Yuanjiang River in Yuxi and Honghe

Why is Yuanjiang River So Special?

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”. 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 river basin is located in 28 cities and prefectures, 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.

Branches of Yuanjiang River

Yuanjiang River is the main upstream of the 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.

Where is Yuanjiang River?

Geographic coordinate of Yuanjiang river basin is between east longitude 100 ° 06 ‘-105 ° 40’ and north latitude 22 ° 27 ‘-25°32’. Located in central and southeast Yunnan province and southwest of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is adjacent to the Jinsha river basin in the north, Lancang river in the west, the Nanpan river basin in the east and Vietnam in the south. The topography of the river basin slopes from northwest to southeast in a narrow bow belt.

Water Resources of Yuanjiang River

The Yuanjiang river is rich in water resources and abundant in runoff, with a total of 48.4 billion cubic meters of water resources in the whole basin, and water yield per unit area 647,ooo cubic meters per square kilometer, which is 2.3 times of the national average water yield. Of the four major rivers in the southwest, it is second only to the Brahmaputra, larger than the Nujiang river and Lancang river. The spatial and temporal distribution of water resources in the Yuanjiang river basin is uneven. The water amount in the rainy season from May to October accounts for more than 85% of the annual water amount, while the precipitation amount in the dry season from December to April only accounts for 10% to 15% of the annual water amount. Therefore, the river runoff in winter and spring is mainly supplied by groundwater.

The Development of Water Resources

Yuanjiang is rich in water resources, but it has a very low level of development and utilization, accounting for only 1% of the total water resources of 48.4 billion cubic meters in the whole basin. It is mainly used for farmland irrigation, urban living water and industrial water supply.

Nearby Attractions

1. Nanuo Terrace那诺梯田

Yuanjiang Rice Terraces are mainly concentrated in Yangjie羊街 and Nanuo那诺, among which Nanuo terrace is the most spectacular.  The Nanuo terraces reflect the Hani people’s ancient farming culture.

2. Nanuo Market那诺集市

Nanuo is famous for its Sea of Cloud of terraces and Hani culture in central Yunnan. Nano market is on the double day, there are many Hani people, young and old, but more women. There are exchanges of various items, such as chicken and duck, farm goods, mountain goods, meat, vegetables, sugar cane, piglets and department stores, as well as dyed fabrics and colorful ethnic ornaments.

3. Yuanjiang River National Nature Reserve元江国家级自然保护区

With a total area of 22378.9 hectares, main protected objects in Yuanjiang River National Nature Reserve are the most typical river-valley savanna vegetation, relatively complete mountain evergreen broad-leaved forest and abundant rare wildlife resources. it belongs to the forest ecosystem nature reserve. Nature reserve consists of two sections, namely, the east bank of Yuanjiang (Jiangdong District江东片区  for short) and Zhangba District章巴片区.

How to Get There

1. By Train

Kunming Station-Yuxi Station

Departure Time: 5:36, 7:45, 11:02, 12:30, 15:41, 17:20

Ticket Price: 16.5 CNY

Distance: About 107 kilometers

Consume Time: About 1 hour 15 minutes

Kunming South Station-Yuxi Station

Departure Time: 8:10, 9:55, 10:07, 18:47, 19:13

Ticket Price: 32 CNY or 40 CNY

Distance: About 81 kilometers

Consume Time: About 30 minutes

2. By Long-distance Bus

There are non-stop long-distance bus from Kunming to Yuanjiang.

Kunming South Bus Station-Yuanjiang Bus Terminal

Departure Time: 9:00, 12:00, 15:20, 16:30, 18:00, 17:30

Ticket Price: 79 CNY or 90 CNY

Distance: About 230 kilometers

Consume Time: About 3 minutes

Best Time to Visit

Although different seasons have their unique scenary for people to choose in Yuxi and Honghe, in order to avoid rainy summer and protect from the possible natural disaster, the best time to visit in winter with clear weather and warm temperature.

Accommodation at Yuanjiang River

Most of the hotels in Yuanjiang are concentrated in the county seat of Lijiang Subdistrict. Besides, there are hotels in Nanuo Township, which can meet your tour’s need. It is better to stay in these places to have a deep experience of the folk customs and culture of the Yuanjiang.

1. Yuanjiang Hotel元江大酒店

Address: No.2, Hongqi Road, Lijiang Subdistrict, Yuanjiang County, Yuxi玉溪市元江县澧江街道红旗路2号

Tel: 0877-6012888

Starting Price: 185 CNY

2. Yuanjiang Youjia Hotel元江优家酒店

Address: No.118, Wenhua Road, Yuanjiang County, Yuxi玉溪市元江县文化路118号

Tel: 0877-6559900

Starting Price: 58 CNY

Useful Travel Tips

▪ Respect the customs of ethnic minorities and avoid disturbing the lives of local people.

▪ From June to October is the rainy season and the road conditions could be dangerous.

▪ The weather is changeable in the mountains, so bring warm clothes.