Stunning Colors of Remote Red Land: Slice of Photography Heaven in China [36 PICS]

March 17th, 2015 Permalink

Have you ever run across a photo and thought, Wow, that’s beautiful! Where is that? Well this is ‘Red Land,’ sometimes ‘Red Earth,’ and it’s an unusual and very remote area in China. Photographers love it, so it’s no longer a secret, but it’s definitely off the beaten track and amazingly picturesque. [36 Photos]

Dongchuan Red Land in Yunnan China

Dongchuan Red Earth, a rural area in Yunnan, China, that has captured the hearts of some photographers. Photo #1 by absolutechinatours

beautiful red land in china

We came across an image showing the Red Earth landscapes and went hunting for the location. In the southwest of China is Yunnan, a province with renowned natural beauty. Kunming is the capital and largest city in Yunnan. Inside Kunming is the Dongchuan District with its unique Red Land scenery. Photo #2 by China Absolute Tours

Patterns growing in the Red Land

Photographers first “discovered” this very rural location with gorgeous scenery in the mid 1990s. China Trekking added, “The first came and scooped award-winning photos, but kept their location a closely guarded secret. But slowly the details leaked and now more and more photographers are making their arduous trip into the arid mountains. The brilliant red soil, the yellow buckwheats and the dramatic skies make the region around Dongchuan a paradise for photographers.” Photo #3 by Lofter

Delightful landscapes in Dongchuan

Delightful Dongchuan landscapes, a rural and off-the-beaten-track location. Photo #4 by Peter F C Mok

Remote land but picturesque scenery

According to, “The land is seldom visited by ordinary tourists for its remoteness and inadequate lodging facilities; however, the picturesque scenery there is paradise for photography fans.” Photo #5 by

rainbow hills and fields

A good portion of info about this area comes from travel agencies. Even Wikipedia isn’t exactly sure as it reports: “The area of Dongchuan is, according to some websites, 1858 km², but some websites claim 1674 km². The highest point is 4344 meters high, and lowest is 695 meters. As of 2000 Dongchuan has a population of 275,564. As of 2006, the population was 302,000.” Photo #6 by China Absolute Tours

Dongchuan, a rural place in the Wumeng Mountainous area

Dongchuan is a rural place in the “Wumeng Mountainous area, about 180km north of Kunming.” It’s really a sweet spot for photographers. The tourist agency said: “Speaking of Red Soil, the scenery is in fact centralized around Huagou (means colorful valley) of Xintian Township, which is about 50km away from Dongchuan County seat. Those locations are too small to have a name. Locals simply call it 109, 110…the number on the kilometer marker along the road. 109 is almost the highest point on the road, which branches here to another small hamlet. From all around 109 glorious vistas stretch to Guizhou and Sichuan. Dongchuan, as the crow flies not more than 20 kilometres away, is barely visible in the valley far below.” Photo #7 by Yunnan Adventure

Workers in the fields of Dongchuan

Workers in the fields of Dongchuan. But early morning is also prime time for photographers as it’s said the best and most dramatic shots are captured when the first rays of sunshine hit the red earth. Photo #8 by JiKang Lee

Red Land Dongchuan

According to the travel agency, “The surreal and tempting beauty of this place finally tugs at people’s heartstrings. Photographers and backpackers fumble their way into this less visited site, which is so remote that GPS fails to give decent data, and the slightest miscalculation can result in lost amid the vast wildness; hence, it is no surprise that from time to time, some unlucky souls will go astray.” Photo #9 by Jofee Lee


One 9-day photography tour to the “rust-colored” earth of Dongchuan was described as: “We run this journey early in the springtime, when tendrils of mist hang over the hillsides, when the golden rapeseed blossoms and when the rice fields are at their mirror-like finest.” Photo #10 by China Absolute Tours

Red soil photography

The travel agency knows about this place, having both incredible images of a place we hadn’t seen and info like: “To enjoy the beauty of Dongchuan Red Land, time and place really matter. September to December will see the beauty of Dongchuan Red Land culminate. At that time, the red land will be carpeted with rape, potatoes and buckwheat, while the sparsely populated villages will be enveloped by colorful trees. From January to February, wheat will sprout and thrive. The crescent-shaped shimmering rice paddies will mirror the blue sky and the drifting clouds, which are very intoxicating. If you cannot make it from September to February, do not feel upset. May to June will do. For it is the flowering period and harvest season for Brassica napus and wheat respectively. Interspersed with patches of green, purple red, light yellow and golden yellow, Dongchuan Red Land will testify to its enduring fame as ‘Nature’s Heavenly Palette’.” Photo #11 by Yunnan Adventure

The Red Land

Highlights for the Red Earth area are spread out and divided into five different places. For example: “Luoxiagou (Falling Clouds Ditch) is a low land encircled by hills; it stands out as the quintessential part of this area. Vivid and rich colors with the most subtle shades abound here, when coupled with the changing light, a mirage is created.” Photo #12 by JiKang Lee

Beautiful red landscape of the Dongchuan District

Beautiful red landscape of the Dongchuan District. Damakan Village was described as “the best site to take some spectacular sunrise photos. You can also immortalize the tranquil village against the idyllic surroundings here. If lucky, you can also capture the early glowing except for the dreamy sunrise. Notice that you need to get up early (5:30am) due to the long distance.” Photo #13 by Walker trackless (行者无路)

