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Home Travel in Yunnan Luoping in Yunnan
Luoping in Yunnan
Travel in Yunnan

sea flowers

Located 230 kilometers east of Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, and neighboring Guizhou and Guangxi Provinces, Luoping  County (Luópíng Xiàn 罗平县) is home to one of the largest plantations of rapeseed flowers in Southwest China. Fields covered with golden rape stretch as far as the eye can see and form seas of yellow buds. Combined with a unique terrain dominated by karst features with small basins among mountain ranges, the place boasts very unique landscape features. On top of that majestic waterfalls can be found in the area. All of this makes Luoping a very unique and attractive destination for landscape photography.

rapeseed flowerMain photographic destinations described in
the Photographic tactics part below are scattered around Luoping County. While some of them are relatively easily accessible from Luoping town by public transportation, you can hire a car (approximate cost: RMB200/day). While very cheap, public transportation is primarily represented by minibuses that are run to maximize profits, i.e. without exact schedules and completely disregarding the notion of service. Even more importantly, hiring a car is the only option if you intend to photograph at sunrise and sunset.

Photographic tactics
Main photographic destinations in the county include Jinjifeng, Shiwan Dashan, Niujie and Jiulong Waterfalls; details are as follows:

altJinjiling (Golden Rooster Hill) is the classic spot for photographing rapeseed flowers of Luoping. It offers an excellent and expansive view of the fields and hills in north-south direction. Located in the middle of the hill, Lingyi Temple offers a perfect platform for photographing the fields (although I did climb further up the hill in search for a better view). The only problem with Jinjiling hill is that the fields that spread below it are flat; also, everyone will be photographing from the same spot and in more or less the same direction; it thus is rather difficult to find unique or interesting compositions. I suggest exploring other numerous hills in the area, too.

Shiwan Dashan is about thirteen kilometers away from Luoping town in the direction of Baise. Landscape here is not as grandiose as at Jinjiling and the place apparently is not very well-known. However, I found it much more exciting for photography: terrain here is hilly and much more varied; it thus offers many more creative opportunities - it is one of those places where you can have several photographers shooting for an hour and producing entirely different images.

Luositian (Snail Farms) at Niujie are located a few kilometers to the north of Luoping town. Again, the fields here are of smaller scale and, unlike Jinjiling and Shiwan Dashan, are carved out of a shallow valley with gentle slopes. As you follow the road on the opposite slope and view them from an increasingly higher viewpoint, you discover that the flowers are grown in circular rings following the contours of the slopes and the fields look like the rings of a snail's shell.

Jiulong WaterfallJiulong Pubu (Nine Dragon Waterfalls) is a ten-tier waterfall located within an hour's drive from Luoping town and listed as one of China's biggest and most beautiful waterfalls. First take a cable car or hike up the hill to the platform overviewing the valley and the waterfalls and photograph the grand vista. After that you can walk further and down the hill to the biggest waterfall (56 meters high and 112 meters wide) to photograph it up close.

Apart from the destinations mentioned above there is also a place called Duoyihe. It is located 40 kilometers south-east of Luoping town and said to be interesting because it is home to the Bu'yi Minority. Many photographers who traveled there, however, found it rather trivial and probably not worth the effort of visiting.

altYou will need at least two full days to explore these sites. On the first day set out early enough to arrive at Jinjiling in time for sunrise photography. After sunrise explore and photograph the fields and other hills in the area. When the sun gets too high in the sky (about 10 a.m.) you can rest, have something to eat and move on to Niujie. Start photographing at Niujie when afternoon sunlight becomes sufficiently mild and drive back to Jinjiling to photograph sunset.

On the second day set out early enough to arrive at Shiwan Dashan in time for sunrise photography. After sunrise explore and photograph fields in the surrounding area. Once the sun gets too high in the sky (about 10 a.m.) you can rest, have something to eat and move on to Jiulong Pubu. Photograph the waterfalls in the afternoon and drive back to Jinjiling area to photograph sunset again.

Obviously, the sequence of exploration is unimportant and if you have more than two days to photograph in the county, so much the better.

rapeseed flower

Best time of the year to visit

Rapeseed flowers bloom in February and March and these are the only two months suitable for going to Luoping. Mid-February to mid-March will be best.

Sunset and sunrise
sunsetThere are two main locations for sunrise photography. Again, the classic spot is Jinjiling. As mentioned above, though, the nature of the place poses creative challenges; using wide format cameras is problematic, too, as left-to-right contrast is too high at sunrise (especially if you use slide film). Jinjiling is also perfectly suitable for sunset photography (with the same compositional problems, though).

The second location for sunrise photography is Shiwan Dashan. I personally found it much more intriguing but this, of course, is a matter of personal preferences and you certainly should try photographing at both places.


Accommodation and where/what to eat
Special food you can enjoy in LuopingThere are many hotels in Luoping and prices range from RMB30 to RMB200. Most of them are reasonably clean and comfortable. If you are on a budget, you might consider staying in one of the small private hotels near Xiguan Road (西关路). The place is not very central but this is unimportant as all photographic destinations in the county are quite far from Luoping town anyway.

Finding a place to eat is easy as there are plenty of restaurants in town - most of them are reasonably hygienic and quite cheap.

How to get there   

The most convenient starting point for travel to Luoping is Kunming, the provincial capital. From there you can reach the town in about 4 hours, either by train or bus.

Issues to be aware of
During Chinese New Year / Spring Festival (by whatever name you know it) as well as during the period when rapeseed flowers bloom (i.e. when you really should be there) finding accommodation after arrival might be problematic - try to book it in advance.


Tags: Travel in Yunnan   Travel in Shanghai