Towns and Villages Exploration along The Ancient Tea Horse Road in Yunnan Province

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road is a non-governmental international trade channel with the horse caravan as main means of transportation in southwest China, and is a corridor for the national economic and cultural exchanges in southwest China. The Ancient Tea-Horse Road originated from the tea-horse mutual market in the southwest frontier area of ancient times, which rose in Tang and Song Dynasties, flourished in Ming and Qing Dynasties, and was most prosperous in the middle and late period of the World WarⅡ.

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road starts from Yiwu Town of Xishaungbanna, Puer City of Yunnan Province, and enters Lhasa of Tibet through today’s Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Dali, Lijiang City and Shangri-la. Some also extend from Tibet to India and Nepal, which is an important trade channel for ancient China.


Travel to Yunnan, there are two routes to visit the Ancient Tea-Horse Road:


1.The Old Official Road in Southern Yunnan

Recommended Routes: Xishuangbanna–Pu’er–Honghe–Kunming–Qujing–Zhaotong–Kunming

Mengla County–Yiwu Town

The starting point of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, Yiwu Town, Mengla County, Xishuangbanna City, is the birthplace of Pu’er tea. The ancient road and ancient town are well preserved now and there are Pu’er tea trees that have survived for over a thousand years in the town.


Simao District–The Ancient Tea-Horse Road Tourist Attraction

It is located at Lameipo Village in the northwest of Pu’re City, and about 5 km away from Pu’er city. It is an important section in the north-south direction of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road and is the best-preserved and the longest part, boasting the richest culture of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road and the most favorable ecological environment along the road. In history, Pu ‘er was the distribution and trade center of tea in Southern Yunnan.


Mojiang County–Bixi Ancient Town

The Bixi Ancient Town of Mojiang County is full of nature’s treasures and outstanding people. In history, Bixi Ancient Town is an important station on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, and the only route and resting place for merchants and horse caravan.


Ning’er County–Mohei Ancient Town

“The green mountains surround the town and the river flows around it. The lanes of the ancient town are quiet as well as the houses and stone ladders everywhere.” Here is Mohei Ancient Town, a famous salt town of southern Yunnan, an important Tea-horse Ancient town, a glorious old revolutionary base area and a famous hometown of beauty.


Ning’er County–Nakeli Tea-horse Station

Nakeli is an important station on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road of ancient Pu ‘er prefecture. It is located in the south of Ning ‘er County, 16 kilometers away from the county seat of Ning ‘er and 25 kilometers away from the city of Pu ‘er.

There are relatively well-preserved Ancient Tea-Horse Road sites, century-old Rongfa station, some historical relics such as the lantern which horse caravan used in the past and horse stone water through.


Zhenyuan County—Qianjiazhai Village

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road, known as the Southern Silk Road, witnessed the long history of Pu ‘er tea; The wild tea tree king of over 2,700 years old in Qianjiazhai Village, Jiujia Town, Zhenyuan County, Pu’er City, is the carrier of tea tree’s origin and evolution history, and is known as the living fossil of the tea industry.

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road in the Qianjiazhai section is a part of Yinan Road which is one of the three ancient roads in Yunnan. This long Ancient Tea-Horse Road , hidden in the primitive forests of the vast Ailao Mountain, spans over 1,500 years of history and has gone through many vicissitudes. The tracks of horse’s hoof on the quartzite record the prosperity of the road in ancient southern Yunnan and the legendary stories about the horse caravan.


Honghe County–Yisa Caravan Ancient Town

Yisa Town, located on a mountain ridge of south bank of the Honghe river, was once the habitat of the indigenous people, the Pula people (Yi ethnic group branch), who lived by farming and hunting.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the development of the Yisa horse caravan reached a period of great prosperity and had a great influence on Southeast Asia.

Dongmen Mabang Ancient Town is located in Dongmen Street of Honghe County, which is mainly composed of Dongmen Gate Tower, Chinese-western folk house of Yao Chuju and maze courtyard of Qian Erguan, which were all built in the early Republic of China.


Qujing City–Shengjingguan

Shengjingguan is the first station from Guizhou to Yunnan, known as the “the first pass into Yunnan”, located in Fuyuan County of Qujing City. Shengjingguan Ancient Post Road, commonl[FS:Page]y known as Tongjing Road or Official Road, is a veritable “the Ancient Tea-Horse Road in eastern Yunnan”.

In the history, the officials and trade caravan must pass by this road, whether from central plains to Yunnan or from Yunnan to the Capital.


Zhaotong City–Dousha Ancient Town

Dousha Ancient Town of Yanjin County in Yunnan is a small town on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. In ancient times, the transportation was underdeveloped and mainly relied on manpower and horse, so it was a town of great importance through which people could go out to Sichuan and enter into Yunnan, and was connected with central plains, making it “the gate of Sichuan-Yunnan”.

