The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are the ancient system of rice-growing terraces developed by the Hani ethnic people some 1,200 years ago. Located in Yuanyang, Honghe Prefecture, Yunnan, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The terraces’ history spans around 1,200 years and cover a staggering 16,000 ha. The terraced rice fields cover four counties of Honghe Prefecture including Yuanyang, Honghe, Jinpin, and Lüchun with the core area of the terraces located in Yuanyang. (noting Honghe is the name of the greater prefecture and also an internal county, see the maps further below).
There are three major scenic spots in Yuanyang Terraces: Duoyishu Scenic Area, Bada Scenic Area, and Laohuzui (the Tiger Mouth) Scenic Area. In addition to the above three scenic spots, there are numerous other terraced fields of different shapes and unique features, but few tourists are involved because of the long-distance and inconvenient transportation.
The region also has different characters depending on the season with February seeing the bare fields full of water reflecting the sky above, and in April the terraces turn green as the rice starts to grow, and later in the year a yellowish-brown as the rice becomes ready for harvest.
The best place to shoot terraced sunrises: Duoyishu Scenic Area, the upper part of the terrace is relatively flat, and the lower part is steep. From the top, it looks like a giant waterfall pouring, which is extremely spectacular. The trees are often surrounded by clouds, and the wonders of the clouds are quite impressive. Duoyishu is a popular place to shoot terraced sunrises.
The best place to shoot terraced sunsets: the Tiger’s Mouth area, The sunset landscape here is a must. On the east side is the crescent-shaped Baoshanzhai terraced field with a beautiful shape and a strong three-dimensional effect. In the upper left corner of the farthest point of the Tiger’s Mouth, you can also see a galloping horse. This is the landmark of Yuanyang Terraced Field, which appeared on the cover of China National Geographic.
Jinkou Folk Village 箐口民俗村
Jingkou Hani Folk Village is located around 6km from Xinje. It is home to around 800 people of the Hani ethnic group who continue their traditional folk customs and way of life. The village practices a sustainable way of life through use of resources and agriculture. The homes are also quite unique and there is a Hani culture museum here too.
Tiger mouth Terrace 老虎嘴梯田
The Tiger Mouth Terraced Field Scenic Spot, or Laohuzui, is located 20 kilometers away from the old county town (Xinjie Town). There are more than 850 hectares of magnificent terraces in various fields.
Duoyishu Terrace 多依树梯田
Duoyishu Terraced Field Scenic Spot is located 23 kilometers away from the old county town (Xinjie Town). There are 650 hectares of terraced fields distributed in Duoyishu and Aichun. It is the best scenic spot for viewing and photographing the cloud terraces, sunrise and cottage. Near here is Shengcun Market (胜村市集) which is a local market of the Hani.
Bada Terrace 坝达梯田
The Bada Terraced Field Scenic Spot is located 14 kilometers away from the old county town (Xinjie Town), where there are more than 950 hectares of magnificent terraces. The Bada terraces are spectacular, beautiful in appearance and strong in three-dimensional. At sunset, the terraced fields are a golden and silvery beauty. It is also a popular scenic spot for viewing and photographing terraces, sunsets and cottages.
- Chinese name: 红河哈尼梯田
- UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site listed in 2013
- Location: Yuanyang County, Yunnan
- Ticket price: Daily ticket 100 yuan, weekly ticket 180 yuan (includes Tiger Mouth, Duoyishu, Bada Scenic Areas and Jingkou Folk village)
- Best time to visit: December to April, best before and after the Spring Festival
- Nearest town: Yuanyang (元阳 – Xinjie Old Town), of Yuanyang County
Visiting Yuanyang Terraces
The base for visiting the terraces is Xinjie Old Town (元阳) and from there you can take shared minvans that operate like taxis to the scenic area (20 RMB). After visiting the first site you can ask any minivan to take you to the next site (5 RMB a time) using translations below
- Jinkou Folk Village 箐口民俗村
- Tiger mouth Terrace 老虎嘴梯田
- Duoyishu Terrace 多依树梯田
- Bada Terrace 坝达梯田
- Xinjie Old Town 元阳
The hotel/hostel you choose to stay at can also help with a private driver to take you around all the attractions.
Most like to spend at least two days here to capture all the sites and sunrise, sunset.
Staying in Yuanyang Xinjie area
Cloudreams Yuanyang Hotel and Resorts – new four-star hotel with bar and restaurant. Very close to the main road and other shops nearby. Very close to the scenic area.
Jiangwai·Huawowo Boutique Hotel – new and modern four-star hotel very near to the entry of the scenic area. It also has views over rice terraces from the hotel.
For heading to the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, you need to get to the old town – Xinjie.
The bus departs from Kunming South/Nanbu Bus Station (南部客运站) and stops at Yuanyang Nansha County and terminates Yuanyang Xinjie Old Town (元阳). The distance between Kunming and Yuanyang is about 375 kilometers and it takes between 7-8 hours. There are stops along the way but you will want to pack your own water and snacks.
Alternatively, you can take the new intercity train from Kunming to Jianhshu (around 2 hrs) and then take a bus as per below.
You can take the bus from Jianshui Bus Station (建水县汽车站) to Yuanyang Nansha Station (元阳南沙汽车客运中心) and then take a taxi/minivan to Xinjie Old Town (元阳). The distance between Jianshui and Yuanyang is about 141 kilometers it takes about 3-3.5 hours.
Tourist map – click for larger image