was once an important stopover for caravans on the Silk Road.

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    Emei Shan

    Emei Shan is one of the 4 sacred Buddhist Mountains in China and is a popular place for pilgrims, hikers and tourists alike. The visitor awaits lush mountain scenry, plantations of tea trees and a big variety of pavillons and tempels scattered around the mountain. For many travellers, watching the sun come up at this holy mountain is among their most memorable moments in China.

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    Feilai Si

    Feilaisi is located within the Henduan Mountains approximately 10 km southwest of Deqin in the far northwest of the Yunnan Province in southwest China. Feilaisi is nestled high above the Mekong valley at an altitude of 3’300 metres on the road to Lhasa. Enjoy a magnificent sunrise from Feilai Si over the Meili Mountain.

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    Gejiu is located about 70km south-east of Jianshui. Tin extraction has a long tradition in Gejiu, dating back to the Han dynasty. Tin extraction is still the main income of the town today. The fast developing Gejiu is built around the picturesque Gejiu Lake.

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    Green Lake Park

    A visit to the Green Lake Park in Kunming in China, should not be missed during your travels to the Yunnan Province. Green Lake Park marks somewhat the centre of Kunming and is one of the popular recreation areas for the locals. Sit down, relax and watch the local population engaged in their daily workouts.


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    The town of Hekou is located on the Red River (Yuan Jiang) in the south-eastern of the Yunnan province at the border with Vietnam. Hekou is the starting point of the legendary narrow gauge railway that runs from Hekou all the way to Kunming.

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    On a trip to the Hunan province in central China, a visit to the town of Hongjiang should not be missed. Hongjiang is located in the west of the Hunan Province and inspires with an intact and magnificent old town from the Qing Dynasty.

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    Jianshui is located 190 km south of Kunming. Its history dates back to the Jin Dynasty (256-420) and it later became a part of the Ningzhou and Nanzhao Kingdoms.  During the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Jianshui became an important military outpost which resulted in the development of the contemporary town.

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    Jiayuguan on the Silk Road is the westernmost point of the Great Wall. During the Ming Dynasty, the last fortress of the Great Wall of China was built here in the 14th century. West from here began the "Wild West" of China, where the camel caravans set off along the Silk Road for the dangerous crossing of the Taklamaklan Desert towards the west.

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    Jinghong is the capital of Xishuangbanna (Xi Shuang Banna) Dai Autonomous Prefecture. It is located on the southwest bank of the Lancang Jiang. The Lancang Jiang flows past Jinghong in a southerly direction towards Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

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    Located 435 km north of Chengdu in northern Sichuan province, Jiuzhaigou (Jiu Zhai Gou) National Park is without doubt one of the most beautiful Parks in China. The name Jiu Zhai Gou means literally "9-Villages-Valley", standing for the 9 villages which can be found there.

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    Jizu Shan

    Since nearly 1300 years the Jizu Mountain attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over China, including Tibet. Jizu Mountain ranks amongst the 5 most important Buddhist Mountains in China.

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    Kumbum Monastery

    The Kumbum monastery – also called Ta’er Monastery - monastery is located about 1 hour drive southwest of the city of Xining in the Qinghai province. The walled temple complex Kumbum is situated in a valley and was built at the birthplace of Tsonkapa, the founder of the "yellow hat" sect in Tibetan Buddhism.

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    The capital of the Yunnan province is located on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau on 1900 meters above sea level. Because of the all year round pleasant, spring like climate, Kunming was nicknamed “The Spring City”.

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    Laojun Shan National Park

    A visit to Laojun Shan National Park should not be missed on a trip to the Yunnan Province in China. The Laojun Shan National Park is part of the "Three Parallel Rivers" National Park. From Lijiang you can reach the Laojun Shan National Park by car in about 2 hours.

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    Leshan Giant Buddha

    The Giant Buddha of Leshan, at 71 metres high the largest Buddha in the world, is located about  120km south of Chengdu. This colossal Giant Buddha of Leshan was carved into a cliff face overlooking the confluence of the Dadu River and the Min River.