Kunming China

Not a morning person wanting to move before dawn? Then Waliangfangzi “is the best place to enjoy the sunset and evening glow. It also offers stunning panoramic view of the surroundings.” Photo #14 by Wasin Waeosri

Traveling through colorful scenery in Kunming, China

Traveling through colorful scenery in Kunming, China. Another popular “highlight” stop is Qicaipo (Seven Color Slope) where “you can see the aged giant tree here, which serves as a landmark and a totem meanwhile. Rumors have it that sprouts once bursted out from the withered trucks. Local people often offer sacrifices to this divine tree, praying for luck and health.” Photo #15 by Wasin Waeosri

Colorful fields of Dongchuan district

While some tourist agencies suggest the months to visit are September to December, others list out reasons to visit throughout the years. For example: In May and June, “photographers can capture strongly red fields just after ploughing and before the crops grow, and farming photos. Potato flowers opens in the summer and golden wheat decorates the red fields. With various crop colors, red earth, and blue sky, it’s one of the best times to get blood red field photos.” And from September to November, “autumn is another wonderful season to photo the red fields. Some fields will be turned over for new crops, and there are large expanses of highland barley and wheat. Yunnan’s unique white cole flowers make the fields more colorful. This is another good time you should not miss.” Photo #16 by Lofter

Farming the Red Earth

According to tourist Tantiko’s review, “Situated about 4 hrs from Kunming City, DongChuan is a relatively un-commercialized part of Yunnan. Famed for the reddish earth which lends beautiful and contrasting hues against the quiltwork of farmed land and surrounding mountains, DongChuan offers truly colorful and spectacular scenery along with a chance to explore the colorful rural lifestyle of the tribal people of the area. It isn’t unusual to see farmers tilling the fields with their animals and transporting their wares with their horse carts along the roads.” Photo #17 by Shi Chen

Red Earth area with white cole flowers

Red Earth area with white cole flowers. Photo #18 by China Absolute Tours

Village among Dongchuan Red Earth

Village among Dongchuan’s Red Earth, but some call it Red Land. A reviewer called it a “photographer’s heaven” while another says “Heavens color palette on earth.” Photo #19 by Shi Chen

Sunset at Luo Xia Valley, Dongchuan, Yunnan

Sunset at Luo Xia Valley, Dongchuan, Yunnan. Atlas of Wonders said, “There is some consensus to use the descriptive title of Dongchuan Red Land,” but the “area has also been known as Lexiaguo or Luoxia Gou Valley, which is actually the name of one of the most beautiful places on the route.” Photo #20 by Winters Zhang

Sunrise at Luo Xia Valley

Sunrise at Luo Xia Valley, Dongchuan, Yunnan. Photo #21 by Winters Zhang

Red earth at Hongtudi

Red earth at Hongtudi. Did you know? The rich deposits of copper and iron, mixed with a warm climate, is what gives this soil its unusual yet natural red color. Photo #22 by Dgbouma

Terraced red earth

Elsewhere, Mr. Mah Teck Oon said of the Red Land heartland that the “landscape was rolling hills, with terraces cut and formed by many generations of farmers. Then as each terrace was planted by different crops and with different levels of maturity, each terrace patch was a different color to the next patch. The harvested patches showed the maroon colored soils clearly to contrast with the various shades of green and yellows. The result was a stunning mix of geometric designs and colors!” Photo #23 by JiKang Lee

Eagle fly on the red land

China said Dongchuan, a rural area in the northeast of Kunming “is believed to have the world’s most imposing red earth, even more magnificent than that in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” Let’s take a quick trip to nature that is close enough to Red Land to be on most itineraries when visiting. Photo #24 by Jofee Lee

Gardens, Shilin (Stone Forest)

The 270 million-year-old Stone Forest is also close by; it’s a place where “legend has it that the immortals smashed a mountain into a labyrinth for lovers seeking privacy.” Photo #25 by mikeccross

Jiu Xiang caverns

Nearby and also in Kunming are the Jiu Xiang caverns. Photo #26 by Zhongshan

Immortals Cave in Jiuxiang

The photographer noted, “The Immortals’ psychedelic home: ‘The Immortals’ Cave’ at Jiuxiang Diehong Bridge Scenic Area. Jiuxiang is known as the museum of karst caves, with numerous and some of the largest caves in China.” Photo #28 by s tsui

Terrace rice fields in Yunnan Province, China

Jingkou Village is yet another place suggested by a travel agency to see when visiting Kunming. The village was called “primitive and un-industrialized,” but known for its “spectacular rice-paddy terracing” that “has been cultivated by the Hani People for 1300 years.” In the winter, the paddies are left filled with water until planting in Spring. Photo #29 by Jialiang Gao

Rice terrace in Jingkou Village Kunming

Rice terrace in Jingkou Village Kunming. Photo #30 by Absolutechinatours

Reflections of the clouds at sunset over the rice terraced mountains of the Hani people. Photo #31 by Takeaway

Terraced Rice Field in Jingkou Village

Terraced Rice Field in Jingkou Village. Photo #32 by Absolutechinatours

Subsistence farming in Yunnan Province, southern China

Subsistence farming. Photo #33 by JialiangGao

Colorful rice terraces

Colorful rice terraces. Photo #34 by Absolutechinatours

Terraced rice fields in autumn

Terraced rice fields in autumn. It’s little wonder why photography tours are so popular throughout Kunming, China. Photo #35 by Absolutechinatours

Sunset over the rice terrace

Crepuscular rays of sunset shining on the rice terrace. Photo #36 by chensiyuan

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