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Terraces in the clouds – Honghe Hani Paddy Terraces in the dream

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Terraces in the clouds

– Honghe Hani Paddy Terraces in the dream

云上梯田 梦想红河


Edited by Yu Xuebin


Located in southwest China and the southern foot of the Hengduan Mountains, Honghe River flows from northwest to southeast along the Ailao Mountains and a red plateau, nurturing magnificent landscape and colorful ethnic folklores—Such is the Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province.

Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, connecting Kunming in the north, Wenshan Prefecture in the east, Yuxi City in the west, and Vietnam in the south, is endowed with rich and unique cultural tourism resources that “epitomizes the colorful Yunnan, embodies terrace culture, and gave birth to the Cross-Bridge Rice Noodles”, with attractions that include, Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces that exemplifies the miraculous integration of human activities and nature’s characters, and historical-cultural relics of Jianshui County and Shiping County, where humanistic splendor has fostered numerous prominent figures.



红河州北连昆明市、东接文山州,西邻玉溪市,南面与越南毗邻,红河州文化旅游资源富集独特,是“七彩云南的缩影,梯田文化的殿堂,过桥米线的故乡”, 元阳哈尼梯田、建水和石屏历史文化名城等景区闻名遐迩,历史名人灿若星河。


Recommended Routes 



Day 1 建水双龙桥——团山民居

Jianshui Shuanglong Bridge—Tuanshan Ancient Houses


Day 2 朝阳楼——建水文庙——朱家花园

Chaoyang Building—Jianshui Confucian Temple—Zhu’s Family Garden


Day 3 老虎嘴梯田——多依树梯田

Laohuzui Terrace—Duoyishu Terrace


Day 4 坝达梯田——箐口民族村——燕子洞

Bada Terrace—Qingkou Hani Village— Jianshui Swallow Cave


Best Attractions to Visit



Jianshui Shuanglong Bridge(建水双龙桥)

Located at the junction of Lushui River and Tacun River, about 5 kilometers to the west of Jianshui County, Shuanglong Bridge is a big stone arch bridge with dual pavilions and 17 arches. The bridge was named Shuanglong, or “double dragons” after the two rivers merging, which resemble two winding Chinese dragons.


Tuanshan Ancient Houses(团山民居)

It is a typical migrant Han village in south Yunnan, located at about 13 kilometers to the west of Jianshui County. Zhangfu, the ancestor of these Han people, came to Yunnan as a merchant from Xuyi Village, Poyang County, Raozhou Prefecture, Jiangxi Province in the Hongwu period(1368—1398)of Ming Dynasty(1368—1644). His growing family finally became a large one. The Zhang clansmen have followed their family motto – “Great Endurance”, which allowed the family to thrive over the past six hundred years. Most of his descendants were diligent with good habits and produced numerous civil and martial talents. At the end of the Qing Dynasty(1644—1912), the Zhang’s clan members actively participated in the exploitation of Gejiu tin mining and accrued great wealth, but they all returned to their hometown and built villas for their family.

15 large residential houses, three village gates, three temples, one ancestral hall, and one ancestral grave are well preserved, which shows the typical features of residential architecture in south Yunnan. Tuanshan Ancient Houses were listed as a world memorial architectural heritage by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) on June 21, 2005, and were acknowledged as a typical example of extremely rare and intact precious heritage in the world.


Chaoyang Building(朝阳楼)

This building was built in the 22nd year(1389) of Hongwu period of the Ming Dynasty, with a history of over six hundred years. It is one of the main landmarks representing the long history of Jianshui County (a strategic township in south Yunnan) and a symbol of the old strategic town on the Chinese border. During Yuanhe period (806—820) of Tang Dynasty, Nanzhao Kingdom built this city based on the previous earth city. In the 22nd year of Hongwu period of the Ming Dynasty, the Ming army established the Lin’an Guard and built the Lin’an Guard City by modifying the previous city after Yunnan was pacified. There used to be four gates in this city: Yinghui Gate in the east, Fu’an Gate in the south, Qingyuan Gate in the west, and Yongzhen Gate in the north. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, only the east gate tower survived while the other three were destroyed in wars.


