Picture hilltop villages, the only things visible above rolling fog and cloud banks, an artist’s palette of colours at sunrise and sunset, spirit-recharging treks through centuries-old rice-covered hills, with a few water buffalo eyeing you contentedly nearby. Yes, it’s hard not to become indulgent when describing these tītián (梯田; rice terraces), hewn from the rolling topography by the Hani throughout the centuries. They cover roughly 125 sq km and are one of Yúnnán’s most stunning sights.
Yuányáng (元阳) is actually split into two: Nánshà, the new town, and Xīnjiē, the old town an hour’s bus or minivan ride up a nearby hill. Either can be labelled Yuányáng, depending what map you use. Xīnjiē is the one you want, so make sure you get off there.