After spending some time in kunming several years ago, we are now returning for a two weeks stop-over. We are planning on spending about a week in kunming and dali together to see how it changed and eat at all the awesome restaurants that we missed so badly the last years ;-) the last week we would love to spend visiting some less explored areas in yunnan, ideally somewhere in the west (as we will already be in dali and have already visited the south and the obvious tourist choices such as lijiang, yuanyang, tiger leaping gorge etc.). We've heard that nujiang valley (bingzhonglu) and the tengchong area are well worth a visit but were hoping that you guys might have some comments or even other recommendations on that topic. We speak chinese (although it's a bit rusty at the moment), so getting around shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for your help!
Tengchong is nothing special, unless you are really into hot springs.
Lugu Lake, if you haven't been. Or Meili Snow Mountain via Shangrila and Tiger Leaping back exit . Neither of the above go west though.
Honghe, Wenshan, Yuxi, Lincang, Baoshan, Dehong, Qujing, Zhaotong, and Chuxiong are all quite off the beaten path. Most of Yunnan is, for that matter. Just go to the bus station and choose a bus to somewhere random you've never heard of. Have an adventure. Most of Yunnan is beautiful, especially at this time of year.
I would also love to visit the Nujiang valley sometime, but we live in Shangri-la, so I'm biased. There are still many less explored places here if you're able to get out of town.
Bus from Dali to Liuku takes 4.5 hours via highway and a new mountain road. I just got back yesterday.
Liuku - Fugong = 134 km
Liuku - Gong Shan = 247 km
The new highway to Bing Zhong Luo is under construction and will not be completed until 2020.
Thanks a lot for all your answers, although many of those places weren't excactly in the west ;-) we just returned from nujiang valley and really loved that area- a bit like tiger leaping gorge, but much more remote. We spent two days in bingzhongluo and one day in laobudeng (quite close to zhiziluo, the deserted town gokunming published an article about a while ago). That said, we were a bit rushed in the end and would highly recommend spending at least a week in the area as it is quite a hassle to get there ( we took a nightbus from kunming to fugong which was supposed to take 11-12 hours but as the driver decided to take a nap in between it turned out to be a 15 hours ride in the end, from fugong we caught a mianbaoche for 40 kuai to gonghe and yet another bus from gonghe to bingzhongluo). Bingzhongluo is not very pretty itself but the scenery is awesome. Apparently it is possible to reach the drung valley from bingzhongluo, which, according to people we met, is breathtaking both in scenery and culture, but even more difficult to reach. Laobudeng was very nice, too. It is quite close to pihe, which lies in between fugong and liuke, and getting there included quite a few mianbaoches and busses, too. That said, the view was awesome! Speaking at least some chinese is pretty much mandatory as no one spoke any english. For more information-this blog helped us a lot: blog.holachina.net/?p=2832