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    The lovely Naxi town of Lijiang is located in a fertile valley 2’400 meters above seal level at the foot of the 5’596 meter high Yulong Shan or Jade Dragon Mountain. The area around Lijiang is inhabited by the Naxi people.

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    The town of Litang is located on the Tibetan Plateau of the Western Sichuan Province at 4060m above sea level. The town itself has a population of about 60’000 people. Litang is the birthplace of the 7rd Dalai Lama (Kelzang Gyatso, 1708-1757) and the 10th Dalai Lama (Tsultrim Gyatso 1816-1837).

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    Lugu Lake

    Lake Lugu Travel Information: The scenic Journey to Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province is a wonderful experience. Lugu Lake is located in the north of Yunnan Province in China, right at the border to Sichuan. The local Mosuo ethnic minority affectionately refer to Lake Luge as the "mother of all lakes". The Mosu (Mosuo or Mosu) are one of the last societies still living in matriarchy today.

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    Luoyang, famous for its Longmen Buddhist caves, has a history of about 3000 years. A trip to historically important Luoyang has become even easier thanks to the new CRH high-speed trains. Luoyang is one of the six old cities of China and is also known as the city of the peony flower.

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    Mati Monastery

    The city of Zhangye in Gansu Province is located on the Silk Road in the Hexi Corridor. Zhangye is a good starting point for an excursion to Mati Si (Horse Hoof Temple) and Zhangye Danxia Geopark. The town of Zhangye dates from the 2nd century and, during the Ming Dynasty, was once a garrison town for soldiers guarding the Great Wall of China.

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    Menghan (Ganlanba)

    The Dai village of Menghan, which is also called Ganlanba, is a favourite stop-over for tourist buses from Jinghong to Menglun’s Botanical Garden.

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    The sleepy town of Menglong is located about 60km south of Jinghong, the capital of the Xishuangbanna autonomous region. Via the recently finished new road, Damenglong can now be reached within an hour from Jinghong.

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    Menglun is located about 75km southeast of Jinghong on the banks of the Luosuo River, a tributary of the Lancang Jiang (Mekong River). The main attraction of Menglun is the beautiful Menglun Tropical Garden.

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    Mingyong Glacier

    Hike up to Mingyong Glacier. A 3 hour easy hike takes you up to Taizi Temple, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Mingyong Glacier. For those who still feel energy, you can climb up to the Lianhua Temple.

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    Located on the northern shores of Qilu Hu (Qilu Lake), Najiaying is home of the Hui Muslim community. The town still has many traditional old buildings, some of them from the Yuan Dynasty. Apart from the Hui Muslims, the area around Qilu Hu (Qilu Lake) is home for Mongol, Yi, Dai and Hani ethnic minority groups.

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    Nuodeng Travel Information: The village Nuodeng in the Yunnan province was during the Ming and Qing dynasties the center of salt production in the southwest of China. The salt from Nuodeng was of such good quality that it was even exported to the Emperor's Palace in Beijing. Salt production brought Nuodeng considerable wealth, which is still reflected today in the numerous splendid houses and the magnificent "Jade Emperor Pavilion".

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    Pingyao Travel Information: The historic town of Pingyao, located in the Shanxi Province, just about 4 hours from Beijing by highspeed Train. It is a special experience to stroll along the cobbled stone streets and visit some of the old, well-preserved mansions of the once wealthy merchants of Pingyao. The first bank in China was founded in Pingyao.

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    Ruili is located in south-west Yunnan on the banks of the Ruili River, which marks the border between China and Myanmar. The bustling border town is a fascinating place to visit, mainly because of it’s cultural and ethnic diversity.

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    The traditional Bai village of Shaxi (Sideng) is located about 110 km southwest of Lijiang in the stunning surroundings of the Shaxi Valley. Shaxi (Sideng) was formerly an important pivotal stop on the Tea and Horse trail from Yunnan to Tibet.

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    Von Shaxi aus ist der Eingang zum Shibao Berg (Shi Bao Shan) mit dem Auto in 15 Minuten zu erreichen, zu Fuss braucht man etwa 2 Stunden. Der Shibao Berg (Shi Bao Shan) befindet sich 12 km nördlich von Shaxi und bietet einige herrliche Wandermöglichkeiten.

