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Yunnanyi History

Stepping back in Yunnan’s history | A walk in Yunnanyi

Located in Xiangyun County, Bai Autonomous Prefecture of Dali City, Yunnan Yi gets its name due to the establishment in Yunnan, Ming and Qing Dynasty; it belongs to the old haunt of Yunnan County in Han Dynasty and Yunnan Shire in Wei and Jin Dynasty. It was also a birthplace of Yunnan Province and worn the beautiful name of Hometown of Colorful Yunnan.

Yunnan Yi combined many historic relics such as classical downtown appearance, sites of Southwest Silk Road, the airport built in World WarⅡ, the airfield runway used by Flying Tiger, old sites of plane stable hole and SUA Military Headquarters, well-known Hump Air-route, Yunnan-Burma Highway, Sino-India Oil Delivery Pipe, and the ancient post road, etc. At that time, it is a place for the witness of history as well as the most important Strategic Counter-offensive Base for Allied Forces in the Fareast. For these reasons, the ancient town of Yunnan Yi was recorded into the western history.

Currently Yunnan Yi has become a beautiful place with large pieces of gleaming greens, and restored city appearance that reflects former charming. It, however, still displays the former splendid history and pursuers the glorious futures.

Near the wooden paifang that marks the entrance to the village of Yunnanyi (云南驿), a plaque commemorate an episode of the Long March. Indeed, in 1936, the soldiers of the Red Army rested in Yunnanyi for a night.

Beyond the paifang, the cobblestone streets lined with Ming-Qing style houses, the village looked deserted. Yet, the silent adobe walls have interesting stories to tell about the past of this village.

From the Southern Silk Road to the Tea and Horse Road

Yunnanyi became an unavoidable stop for caravans transporting goods on the Tea and Horse Roadbetween Yunnan and Tibet. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, horse caravans led by Yunnanese Muslims stopped at Yunnanyi. They were transporting Pu’er tea between south Yunnan to Lijiang, Zhongdian, or Deqin in the north of the province where Tibetan caravan leaders took over.


Yunnanyi is home to what is probably China’s best preserved horse caravan inn. It’s an inn with a stable where muleteers could feed their horses and let them rest overnight, exchange stories and tips about road conditions with other fellow caravan leaders. On the second floor of this “horse stable inn”, we can still see where the caravan leaders slept and where they pray to the gods : the gods of the roads, the gods of the mountains and the gods of the bridges.

Yunnanyi and the Japanese: From the Burma Road to the Flying Tigers

In 1939, the allies completed the “Burma Road” which linked Yangoon to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. The “Burma Road” was China’s lifeline. Indeed the Brits transported supplies to help the government of Chiang Kai Tchek in its counter-attack against Japan.

In 1942, Japanese forces took over Burma and cut the “Burma Road”, leaving no choice to the allies but to fly from British India’s Assam to Yunnan. Military airfields were built in western Yunnan province in Yunnanyi, Tengchong and Baoshan.

The squad of American soldiers who flew over the Himalayas (so as the avoid Burmese airspace controlled by Japan) to Yunnan were knows as the “Flying Tigers” and their prowess over the world highest mountains as the “Hump”.

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