8-Day Photography Tour of South-East Yunnan

This tour is designed with the budding photographer in mind. Over the 8 days you will have the chance to shoot three spectacular landscapes: the Hani-sculptured rice terraces at Yuanyang, the labyrinth of stone pillars at Lunan’s Stone Forest and the golden beauty of the canola fields around Luoping. There will also be ample opportunity for people photography at the markets, in the fields and around the villages you visit.

Tour starts/ends: Kunming
Fitness level required: Average
Time of year available: Anytime
Time of year recommended:
January-March for Yuanyang, mid-February to mid-March for the rapeseed flowers at Luoping. If travelling in either May or Sept-Oct we suggest replacing Luoping with Hongtudi (Red Soil Grassland), another favourite for photographers.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Kunming-Jianshui (L, D)
Travel for approximately 5 hours from Kunming to Jianshui. Situated 220km south-east of Kunming, this town with a history of 1180 years is home to the Hani and Yi minorities. Visit Wen Miao, the second largest Confuscian Temple in China, built in the Yuan Dynasty with a history of 700 years. In the evening, we climb the Chaoyang Gateway Arch (known as the ‘Miniature Tiananmen’) to drink tea and listen to the local folk singing. Overnight in Jianshui.

Day 2: Around Jianshui (B, L, D)
In the morning visit the Zhu Family Garden, an expansive Qing dynasty residence with 214 rooms and 42 yards. We also visit nearby Tuanshan village, one of the few remaining medieval, fortified villages in south-West China, with its small, cobbled lanes, 900 year old houses and beautiful carvings. Drive along a bumpy road (125km, 3 hours) to Yuanyang, the center of many minority groups and set in magnificent landscapes of terraced fields.

Day 3: Around Yuanyang (B, L, D)
Get up early to park yourself at the best vantage point in Yuanyang for sunrise-viewing- the hills behind Duoyishui village.   Then visit one of the areas’ lively local markets where you will see people from Hani, Yi, Miao and Yao minorities dressed in their traditional clothes.  In the afternoon, visit the mushroom houses in Qingkou Hani ethnic village, then hike up to Luoshuba (40 minute hike) to view the sunset.

Day 4: Yuanyang (B, L, D)
Continue your visit to Yuanyang Rice Terraces, trekking to some local villages to capture more spectacular views and to learn more about the locals’ special techniques of agriculture. In the late afternoon we drive back to Jianshui (3 hours) for overnight.

Day 5: Jianshui-Swallow Cave-Lunan (B, L, D)
In the morning we visit Swallow Cave, a massive grotto of karst formation 30km to the east of Jianshui.  Every year between spring and summer, thousands of swallows will fly here from Malaysia, building nests and giving birth to young swallows.  Hike for approx. 3km through the cave, visiting both the dry cave and the water cave. In the afternoon drive on to Lunan, nearby the Stone Forest scenic area.

Day 6: Stone Forest-Luoping (B, L, D)
Arrive at the Stone Forest as the gates open to enjoy the amazing landscape of stone pillars before the crowds arrive. In the late morning, set out for the 4 hour drive to Luoping, stopping for lunch on the way. Ascend Jinjifeng (Golden Cock Peak) as the sun is setting for incredible views over the rapeseed-covered fields. Overnight at Hongfuyuan Guesthouse in Luoping.

Day 7: Around Luoping (B, L, D)
Spend a full day exploring the sites of Luoping. Arrive at Jinjifeng (Golden Cock Peak) for sunrise. Then hike for 9km to Nine Dragon Waterfall. After sightseeing the waterfalls, visit the Luositian (Snail Farms) region for another view of rapeseed farms which resemble snail shells when viewed from above. Return to Jinjifeng to capture the sunrise. Overnight in Luoping.

Day 8: Luoping-Kunming (B, L)
Visit Shiwan Dashan (Hundred Thousand Hills) for sunrise photography. If its market day visit the Duoyi River market. Then drive 4 hours back to Kunming. Tour concludes.

Tour prices

The following table shows the price per person for groups of varying sizes. The budget and comfortable options differ in terms of transportation and accommodation. Please see price inclusions below for details.

2 people 3 people 4-5 people 6-7 people 8 + people
Single supplement
Budget 6000 CNY 4650 CNY 4100 CNY 3800 CNY 3500 CNY 1000 CNY
Comfortable 7200 CNY 5350 CNY 5000 CNY 4500 CNY 4150 CNY 2100 CNY

Price inclusions

  1. Accommodation: Budget: 3 nights in 2-3 star hotels, 4 nights in guesthouses; Comfortable: 7 nights in 3 star standard hotels/guesthouses
  2. Entrance tickets: Zhu Family Garden (60 CNY), Confuscious Wen Miao (60 CNY), Tuanshan village (20 CNY), Swallow Cave (80 CNY), Yuanyang Rice Terraces (100 CNY), Stone Forest (140 CNY), Nine Dragon Waterfall (60 CNY), Golden Cock Peak (10 CNY)
  3. All transportation: Budget- A combination of public buses and hired vans; Comfortable: Private transporation for the duration of the trip
  4. Meals : 7 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners as indicated on the itinerary. Lunches and dinners will be standard Chinese food including rice and a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Breakfasts will be a combination of Chinese breakfast foods (noodles, steamed buns, eggs) and western food (pancakes, fried eggs) where available.
  5. Guide: An experienced English speaking tour guide

Price exclusions

  1. Snacks, drinks and western food
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Personal expenses such as phone calls, laundry or porters’ fees


  1. Surcharges will be charged for peak travelling times such as Chinese New Year, May Day (May 1st-7th) and National Day (October 1st-7th). For tours at these times please contact us for a customized quote.
  2. The prices quoted are to be used as a guide only. A final tour quote will be provided to you at the time of enquiry which may be higher or lower than the price listed above.


Below are some images from previous tours in this area. Click to view larger images.


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