The city of Hong Yuan（红原) is located on the Tibetan Plateau in the Amdo region of Sichuan, and is also known in Tibetan as Krhongche (ཁྱུང་མཆུ།). Hong Yuan sits at an altitude of 3,400m (11,000ft.), and has a population of about 50,000 people. The town was named in 1960 by the Chinese Prime Minister Zhouenlai in memory of the Long March by the Red Army through the grasslands in the 1930s. This town is known for several things including the surrounding grasslands, nomads, and for producing yak meat and dairy products.
Things to Do in Hong Yuan
There are several things to do in and around Hong Yuan including a visit to Moon Bay, enjoying the nomadic life, and trying your coordination at the community Tibetan Dancing.
Moon Bay (Yueliangwan)
The most well known of these is a visit to Moon Bay located just 3kms to the west of the town. Moon Bay is a wonderful site to see White River zigzagging its way through the grasslands filled with yak herds. Organized activities here include a zip-line, short horse rides, and rafting, while this also makes a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
For those wishing to experience Nomadic Tibetan Life, there are several places in the area that have opened tent hotels and offer guests trail rides across the plateau. Those who choose to stay in one of these options do so for the sake of experiencing nomadic life complete with tent, campfires, and stars.
Every night all ages can be found dancing in the town square in the traditional Tibetan style. This is open to the public, and as this is a circle dance, joining in is easy. While you will get some curious smiles as you learn the steps, the dancers are friendly to those willing to try, so copy the person in front of you, and you will soon catch on.
Tips for the non-dancer: some of the dances are more complicated than others, so if one if proving a little too challenging, take a breather, and enjoy watching the pros. Also, if you are really struggling with the footwork, concentrate on the arms, and shuffle your way along. Otherwise, relax, enjoy yourself, and keep trying (they all learned this once too)!
During the months of June and July visitors to Hong Yuan enjoy a visit to Flower Sea. This “sea” is actually a carpet of grassland wildflowers, and is approximately 30 minutes drive from the town.
Things to Know in Hong Yuan
When looking for a meal in town, there are two primary streets for food. While the main street (S 209 Road) holds quite a few nice restaurants, the prices here indicate they profit a bit from the tourists. If you are looking for the more reasonably price food, head over to Jiangxi Street to find the places the locals tend to frequent.
When looking down the streets of Hong Yuan, it seems that there are concrete and bricks being laid everywhere! This city appears to have had quite the facelift in recent years, making for some fairly pretty and fairly wide streets.
Hong Yuan Airport is located 48kms southwest of the town, and is only open for certain months of the year. The exact dates of operation change slightly every year, but the rule of thumb is flights tend to only run in the summer months. This airport is fairly new as it only opened in August of 2014.
If you don’t choose to fly, one of the best ways to get into Hong Yuan is the bus which comes from most of the major towns in the area daily (Chengdu, Maerkang, Aba, Ruoergai, etc.). The bus station has just been renovated, and is conveniently located on the main road of the town.