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How To Visit The Yuanyang Rice Terraces – Yunnan Rice Fields


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Cairistiona Castle



Welcome to the breathtaking Yuanyang Rice Terraces, a true natural wonder located in the Yunnan province of China. These terraced fields, also known as the Yunnan Rice Fields, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attract travelers from all around the world. With their stunning beauty and rich cultural heritage, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces offer a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.


The Yuanyang Rice Terraces are famous for their elaborate and intricate terraced hillside cultivation, which has been practiced by the Hani people for over a thousand years. These terraced fields, which span over 13,000 hectares, create a picturesque landscape of cascading green rice paddies that stretch as far as the eye can see. The terraces are carefully carved into the hilly landscape, an impressive feat of engineering that showcases the ingenuity of the Hani people.


Aside from their undeniable beauty, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces are also an essential source of sustenance for the local community. These terraced fields provide a way of life for the Hani people, who depend on the cultivation of rice and other crops for their livelihood. The Hani people’s deep connection with the land is evident in every terrace and paddy, as they continue to maintain their ancestral farming practices.


Visiting the Yuanyang Rice Terraces gives you the opportunity to witness this harmonious relationship between nature and humans. As you immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings, you’ll gain a profound appreciation for the Hani culture and their sustainable farming methods.


Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, nature lover, or cultural explorer, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces have something unforgettable in store for you. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about visiting this natural wonder, from how to get there to where to stay and what to do during your stay. Let the adventure begin!


Getting to Yuanyang

Getting to Yuanyang is relatively straightforward, and there are a few different options available depending on your preferences and budget.


By Air: The nearest airport to Yuanyang is the Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG), which is well-connected to major cities in China and other international destinations. From the airport, you can take a domestic flight to Jianshui or Nansha, which are both within a reasonable distance from Yuanyang.


By Train: If you prefer to travel by train, you can take a high-speed train from Kunming to Jianshui, which is approximately a 3-hour journey. From Jianshui, you can hire a taxi or take a local bus to reach Yuanyang. It’s important to check the train schedules in advance and book your tickets early, especially during peak travel seasons.


By Bus: Another option is to travel by bus from Kunming, which is a scenic and budget-friendly way to reach Yuanyang. There are regular buses departing from Kunming East Bus Station to Yuanyang County, with a journey time of around 7-8 hours. The bus journey allows you to enjoy the stunning landscapes of Yunnan along the way.


By Private Car: For more flexibility and convenience, you can also hire a private car or arrange a private transfer from Kunming to Yuanyang. This option is ideal for travelers who prefer a more comfortable and personalized experience. You can either book a private car with a driver or hire a local guide who can provide valuable insights during the journey.


Once you arrive in Yuanyang, you can easily explore the rice terraces on foot or hire a local driver to take you to the different viewing points. The terraces are well-signposted, and there are designated platforms and paths for visitors to enjoy the stunning panoramic views.


Now that you know how to reach Yuanyang, it’s time to discover the best time to visit this enchanting destination.


Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Yuanyang Rice Terraces is during the spring and autumn seasons when the landscapes are at their most beautiful and vibrant.


Spring (March – May): During the spring season, the terraces are transformed into a sea of lush green as the rice plants begin to grow. The terraces are filled with water, creating a stunning reflection of the surrounding scenery. In March, you can witness the fascinating process of water irrigation as the locals prepare the fields for planting. The weather during spring is generally mild, making it a pleasant time for hiking and exploring the terraces.


Autumn (September – November): Autumn is another fantastic time to visit Yuanyang, as the rice plants turn into brilliant shades of gold and yellow. The ripening rice fields create a mesmerizing contrast against the deep green terraces. During autumn, the weather is cool and comfortable, making it perfect for long walks around the terraces and enjoying the breathtaking views.


It’s important to note that the Yuanyang Rice Terraces can be visited throughout the year. However, other seasons may have their own unique charms. For example:


Summer (June – August): Summer offers a different perspective of the rice terraces. The paddies are filled with water, creating stunning reflections under the summer sun. The terraces are a vibrant green during this time, and you may have the chance to witness the Hani people engaged in farming activities. However, do keep in mind that summer is the rainy season in Yuanyang, so be prepared for occasional showers.


