Honghe (Red) River in Yunnan

The Red River, also known as the Hong River in Chinese, is a significant river in Asia that flows from Yunnan province in Southwest China through northern Vietnam to the Gulf of Tonkin. Here are some key points about the Red River:


  • The Red River originates in the mountains south of Dali in Yunnan province, China. It is formed by the confluence of several headstreams, including the Leqiu River, Xi River, and Juli River, which merge to form the Lishe River.
  • The river flows southeastward, passing through Yi and Dai ethnic minority areas in Yunnan before entering Vietnam’s Lào Cai province.
  • In Vietnam, the river continues its southeasterly course through northwestern Vietnam before reaching the midlands. Its main tributaries, the Black River (Da River) and Lô River, join to form the broad Hồng near the city of Việt Trì in Phú Thọ province.
  • The Red River then flows past Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, before emptying into the Gulf of Tonkin.

Importance as a Travel and Transportation Route:

  • In the 19th century, the Red River was considered a lucrative trade route to China. French explorers traveled up the river until Manhao in South Yunnan and then continued overland toward Kunming.
  • The Red River served as the main commercial travel route between French Indochina and Yunnan until the opening of the Kunming–Haiphong Railway in 1910.
  • Steamships could navigate upstream on the Red River during the rainy season, but goods were transported by small vessels, such as junks, during the dry season.
  • Haiphong was the sea port most easily accessible from Kunming in the early 20th century.


  • Several hydroelectric dams have been constructed on the Red River in Yunnan, including the Da Wan Dam, Dachunhe I Dam, Dachunhe II Dam, Nansha Dam, and Madushan Dam. Many more dams exist on the river’s tributaries, both in Yunnan and in Vietnam.

Many more dams exist on the Red River’s tributaries, both in Yunnan and in Vietnam. One of the earliest of them is the Thác Bà Dam in Vietnam, constructed in 1972, which forms the Thác Bà Lake.

China (中國)
Yunnan (雲南)
Honghe (紅河)
Nansha Town, the county seat of Yuanyang County, Yunnan (南沙鎮)
Manhao Town (Gejiu County-level City) (蔓耗鎮)
Hekou Yao Autonomous County (河口瑤族自治縣)
Vietnam (Việt Nam)

The Red River, view from Long Biên Bridge, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hà Nội
Tây Hồ district
Ba Đình district
Hoàn Kiếm district
Hai Bà Trưng district
Long Biên district
Gia Lâm district
Hoàng Mai district
Ba Vì district
Đan Phượng district
Đông Anh district
Mê Linh district
Phúc Thọ district
Phú Xuyên district
Sơn Tây town
Thanh Trì district
Thường Tín district
Từ Liêm district
Hà Nam province
Duy Tiên district
Lý Nhân district
Hưng Yên province
Văn Giang district
Khoái Châu district
Kim Động district
Hưng Yên
Tiên Lữ district
Lào Cai province
Bảo Yên district
Bảo Thắng district
Nam Định province
Nam Trực district
Giao Thủy district
Trực Ninh district
Xuân Trường district
Phú Thọ province
Cẩm Khê district (old name: Sông Thao district)
Hạ Hòa
Lâm Thao
Phú Thọ
Tam Nông
Thanh Ba
Thanh Thủy
Việt Trì
Thái Bình province
Hưng Hà district
Vũ Thư district
Kiến Xương district
Tiền Hải district
Vĩnh Phúc province
Vĩnh Tường district
Yên Lạc district
Yên Bái province
Trấn Yên district
Văn Yên district