Jianshui Confucian Temple(建水文庙)

Built in Jianshui County in 1285, Jianshui Confucian Temple is one of the few largest and most wonderful Confucian temples that dot the Chinese countryside, and the third earliest established temple in Yunnan after Zhongqing (Kunming) and Dali. After it underwent expansions in the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, it occupies an area of 114 mu (7.6 hectares) and an axisymmetric palatial overall layout, it was built in the pattern mimicking Qufu Confucius Temple. It is a large architectural complex consisting of one hall, two side rooms, two halls, two pavilions, five ancestral temples, and eight lanes.

Surrounded by ancient cypresses, the Temple takes a solemn posture with grandeur, and is reputed as “the most resplendent and magnificent temple in Yunnan, with a size only next to the Confucian Temple in Qufu, Shandong”, and is under the special provincial protection.


Zhu’s Family Garden(朱家花园)

The garden was built by local gentry—Zhu Weiqing and his brother during Guangxu period (1875—1908) of Qing Dynasty. Their house is connected with their ancestral hall and covered an area of over 20,000 square meters. The main building presents “three vertical and four horizontal” layout, where the rooms are in neatly arranged order, and the courtyards are numerous and well-proportioned. The whole building has exquisite and elegant upturned eaves, abrupt rooves, carved beams, and painted rafters. In the garden, both the courtyard and hall have reasonable layouts. All of these form the labyrinth building group. The labyrinth building group is a combination of mainland culture and foreign culture, with high architectural value.


Laohuzui Terrace(老虎嘴梯田)

Laohuzui Terrace is located at the Yuanyang Terrace National Wetland Park and at the center of an area that has been declared a world cultural heritage, about 20 kilometers from the old county seat(Xinjie Town). Covering an area of more than 850 hectares, it is a magnificent area with beautiful sites. In the sunny days of winter and spring, the terrace presents a pattern resembling two running horses, and a hidden dragon and a crouching tiger. Or it may look like a thousand-year tortoise lying down, as if telling of the long history of the terrace-tilling by Hani ancestors. The most precipitous and spectacular terrace is a supreme example of “sculpture by mother nature”.


Duoyishu Terrace(多依树梯田)

At an elevation of 1,900m, it is located at the Yuanyang Terrace National Wetland Park and at the center of an area which has been declared a world cultural heritage, about 23 kilometers from the old county seat(Xinjie Town). With an area of 650 hectares, the paddy terrace is distributed on gulf-like slopes with slopes between 25° and 50° at Duoyishu, Aichun, and Dawazhe, where there are the best spots for viewing and photographing the terrace in cloud-sea, sunrise, and villages. The Story of Yunnan was filmed with these terraces and villages in the backdrop.


Bada Terrace(坝达梯田)

Covering an area of more than 950 hectares, it is located at the Yuanyang Terrace National Wetland Park and at the center of an area that has been declared as a world cultural heritage, about 14 kilometers from the old county seat(Xinjie Town). The spectacular view here highlights beautiful lines and a emphasized stereoscopic visual perception. The continuous arrays of terraces of thousands of strata expand across Malizhai River with an elevation of 800m to the mountain peaks with an elevation of 2,000m, lifting above clouds the Hani villages of Mali, Bada, Shangmadian and Quanfuzhuang. The 3,700 plus layers of terraces shoot up into the sky like a heavenly ladder. The magnificent beauty of the terrace landscape around makes the spot an ideal viewing and photographing site.


