Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

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Philipp
Posts: 4
Joined: December 27th, 2014, 1:33 am

Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Philipp » January 19th, 2015, 2:13 am

Hello everyone,

we want to visit a friend in Guangzhou end of August/ beginning of September and use Guangzhou as a starting point to explore China's southwest a little bit more, mainly Yunnan. Since we have never to China before, we know it is going to be a stretch trying to see a lot of the country as well as finding some of China's colourful amphibians and reptiles.

At the moment we thought we might go to Guilin/Yangshuo (very touristic, but looks great), then towards Yunnan's north (has someone been to Pudacuo NP?) and towards Yunnan's south - we were recommended to visit Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens.

What are your experiences? Which regions can you recommend and when/where have you been herping (even though we do not speak any Chinese)? Would be great to get some input by people with experience in this region!

Best, Philipp

Tim Leerschool
Posts: 20
Joined: May 28th, 2014, 8:01 am

Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Tim Leerschool » January 19th, 2015, 5:10 am

Hi Philipp,

I've been to the South of China in a 2,5 month trip last summer. Fantastic that you are going, China is breathtaking, shocking and all in all an experience you will not forget!

As for recommendations, Guilin is very nice but make sure to get outside the city (motorbike is a perfect way of transport). Nature and wildlife can be found from 30 min. outside the city. More distance from the city and you'll find stunning places!

Yangshuo is indeed crammed/loaded with tourists. We did not have such a good time because of the fact that is was so touristy. Despite that fact it is very easy to rent a bike to get out of the city and do explore around when you are there (advice, do not follow the marked trails as these will lead into ''tourist traps''). The surrounding is stunning and is worth the visit I think.

When going to Yunnan we visited Lijiang, Dali and Kunming. Dali was the best of three as it was also very easy to get out of the city and I've found many herps in the surrounding. I've got a post showing some pictures of my adventures on this forum.

Lijiang is the same as Yangshuo, totally renovated into tourist attractions so not worth a visit. Head further up North to Shangri-La to get a cultural experience of Tibet (if you are interested in that region).

Hope you do well there and wish you good luck!

With all the best,

Tim

Philipp
Posts: 4
Joined: December 27th, 2014, 1:33 am

Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Philipp » January 25th, 2015, 12:16 pm

Thank you for your advice Tim, we'll try to avoid tourist traps and are probably going to visit Dali and surroundings rather than Lijiang. May I ask you when you were more successful in finding herps - day or night? Two and a half months sound awesome - sadly we won't have that much time. Was it easy to hire a motorbike in English? We might have company of a Chinese friend for some time, but will have to communicate in English when he is not around...
I just ordered Amphibia and Reptilia of Yunnan by Yang Datong and hope that might be helpful as well.

Best,
Philipp

Tim Leerschool
Posts: 20
Joined: May 28th, 2014, 8:01 am

Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Tim Leerschool » January 26th, 2015, 4:51 am

Philipp wrote:Thank you for your advice Tim, we'll try to avoid tourist traps and are probably going to visit Dali and surroundings rather than Lijiang. May I ask you when you were more successful in finding herps - day or night? Two and a half months sound awesome - sadly we won't have that much time. Was it easy to hire a motorbike in English? We might have company of a Chinese friend for some time, but will have to communicate in English when he is not around...
I just ordered Amphibia and Reptilia of Yunnan by Yang Datong and hope that might be helpful as well.

Best,
Philipp
Philipp,

the book will be more than helpful. I had nothing at the time and this makes ID-ing very hard. Any field guide will be good but I've heard more than good stories about your book.

Although I've herped mostly during the day I believe all those finds were mostly luck, especially for snakes. During the day you'll enjoy skinks, lizards etc. but I believe nighttime especially the first two hours of darkness are best for herping. Snakes were abundant in Dali. Species as eight lined keelbacks (Amphiesma octolineata) and king ratsnakes (Elaphe carinata) were pretty common but I've also found a DOR Ovophis monticola which I will be extremely jealous of if you find it ;) )

In Dali, getting around with English was possible. We stayed in a hostel in the Old town of Dali which was used to foreigners. Renting a scooter or bike in English is possible (motorbike I'm not sure), with the normal hand gestures etc :lol: ) My girlfriend speaks Chinese so I have no real experience with it, but this would be my take on it. You'd be surprised how far you can get with hand gestures.

