Yunnan tourist trail

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Someone's Moving Castle

This itinerary describes a popular north-bound route along national highway G214, known in Chinese as 滇藏线. This route covers some of lushest scenery and best preserved traditional cities in Yunnan. There are other popular destinations in Yunnan which are not covered here, notably the tropical paradise Xishuangbanna in the south at the Laotian border and the trip west toward Ruili at the border with Myanmar.
The northern end of this route is in a largely Tibetan-speaking area that was once part of the Tibetan province of Kham and today is right on the border of Tibet, so this route can be part of an Overland to Tibet journey.
The big attractions of this route are as follows:
The route is mostly uphill. The starting point, Kunming, is at 2000 meters (nearly 7,000 feet), already considerably higher than Britain's highest peak Ben Nevis or America's "mile high city" of Denver, Colorado. From there, each stop is higher, all the way to Deqin which is at 3500 m (roughly 11,5500 feet), about the same as Lhasa or Cuzco. It is certainly necessary to be cautious about altitude sickness on this route, but most travellers will be just fine if they spend a few days in each major destination, giving their bodies time to acclimatise before going higher.
Most travellers will find it easy to schedule in a way that avoids altitude sickness, since the various places on the route are all interesting and they feel quite different to the traveler:
What they all have in common are mountainous scenery, interesting architecture, ethnic minorities and lovely handicrafts — wood, silver and especially fabric items.

Getting to Kunming

Kunming to Dali

Dali to Lijiang

Lijiang to Zhongdian

Zhongdian to Deqin

Beyond Deqin