Winter (December – February): Winter brings a breathtaking sight as the terraces are occasionally covered in a blanket of white snow. The landscapes take on a serene and tranquil ambiance during this time. While the weather can be quite chilly, with temperatures dropping below freezing, visiting in winter offers a unique and peaceful experience for those seeking a quieter getaway.


Considering the weather and the aesthetic appeal of the terraces, spring and autumn are generally considered the best times to visit Yuanyang. However, no matter when you choose to visit, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces will undoubtedly leave you in awe of their natural beauty and cultural significance.


Where to Stay

When visiting the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, there are several accommodation options available to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some popular choices:


1. Yuanyang County: The county town of Yuanyang offers a range of accommodations, from budget guesthouses to mid-range hotels. Staying in Yuanyang County provides convenient access to the rice terraces and nearby attractions. You can find comfortable and affordable options here, with basic amenities and local charm.


2. Shengcun Village: For a more immersive experience, you can consider staying in one of the traditional Hani villages within the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, such as Shengcun Village. Here, you can find guesthouses that offer a unique opportunity to stay in a traditional Hani-style building and experience the local way of life. Keep in mind that these accommodations might have basic facilities, but they offer an authentic cultural experience.


3. Duoyishu Village: Duoyishu Village is another popular option for accommodation, known for its beautiful sunrise views over the terraces. There are a few guesthouses and boutique hotels in this area that offer comfortable rooms with stunning vistas. Wake up early to catch the sunrise and witness the magical scenery from your doorstep.


4. Jingkou Village: Jingkou Village is located near the Bada Rice Terraces and provides a tranquil setting away from the crowds. There are a few guesthouses and small inns in the village, offering a peaceful retreat surrounded by stunning landscapes.


Regardless of where you choose to stay, it’s important to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This ensures you have a comfortable place to relax after a day of exploring the rice terraces.


As an alternative, you can also opt for homestays in the Hani villages, where local families open up their homes to visitors. This allows you to experience the Hani culture firsthand and get a glimpse into their daily lives. Homestays offer a more intimate and immersive experience, but keep in mind that the facilities might be basic.


With various accommodation options available, you can find the perfect place to stay and make the most of your visit to the Yuanyang Rice Terraces.


Exploring the Rice Terraces

Exploring the Yuanyang Rice Terraces is an unforgettable experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and cultural significance of this remarkable landscape. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:


1. Sunrise and Sunset Views: The Yuanyang Rice Terraces offer spectacular sunrise and sunset views. To capture the best moments, head to popular viewing platforms such as Duoyishu Village or Laohuzui Rice Terraces. Arrive early to secure a good spot and witness the breathtaking transformation of colors as the sun rises or sets over the terraces.


2. Hiking Trails: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the terraces on foot. There are numerous hiking trails that allow you to get up close to the rice paddies and enjoy panoramic views. The Laohuzui Rice Terrace and Duoyishu Village to Bada Rice Terrace hike are highly recommended, offering magnificent vistas along the way.


3. Local Cultural Experiences: Take the opportunity to engage with the Hani people and learn about their unique culture and farming practices. You can visit local villages, chat with the friendly villagers, and even participate in their daily activities, such as rice planting or harvesting (depending on the season).


4. Photography Opportunities: Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply enjoy capturing beautiful moments, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces offer endless photography opportunities. The changing light and the intricate patterns of the terraces create a canvas of stunning visuals. Don’t forget to bring your camera and tripod to capture the magic.


5. Visit the Yuanjiang Viewing Platform: The Yuanjiang Viewing Platform is a must-visit spot that provides a panoramic view of the terraces from above. Here, you can truly appreciate the vastness and intricate design of the terraced fields. It’s a great place to take in the breathtaking scenery and capture some incredible photos.


6. Attend Cultural Festivals: If you happen to visit during the festive season, make sure to participate in local cultural festivals. The Hani people celebrate various festivals throughout the year, showcasing their traditional costumes, dances, and music. It’s a wonderful opportunity to witness their lively traditions and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.


7. Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide who can provide you with valuable insights and stories about the terraces and the Hani culture. They can navigate you through the best spots, share their knowledge about the area, and enhance your overall experience.


Remember to respect the local customs and be mindful of the terraced fields. Avoid trampling on the crops or going off marked paths, as it can damage the delicate ecosystem. Take only photographs and leave only footprints to preserve the beauty of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces for future generations to enjoy.


