Yunnan, on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in the southwest of China, is a land of natural beauty and mystery, which covers an area of 394,000 square kilometers with a population of 40,000,000. Yunnan represents the last great region to join the Chinese empire. Even today many Chinese think of it as a " frontier province " although it was Kublai and his successor, 200 years before Christopher Columbus, whose forces entered these mountainous lands that lie just below the Tibetan plateau and abut Vietnam, Laos and Burma.
In few provinces of China is so great a diversity of natural conditions and culture to be found as in Yunnan. Yunnan has an unique array of fascinating ecotourist resources, including year-round snow-capped mountains and glaciers, lakes and hot springs, highland landscape, primitive forests, and tropical rain forests where elephants and monkeys roam . Forests, totaling nearly 10 million hectares, or eight percent of the nation's total, cover 24.9 percent of the land of Yunnan, which is known as a kingdom of plants and animals. More than half of China's 30,000 kinds of high-grade plants can be found in Yunnan, which is also home to 3,000-plus kinds of rare animals (55 percent of the national total), 31 kinds of birds (64 percent of the national total), and 130 kinds of reptiles (42 percent of the national total).
The Meli Snow Mountain with an elevation of 6740 meters, magnificent and precipitous, has not been conquered by men. The Lunan Karst topography covers an area of 350 square kilometers and forms " the first wonder in the world "- Stone Forest. The Tiger Leaping Gorge , 3,200 meters height from side mountain tip to the water surface of Golden Sand River which is full of rapid currents and precipitous overhanging cliff. More than 40 highland lakes like beautiful pearls scatter in mountains. Many rare speices of plants and endangered animals live in Xishuangbanna. The flowers around Kunming, the City of Spring, always bloom all around four seasons. Cut off by precipitous mountains from easy communication with outside world, Shangri-la, referred to in James Milton's Lost Horizon, may be the last virgin land where one can observe cultural layers going back for thousands of years into the past. Picturesque Lijiang, listed as one of "World-class Cultural Legacy" by UNESCO, is a region of gorges, lakes and active horse breeding where Naxi people here still use hieroglyphic writing and wear sheepskin capes.
Yunnan is a rich area in subculture. In Yunnan live 26 ethnic minority groups which give a rich patina of diversity and color to the Yunnan scene, contributing with their colorful ethnic costumes, their traditional songs and dances, to the attractive life of the cities, the villages, the fairs and the festivals. The Splashing Water Festival of Dai nationality, the March Fair of Bai nationality, the Torch Festival of Yi nationality, makes traveler forget to leave.
Yunnan is also one of the human being's cradles. From as long as 1.7 million-years-old Yuanmou Apeman's fossils to dinosaur fossiles in Lufeng County, From Nanzhao Kingdom in Dali to Golden Temple, Black Dragon Pool and many other ancient temples most of which are amazingly intact, Yunnan is a wonderland with long history and splendid culture.
There is no end to the wonders of Yunnan . Stone drums, Jade Dragon snow Mountain, religious worshipping not gods but the sky, the earth, the mountains, languages whose origins are lost in the mists of antiquity and the Burma Road which once provided a gateway of American supplies and aid to war-time China in great years of World War II.
There is a Chinese old saying : " It is better to see once than hear a hundred times ". One of the favorite songs of hospitable and simple Yunnan people is " Guests from afar, please stay! "