Nujiang Prefecture contains Lushui (Liuku), Fugong, and Gongshan Counties (from south to north) all along the border shared by Myanmar and China. The rich biodiversity and little known ethnic groups make this spot a perfect place for those seeking adventure. It is not wise to travel to Nujiang Prefecture if you are nervous about driving on poor, twisty, and often dirt mountain roads. This area is also best if you or someone you are traveling with can speak Chinese. There are very few people in these areas who will know English.
There are no airports or trains that allow you to get to Nujiang Prefecture. This is strictly a bus trip -- and typically it requires a very long night bus ride on bumpy roads (more than 12 hours from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, depending on where you are going). The roads are perpetually under construction due to frequent landslides. Before entering Lushui County, the bus stops at a military checkpoint and the IDs of all Chinese nationals must be checked. For foreigners visiting, you must exit the bus and help the military person fill out information about your passport, visa, and travel plans. This stop is always in the middle of the night and it can be disorienting and frightening to be woken up by people in full military gear. Don't worry, this is completely normal and the military people are very nice.
|The night bus.|
Unfortunately, the Chinese government is planning a series of dams along the Nujiang (Salween River) that cuts through Nujiang Prefecture. This will cause serious damage to the ecosystem and ethnic groups in the area. For more information see this link. On a more minor note, this may also cause issues for tourists trying to travel to the region.
If you are traveling to Lushui County, you will most likely stay in Liuku. Liuku is the largest nearby city and is the easiest city of the three counties to get to. You can get there by night bus form Kunming or Dali. There are several small hotels near the bus station and a handful of restaurants and shops. I quite like Liuku and had a few daydreams about moving here.
If visiting Fugong County, you will stay in Fugong City (pictured below). This is a small city with a few hotels. This city is mostly inhabited by people of the Lisu and Nu ethnic minorities. Try some of the local delicacies pictures below. Fugong City has a great park that often has dancing or singing or games in the evenings. In a few stores in Fugong, you can find traditional Lisu outfits, which are great to pick up as souvenirs. Fugong City has many nearby villages, which are fun to walk to and provide a fun outdoor hike and activity. You can get to Fugong by taking a night bus from Kunming (usually leaving at 5 or 6 pm and arriving in Fugong around 8 or 9 am) or taking a bus from Liuku. The night bus ride from Kunming to Fugong is about 15 hours long.
Gongshan County is the furthest north of the three counties. Large night buses cannot travel on the roads to Gongshan County, so to get here it is best to take a night bus to Fugong then a large minivan (mianbao che) to Gongshan City. From Gongshan City you can get to the Dulong River Valley or Bingzhongluo (a popular tourist destination and great place to bike to the Tibet border). It can be a bit hard for foreigners to travel to the Dulong River Valley, but Bingzhongluo is a good alternative. Bingzhongluo is great for hiking and biking and does have a few small guesthouses and one or two restaurants if you are staying overnight. Keep in mind that you'll need to pay a fee to enter Bingzhongluo as it is a protected area.
|Christianity was brought to Lushui County by the French many years ago.|
|Excellent signs in one of the hotels.|
|High Elevation snow near Yakou Mountain entering the Dulong River Valley region in Gongshan County.|
|A village in the Dulong River Valley region of Gongshan County.|
Have you been to Nujiang Prefecture? Anything else to add?