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Yunnan Road Trip

Kunming - Dali - Shaxi - Lijiang - Lugu Lake - Shangri-La - Meili Snow Mountain - Yunling - Tacheng

Expect on your itinerary

Landscape Landscape
Benefit-stress ratio Benefit-stress ratio
Culture Culture
Historical sites Historical sites
Security Security
Wildlife Wildlife
Urban life Urban life
Comfort Comfort
Yunnan Road Trip ACTIVATE MAP Stages13 km1,908 h/stage2.4

Best months to drive


Road Trip Costs

How much does it cost to go on a Yunnan Road Trip in China?

Low budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
rent & more 1,950EUR drive & more 213EUR sleep & more 506EUR eat & more 468EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,187EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 3,137EUR
Mid budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
rent & more 5,850EUR drive & more 288EUR sleep & more 858EUR eat & more 624EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,770EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 7,620EUR
High budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
rent & more 8,190EUR drive & more 363EUR sleep & more 1,859EUR eat & more 936EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) 3,158EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 11,348EUR
On the road in RV, overnight at camp grounds with self-catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
rent & more 2,925EUR drive & more 425EUR sleep & more 363EUR eat & more 468EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,256EUR Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 4,181EUR
Car rental Book hotel Flights

Yunnan Road Trip Itinerary

Grand Yunnan Road Trip is undoubtedly one of the most interesting road trips in China. The route passes through Kunming, Logu Lake, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangri La, Lijang and is one of the most picturesque routes in China. The route described in this article is recommended for 13 days of travel, but depending on your free time, you can also complete even in 7 days. Of course, if we are tempted by the charm of the Chinese landscapes, you can easily stay longer in this enchanting region. We will have almost 1500 miles to travel, and on average we will spend around 5 hours a day driving. Ready for the journey? Let's go!

number of days 13 number of days
route length 1,908 km route length
budget moderate budget
good for tourist good for
traffic direction on the right traffic direction
accident level moderate accident level

On the way you can admire an undoubtedly breathtaking nature. It has been evaluated by our travelers for the maximum number of points. It is also an option where we can see a lot of nice places for a reasonable price. However, we cannot expect great comfort in the hotels we meet on the way. It is rather a budget option with a minimum of amenities, but with a great value for money. In addition, the whole region is relatively safe. A small number of accidents and right-hand traffic make the route suitable also for less experienced drivers. The best period to travel in this region is from May to September.

START Kunming

Distance 1,908 km Driving time 31.4 h Pace: modest 496.2 kWh Airports KMG

Arrival at the International Kunming Airport

Your journey will probably start at the Kunming airport. If you are after a long flight, it is worthwhile to relax before continuing your journey. 

In Kunming, you can visit some interesting historical sites as:

  • Yunnan Nationalities Village Benzilam
  • Kunming Dragon Gate
  • Yuantong Temple
  • Kunming Golden Temple

This area is also famous for its wonderful nature, if you have time, you should visit one of these places:

  • Gren Lake (Cui Hu)
  • Dian Lake (Dian Chu)
  • Kunming West Hill (Xishan Forest Park)
  • Kunming World Expo
  • Dongchuan Red Land

You can rent a car directly at the airport or in the city center. If you are planning a trip immediately after your arrival, it is recommended to rent a direct car at the airport. If you want to start your journey by spending a few days in the city, you can rent a car in the center just before your trip. In the city itself, you will not need a car because there is very well organized public transportation. 

1 Kunming - Dali

Distance 345 km Driving time 3.8 h Pace: fast 103.5 kWh View map Itinerary
junction of road trips accommodation options

If you already explored the city of Kunming and you are ready to begin your adventure, we will start our road trip from Kunming to Xizhou.

Before we get to Xizhou, it is absolutely necessary to stop in the city of Dali. It has an amazing old town with its famous monument The Three Pagodas – a must see historical site on this route. It should take us about 4.5 hours to cover this 212-mile distance, driving at a speed of around about 47 mph. In Xizhou we will stop for the first night on this route. We can use the evening for a walk in the old town and try traditional Chinese cuisine in a local place.

2 Dali - Shaxi

Distance 125 km Driving time 2.5 h Pace: modest 32.6 kWh View map Itinerary

Another day of our Chinese adventure! Charge your camera or smartphone, cause you will need it to take another amazing pictures!

In Xizhou it is worth to visit the local market, which is certainly an attraction of the city. Afterwards we will continue our journey to the city of Shaxi. It will take only 2.5 hours, so we will still have a lot of time to visit this place. On the spot, after 64 miles of driving, we will visit a fascinating old town.

3 Shaxi - Lijiang

Distance 102 km Driving time 1.6 h Pace: fast 30.6 kWh View map Itinerary
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site

From Shaxi we will go to another picturesque city - Lijang. 

The old town is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We do not have to leave early in the morning, because we have only 65 miles to go. This trip should take us less than 2 hours. Once we arrive in town, we will have plenty of time to go for a walk through the charming streets of the old town and buy souvenirs.

One of the most important historical sites to visit in Lijang:

  • Shuhe Ancient Ton
  • Black Dragon Pond Park
  • Lufu Palace
  • Lugu Lake
  • Square Street (Sifangije)
  • Lijang Mural in Naisha Village

Don’t forget to visit as well Lashi Lake and the World Heritage Park of Lijang. One of the most beautiful landscapes in this region.