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    The impressive Shimenguan Gorge is located about 1 hour’s drive from the old town of Dali on the western side of the Cang Mountains in Yunnan Province. The Shimenguan Gorge is part of the Cang Shan Geopark. Shimenguan Gorge can be easily visited during a day trip from Dali or as a stopover on your way to Shaxi or Nuodeng in Yunnan.

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    For those who find Lijiang too much of a tourist place, the Naxi village of Shuhe might be just the right place to visit. Located a 10 minutes drive north of Lijiang, this laid back, sleepy Naxi village is a good place to hang out for an afternoon.

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    Sichuan Province, China

    Sichuan travel information: The Sichuan Province in western China is one of the most exciting provinces in China in terms of scenery, culture and cuisine. The fascinating Tibetan highlands of West Sichuan, the holy Emei Mountain and the salt wells of Zigong are just some of the highlights of a trip to the Sichuan province in China.

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    Stone Forest of Lunan

    Travel information Stone Forest of Lunan, Shilin. The magnificent Stone Forest of Lunan Shilin is located about 100km west of Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province. The journey to the Stone Forest of Lunan takes about 1.5 hours by car from Kunming and 20 minutes by train from Kunming main railway station.

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    Tagong travel information: The laid-back town of Tagong is located at 3700m on the Tibetan Plateau of West Sichuan in China. The rolling hills with the seemingly endless grasslands with the grazing Yaks stand in a vast contrast to the snow-capped mountains in the distance and dark blue skies.

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    Tengchong was once a staging post on the “Tea and Horse Road” a branch the southern Silk Route in South West Yunnan. Due to its location and its wealth, the British decided to build a Consulate in Tengchong in 1899. 

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    The Golden Temple

    Kunming Travel Information: Jin Dian, The Golden Temple. Dedicated to Zhen Wu the Jin Dian or Golden Temple sits on top of a small hill in the north of Kunming. On Weekends Jin Dian or Golden Temple is a popular recreation spot for the local population of Kunming.

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    Three Parallel Rivers National Park

    This vast complex comprises eight clusters of largely mountain protected areas in northwest Yunnan, between which the 2,000m deep gorges of the upper Yangtze (Jinsha Jiang), Mekong (Lancang Jiang) and Salween (Nu Jiang) rivers run parallel for over 300 km.

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    Tonghai is located south-east of Yuxi on the southern shores of picturesque Qilu Lake. Tonghai (Tong Hai) can look back on a long history. It was once part of the Dian Kingdom and later became a military and economic centre for the powerful Dali Kingdom.

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    Located 52 kilometers south of Dali, the picturesque town of Weishan used to be an important and wealthy trading town during the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom throughout the 8th and 9th century.

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    Western Mountains

    Located a 30 Minutes drive outside Kunming, the Western Mountains (Xi Shan) offer spectacular views over the “Spring City” of Kunming and Dian Chi Lake. For those who like it comfortable, there is a chair lift going to the top. There are some nice walking trails leading to the top.

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    With its long history, Xian is one of the most important and outstanding sites in China, both culturally and historically. The tomb of Qin Shi Huang, which has been guarded by his terracotta army for over 2000 years, ranks amongst the most significant archaeological sites in China.

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    Aus historischer Sicht ist Xingmeng von besonderem Interesse, da es die einzige “Mongolische Stadt” in der Yunnan Provinz ist. Die Anfänge von Xingmeng gehen auf das Jahr 1253 zurück, als die ersten Mongolen mit Kublai Khan in die Region vorstiessen.

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    For most visitors to China the main reason for travelling to Xining is the Kumbum or Ta'er Monastery, the birthplace of Tsongkapa, the founder of the Yellow Cap School of Tibetan Buddhism. The nearby Qinghai Lake and the Muslim Quarter of Xining are other worthwhile places to visit during a trip to Xining in Qinghai Province.

