Top 12 Photography Destinations in Yunnan

Looking for the best places for photography in Yunnan? Yunnan abound with diverse breathtaking landscapes, quaint ancient towns, colorful, mysterious minority cultures, and some of China’s best nature reserves with wildlife. These recommendations provided by local experts of Yunnan Discovery will get to you to the best photography destinations in Yunnan - whether you’re fond of nature photography, architecture photography or human-oriented photography.

Landscape and Wildlife Photography Destinations in Yunnan

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

The terraced fields in Yuanyang together form a masterpiece of art, carved out of 11333 hectares of hillside lands by local humble artists – the Hani people. Without doubt, Yuanyang Rice Terraces is a dreamland for photographers, who deeply in love with those soft and graceful lines and dramatic seas of clouds, and can capture a perfect balance of light and shade over the endless terraced fields.

What to shoot: rice terraces stretching over the mountains, Hani people, Hani village with traditional dwellings

>> Recommended 5 days Yuanyang & Jianshui photography tour

Dongchuan Red Land

One of the reddest lands in the world, Dongchuan Red Land has more colors to offer to cameramen – light green, jade green, light yellow, orange, purplish red, soft white, deep black… All these colors are brightly illuminated by the sunlight from azure sky, and sometimes with flaming clouds when the sun rises or sets.

What to shoot: colorful lands, local dwellings and lifestyle

Dashanbao Black-necked Crane Nature Reserve

Unknown to the ordinary tourists, Dashanbao, a winter inhabitation of black-necked crane, is quite famous among scientists and photographers. With mighty steeply valleys towering into the clouds, massive grasslands dotted with goats and cattle, emerald lakes and wetlands wherevarious kinds of birds are playing and swimming wildly, Dashanbao is truly a photographer’s paradise. Explore it with your heart and you will capture awesome shots.

What to shoot: wildlife, Yunnan above clouds, breathtaking landscape

>> Recommended 8 days NE Yunnan photography adventure to Dongchuan, Dahsnabao & HuizeHuize 

Dahaicao Mountain (Sea Grass Mountain)

Part of Wumeng Mountain Range, Dahaicao Mountain is actually massive alpine meadows stretching for 12000 hectares and known as the “Oriental New Zealand”. It also offers chances to shoot beautiful wild flowers, silky winding rivers, flocks of sheep, and even the miraculous Buddhist light.

What to shoot: colorful alpine meadows


People can experience the true peace in Shangri-La. They can also find the best shooting locations in Shangri-La. Meili Snow Mountain (Kawakarpo), Yunnan’s highest peak and a shrine for Tibetans, offer endless photo opportunities. For wildlife photographers, you can capture black snub-nosed monkeys in Baima Snow Mountain and black-necked crane in Napahai Nature Reserve. Moreover, don’t miss taking photos of Samstanling Monastery - “the Lesser Potala Palace” and many remote villages retaining their old looks.

What to shoot: snow mountains, grasslands, wetlands, wildlife, primitive villages with ethnic minority cultures


Lijiang’s natural scenery will knock your socks off. You can get awesome pictures when hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge, cruising Lugu Lake, overlooking the First Bend of Yangtze River, and exploring Jade Dragon Snow Mountain with meadows, valleys and glaciers.The old towns of Lijiang, including Dayan, Shuhe and Baisha are ideal for humanity photography, where the local villagers are dressed in colorful traditional costumes.

What to shoot: snow mountains, emerald lakes, ethnic minority tribes, ancient towns

Luoping Canola Flower Fields

Almost all families in luoping plant canola flowers, hence day by day, they have created the world’s largest area of canola flower fields, reaching at about 53333 hectares. If you’re planning a photography tour to Luoping, you should go between February and March, when all the flowers are in full bloom and the entire world is covered a shining golden color. Besides, the Nine DragonWaterfall, one of the most beautiful falls in China, is also a great place for photography.

What to shoot: canola flower farms, waterfalls, karst peaks

Stone Forest

A natural wonder dating millions of years ago, the UNESCO-listed Stone Forest (Shilin) shows the most beautiful and most peculiar rock formations in the world. You can shoot steep pinnacles, karst caves, natural bridge, stalactite, etc.

What to shoot: Karst landscape, costumes of the minority

>> Recommended 3 days Stone Forest & Luoping photography tour

Architecture and Humanity Photography Destinations in Yunnan

Jianshui Old Town

The culturally rich Jianshui Old Town is home to over 50 quaint and beautiful ancient architectures, including temples, ancestral halls, towers, pavilions and bridges. Besides, Jianshui’s ancient dwellings are the precious heritage of Chinese architectural art and blend the techniques of classic Chinese garden. Never miss capturing Family Zhang's Garden, Family Zhu's Garden and Double Dragon Bridge with photos.

What to shoot: ancient architectures

Shaxi Old Town

A once bustling hub on Ancient Tea Horse Road, Shaxi is now humble and peaceful, and offers a great chance for photography. Cameramen are inspired by the primitive villages, the Song and Yuan Dynasty wooden houses, the Ming Dynasty murals, the Nanzhao Kingdom Period grotto art, the old theatrical stage, the empty alleys, the stone arch bridge…And when the night falls, you are likely to capture a starry sky.

What to shoot: ancient architecture, ethnic minority people


Dali Old Town itself is ideal for humanity photography. And after getting out of the old town, you’ll discover many more great places to photograph, including the mighty Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple and “Dali’s Four Great Scenes” – the wind of Xiaguan, the flowers of Shangguan, the snow on Mount Cangshan and the moon hanging over Erhai Lake.

Head for Xizhou Ancient Town and Zhoucheng Village for exquisite traditional Bai dwellings andtie-dye photography.

What to shoot: traditional dwellings, ethnic minority culture

Doushaguan Old Town

The more than 2200-year-old Doushaguan Old Town is known for the lonely, oldest constructed stony road, natural Cliffside Pass, hanging coffins and a wealth of historical sites.

What to shoot: ancient Chinese fortification structure, ancient streets

>> Contact Yunnan Discovery for a bespoke genuine Yunnan photo adventure – our local professional photographer knows where to shoot and what you desire.

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