4 Lijiang - Lijiang

Distance 40 km Driving time 1.1 h Pace: slow 9.3 kWh View map Itinerary
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site

From Lijiang we are going to drive around 1.4 hour to Yulong. We will visit Yulong Snow Mountain Area. A must-see in this region is to assist Impression Naxi Show. You should also visit Jade Dragon Mountain and Glacier Park. On the way, you can take pictures of the famous Lijang Spruce Plain. Don’t forget to have a short break to visit the Baisha Ancient Town.

5 Lijiang - Lugu Lake

Distance 189 km Driving time 3.2 h Pace: modest 49.2 kWh View map Itinerary

Drive from Lijiang to the Lugu Lake area and admire the beautiful nature.

6 Lugu Lake - Lugu Lake

Distance 49 km Driving time 1.3 h Pace: slow 11.3 kWh View map Itinerary
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site

7 Lugu Lake - Lijiang

Distance 187 km Driving time 3.1 h Pace: fast 56.0 kWh View map Itinerary
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site

8 Lijiang - Shangri-La

Distance 191 km Driving time 2.9 h Pace: fast 57.3 kWh View map Itinerary

9 Shangri-La - Shangri-La

Distance 12 km Driving time 0.4 h Pace: slow 2.7 kWh View map Itinerary

10 Shangri-La - Meili Snow Mountain

Distance 198 km Driving time 3.3 h Pace: modest 51.5 kWh View map Itinerary

11 Meili Snow Mountain - Yunling

Distance 27 km Driving time 0.6 h Pace: modest 7.1 kWh View map Itinerary

12 Yunling - Tacheng

Distance 243 km Driving time 4.5 h Pace: modest 63.1 kWh View map Itinerary

13 Tacheng - Lijiang

Distance 200 km Driving time 3.0 h Pace: fast 59.9 kWh View map Itinerary
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site



Yunnan Road Trip Summary

We’d be glad if our adventure idea gave you plenty of inspirations for your future trips.
The plan we’ve prepared can be used as a template that you can recreate in its entirety or only partially and that can be enriched with diverse beauty spots of your choice.
If car travel is a means of travel that you prefer, there are a number of essential road rules to follow and a number of elements to be mindful of to make your adventure safe. These tips will surely become useful for travellers who are considering vehicle hire or camper rental.
In China, there are a number of traffic rules to be remembered while sightseeing. To be on the safe side, try to avoid alcohol at any cost. Remember that the allowed level of alcohol in blood is rather low and equals only 0.2‰. The maximum speed around the city is 60km/h. Outside the cities, travellers can travel at the maximum allowed speed of 80km/h. On highways, 120km/h is the permissible speed that you should be mindful of. Driving with your headlights on at daytime and equipping your vehicle with a first aid kit and fire extinguisher heavily increase the safety of you and your passengers.
But what are the costs of the whole trip. Depending on the budget option that you select, the amount of money that you have to spend during the whole itinerary may vary. Check out the available budget possibilities.
We estimate that the cheapest offer when it comes to gasoline to cover the planned 14 stages while travelling around China may amount to 213 EUR. Economy accommodation options can cost holidayers roughly 506 EUR. Holidaymakers should also remember about the fact that they will spend approximately 468 EUR for food and restaurants in this option. Travellers will have to pay around 1,950 EUR if they aim for the budget rental car option as well. Thus, going for vehicle rental will increase the costs of the road trip from more or less 1,187 EUR to approximately 3,137 EUR.
Holidayers who are looking for greater comfort and the standard option will pay about 288 EUR for the fuel needed to cover the itinerary. If you are into standard accommodation options, expect that the expenses may amount up to more or less 858 EUR. Holidaymakers can expect that the standard option in terms of food and restaurants will cost around 624 EUR. Travellers who want to cover the tour in a standard hire vehicle can expect a cost of approximately 5,850 EUR. Summing up the standard offer, the estimated cost of the road trip will total about 7,620 EUR for holidaymakers who would like to try vehicle hire and 1,770 EUR for those who are not interested in rental.
The highest level of comfort of the premium option will live up to the expectations of the most demanding holidaymakers. When it comes to this offer, the estimated cost of the road trip will total roughly 11,348 EUR for holidaymakers who are considering car hire and 1,770 EUR for those who do not need a hire vehicle. Travellers who would like to cover the trip in a premium hire vehicle can expect a cost of around 8,190 EUR. When it comes to the top standard version of the itinerary, the gasoline cost will be up to roughly 363 EUR. Drivers who are interested in top services in all aspects of their itinerary should expect to pay about 936 EUR for food and restaurants and more or less 1,859 EUR for overnight stays.
Yunnan Road Trip is also an excellent opportunity for all camper fans. The service of camper rental costs around 2,925 EUR. If you are wondering about the gasoline costs for the whole road trip, they will amount to more or less 425 EUR. Tourists who choose camper hire should expect to pay about 363 EUR for accommodation and around 468 EUR for expenses connected with food.
The section Road Trip Costs shows all the above details in a simple way.
The mentioned 14 stages stages are perfect for exploration in a car or camper between May and September. If Yunnan Road Trip has inspired you, our website is rife with beautiful road adventures. The great versatility of trips will surely meet the expectations of the most demanding tourists.

Facts for safer driving in China

drink drive limit drink drive limit 0.2
max speed urban max speed urban 60 km/h
max speed rural max speed rural 80 km/h
max speed highway max speed highway 120 km/h
headlights at daytime headlights at daytime on
fire extinguisher fire extinguisher yes
tolls tolls yes
seat belts seat belts yes

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