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Lijiang
Lijiang
@HiddenChina

Grand Yunnan Road Trip

Kunming - Xizhou - Shaxi - Lijiang - Lugu - Shangri-La - Meili Snow Mountain - Jiabie - Tacheng

Expect on your Grand Yunnan Road Trip Itinerary

Landscape
Benefit-stress ratio
Culture
Historical sites
Security
Wildlife
Urban life
Comfort
Tap to move
  • Motorhome Site
  • Hotels
  • Beach
  • Culture
  • Historical sites
  • Landscape
  • Camping
  • Restaurants
13 Stages 1,215 mi 2.6 h/stage

Best months to drive Grand Yunnan Road Trip in China

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII

Grand 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!

13 number of days
1,215 mi route length
moderate budget
tourist good for
on the right traffic direction
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.

Yunnan Mountains Yunnan Mountains

  Kunming
Distance: 1,215 mi, Driving time: 36.3 h, Pace: modest
Airports: KMG

Arrival at the International Kunming Airport

Kunming - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Kunming - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

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 - Xizhou
Distance: 212 mi, Driving time: 4.3 h, Pace: fast
junction of road trips accommodation options trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

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.

Xizhou - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Xizhou - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

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 Xizhou - Shaxi
Distance: 79 mi, Driving time: 2.0 h, Pace: fast
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

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

Shaxi - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Shaxi - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

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: 63 mi, Driving time: 1.6 h, Pace: fast
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

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

Lijiang - China - Asia - Road Trip - commons.wikimedia.org Lijiang - China - Asia - Road Trip - commons.wikimedia.org

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 - Yulong - Lijiang
Distance: 26 mi, Driving time: 1.4 h, Pace: slow
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

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
Distance: 120 mi, Driving time: 3.4 h, Pace: modest
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

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

Lugu - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Lugu - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

6 Lugu - Dazu - Lugu
Distance: 31 mi, Driving time: 1.5 h, Pace: slow
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

7 Lugu - Lijiang
Distance: 116 mi, Driving time: 3.3 h, Pace: modest
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

8 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri-La
Distance: 123 mi, Driving time: 3.7 h, Pace: modest
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

Shangri-La - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Shangri-La - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

9 Shangri-La - Songzanlin - Shangri-La
Distance: 7 mi, Driving time: 0.4 h, Pace: slow
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

10 Shangri-La - Meili Snow Mountain
Distance: 125 mi, Driving time: 3.3 h, Pace: fast
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

Meili Snow Mountain - China - Asia - Road Trip - Pikrepo Meili Snow Mountain - China - Asia - Road Trip - Pikrepo

11 Meili Snow Mountain - Jiabie
Distance: 26 mi, Driving time: 2.1 h, Pace: slow
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

Jiabie - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Jiabie - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

12 Jiabie - Cizhong - Weixi - Tacheng
Distance: 158 mi, Driving time: 5.8 h, Pace: modest
trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

Tacheng - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons Tacheng - China - Asia - Road Trip - Wikimedia Commons

13 Tacheng - Lijiang
Distance: 128 mi, Driving time: 3.5 h, Pace: modest
UNESCO World Heritage Site interesting  historic site trip plan ↓ See stage route on map

  Lijiang
Airports: LJG

Grand 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 37mph. Outside the cities, travellers can travel at the maximum allowed speed of 50mph. On highways, 75mph 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 190 GBP. Economy accommodation options can cost holidayers roughly 428 GBP. Holidaymakers should also remember about the fact that they will spend approximately 396 GBP for food and restaurants in this option. Travellers will have to pay around 1,649 GBP 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 1,014 GBP to approximately 2,663 GBP.
Holidayers who are looking for greater comfort and the standard option will pay about 243 GBP 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 726 GBP. Holidaymakers can expect that the standard option in terms of food and restaurants will cost around 528 GBP. Travellers who want to cover the tour in a standard hire vehicle can expect a cost of approximately 4,947 GBP. Summing up the standard offer, the estimated cost of the road trip will total about 6,443 GBP for holidaymakers who would like to try vehicle hire and 1,496 GBP 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 9,595 GBP for holidaymakers who are considering car hire and 1,496 GBP 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 6,925 GBP. When it comes to the top standard version of the itinerary, the gasoline cost will be up to roughly 307 GBP. Drivers who are interested in top services in all aspects of their itinerary should expect to pay about 791 GBP for food and restaurants and more or less 1,572 GBP for overnight stays.
Grand Yunnan Road Trip is also an excellent opportunity for all camper fans. The service of camper rental costs around 2,473 GBP. If you are wondering about the gasoline costs for the whole road trip, they will amount to more or less 370 GBP. Tourists who choose camper hire should expect to pay about 307 GBP for accommodation and around 396 GBP 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 Grand 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.
  • Road Trip Costs
  • How much does it cost to go on a Grand Yunnan Road Trip in China?
  • Economy
    Low budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
    • rent & more 1,649 GBP
    • drive & more 190 GBP
    • sleep & more 428 GBP
    • eat & more 396 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,014 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 2,663 GBP
  • Standard
    Mid budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
    • rent & more 4,947 GBP
    • drive & more 243 GBP
    • sleep & more 726 GBP
    • eat & more 528 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,496 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 6,443 GBP
  • Premium
    High budget options by car rental, accommodation and catering. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
    • rent & more 6,925 GBP
    • drive & more 307 GBP
    • sleep & more 1,572 GBP
    • eat & more 791 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) 2,670 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 9,595 GBP
  • Camper
    On the road in RV, overnight at camp grounds with self cooking. In- and Out-bound travel expenses are not included.
    • rent & more 2,473 GBP
    • drive & more 370 GBP
    • sleep & more 307 GBP
    • eat & more 396 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) 1,073 GBP
    • Total (est. for 2 prs.) incl. rented car 3,546 GBP

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Facts for safer driving in China

drink drive limit
0.2
max speed urban
37 mph
max speed rural
50 mph
max speed highway
75 mph
headlights at daytime
on
fire extinguisher
yes
tolls
yes
seat belts
yes