Yuanyang Rice Terrace 2019: Everything You Need to Know

For more than one thousand years, the Hani people of Yuanyang county have expanded to grow their rice paddy field on the steep slopes in the rural areas. From the viewing platform, one could see an expanse of beautiful terraced paddy field, stretched from valley’s bottom up to the higher reaches of nearby mountains, towards the distant horizon in an area of more than 113 square kilometers.

Although the picturesque landscape has gained increasing attention from photographers in recent years, this area remains non-touristy due to its remote location.

In this article, I will show you the detailed guide on how to visit this beautiful countryside.

How to go to Yuanyang from Kunming

Route #1: Kunming – Yuanyang 

From Kunming South Bus Terminal, buses travel to Yuanyang Xiejie Town (新街镇) three times a day: 1030, 1230, and 1800. The bus journey is about 8 hours. The ticket is priced at 139 RMB.

Route #2: Kunming – Jianshui (建水) – Yuanyang

Alternatively, you take a train from Kunming to Jianshui(建水) and transfer to Yuanyang via bus.

From Kunming train station, trains travel regularly to Jianshui. Please refer to the schedule:

From Jianshui train station, take bus number 212 to Jianshui bus terminal There you will find buses leaving regularly to Yuanyang Nansha(南沙) bus terminal. The bus journey takes about 4 hours, and the fare is 32 RMB.

Nansha terminal is about 30km from Xiejie Town terminal. There are regular buses between the two places (10RMB, 7:00 am to 8:00 pm)

Note: Jianshui is nice little town worth visiting. It’s a hidden gem on off the beaten track with unique attractions. If you are not pressed for time, it’s highly recommended that you stay here for a night before heading to Yuanyang.

Route #3: Kunming – Gejiu (个旧) – Yuanyang 
From Kunming East Bus Terminal, you can get to Gejiu (个旧) to transfer for Yuanyang. For this journey, buses leave at 0930, 1100, 1215, 1420, 1530, 1715, 1815, and 2000. The fare is priced at 117 RMB, and the journey is about 3 hours.

From Gejiu, there are frequent buses to Yuanyang bus terminal at Xinjie town every hour (from 0700 to 1845). The fare is 16RMB and the journey is about 1 hour.

Getting around

There are minibusses that travel between Yuanyang Xinjie, Nansha and other towns, including

Bada village (坝达村)
Habo village (哈播村)
Longshu dam (龙树坝)
Duoyishu village (多依树村)

There is no fixed schedule. However the first pick up at Xinjie is 7:30 am, and the last at 4:00 pm on a typical day. The fare is 5 RMB.

The best way is to hire a private van. Usually, a private van can accommodate up to 7 people at 300RMB per day.

Either way, it’s recommended that you stay in guesthouses with owners and staff who speak English. That way, you could ask for their help to arrange local transportation.

My recommendations are Jacky’s Guest House and Timeless Hostel Yuanyang

Major attractions

Photo credit: Pu Fan

Duoyishu 多依树: Most of the Yuanyang paddy fields images you’ve seen on the internet are taken in Duyishu. The scenery is particularly magnificent when the morning sun reflects on the water surface of the terraced rice field in the sea of clouds. To get the best shot, you should arrive at the viewing station before sunrise, at about 6 am.

Photo credit: Goh Keat Chye

Laohuzhui 老虎嘴:  This is the recommended location to view the sunset. On bright sunny days of winter and spring, the layered terrace resembles two horses running free. The best time to come is 5 pm. That’s when the clouds gather at the upper layer of the terrace, and the ray of light stretches far and wide across the earth.

Bada 坝达: Bada lies at an altitude ranging from 800 to 2000 meters above sea level with about 14000 acres of layered rice terrace. The best time to visit Bada is at 4 pm. As the sun sets, the color of the water reflection gradually changes from silver, to pink and then red.

Tip from local: The best viewpoint is about 800 meters away from the major viewing station, at the edge of a cliff near the local village. There’s a very small viewing station, built by the villagers.  

Longshuba 龙树坝: Longshuba is best known for the colorful duckweed. There are massive amounts of green, yellow, and red duckweed floating in the water, forming uniquely beautiful scenery particularly during springtime.

Qingkoucun 箐口村: The quaint village is home to the local Hani tribe. The houses of Hani resemble the shape of mushrooms, tucked away by the colorful terrace fields. As well, you get to catch a glimpse of the rustic lifestyle, tradition, and culture of Hani people.

Best time to visit Yuanyang: December to Match (excluding Chinese New Year)

Suggested 3 Day Yuanyang Itinerary

Day 1: Kunming – Jianshu – Yianyang
Day 2: Xinjie Town – Duoyishu – Bada
Day 3: Xinjie Town – Qingkoucun – Laohuzhui

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