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Highlights of Southwest China

A fantastic, and varied, mixture of people, culture and scenery make this a fascinating part of China to visit. The diversity of people gives the region a special feel and affords an opportunity to see many different ways of life at close quarters. The landscapes too are impressive and you are unlikely to forget the mystical majesty of the karst mountains that make up the backdrop in Guilin and Yangshou or indeed the breathaking scale of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Add to this the wonderfully preserved old town of Lijiang and the Tibetan influences that abound in Zhongdian and you have the perfect blend of ingredients for a wonderful holiday.

Guilin - Guangxi Province

Guilin - Guangxi Province

A charming provincial city which sits on the banks of the River Li and is surrounded by truly wondrous landscapes. One of the most inspirational places in China for artists, the karst topography which lends a slightly surreal feel to the region is best viewed from the top of the chairlift at Mount Yao.

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Yangshuo - Guangxi Province

Yangshuo - Guangxi Province

A delightful small town best reached by the sublime boat trip from Guilin which takes around 4 hours. Once the preserve of backpackers, Yangshuo is now opening its doors to a wider audience. Unwind and spend a few days here cycling around some of the most fantastic scenery you could wish to see.

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Longsheng / Longji - Guangxi Province

Longsheng / Longji - Guangxi Province

Around three hours drive northwest of Guilin you come to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces and Longsheng is the major town in the region. From here you can travel further into the hills to Longji and stay in an alpine style guesthouse overlooking a landscape formed of terraced paddy fields.

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Sanjiang - Guangxi Province

Sanjiang - Guangxi Province

Sanjiang is the capital of the Dong community and offers visitors the opportunity to get close to one of the region's most colourful ethnic minorities.

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Nanning - Guangxi Province

Nanning - Guangxi Province

Nanning is the capital of Guangxi province and its proximity to the Vietnamese border means it is quite often a starting point for those coming from Vietnam, or alternatively the last stop on a China itinerary for those heading into Vietnam.

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Jinghong - Xishuangbanna Region, Yunnan

Jinghong - Xishuangbanna Region, Yunnan

Jinghong is capital of the Xishuangbanna region and located in the tropical south of Yunnan province beside the Mekong River. The town is growing in popularity as more and more people wake up to the beauty of this part of the Yunnan.

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Kunming - Yunnan Province

Kunming - Yunnan Province

Called the Spring City due to its wonderful climate, at first glance Kunming is just another industrial town but if you spend a little time here you find ancient temples, delightful parks - offering typically Chinese entertainment and the Old Quarter with its historic Flower & Bird market.

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Dali - Yunnan Province

Dali - Yunnan Province

A beautifully preserved traditional Chinese town, Dali enjoys a wonderful position sitting at the base of the Jade Green Mountains with the stunning Erhai Hu Lake laid out in front of it. Its setting makes Dali old town a great place to stay for a couple of days relaxing and indulging in the local cuisine or cycling around the peaceful countryside.

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Lijiang - Yunnan Province

Lijiang - Yunnan Province

Partially destroyed in a huge earthquake in 1996, Lijiang has been rebuilt and is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The new town pales into insignificance beside the intricate maze of cobbled streets that make up the old town and where you should spend your time soaking up the atmosphere, either in the old market square, with the town elders, or beside one of the many streams that course through the town.

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Tiger Leaping Gorge - Yunnan Province

Tiger Leaping Gorge - Yunnan Province

Famously walked by Michael Palin in his Himalaya TV series, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges anywhere in the world. 3900m deep it runs for 10 miles with the mighty Yangtze compressed between the twin peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and its brother Haba Mountain. 

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Zhongdian - Yunnan Province

Zhongdian - Yunnan Province

A Tibetan town but still in the Yunnan, many people arrive in Zhongdian before they fly onto to Lhasa or take the more arduous overland route into Tibet. For those not going on to Tibet, Zhongdian affords a glimpse into Tibetan life through the impressive Ganden Sumtseling Gompa which is a 300 year old Tibetan monastery with around 600 monks.

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