The Doushaguan has the famous “Wuchidao” vestige, which was established in Qin Dynasty and was an important passage from Sichuan into Yunnan, Burma and India. In ancient times, the horse caravan from Sichuan and Yunnan went back and forth on the ancient road constantly carrying cloth, salt, medicine, tea, silver, copper and other items.


The Yunnan-Tibet Ancient Tea-Horse Road

Recommended Routes: Xishuangbanna–Pu’er–Kunming–Nanhua–Fengqing–Xiangyun–Shuhe–Jianchuan–Yunlong–Bingzhongluo–Deqin–Shangeri-La–Kunming

Nanhua County–Tujie Town

There are abundant forest resources here, together with the ruins of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road.

This once bustling road is lonely, old and silent now. The houses on both sides are still old and seems quite different from the asphalt roads and reinforced concrete houses.


Fengqing County–Lushi Ancient Town

It is the first town on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road in western Yunnan. It is an important station in ancient times from southern Yunnan to Menghua (today’s Weishan County), Xiaguan and Kunming, north to Lijiang, Tibet and India, south to Shunning (today’s Fengqing County), Zhenkang and west to Burma. It has a history of nearly 700 years.


Xiangyun County–Yunnanyi Town

The Yunnanyi Town in Dali is the largest station on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. It is the hometown of “the south of colorful clouds” and also the earliest place named Yunnan. Yunnanyi uses Yunnan as the place name, has more than 2,000 years of history.

Yunnanyi is the only place with different transportation modes in different times, such as horse caravan transportation, highway transportation, railway transportation and air transportation, which is a living fossil in the development history of human transportation. The ancient post paved by quartzite with 1 kilometer long is still well preserved.


Lijiang City–Shuhe Ancient Town

Shuhe Ancient Town is one of the well-preserved towns on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road.

Walking in the ancient town, you will greeted by the rustic Naxi legacy and customs, the dilapidated shops along the street, the mottled quartzite road, the idle old smoking man, the flowing brook and small bridge and the green vegetable garden in front of the gate…People feel like being in the Ancient Tea-Horse Road of that time and recall the past in the light of the present as well as imagination.


Jianchuan County–Shaxi Ancient Town

Shaxi Ancient Town is located between Dali scenic spot and Lijiang Ancient Town, which is the only surviving ancient market on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. Walk along the quartzite road, climb on the ancient stage, look around the shops and horse stations, walk through the Heihuijiang River, listen to the Dongjing ancient music of Bai ethnic and feel the traditional charm of the ancient minority.

It must be the market of all that in Yunnan which has the most historical and cultural charming!


Yunlong County–Nuodeng Village

In Chinese history, the once precious salt predisposed this remote small village to be a big city on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road once gathered millions of merchant together, witnessed prosperity of 1,000 years.

The Nuodeng salt well, which has been mined since the Han Dynasty for more than 2,000 years, is one of the commercial centers on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road in west Yunnan.


Bingzhongluo Township of Nu Jiang Autonomous Prefecture–Wuli Village

Wuli Village of Bingzhongluo Township, Gongshan County, Nu Jiang Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, is located between Shimenguan of Nu Jiang Grand Canyon and Qiunatong Village. The village lies north of Bingzhongluo Township, backed by Bilo Mountain, faces Gaoligong Mountain across the river with the Nu Jiang flowing by in front of the village.

Visitors come here and admire its quiet, primitive, steep and simple, and call it “land of idyllic beauty” and “fairyland on earth”.

Near Wuli Village, a short true Ancient Tea-Horse Road can still be seen clinging to the cliff of Nu Jiang.

It is also the only access to [FS:Page]the village.


Deqin County–Benzilan Town

Deqin County was the last stop in Yunnan Province of Yunnan-Tibet line, and Benzilan Town was once also a necessary town on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road.

Through the ages, no one knew how many local groups of horse caravan passed through and stopped in the “grand pier” of horse caravan transportation. It is also known on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road for its ability to produce the most capable “Majiaozi” (the Tibetan word “Ladu” meaning “horse driver”).


Shangri-La–Dukezong Ancient Town

As the only Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, Qiqing has always been a key road into Tibet, and Shangri-La is an important checkpoint on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. Dukezong Ancient Town, located in Qiqing, is also a real living town in Shangri-La County.

It is said that Dukezong is old because this important Town on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road has more than 1,300 years of history.

For Yunnan people, the Ancient Tea-Horse Road is not only a relic, but also a powerful witness of long-term communication and symbiosis between Yunnan people and the outside world, containing profound culture and history. Come to Yunnan to once again walk on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, visit the horse caravan of ancient road, and feel the prosperity and lively times of horse caravan during the journey of pursuing history.

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