Start Location:Kunming, China
End Location:Kunming, China
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Primary Activities: Local Culture & Cuisine
Other Activities:horse ride, Hiking, festival, Monasteries
China’s Yunnan Province is worlds away from the sway of the dominant Han culture in Beijing. The lion’s share of China’s traditional
tribal cultures—36 distinct tribes in all, including the Naxi, Bai,
Miao, Lisu, Lahu, Yao, Manchu, Tibetan and Mongolian peoples, to
name a few—make their home in this stand-in for the proverbial
Shangri-la. This area forms a cultural crossroads of unmatched
richness, a telling snapshot of human movement in Asia through the
centuries, and an immersion in intersecting traditions against a backdrop of legendary physical beauty.
The world’s cultures are becoming increasingly homogenized—pockets of
uniqueness are being brought into the global cultural fold via the unrelenting influence of television, the Internet, and mass transportation. Yet
some tribes are holding fast to their local identities, handed down through
generations. Yunnan is unique in the sheer colorful abundance of distinct
ethnic groups that continue to flourish in the area. It is an anthropological
epicenter of fabulous variety and proportion, and by far and away China’s
most culturally rich province. This mosaic of tribes—each with its own disparate language, dress and history—makes Yunnan among the most compelling
destinations in the world.
This spectacular journey features the region’s must-see sights, then leaps to
the extraordinary by attending the Gyalthang Horse Festival. Expert horsemen
from the Kingdom of Kham in Eastern Tibet compete for prizes and glory,
while locals in heavy turquoise and colorful hand-woven brocade create a
scene of timeless splendor.
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