Located in Honghe prefecture in the Ailao mountains - 50 kilometers north of the border with Vietnam - Yuanyang is well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing. A famous highlight of Yuanyang are the rice terraces.
Yuanyang covers an area of 2200 square kilometers of which 88% belong to ethnic minorities and 95% is associated with agriculture. The majority of the inhabitants of the county are from the Hani ethnic group. To the south of the Old Town of Yuanyang, you will find the town of Panzhihua. This city is positioned near the top of another major valley of rice-terraces. There are a total of 928 settlements in Yuanyang county, 826 of them being inhabited by only one single ethnic group. The main ethnic group is the Hani. The Hani and Yi, the original inhabitants of this region, are the creators of the rice terraces. Their villages can mainly be found between 1,300 and 1,600 meters above sea level. Dai-people moved to this area 700 years ago, while to Zhuang arrived about 400 years ago. Their villages are below 700 meters elevation. The Miao and Yao are the most recent newcomers, they arrived about 200-270 years ago. The life in the cooler and drier upland areas at an elevation between 1,600 and 18,000 meters above sea level. They grow mainly maize. One can easily spend 4-5 days in Yuanyang, ideally two days for the markets and two to three days for hiking.