Now that you’re equipped with tips for exploring the rice terraces, it’s time to tantalize your taste buds with the local cuisine and dining options in Yuanyang.


Local Cuisine and Dining Options

When visiting the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, you’ll have the opportunity to savor the delicious local cuisine and immerse yourself in the flavors of the region. Here are some local dishes and dining options to try:


1. Hani Bamboo Rice: Hani Bamboo Rice is a local specialty that is not to be missed. This dish consists of tender, fragrant rice cooked inside bamboo tubes. The bamboo imparts a unique flavor to the rice, making it a delightful and aromatic culinary experience.


2. Sour Fish Hot Pot: Known as “Xiang La Fish,” this hot pot is a popular choice for adventurous food lovers. It features fresh fish cooked in a spicy and sour broth, along with a variety of vegetables and herbs. The combination of flavors creates a tangy and refreshing dish that is perfect for warming up during colder months.


3. Hani Barbecue: Hani Barbecue is a must-try when visiting Yuanyang. It usually consists of skewered meat, such as pork or chicken, marinated in a flavorful sauce and grilled over an open flame. The result is tender and juicy meat with a smoky caramelized glaze.


4. Hani Rice Noodles: Yuanyang is also famous for its rice noodles, known as “Mi Xian.” These noodles are made from high-quality rice, creating a smooth and springy texture. They are typically served in a rich and flavorful broth, along with a variety of toppings like sliced meat, vegetables, and herbs.


5. Local Market Street Food: To truly immerse yourself in the local food scene, head to the markets in Yuanyang. Here, you’ll find a wide array of street food stalls selling delectable snacks and treats. From grilled skewers to steamed buns and colorful desserts, there’s something to satisfy every taste bud.


6. Local Tea: Yunnan is known for its tea production, and Yuanyang is no exception. Take the opportunity to sample some of the local teas, such as Pu’erh or Yunnan black tea. You may even find tea tastings or tea ceremonies that allow you to learn more about the tea culture in the area.


While exploring the rice terraces, you’ll come across small local restaurants and eateries that offer authentic Hani cuisine. These establishments often use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, ensuring the flavors are rich and distinct.


Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and try some of the local recommendations. Engage with the locals and ask for their favorite dishes or hidden gems to discover hidden culinary treasures in Yuanyang.


After filling your belly with delicious local fare, you may want to explore other attractions in and around Yuanyang. Let’s take a look at some of the notable sights and activities to add to your itinerary.


Other Attractions in Yuanyang

While the Yuanyang Rice Terraces are undoubtedly the main highlight of the region, there are other attractions worth exploring during your visit. Here are some additional must-visit places in and around Yuanyang:


1. Tiger Mouth Rice Terraces (Laohuzui): Located in the southern part of Yuanyang, the Tiger Mouth Rice Terraces, or Laohuzui, offer stunning panoramic views of the terraced fields. The shape of the terraces resembles a tiger”s mouth, hence its name. Witness the breathtaking beauty and capture incredible photos from the designated viewing platforms.


2. Longshuba Rice Terraces: The Longshuba Rice Terraces are another hidden gem in Yuanyang, ideal for those seeking a less crowded experience. The terraces here boast a unique design, with each layer resembling an embroidery pattern. The picturesque landscapes and tranquility make it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers.


3. Azheke Village: Visit Azheke Village to experience the traditional lifestyle of the Hani people. Located near the Bada Rice Terraces, this village offers a glimpse into the daily routines, architectural style, and cultural practices of the local community. Explore the narrow stone pathways, wooden houses, and terraced fields surrounding the village.


4. Duoyishu Scenic Area: Apart from its accommodation options, Duoyishu Village is also worth visiting for its scenic beauty. The terraces here offer remarkable sunrise and sunset views, transforming into a golden landscape. It’s a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking serenity and tranquility.


5. Azheke Waterfall: Embark on a short hike to Azheke Waterfall, a hidden gem nestled deep within the mountains. This cascading waterfall, surrounded by lush vegetation and rugged terrain, offers a serene and refreshing atmosphere. Enjoy the natural beauty and if weather permits, take a dip in the cool mountain waters.


6. Mushroom Houses of Qingkou Village: Visit the unique Mushroom Houses of Qingkou Village, which are peculiar buildings shaped like mushrooms. These structures are made using traditional Hani construction techniques and are designed to blend harmoniously with the terraced landscapes. Explore the village and marvel at the distinctive architecture.


