Yuanjiang-Honghe River System

Yuanjiang-Honghe River System in the south of Yunnan Province, was known as Lishe Jiang(礼社江) in the ancient time. Now, Lishe River(礼社河) as the upper reaches of Yuanjiang-Honghe River System, originated in the north of Weishan Yi and Hui Autonomous County, south of Cangshan, Yunnan, flowing through Xinping, Yuanjiang, Shiping, Jianshui, Honghe, Yuanyang, Gejiu, Jinping, Hekou and other counties and cities. After emptying into Vietnam from Hekou County, it is called the Honghe River(Red River), finally flowing into the Beibu Gulf.

The river system is 1280 kilometers long, among which 772 kilometers in China, with an area of more than 77,600 square kilometers. The main tributaries are Hedi River(河底河), Nanxi River(南溪河) and so on. The river system covers an area of 74,800 square kilometers in Yunnan and accounts for 19.5% of the whole province area. It is a river with the greatest influence on the geographical conditions of Yunnan among the six major river systems. What’s more, it is also the dividing line of the two geographical units in the east and west of Yunnan, and on the both sides, topographic feature, climate type and biological distribution are obviously different. There are many canyons and peculiar landscapes in the whole river, which is a good place for drifting.

Source of Yuanjiang-Honghe River System

Yuanjiang river, the name of the Honghe river in China, is also known as “red river” because of its red sand shale formations and red water. Yuanjiang(Honghe) is divided into two sources, east and west. East source is from Xiangyun county, Yunnan province. West source is positive source, coming from the Maocaoshao(茅草哨) at Ailao mountain east foot of Hengduan mountain in Weishan county, Yunnan. When the two sources converge, they are called “Lishe river礼社江”. Later, it is called Yuanjiang River after flowing into Yuanjiang County. Yuanjiang River flows through Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yuxi, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, and then flows into Vietnam from Hekou Yao Autonomous County.

The Yuanjiang-Honghe river basin is located in 28 cities and prefectures in Yunnan, such as Dali, Chuxiong, Simao, Yuxi, Honghe, Wenshan and Baise(in Guangxi), with a population of about 5.5 million. The main ethnic groups are Han, Yi, Hani, Dai, Bai, Zhuang and Miao.


Yuanjiang River is the main upstream of the Honghe River(red river), which is located in China. The main branches of the red river, including the Heishui river and Mingjiang river, all originate in China. This part of river in China is called the Yuanjiang river system. With an area of 79,000 square kilometers and an average annual runoff of 48.4 billion cubic meters, Yuanjiang river has a natural drop of 2,519 meters and is rich in water power resources.

The Honghe-Yuanjiang river system has 53 tributaries with a drainage area greater than 100 square kilometers within China, 17 tributaries with an area greater than 1,000 square kilometers and 4 tributaries with an area greater than 5,000 square kilometers. Its main branches include Lixian river(李仙江), Tengtiao River藤条江(Mengla river勐拉河), Panlong river(盘龙江) and Pumei river普梅河(Nanli river南利河). These four branches form their own independent water systems within the territory of China. After entering Vietnam, they are respectively named Heishui river(黑水河), Nanna river(难那河), Lujiang river(泸江) and Rugui river(儒桂河).

More information, you can refer to Yuanjiang River in Yuxi and Honghe.


There are many attractions in counties and cities along Yuanjiang-Honghe River System, such as Weishan Ancient town, Cangshan Mountain, Erhai Lake, Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Jianshui Ancient Town, and so on. Yunnan Exploration provides some classic tours related to Kunming-Dali-Lijiang or Kunming-Jianshui-Yuanyang. 

4 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Group Tour
6 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang Tour
7 Days Kunming, Dali and Lijiang Tour with Dianhong Black Tea Culture Tour
10 Days Yunnan Golf and Sightseeing Tour
3 Days Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces Photography Tour from Kunming
3 Days Yuanyang Rice Terrace Photography Group Tour
3 Days Jianshui and Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces Group Tour
6 Days Kunming Yuanyang Jianshui Photography Tour with Honghe Hani Rice Terraces