Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Yunnan Nationalities Village 云南民族村 Trip Report

Yunnan Nationalities Village 云南民族村 is a theme park style attraction that showcases the diverse culture and ethnic minorities in Yunnan. You can think of it as Disney's Epcot that focuses on just ethnic minorities in one province - without all the rides and fanciful gimmicks. For new visitors to Yunnan, it provides an excellent summary of the various ethnic minorities that stay within this province of China.

Yunnan Nationalities Village will take about 4-5 hours to complete, unless you are a history geek or insist in watching every big and small show. The UV radiation from the sun really stings you so sunblock is mandatory when you visit this place.

Getting there

Yunnan Nationalities Village is located in Kunming, the province capital of Yunnan. It is on the Western most end of Dianchi Road can be accessed by bus 24, 44, 73 and 94 from the city center area. Public buses have a standard fare of RMB2. If you are taking taxi (租车, zu che), the fare is about RMB 40 (SGD 8).

In the future, Yunnan Nationalities Village will be served by MRT Line 5. However, the line is under construction (preliminary stage) when I was there in May 2017.

Entrance: Old Kunming 昆明古城

The main entrance is the East Gate. Here, you will enter the 昆明古城 (kun ming gu cheng), a shopping and dining district. It is a replica of a market street in the old city of Kunming. There are many souvenir shops selling both traditional craft and modern touristy souvenirs. No admission fee is required to enter this area.

The building facades all look very authentic and even the signs look traditional.

There are also hidden alleys for you to explore

WOW! They measured distances precise to 1m for the signboard?

The ticketing area is located on the far end of Old Kunming. The tickets are as follows:
  • Adult: RMB 90
  • Student (with valid student pass): RMB 45
  • Tour guide: RMB80-150*
*Tour guide is optional. You can approach the guides near the ticketing area. The guides will be dressed in traditional costumes and no need to share guide with other families (so its like a Disney VIP tour) The guide cost is an estimate as I saw people bargaining.

Park Services

Now into the PAID area of the attraction. Toilets are available at the entrance and throughout the park. Surprisingly for China, there are sitting toilets in the cubicles, though max 1-2 per toilet. Bottled drinks at the stalls are about RMB5-6, which is about 20% more than the typical price in Kunming. 

Also, various types of transportation is available for rental, such as electric buggy (on demand), train (which runs on timetable), Segways and quadcycle-carts (I don't know what to call those). Since the park area is quite big, you can consider taking the transport but I find them a tad too expensive (especially the segways).

In addition to the ticketing area, you can also sign up for tour guide service here on the left side after passing through the park gates.


Yunnan Nationalities village has many performances all over the park. Some performances are small scale while others are conducted at large amphitheaters. I was only able to watch snippets of two shows, and here is what I can tell you: The shows are very authentic. However, because they are authentic, they are not very entertaining. Do not expect to have like perfectly lined-up dancers, pyrotechnics or acrobatics. Instead, most performances are traditional rituals or dances which involve a lot of percussion, traditional costumes and simple moves.

Wow! Thats a lot of shows!

景颇族 Jinpo Village

Honestly, I only had about 1/5 hours to visit the park and could not visit all the villages. As such, I am only going to explain the 3 villagers that I spent the most time on. The first on is the 景颇族 Jinpo Village. The Jinpo people lives in the mountainous region of Yunnan and Northern Myanmar (about 1500-2000m) and is an agricultural people. Key qualities celebrated by their people include diligence, hospitality and courage. 

In Yunnan Nationalities Village, you can observe some traditional hydraulic-mechanical devices they use for agricultural production, as well as a replica residence that shows their typical house layout and interior. One interesting feature of the Jinpo people is that they highly revere women's breasts because they believe it brings the essence of life.

[NOTE]: They charge you RMB3 to strike the giant traditional drum 3 times. I think you know better whether it is worth it.

Watch how the Jinpo people use hydraulic engineering to irrigate their crops and grind their flour

Replica house entrance. Sorry I did not get a close up picture of the breasts but you can see them on the left side of the pillar (beside the guy in grey tshirt)

哈尼族 Hani Village

The Hani people a are highly spiritual people that believes in ancestral warship. Music and dancing is an integral part of their lives and they generally reside in the middle altitudes. Their buildings are generally have wooden structures reinforced with straw and binded together with cement. The roofs are also made of straw and the Hani people like to incorporate penthouses (read: 2nd floor) into their design.

A giant replica sundial is constructed at the entrance of the village. The sundial is a key aspect of their ancestral worship customs. In addition, there is a small house that showcases a comprehensive collection of traditional Chinese musical instruments. When I was there, a grand master who invented the Chinese equivalent of a double-bass! He shared with us a lot about the unique features of traditional Chinese and ethnic minority music.

傣族 Dai Village

The Dai people is one of the largest ethnic minorities in Yunnan. If you think the Dai people sounds like Thai people, thats because they are! The Dai people are Buddists and are highly concentrated in the southern part of Yunnan, especially near Xishuangbanna. 

The most interesting thing about the Dai people is that gender roles are reversed in a Dai household. The females are doing most of the work, finances, etc while the men do more domestic work ... or simply slack. Note about men slacking: I witnessed this behavior personally when shopping at 嘎洒镇 (Gasa town), also in Yunnan. Also, unlike Han Chinese, dark-skinned girls are considered more pretty in Dai culture.

Other areas

There are 23 other villages which I have no time to visit in detail, so here are some photos for you:

erm...I am not sure if I uploaded this at the right place...

The Verdict

Yunnan Nationalities Village is a AAAA grade attraction, and I think it lives up to its reputation. There are many things to explore at the architecture and exhibits are considered very authentic for theme park standards. It is a good alternative to visiting all the counties in Yunnan as it provides a good summary of each minority group. 

Staff is reasonable friendly but 99% of them only speak Chinese so non-Chinese speaking guests may struggle to get around. I strongly recommend non-Chinese speaker so visit as part of a tour group so the agency can arrange a guide that actually speaks your language. Price for food and beverages is 20-30% more than Kunming, which is cheap for Singapore standards but still expensive for locals.

Attractions: ☆☆☆
Shows: ☆☆☆☆
Theming: ☆☆☆☆☆
Food and Beverage: ☆☆☆
Service: ☆☆☆
Value: ☆☆☆☆
Overall: ☆☆☆☆

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