I have always admired man’s ability to work with nature in order to create sustainable outcomes. I therefore have deep appreciation for the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces.


Placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013, the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are a system of growing and cultivating rice stretching from the slopes of the Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River (UNESCO, n.d.) in China. The system is over 1300 years old and is tended to by the Hani people. They utilize traditional methods and materials in order to cultivate the land which is supported by their beleif in and worship of the natural environment.  Water is channeled from the mountains down to the rice paddies. “Ducks fertilise the young rice plants, while chickens and pigs contribute fertiliser to more mature plants, water buffalo slough the fields for the next year’s planting and snails growing in the water of the terraces consume various pests” (ibid.). The result of all this work is beautiful red rice.

Source: Thousand Wonders

While terracing is not uncommon in agriculture, the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are certainly quite beautiful and akin to a work of art. If you did not know what you were looking at you might even mistake it for a natural phenomenon. The Terraces offer different views throughout the year. November to March – the fields are filled with water. April to September – green paddy rice all over the fields. Late September and early October – the rice fields ripen. The four major scenic areas are the Bada Rice TerracesDuoyishu Rice TerracesLaohuzui Rice Terraces and Samaba Rice Terrace Fields. (Yunnanadventure.com, n.d.)

The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are a perfect example of how heritage can contribute to sustainable development.

  • The rice paddies provide work for the Hani people.
  • There is no wastage of water or any extra economic effort to source it as the traditional method utilizes water already available on the mountain.
  • Because traditional methods are used, the culture is being passed down the the generations, promoting cultural sustainability.
  • The system allows for the cultivation of rice without damaging the environment, ensuring its future use.
  • The Terraces are also tourism attractions. Ticket prices range from CNY100 for a day ticket to CNY360 for a full year pass (Yunnanadventure.com, n.d.).


If I had the opportunity I would definitely visit the  Honghe Hani Rice Terraces and I would also recommend that anyone else do the same.





UNESCO (n.d.). Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. [online] whc.unesco.org. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1111 [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].

Yunnanadventure.com. (n.d.). Honghe Hani Rice Terraces Overview, Yunnan Adventure Travel. [online] Available at: http://www.yunnanadventure.com/city_list/Honghe-Hani-Rice-Terraces-Overview_152_795.html [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].