Ailaoshan Scenic Area is located in Xingping County,Yuxi City,Yunnan Province. It is 110 kilometers away from downtown Xinping. It was listed as the provincial nature reserve in 1981 and the national nature reserve in 1988. It is the closest national nature reserve to Kunming. Ailaoshan Scenic Area is the zone with the greatest varieties of plants and animals and has the best-preserved plant community of the areas in the same latitude. It was selected as the observation post of forest ecosystem and international migrant birds reserve by the United Nations. It is an ideal place for ecological tourism, science research and exploitation, and ethnic culture experience. At the moment, it has developed several tourist destinations such as the Shimen Valley, the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, and the Jinshanyakou Primitive Forest.
What to see in Ailaoshan Scenic Area
Shimen Valley (Stone-gate Valley)
The valley is located beside Enshui Road and is hidden deep in the Ailaoshan Mountains that has an elevation of 2,000 meters. It is so named due to its narrow topography that looks like 5 gates. It is easy to get there. Visitors can appreciate unique sceneries of the Ailaoshan Mountains in the zone. The major scenes include the Yincui Valley, the Colored-stone Stream, the Pearl Pond, and the Moon Pond. At the moment, a 1-kilometer-long tour road has been built and the zone is equipped with a parking lot, tourism toilets, and rental cottages.
Route: entrance (Enshui Road) – the First Stone Gate – the Moon Pond – the Second Stone Gate –the Pearl Pond – the Third Stone Gate – the Tianshan Valley.
Nanen (Dai language, meaning silvery water) is located beside the Enshui Road. The waterfall covers broad rocks with the widest spot being about 10 meters and fall being 100 meters. Surrounding the waterfall are cliffs and rocks. The waterfall forms a spectacular picture with rushing water as if roaring the sky.
Ancient Tea-Horse Road
The ancient tea-horse road is in the Shilihe primitive forest at the central part of the Ailaoshan Mountains. The well-preserved section is 8 kilometers long. The road is surrounded by thick forests with mosses, clean streams and fresh air. The road was first built in the Ming Dynasty starting in Kunming and all the way to Laos and Thailand. It was an important road linking central and southern Yunnan with inland China and foreign countries. It was an important component of the Southern Silk Road. It was the most important trade route between central and southern Yunnan and inland China. It has contributed remarkably to the trading and economic development from ancient time up to now. The major scenes include the Qianjiazhai Historic Site and the Iron-smelting Furnace of the Ming Dynasty. A 2.5-kilometer-long tour road has been built here with other facilities such as a parking lot, tourism toilets, and rental cottages.
Route: entrance (Enshui Road) – the Qianjiazhai Historic Site – the Shilihe Scenic Spot – the Tree-Rounding-Rock – the Ming Dynasty Iron-smelting Furnace –the Qing Dynasty Iron-smelting Furnace –the Bridge – the Ancient Road.
Jinshanyakou (Gold Mountain Mouth) Primitive Forest Park
Lying at the border of Xinping County and Zhenyuan County beside the Enshui Road, 126 kilometers away from downtown Xinping, the Jinshanyakou Primitive Forest Park is in the lowest valley of the Ailaoshan Mountains and is a pivot of the ancient tea-horse road. The Jinshanyakou was originally named the Shuilingyakou and was changed into the present name due to the discovery of gold mine here. The valley preserves a great variety of rare plants, including a primitive middle mountain moist evergreen broadleaved forest with species such as cherry, manglietianinsi, maple and oak. A 4.7-kilometer-long tour road has been built, together with a parking lot, tourism toilets, rental cottages, and other facilities.
Route: entrance (Enshui Road) – the Wild Boar Woods – the Moss Woods – the Gold Cave – the Flower Mountains.