You could literally spend weeks touring this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas includes 1.7 million hectares of land inside China’s Three Parallel Rivers National Park.
The three rivers in question are among the largest and most important in Asia: the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween. Although their courses take them far away from each other, they run roughly parallel in Yunnan province, slicing deep gorges into the steep mountains.
According to UNESCO, “The deep, parallel gorges of the Jinsha, Lancang and Nu Jiang are the outstanding natural feature of the site; while large sections of the three rivers lie just outside the site boundaries, the river gorges are nevertheless the dominant scenic element in the area. High mountains are everywhere, with the glaciated peaks of the Meili, Baima and Haba Snow Mountains providing a spectacular scenic skyline.”
The Three Parallel Rivers National Park also protects an amazingly diverse collection of flora and fauna. UNESCO calls it “one of the world’s most important remaining areas for the conservation of the earth’s biodiversity. Inside the protected areas you’ll find 3 different species of leopard, monkeys, gibbons, the red panda, a type of “goat antelope” called the takin and many others.
The region is also home to 25 different minority groups, many of whom still live in their original villages and have clung to their traditional culture.
To visit this World Heritage Site, you’ll need a valid passport and a Chinese visa. You must apply for your visa before you leave the US – while many countries allow US citizens to apply for a visa on arrival at the airport, China is not one of them. For more information about what you need, see Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists.
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