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Travel to Hani- Akha lands

There are so many Hani people in China, more than 2 millions, and so many different branches, with different clothes, languages and lifestyles that it seems that travel to Hani lands must be an easy undertaking. The truth is just the contrary, most of the Hani live in mountain villages, usually isolated from the main communication routes, and, though their presence in roads and markets is common, with the elaborate headdresses of the women calling the traveler attention, to visit their villages the traveler must do an extra effort. 

Travel to Akha lands

Akha, called Aini in China, are usually found in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, and Lancang and Menglian counties, that is, all along the southern border of Yunnan province. Though sometimes they are not very happy about the pictures, maybe because their extraordinary headdress made them the favorite aim in the area, they are usually very friendly, and opened to communication with the foreigner able to master at least a little of Chinese (language spoken by most of the young Hani). 

There are daily flights from Kunming and Lijiang to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuangbanna Prefecture. From Jinghong tours can be arranged to visit Hani villages, or guides booked to make short trekkings, one of the most popular trekkings, from Bulangshan to Damenglong, allows the traveler to visit many Bulang and Akha villages. To visit Lancang and Menglian is better to flight to Pu’er (from Kunming) and take local buses to Lancang or Menglian. Lancang celebrates its market every Sunday. In Menglian information can be gathered about local markets.    

Travel to Hani lands

Now, the best place to know a little about the Hani culture is Yuanyang County and its famous terraced fields. In the mountains of this county, generations of Hani farmers have worked the mountain surface to make possible rice agriculture. To do it they slowly terraced the whole mountain, from the summit to the bottom.  Hani terraced fields in Yuanyang are the biggest in China and maybe of all Asia. Around the terraced fields lay the Hani villages. In the most popular village, Qingkou, now a touristic hub (with only a dozen travelers every day), they are friendly, some of them with the aim to act as guides to the travelers and lead them across the terrace fields to the road in the other side of the mountain. 

The best chance to enjoy the color of the Chinese minorities’ life is to attend a market. Almost every day is celebrated a market in one of the villages near the main terraced fields, and usually is perfectly possible, and recommendable, to combine the visit of the main terraces and that of the market. Most of the hotels in Xinjie, the former administrative center of Yuanyang and now the departure point to Hani terrace fields’ exploration can provide information about current market days. 

Down the mountain, in Nansha, the nowadays administrative center, there is a big population of Hani people, some of the women dressing their traditional clothes. Young people, friendly and curious about the foreigner, can provide also information about their own culture. Neighbouring Honghe County, on the other side, counts with a population Hani in their biggest part. In Honghe the tourism is not so developed, basic accommodation could be found however in most of its townships. The traveler that decide to visit these remote areas is advised to do it on occasion of one of their festivals, otherwise the people is usually so busy with their work that during day time is difficult to establish social relations. 

The best time to visit the Yuanyang Terrace Fields is autumn and winter, when the rice fields are flooded and the water reflects itself with different colors depending on weather and day time. 
From Kunming there are daily buses to Xinjie. It needs about 7-8 hours to cover the distance between these two points. 

In Xinjie there is a nice Hotel, Yundi Hotel, and some other places with basic accommodation.

Ethnic-china has some programs that include the visit of the Yuanyang Terraces and Hani villages. 

One of the most popular itineraries (5 days and 4 nights) leaves Kunming to visit the Stone Forest and Sani Yi Villages, Cheng Zi old village, Hani and Yi villages and Yuangyang Terraces fields, the old City of Jianshui, the round village of Tuanshan and Xingmeng Mongol Village. 
Other itineraries can be tailored according to the traveler requirements. 

This route can also be combined with the visit of the most popular destinations in Northwest Yunnan (Dali, Lijiang, Shangrila) or in Xishuangbanna.

If you are planning a travel to Yunnan don’t hesitate to contact us: yunnantravel@ethnic-china.com

Back to Hani main page

Terrace fields in Yuanyang
Headdress of a Hani child
Hani Mushroom houses

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