Yunnan, China (CNN)If there’s a downside to visiting Yunnan, it’s that one trip simply isn’t going to be enough.
China’s southwestern province is its most ethnically diverse.
It’s home to 25 of the country’s 56 recognized ethnic groups.
And each has a unique culture and cuisine.
Then there’s dramatic landscape and breathtaking views that are rumored to have inspired the Shangri-la of James Milton’s “Lost Horizon.”
Here are some of the highlights:
Hani Rice Terraces
When the Hani ethnic group built the rice paddy terraces in Yuanyang County more than 1,300 years ago, little did they realize the irrigation system would become such a hit among sightseers.
The terraces cover 166 square kilometers in southeast Yunnan.
When the sun rises and sets, its light reflects off the pools of water, creating spectacular views and colors that change almost every minute as the sun moves.
There are three main viewing areas that require admission, but locals can point out free viewing spots that are no less stunning.
One of Yunnan’s most popular dishes is guoqiaomixian (translated as crossing-the-bridge rice noodles).
Legend says the dish was created by a woman who needed a soup that didn’t become soggy as she carried it across a bridge to the island where her husband was studying.
So now the delicious piping hot chicken broth is served with ingredients, including vegetables, fish meat, herbs, spices and rice noodles, on the side.
Everything is combined just before serving.