It is important to understand that Yuanyang, in fact, refers to three things. There is Yuanyang County, Yuanyang New City (Nansha), and Yuanyang Old Town (Xinjiezhen). Yuanyang New City is the Yuanyang you will see on most maps and the capital of Yuanyang County, while Yuanyang Old Town is the traditional heart of the county and definitely the location you will be heading if you are a tourist. To make things complicated, if you are in Nansha, then you are in Yuanyang, and Yuangyang Old Town is Xinjiezhen (or simply Xinjie), and if you are in Xinjiezhen, then you are in Yuanyang, and Yuangyang New City is Nansha. Make sure you clarify which Yuanyang you are going to when you hop on a bus. For the sake of continuity, in this article "Yuanyang" will refer to Yuanyang Old Town and "Nansha" will refer to Yuanyang New City.
From Kunming - two buses everyday, 1pm, and 7pm (sleeping), ticket ¥130, about 7 hours. Departure from Kunming South bus station. To get to the South Bus Station, take bus 154 close to the main train station. A taxi from the center will cost you around ¥50-60.
!!TIP!! Over Gejiu - several buses everyday, get to Gejiu about ¥80, 4-5hours, than ¥20 to Yuanyang New town(Nansha bus station), 1hour. Buses to Gejiu departure from Kunming East bus station.
From Jinghong - an interesting, two day trip through mountains and minority areas. Get the bus from Jinhong to Luchun (12 hours) and stay the night. Spend the morning in Luchun, taste the local Yi food and check out the tea terraces, then get the bus at midday to Xinjie (3-4 hours).
These spectacular rice fields were sculptured in mountains by the Hani minority for several centuries
Terrace fields - lot of small buses at Nansha bus station. Most popular areas: Yishu village (依树村; yishucun, 24km), Bada village (坝达村; badacun, 16km), Habo village (哈播村, habocun, 80km), Longshu dam (龙树坝; longshuba, 5km), Xinjie city (新街镇; xinjie zhen). Gates have been put up and you will be charged 60 yuan to visit certain areas. At January 2012 it was possible for some travellers to go there without paying the fee (so really just buy a ticket if you really have to). You can take bus, randomly get out and just walk, camp.
Tour with Sophia (English-speaking guide), (On the main road, in a store a few houses up from Yingyoulian GH), ☎ (See said store or some restaurants at main square). Sophia is a local, very friendly and knowledgeable. Her English is good and she offers a variety of tour services to the terraces and further at reasonable pricing. She also gets you around the tourist cashiers and off the beaten tracks. You can either choose public transport to and from your destination of choice (starting at around ¥15/person, depending to where and when; you also pay her ticket) or arrange private transport with one of her driver friends (¥170-250/car per day). Her guiding services will cost you another ¥25/hour or ¥200/day. She also gives away free maps. All prices as of May 2012.edit
Yingyoulian Guest House (Xinjie Town), (On the main road, up the hill from the bus station), ☎ 15987374367. checkout: 12:00. Hotel just up the street from the main square of Xinjie. The owner, Belinda, speaks English (one of the few in town that can) and can organize tours to the rice terraces.dorm30yuan,double f¥60,only in the Spring Festival priceis250-300yuan. edit