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    Xishuangbanna (Xi Shuang Banna)

    Xishuangbanna (Xi Shuang Banna) is the southern most autonomous prefecture of the Yunnan province and covers an area of 19’700km2 which is about half the size of Switzerland. It shares its border with Myanmar to the south-west and Laos to the south-east. 

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    Yading National Park

    The best time to travel to Yading National Park in the western Sichuan Province is from March to October. In the center of the beautiful Yading National Park are the three holy, snow-capped mountains Chenresig, Chana Dorje and Rigsum Gonpo, which tower over 6000m into the dark blue sky of West Sichuan.

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    Travel information Yangshuo: Arguably one of the most impressive landscapes of China can be found around the city of Yangshuo in the Guangxi province in the south of China. The karst hills around Yangshuo have even made it up to the 20 RMB banknote of the China Central Bank.

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    Yuanyang Rice Terraces

    Set amongst amazing scenery high above the Red River Valley, Yuanyang is the starting point for a visit to arguably the most beautiful rice terraces in Asia. The Yuanyang rice terraces have been carved out of the Ailao Mountains over hundreds of years by Hani farmers living in the area.

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    Hiking up to Yubeng village in front of the majestic mountain scenery of the 6740m Mt. Kawa Karpo is a fascinating experience. The village of Yubeng is hidden in a side valley of the Mekong River in Yunnan Province. Hiking to Yubeng from the Mekong River takes about 5 hours. Yubeng is an ideal base for various hikes in the magnificent mountain scenery of northern Yunnan.


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    Yuhu Village

    Travel to Yuhu Village, Yunnan: The idyllic village of Yuhu is located north of Lijiang in the Yunnan province at the foot of the 5596m high Jade Dragon Mountain. In the 1930's and 40's the village Yuhu served the Austrian/American botanist Joseph Rock as a base for his expeditions.

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    Yunlong is in the northwest of Yunnan Province. Yunlong literally means "cloud dragon". At Yunlong the Bijiang River makes a kind of double loop, which resembles a "Taijitu" from Taoism. Yunlong is also the starting point for the historical Bai village of Nuodeng, which during the Ming and Qing period became remarkably prosperous through the production and trade of salt. 

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    Yunnan Province, China

    As a travel destination, the Yunnan Province in South-West China is one of the most thrilling and divers Provinces of all China. From the 6700m snow capped peaks in the north to the subtropical jungles in the south, the Yunnan Province is one of the most abundant Provinces in China.

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    Yuxi is located in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, about 100km south of Kunming on the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau. Agriculture is the town’s main income. The fertile soil and the mild subtropical monsoon climate make the area also an ideal place for growing good quality Tobacco.

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    Zhangjiajie National Park

    The magical Zhangjiajie National Park is located in the south of Hunan province in Central China. The Zhangjiajie National Park consists of two parts. On the one hand the Tianmenshan, whose summit can be reached with a cable car from the city of Zhangjianjie, and Wulingyuan with the Tianzishan.

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    The city of Zhangye in Gansu Province is located on the Silk Road in the Hexi Corridor. Zhangye is a good starting point for an excursion to Mati Si (Horse Hoof Temple) and Zhangye Danxia Geopark. The town of Zhangye dates from the 2nd century and, during the Ming Dynasty, was once a garrison town for soldiers guarding the Great Wall of China.

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    Zhangye Danxia Geopark

    During a journey along the Silk Road a stop at the Zhangye Danxia Geopark in Gansu Province should not be missed. The Zhangye Danxia Geopark is located 30km west of the city of Zhangye in the Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province in western China.

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    Zhongdian (Shangri-La)

    Zhongdian (Tibetan: Gyelthang) is situated in north-west Yunnan on the edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.  In 2001 the local government decided to rename Zhongdian “Shangri-La”, after the mysterious "Shangri-La" described by the British writer James Hilton in his novel "The Lost Horizon" published in 1933.

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    The city of Zigong is located in the south-eastern part of the Sichuan Province in the Sichuan Basin at an altitude of 305 metres above sea level. For centuries Zigong was has been an important and wealthy town because of its huge underground salt wells.