my wife and I will travel to Yunnan mid October for two and half weeks, and since we are non Chinese speaking first timers I have a bunch of questions. I try to make it as short as possible.
We will settle in for three days at Er Hai lake and are open to any suggestions afterwards.
We are not the see-as-much-as-you-can-in-as-less-time-as-possible-types, we would rather pick some places to enhale the atmosphere, culture, nature, history. Despite the crowded country we are desperate to find some quiet places. And we are not especially keen on exploring Disney-style cities with a million other tourists.
So, here are my questions:
1. What would you consider a must-see? Shangri-La (too cold already?), Tigerleaping gorge, Yubeng (too far off?), the rice terraces in Yuanyang, Lugu Hu, Xishuangbanna? Anything else?
2. Is there a chance to get away with English or how else do we cope communicating?
3. Which way of transport is advisable? Bus? Train? Hired car with driver?
4. Any health issues we should consider (vaccines and stuff)?
Thanks so much for your help!
Susanne & Joerg
Since you have limited time, you might want to hire a car and driver, giving you greater flexibility to explore. Hotels and hostels can help make arrangements. The cost is reasonable.
I did a similar trip in September 2012. Check out my 2012 travel map on Travellerspoint for the exact route, which included Kunming, Dali, Yunlong, Nuodeng, Shaxi, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Zhongdian (Shangri-La) and Pudacuo National Park. Nuodeng, in particular, is the kind of place you'll want to see and experience. Go online to check it out.
Shangri-La shouldn't be too cold yet. But it was snowing while we were on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain near Lijiang.
You can get by without speaking Chinese, although it would help if you learned a few words. Many young Chinese understand English. Some will be eager to practice their knowledge with you; others will be reluctant. Ask.
You shouldn't encounter any significant health issues. Avoid oily food, which can cause digestive upsets. Hot pots, where food is cooked in boiling broth on your table, is popular with many Chinese. You should follow their example.
If flying in China, include some flexibility in your plans. Flights are subject to delays.
Hope this helps.