Dongchuan-Lijiang Photosafari from 15-23rd May 2020


May is one of the best months to visit Dongchuan or Redland and the rest of the towns in Yunnan. It is the time when the potato and wheat fields are ripe for harvest. This season offers multi-coloured landscapes that are so surreal.

This photography trip is a combination of landscapes, travel and people photography. We will take the road less travelled away from the tourist crowd. You can capture great landscapes and travel photos at Redland and the ancient towns along the way.

China has 55 ethnic minority races and a lot of them are residing in Yunnan Province. We will be able to observe many minority races including the Yi, Bai, Mosuo, and Naxi tribes along this journey.

Redland or Dongchuan

Newly plough fields, ripening potato flowers, and ripening wheat fields add up a tapestry of colours. Many photographers will flock to this place in hope of capturing that wonderful moment.


Chuxiong is a town in the Yi Autonomous Perfecture. It is about 127km from Kunming on the way to Dali. The Yi ethnic minority stays here. Yiren Ancient town though newly constructed in 2005 is worth a visit. It embodies the Yi culture and architecture.


People believe that this place can be traced back more than 4000 years. There is a legend which goes like this:  Once there was a Yi girl looking for her missing ox, she was led to the Black Well and found the spring water that the ox was licking contained a large amount of salt. Hence the site was called the Black Ox Salt Well, and later only it was named Black Well for short. Ever since, the residents here made their living by producing salt. Throughout history, Black Well had always been one of the chief salt production centers in Yunnan province.

Lugu Lake

It is a fresh-water lake situated between Yunnan and Sichuan


Lijiang is an important transit point along the Ancient Tea Horse Road. It was a center for the economic and cultural communication between various ethnic groupssuch as the Naxi, Han, Tibetans, and Bai. It is listed as a “World Heritage Site” in 1997.

Mosuo Ethnic Minority Tribe

Imagine a society without fathers; without marriage (or divorce); one in which nuclear families don’t exist. Grandmother sits at the head of the table; her sons and daughters live with her, along with the children of those daughters, following the maternal bloodline. Men are little more than studs, sperm donors who inseminate women but have, often than not, little involvement in their children’s upbringing. Women are free to have multi sexual partners. Welcome to the world of the Mosuo Ethnic Minority tribe.

How do you get there?

AirAsia offers daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming, Yunnan. We highly recommend that you take this flight.

Trip Difficulty

This is an easy trip. You will be driven to places of photography. On the long road trips, we have allocated two seats per person.


The temperature in May is around 10-24 oC. Higher altitude areas will be cooler.


Day 1 – 15th May – Kunming to Redland (D)

  • Arrive at Kunming
  • Transfer to Redland (2.5 hrs drive)
  • Check-in hotel
  • Dinner at Redland local restaurant

Day 2 – 16th May Redland (B,L)

  • Sunrise shoot
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Photography around the Redland fields
  • Lunch at local village
  • Photography around Redland fields
  • Sunset shoot
  • Dinner

Day 3 – 17th May Redland to Chuxiong (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Check-out hotel
  • Drive to Chuxiong, Yi Autonomous Perfecture (4-5 hrs drive)
  • Chuxiong is about 127 km away from Kunming on the way to Dali.
  • Check-in hotel
  • Visit Yiren Ancient Town.
  • Dinner

Day 4 – 18th May Chuxiong to Heqing (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Check-out hotel
  • Visit Heijing ancient town
  • Drive to Dali
  • Visit local Bai minority village, Shuanglang at the East bank of Erhai Lake
  • Lunch
  • Drive to Heqing County. This place is under the Dali Bai Autonomous Perfecture. (few tourists visit this area)
  • Dinner

Day 5 – 19th May – Heping-Lugu Lake (B,L)

  • Sunrise shoot at Yellow Dragon Pool in Heijing
  • Check-out hotel
  • Drive to Lugu Lake (5hrs drive including stops for photos)
  • Will be driving along the winding roads of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
  • Will stop at local markets along the way
  • The Lugu Lake shares boundaries between Sichuan and Yunnan.
  • This area is inhabited by the Mosuo Minority Tribes
  • The altitude at the Lake is around 2,700m
  • Check-in Hotel

Day 6 – 20th May – Lugu Lake (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Morning shoot around Lugu Lake
  • Visit Mosuo Villages
  • Lunch
  • Mosuo Minority tribe is a Matriarchal tribe where women are the head of the household. Their culture is best known for their “Walking Marriages” where a woman may have a few partners.
  • Dinner

Day 7 – 21st May – Lake Lugu to Lijiang (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Check-out hotel
  • Drive to Lijiang (5 hrs drive including stops for photography)
  • Lunch along the way
  • Check-in hotel
  • Visit Dayan Old town built in the late 13th century
  • It is listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
  • Dinner

Day 8 – 22nd May – Lijiang (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Visit local reservoir near Snow Mountains.
  • Visit the “First Bend of the Yangtze River”
  • Visit a local village
  • “Impressions of Lijiang” – a cultural show by Zhang Yimou
  • Dinner

9th Day – 23rd May – Lijiang to Kunming – Departure (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Visit local park
  • Check-out hotel
  • Take a high-speed train back to Kunming (3.5 hours)
  • On arrival, transfer to local hotel for a shower before airport (if time permits)
  • Transfer to airport for AirAsia flight back to KL at 17:55
  • End of trip

If you are interested in this photosafari trip, please contact Maxby at [email protected]

Photo Gallery

Aerial View of Dongchuan fields – Photo credit: Calvin Fong
Dongchuan wheat fields
One of the most photographed Dongchuan resident.
Lugu Lake
Shuanglang village besides Erhai Lake
Lugu Lake
Lijiang Ancient Town
Lijiang Ancient town
Daily market at Shuanglang Village
Impression of Lijiang by Zhang Yimou
Mosuo Lady