In the shadow of the Liushao and Ailao mountains lies southern Yunnan's rustic Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture (Hónghé Hānízú Yízú Zìzhì Zhōu, 红河哈尼族彝族自治州). Winding down from the mountains, the Honghe River (Hóng Hé, 红河) or Red River cuts through the villages, terraced rice fields, rainforests, and valleys of the region, and downwards into Vietnam. Great geological contrasts are one of the region's greatest attractions. Green peaks of limestone terrain loom 3,000 meters high (9,840 ft), and then plunge deep into the valleys below.
The old city of Jianshui is worth a visit for its cultural heritage. With over 100 temples, 50 ancient bridges and 56 state-protected cultural relics, this ancient city provides travelers with ample historical attractions to visit. Some highlights of the area include the Chaoyang Gateway Arch, also know as the West Gate (Xī Mén, 西门), built in 1389; the Jianshui Confucius Temple (Jiànshuǐ Kǒng Miào, 建水孔庙) built in 1285; and the seventeen arches of the Shuanglong Bridge (Shuānglóng Qiáo, 双龙桥), a Qing Dynasty masterpiece.
Be sure to visit the Swallow Cave, 30 km (18.6 ft) from Jianshui, where you can watch climbers scale the cathedral cave's heights and retrieve swallow nests. These swallow nests, which are actually considered culinary delicacies, are then sold at high prices!
The terraced fields scaling high up the mountain sides are the legacies of the Hani minority. Nine ethnic minorities reside in Honghe, consisting mostly of Hani, Yu and Hui. Their presence adds much cultural diversity and colour to the region as each minority has its own unique architecture, style of dress and ceremonies. Of particular note are the fairytale-like "mushroom houses" of the Hani, which can be seen in villages such as Qingkou in the Yuanyang Rice Terraces.