These additional attractions provide a glimpse into the diverse beauty of Yuanyang and showcase the rich cultural heritage of the region. Make sure to allocate enough time to explore these captivating sites and fully immerse yourself in the charm of Yuanyang.


Now that you have an idea of the various attractions in and around Yuanyang, let’s move on to some essential tips that will enhance your visit and ensure a seamless experience.


Tips for Visiting Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Visiting the Yuanyang Rice Terraces requires some preparation and knowledge to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:


1. Check the Weather: Before you go, make sure to check the weather forecast for Yuanyang. This will help you plan your activities and pack accordingly. Keep in mind that the weather can change quickly in mountainous regions, so it’s always a good idea to bring layers and be prepared for unexpected changes.


2. Comfortable Footwear: Exploring the rice terraces involves walking and hiking, so it’s essential to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear. Opt for hiking shoes or sneakers that provide good traction for navigating the sometimes steep and uneven paths.


3. Bring Snacks and Water: While there are dining options available, it’s a good idea to bring some snacks and a reusable water bottle with you. This will ensure you have sustenance and hydration throughout your exploration, especially if you plan to spend a considerable amount of time in the terraced fields.


4. Respect the Local Culture: Remember that the Yuanyang Rice Terraces are not just a tourist attraction but also a way of life for the Hani people. Respect their culture, customs, and traditions when interacting with the locals and exploring the villages. Follow any guidelines provided and be mindful of the terraced fields to avoid damaging the crops or the fragile ecosystem.


5. Carry Cash: While some places may accept digital payments, it’s advisable to carry cash, as not all establishments may have card payment facilities. This is particularly important when visiting local markets or small shops in the villages.


6. Plan Your Photography: If you’re a photography enthusiast, plan your shots in advance and research the best viewpoints and lighting conditions for capturing stunning images of the terraces. Consider visiting during sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic lighting. Take your time to capture the intricate details of the terraces and the surrounding landscapes.


7. Capture the Seasonal Changes: The Yuanyang Rice Terraces undergo stunning seasonal transformations. If possible, plan your visit during different seasons to experience the varying colors and moods of the terraces. Spring offers vibrant greenery, while autumn showcases golden hues. Each season has its unique charm, providing endless photo opportunities.


8. Hire a Local Guide: Consider hiring a local guide who can provide valuable insights, help navigate the area, and enhance your understanding of the terraces and Hani culture. They can provide insider tips, share interesting stories, and help you make the most of your visit.


9. Pack Essentials: In addition to comfortable footwear, packing essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and sunglasses is recommended to protect yourself from the sun and insects. It’s also a good idea to carry a small backpack to store your belongings and any essentials you may need throughout the day.


10. Respect Nature: Finally, remember to respect the natural environment around you. Dispose of any trash responsibly, stay on designated paths to minimize damage to the terraces, and leave only footprints. By being mindful of your impact, you can help preserve the beauty and integrity of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces for future generations.


With these tips in mind, you’re well-prepared to embark on an incredible journey to the Yuanyang Rice Terraces and create lasting memories of this awe-inspiring destination.


Safe travels!



The Yuanyang Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Yunnan province of China, offer a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Visiting this enchanting destination allows you to witness the harmonious relationship between humans and nature, as the Hani people cultivate their terraced fields, creating a stunning tapestry of cascading rice paddies.


Whether you’re an avid photographer, a nature lover, or a cultural explorer, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces offer a unique and unforgettable experience. From exploring the terraces on foot to witnessing breathtaking sunrise and sunset views, there are countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the beauty of this remarkable landscape.


While the rice terraces are the main attraction, don’t miss out on the other captivating sights Yuanyang has to offer. Visit Hani villages, sample local cuisines, and experience the rich cultural traditions of the region.


By following the tips provided, you can navigate the area with ease, respect the local culture, and capture incredible photographs that showcase the ever-changing beauty of the terraced fields.


Remember, visiting the Yuanyang Rice Terraces is not just about witnessing a stunning natural wonder—it’s about discovering the significance of this ancient agricultural practice and the strong connection between the Hani people and their land.


So pack your bags, prepare your camera, and embark on a journey to Yuanyang—a destination that will leave you in awe of its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and the remarkable harmony between man and nature.


Experience the magic of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces and create memories that will last a lifetime!