Jian shui Swallow Cave(燕子洞)

Jianshui Swallow Cave is famous for its exclusive cave spectacles with the gathering swallows, splendors of hanging stalactites and stunts of bird nests collecting. Outside the cave is a cliff on which there are forests of precious ancient trees perched by large flocks of birds. The flourishing forest covers an area of more than 30,000 square meters. Jianshui Swallow Cave is named after its residing hundreds of thousands of apus pacificus nests on both its outer and inner rock walls. Every autumn, local peasants climb bare-handedly to the 50m- high top of the 450m-long cave to collect bird’s nests from among the stalactites. It’s a thrilling and breathtaking feat to watch!



Yunnan Guoqiao Rice Noodles (Cross-bridge Rice Noodles, 过桥米线):

This dish has a long history of more than a century. Legend has it that there was a small island in the middle of a lake outside Mengzi City in south Yunnan in the Qing Dynasty (1644—1912), which was frequented by a studying scholar. His virtuous and industrious wife always cooked his favorite lunch of rice noodles and sent it to him; however, the rice noodles had turned cold when she arrived at the island. She accidentally discovered one day that a thick layer of chicken fat floating on top of the soup worked like a pot cover and kept the soup warm, and that the noodles would be tastier if she added seasoning ingredients to the rice noodles just before the scholar began to eat. She did as she thought when preparing the chicken soup with a covering layer of chicken fat, and adding other well-prepared ingredients at the last moment. The result was perfect. The new method spread and everyone followed her suit.


Lin’an roast bean curd(临安烧豆腐):

Lin’an roast bean curd is a must-try special delicacy of Jianshui. Unique taste and long-lasting savor leave you lingering aftertaste. Over its long history, it has been famous since the middle and late Qing Dynasty. Located at the west of the county, Zhou’s roast bean curd was the best. Nowadays, Lin’an Roast Bean Curd has been brought into the provincial capital, and every city and town in south Yunnan.


Shizi cake of Jianshui County(建水狮子糕):

Shizi Cake is a famous traditional snack in Jianshui County, Yunnan Province. It is said that it was created in late Qing Dynasty by a pastry chef whose last name was Wu of Rongxiangzhai in Jianshui County. The cake looks like the mane of a lion (shizi in Chinese), thus its name of Shizi cake. Its main ingredients are glutinous rice of good quality, rice-made caramel, and a small amount of sugar.



Jianshui Purple Pottery(建水紫陶):

 With its long history, it is a traditional handicraft of Han people. Its production method has a history of more than 900 years beginning from the end of the Song Dynasty(960—1279). At the National Exhibition of Folk Crafts held in Beijing in 1953, the Jianshui Purple Pottery was listed as one of the four famous ceramics and its fame rivals that of Jiangsu Yixing Pottery, Guangdong Shiwan Pottery, and Chongqing Rongchang Pottery.


Jianshui Steam Pot(汽锅):

As a special cooker from Jianshui, it is oblate-shaped with a pair of ears resembling the ears of a lion. At the bottom of the pot, there is a conical steam tube for conducting water vapor into the pot. Its outside layer is decorated with calligraphy of plants and looks refined and elegant. Jianshui Steam Pot has been sold to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan of China and exported to Japan, America, and Southeast Asia.


Fragrant rice(香米):

As one of the glutinous rice varieties, it is also called fragrant glutinous rice. It has a long cultivation history in Jianshui. The best rice includes the brands of Laolaihong, Shanbaizi and Maxianmi, which are cultivated in villages of Guanting, Potou, and Lihao Village. The rice emits rich aroma when cooked and is a rare treasure of staple food.


Yangnai Vegetable(羊奶菜):

This is a special local variety of pickles and is a wild creeping vine that grows in crevices of cliffs and grass patches on mountain slopes. It has a green vine and fruit, with milk-white pulps. Therefore, it is called Yangnai (“goat milk”) Vegetable. To make the pickle, its vine, leaves, and fruit are picked and ground. Next, add moderate amount of brown sugar and glutinous rice porridge, hot Yingtao peppers, wine, and salt and mix them up. Finally, pour them into a crock for pickling.


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