How to Travel to Ancient Tea Horse Road Yunnan

Written by Vivian Updated Sep. 20, 2022

Ancient Tea Horse Road, the longest ancient trade route in the world, served as the passageway for the trade route winding through Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet, it mainly carried out the tea from Sichuan and Yunnan tea cultivation areas and ferried horses and herbs from Tibet.

Where did the Tea Horse Road Go in Yunnan?

Yunnan - Tibet Tea Horse Road begins in Xishuangbanna and Simao, which is the Pu-erh tea originated and cultivated area in the late 6th century, it passes through Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian (Shangri-La), Diqing, Deqin, finally to Nankang, Chamdo, Bomi, Lhasa in Tibet, and export to Nepal, Burma, and India.

Two Major Routes of Tea Horse Roads in Yunnan

1. Yunnan to Tibet: Xishuangbanna → Simao, Pu'er → Jingdong → Dali → Lijiang → Zhongdian (Shangri La) → Deqin → Tibet Mangkang → Lhasa

In 1973, the Yunnan-Tibet Highway was opened, and a large amount of Pu-er tea was transported into Tibet by car.

2. Southern Yunnan: Xishuangbanna → Simao, Pu'er → Mojiang River → Yuxi → Kunming → Qujing (or Zhaotong) → transfer from the province to Beijing.

This ancient tea horse road mainly transfers tributed Pu'er tea to the capital for the emperor and the royal families.

There are also several branch lines along Yunnan Tea Horse Road, which consist of a transportation network of Pu'er tea. It starts from Xishuangbanna to the neighboring Asia countries of Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, and Sikkim.

Makeli Ancient Posthouse
Nakeli Ancient Posthouse

Five Most Important Gateway Cities of Yunnan Tea Horse Road

1. Xishuangbanna

the Ancient Tea Horse Road Scenic Area in Xishuangbanna is the biggest site located on Menghai Avenue, Menghai Town. Here you can acknowledge the full aspect of tea horse road culture and history.

Visit the most beautiful tea plantation in China, the time-honor ancient street, experience the ancient horseman's caravan post-house, walk through the ancient tea horse pathway; visit the tea museum to understand Pu'er tea.

Experience taking a bus through the tropical forest to Yiwu town, which was the ancient tea horse road passed by.

Yiwu Old Town located in Mengla, was reputed as home to the Pu’er tea and produced high-quality tea used to be a tribute to the emperor. Visit the hundred-year-old tea plantation and see how they process tea.

2. Puer City

There are three well-preserved "tea horse ancient road" sites in Puer.

One is located in Tongxin town at Na Ke Li village ", and the second is located in Fengyang Township Democracy Village, which is called "Cha An Tang ancient tea horse pathway relic", along with the 2 kilometers of rugged mountain pathway in the dense forest, you can found the deep horses' hoof prints grind on the rocks of the mountain, that telling the hardship of history on the past.

The third site which is called Kongqueping Ancient Tea Horse Road Relic is located in the Mohei town Kongqueping Village. The whole pathway is more than 10 kilometers long, the horse caravansary, and the clearly visible horse hoof prints are all existed today.

3. Dali

Shaxi Ancient Town

Shaxi is a well-preserved ancient town and still maintains the original-style architecture: temples, ancient theaters, shops, horse caravan, and ancient lanes.

In the old days, Shaxi was the last stop for the caravan’s food supplies. Then they will go through the north pathway into the Tibetan area of Diqing Plateau, which with an altitude of more than 3,000 meters.

The best time to travel to Shaxi is from February to June, and September to November. Travel during this period, tourists can avoid the rainy season and cold winter. In addition, it is best to stay in Shaxi overnight on Friday, and you can experience “the last surviving tea horse ancient market” on the Ancient Tea Horse Road.

Yunnanyi Tea Horse Road

Yunnanyi, was once an important town for porters on the Southern Silk Road. A cobblestone street stretched through the town further to the south, which explains Yunnanyi's involvement in the Tea Horse Road.

In the center of the town, you can see a guiding horse rock with many horse hoof prints on it, which seem to illustrate this part of disappearing history.

Yunnanyi has established a Yunnan Caravan Culture Museum, which has many displays telling history and life at that time. 

4. Lijiang

Lashi Lake

Lashi Lake is an important section of the ancient tea-horse road in Lijiang. Tourists can engage the activities such as horse riding and rowing boats on the lake.

It is also a wetland park and wintering area for 80,000 waterfowl.

Shuhe Ancient Town

The Shuhe Tea Horse Ancient Town Scenic Spot is located four kilometers northwest away from Lijiang. It is one of the earliest settlements of the Naxi ethnic group ancestors and the most well-preserved market town on the "Tea Horse Road".

5. Shangri-La

Diqing Dukezong Ancient Town has more than 1300 years of history, known as the important transportation hub of Ancient Tea Horse Road. It is also the best preserved and largest Tibetan residential community in China.

At present, the footprint of the old caravan can still be seen on the stone-paved street in the town.

Contact us via WeChat

for any inquiry

Scan ChinaTravel QR Code

Create My Trip

Need Help?

Request a custom itinerary today and get one step closer to your personalized trip

Create Your Trip