Yuanyang (元阳 Old Town-Xinjiezhen) is in Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan, China.
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 - At least two buses everyday. The first is at 10:30, followed by possible ones at 13:00 and 19:00 (sleeping), ticket ¥144, about 7 hr. Departure from Kunming South bus station. To get to the South Bus Station, take bus 154 close to the main train station or take the metro. A taxi from the center will cost you around ¥50-60.
- Over Jianshui and Yuanyang(Nansha). This road is less direct, but still convenient. (specially when we miss the bus from Kunming !!!)
- Over Gejiu - several buses everyday, get to Gejiu about ¥80, 4-5 hr, then ¥20 to Yuanyang New town (Nansha bus station), 1 hr. 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 hr) 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 hr).
Minibus taxi is around 20RMB to go to Yishu village(依树村), 15RMB to Bada village(坝达村). Easy to get it from the bus station up to the main square.
These 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, 24 km), Bada village (坝达村; badacun, 16 km), Habo village (哈播村, habocun, 80 km), Longshu dam (龙树坝; longshuba, 5 km), Xinjie (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.
Hiking on the rice terrace, for example between Yishu village(依树村) to Bada village(坝达村) - 8km/2hours by foot on road, around 4hours on the rice terrace.
Tips: in Yishu village, take a path used by local people to down on rice field. Stay on hillside and follow the water going to the valley. Cross one or two villages, then climb back to the main road in direction of BADA.
ATTENTION: Don't forget this is hours and hours of work to make this terrace, please take care of the job done on it!
Bicycle trip: rent bike on the main square of Yuanyang village and make your day trip between village rice terrace.
Photo: Sunrise and sunset are famous time to take picture. Famous activity of young Chinese man. The main spot should be cloudy...
Yingyoulian Guest House (Xinjie Town), (On the main road, up the hill from the bus station, 200meters after the police station on the left.), ☎ +86 159 8737 4367. 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.Dorm ¥30,double ¥60, during Spring Festival ¥250-300.
Kunming - Buses leave from Xinjie at 09:05, sleeper buses at 16:30 and 18:30.