Dubbed as “God’ Palette”, Dongchuan Red Earth (红土地) is a rising star, attracting more and more photography enthusiasts and casual travelers home and abroad. The colorful red earth is formed by the iron oxide in the soil. Its bumpy roads and primitive accommodations don’t deter travelers at all. It is still an untouched place, for clean fresh air, fabulous views and superb color landscapes, a true photographers haven.
Dongchuan Red Earth has an altitude of 1800-2600, stretching an area of 50 kilometers. It is situated in Xintian Village (新田乡), 40km southwest of Dongchuan District (东川区) and 250km northeast of Kunming city center. Experts say the Red Earth in Dongchuan is the most beautiful and spectacular in the world. The mountains and the quiltwork of the farmed land give out pieces of colors – deep red, purplish red and brick red, with hilltops and hill slopes dotted with rapeseed flowers, and potato flowers with backdrops of waves of golden grain, blue sky and white clouds. What a surreal scene!
When to Visit Dongchuan Red Earth
Dongchuan Red Earth is situated in Wumeng Mountains with plateau features, crisscrossed with peaks and gullies against the boundless red hills.
September – December: It is the best time for photo taking. It is the harvest time for rapeseed plants, potatoes and buckwheat; budding winter wheat, and the golden autumn leaves along roads and in the villages, a charming palette.
January – February: also a good photogenic time with rapid growth of wheat and farmed lands filled with water.
May -June: a colorful season with rapeseed blossoms and the golden wheat.
How to Get to Dongchuan Red Earth from Kunming
1) Bus Route: Kunming – Fazhe (Red Earth)
Take one of the daily two shuttle buses from Kunming to Fazhe (法者) . The bus passes by Dongchuan Red Earth. One bus starts from Kunming North Bus Station at 7:50am and 8:50am, a 3-hour bus ride.
2) Bus Route: Kunming – Dongchuan – Red Earth
First take the bus from Kunming North Passenger Bus Station ( 昆明市区的北部客运站 ) to Dongchuan District. The buses between the two places run between 7:00am and 7:00pm. You don’t have to wait long, just full and go and bus fare 55 yuan.
Arriving at Dongchuan District, you change for the local bus going to the Red Earth Scenic Area. But there are only to two daily buses going from Dongchuan to Fazhe (法者) – one starting at 8:00am and the other at 2:50am. The two buses pass by the major accommodation areas in the Red Earth. Alternatively, you may take or share a taxi from Dongchuan to the Red Earth, approx. 150 yuan per taxi. For a return trip, you may take the bus or taxi back to Dongchuan, then continue your bus ride to Kunming.
3) Self-Drive: Drive along Kunqu Expressway (昆曲高速) from Kunming – Kunsong Expressway (昆嵩高速) – Songming Expressway (嵩明高速)- Songdai Expressway (嵩待高速)- exit from Longtan Exit (龙潭出口) and drive to Dingchuan District and head to the Red Earth Scenic Area.
Get Around in Dongchuan Red Earth
The attractions and photogenic spots are widely scattered around Dongchuan Red Earth. Basically you need to hire or share a local vehicle to visit the major sites for your day trip. A car rental with a driver costs between 150 yuan and 200 yuan per day. If you prefer to walk, it is impossible to travel all the major areas in Dongchuan Red Earth on your day trip.
Basically, your guesthouse host will arrange your transport to visit the major sites in Dongchuan Red Earth.
Two travel routes:
1) Moon Terraced Field (月亮梯田) – Luoxia Gully (落霞沟景点) – Thousand Year Tree (千年龙树景点) – Red Earth Grand View – T Fork “T”字路口分叉点.
2) “T”Fork (“T”字路口分叉点) – Qicai Po (Seven-Color Slope -七彩坡) – Qinxiu Garden(锦绣园) – Damakan (打马坎) – Yupuao (Sunken Musical Scores – 乐普凹).
Where to Stay in Dongchuan Red Earth
It is recommended that you would stay there overnight to view sunset or sunrise. At the time of my writing, the Red Earth is not yet a touristy destination. Though there are a few guesthouses, in peak season people have to stay overnight at farm guesthouses, village farmhouse-turned guesthouses.
1) Red Earth Impression Hotel 红土映象宾馆： 200 – 200 yuan per night
2) Hong Tu Ren Jia Hotel ( Red Earth Family Guesthouse) 红土人家: around 260 yuan per night
3) Hong Yu Qing Yuan Guesthouse 红土情缘: Madam Zhao and her husband have good service.
4) Red Earth Shanju Hotel 红土地山居酒店: a nice courtyard hotel
For village guesthouses, you pay approx. 50-70 yuan per room per night.
Where to Dine
Basically, the local guesthouses and villager farmhouses cook your meals. The local favorite food include Dongchuan noodle, Dongchuan potatoes, Dongchuan mutton and yak hotpot.
If you visit Lijiang Yunnan, you may stop at Kunming for 1 or 3 days for an excursion to Dongchuan Red Earth.
Any questions, just drop a line.