Sunday, 19 May 2019
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Highlights in Yuanyang | information and photo gallery



The highlights in and around Yuanyang, background information and photo gallery

Located in Honghe prefecture in the Ailao mountains - 50 kilometers north of the border with Vietnam - Yuanyang is well known fot its spectacular rice-paddy terracing. It covers an area of 2200 square kilometres 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 regios, are the creators of the rice terraces. Their villages can mainly be found between 1,300 and 1,600 meters above sea level. The Dai 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 new comers, they arrived about 200-270 years ago. The live 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.


Yuanyang rice terraces

Not only are the Yuanyang rice terraces among the world's largest and most spectacular. They also are the least known, which keeps the tourist count low. You get an extra sense of adventure when you are there.

The terraced areas are mainly found between 1,000 and 2,000 metres above sea level. Due to winter temperatures - although never freezing - only one harvest per year is possible. After the harvest, from mid-September till mid-November, the terraces are filled with water until April, when planting starts.


Hiking through the rice fields


Get close to the people and have breathtaking views with other perspectives than seen from the road: hike through the fields, walk from village to village. There are trails that connect all the villages, these paths follow the contour of the hills. You might need a guide, if you like to avoid getting lost.

Ailao Mountains




Yuanyang is also interesting for its intense minorities’ life. You can find a Hani and Yi colorful market each day.....


Markets tend to be very colourful when different minorities each trade and socialize in their own traditional costumes.

Niujiaozhai market


Laomeng market

Six different minorities visit the flamboyant Laomeng market every Sunday. All minorities still dressed in their own traditional style.

Local festivities

The most exciting encounter is to participate in one of the numrous local ethnic festivals such as Dragon Feast, Amatu, Torch Festval.

Dragon Feast



Photo gallery

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