Hope this helps out and if you hae any more questions feel free to ask.

With all the best,

Tim

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Keeper
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Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Keeper » February 3rd, 2015, 2:40 pm

Hi Phillip,
I will be in Yunnan from early April to mid-May. If your plan is changeable, maybe we could herp around together. I am bilingual and know the area well.
Will PM u my email and we can discuss details there.

Best
Kai

Philipp
Posts: 4
Joined: December 27th, 2014, 1:33 am

Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Philipp » April 10th, 2015, 1:30 pm

Hi Tim,
turns out that with exception of the title, the book is only in Chinese, hence not very helpful to me. We now booked a hotel in the Old Town of Dali as well and I was hoping that you may have some more specific tips about which places might be good to go to? Anything close enough to get there by bike? Did you need to show a driving licence to get a motor bike?

Hi Kai,
I hope you are already having a good and successful time in China. Would have been a different experience to search for herps with someone who knows the area as well as China's reptiles and amphibians, but I only get holidays end of August/early September.

The plan for the China trip has changed slightly, and after stops in Guangzhou, Guilin/Yangshou, Kunming and Dali, we will stop in Chengdu and from there we would like to go to Tibet or do a road trip through Sishuan. If you have any more tips for good sites at these locations, I would be very happy.

Best,
Philipp

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Re: Travel tips Yunnan (Southwest China)?

Post by Keeper » April 10th, 2015, 3:21 pm

Philipp wrote:Hi Tim,
turns out that with exception of the title, the book is only in Chinese, hence not very helpful to me. We now booked a hotel in the Old Town of Dali as well and I was hoping that you may have some more specific tips about which places might be good to go to? Anything close enough to get there by bike? Did you need to show a driving licence to get a motor bike?

Hi Kai,
I hope you are already having a good and successful time in China. Would have been a different experience to search for herps with someone who knows the area as well as China's reptiles and amphibians, but I only get holidays end of August/early September.

The plan for the China trip has changed slightly, and after stops in Guangzhou, Guilin/Yangshou, Kunming and Dali, we will stop in Chengdu and from there we would like to go to Tibet or do a road trip through Sishuan. If you have any more tips for good sites at these locations, I would be very happy.

Best,
Philipp
I do not think Tibet will be an option for you unless you are looking at Lhasa, because CCP do not allow foreigners to travel independently in Tibet expect in Lhasa. If you are grouped with tourist group you may be able to visit Linzhi in southern Tibet, but that will mean you cannot do any herping in the area.
If you do want to go to Lhasa, Se'la Temple (Se'la'si in Chinese) will be a good place to herp, you can find Laudakia sacra and Cyrtodactylus tibetanus on the hill behind the temple. If you can find some swampy area outside of the city, you can find Nanorana parkeri, which will be the only amphibian species in the area.

For Kunming you may consider Xi'shan (West Mountain Forest Park) just outside of Kunming city. Take the small trail (not the paved road) and you may be able to see Pseudoxenondon macrops, Orthriophis taeniurus, Oreocryptophis porphyraceus, Japalura varcoae, Rana chaochiaoensis, Bombina maxima, and Bufo gargarizans. There are other species in the area (I've even see a road-killed Azemiops feae once), but they are much harder to find.
Herps of Dali are similar to ones of Kunming, except Tylototriton shanjing. I have not herped in Dali yet, but I have heard that T. shanjing is pretty commonly seen in the area from June to August. You can ask locals where you can find “红娃娃” (hong'wa'wa, means "red baby", its the local name for the species).

I have not herped in Guizhou or Sichuan, so I cannot give you much more info. However, I do recommend you pay a visit to the herp museum at Chengdu Institute of Biology. It has the largest herp collection of Chinese herptiles.

Best wishes
Kai

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