Qiunatong秋那通 (The last village before Tibet)

Qiunatong 秋那通


Magnificent scenery, fierce canines, and laid-back locals await you on your visit to Qiunatong 秋那通, one of the last villages in Yunnan云南 before you enter Tibet西藏.

Beautiful old Church

Barring a few hamlets, Yunnan province virtually ends at Qiunatong. At least all paved roads end here. If you walk or cycle west of here for a day or so, you’ll find end up in Tibet proper. That is if you don’t stumble upon a Chinese border security post!

Map-of-Bingzhongluo and around

The Village

The Nu village 怒族 of Qiunatong is an attractive collection of large wooden farm houses set amongst fruit trees and corn fields.

The Nu farmers make what seems a reasonable living from the fertile slopes of the valley. Their houses are built in the traditional style of the region with black slate roofs, bulky wooden beams and big open courtyards.

Village Life in Qiunatong


In the village, healthy looking cattle and donkeys roam freely around the flagstone lanes. The locals, while not unfriendly, hardly pay you any attention and just get on with their lives, making Qiunatong a pretty nice place just to wander around. Or it would be, except for one thing; the dogs! You will undoubtedly hear about the infamous dogs of Qiunatong before you ever set foot in the village.

They don’t like strangers and have the nasty habit of biting them. We meet young Chinese backpacker who was bitten on the back of her leg after a sneak attack. On our visit, the dogs certainly lived up to their reputation. We were howled, barked and growled at, followed and yes almost attacked from behind. Only the wielding of sturdy sticks and the lobbing of plenty of stones kept them at bay.



In the centre of the main square there is an atmospheric Catholic Church, built in a mixture of local traditional style with touches of European design. It provides an inviting foreground for some unique photo opportunities, when combined with the rolling mist and the majestic mountains in the background.


Catholic Church

Unfortunately, I was having a bad light day, and just couldn’t get it right. My photos of the church were mostly crap.


I had more success with the surrounding scenery. The spectacular setting of Qiunatong provides fantastic views back across the Nujiang River怒江 and on towards the towering, jagged and awe-inspiring mountains that loom above it.

Walking Options

The village extends higher and higher up the valley. It is difficult to know exactly when or where it ends, there always seems to be another house and more dogs.
Old Grave
You can choose to walk up through the middle of the village, or skirt round its edges on a wide path. The latter avoids the dogs.If you keep walking up the valley, you’ll pass other even smaller hamlets such as Gaqiadang 嘎卡当, Chugan 初干, Xiaqia 下卡 and finally, Nengsu 能苏, the last settlement before Tibet.

Chamalu茶马路 (Old Tea Horse Route)

Cha ma lu / Tea horse route
We, however, decided to drop back down to the river and follow the old Tea Horse Route 茶马路 above the Nujiang River. A four hour walk took us to what should have been a scenic viewing point. Unfortunately, the weather had turned for the worst and low clouds covered what should have been a spectacular vista of the snow capped mountains of Tibet. We turned back at this point. 

The path is easy to follow and you’ll have it almost all to yourself except for the odd truck and a few local kids.

Occasionally, you might get a sense of vertigo as the drop down to the Nujiang can at times be quite hairy and precipitous. Great views and the roaring Nujiang River accompany you all the while. 

Crossing-the-Nujiang on rope/ Postcard photo
If you have the time to continue further along this way, whether on bike, horse of foot, you’ll come to the hamlet of Naqialuo 那呛恰洛 and its scenic gorge, Naqialuo Xiagu 那呛洛峡谷。Again, after this, the next stop is Tibet.
Scenery near Qiunatong

Getting there:

We took a collective taxi from Bingzhongluo丙中洛 that dropped us in Qiunatong秋那通 after a beautiful half hour journey during which you pass the famous Shimenguan 石门关 ( Stone Gate Pass) scenic spot. 

Shi-Men-Guan 石门关 Postcard photo
We arranged with the driver to return at 17.00, leaving us with around 8 hours to explore the village and take a long walk. He charged 100 Yuan for two. What you are really paying for is the convenience of being picked up when you want as the collective taxis usually only run between Bingzhongluo and Qiunatong when they are full. Bring some supplies for the day, when we were there the only shop in the village was closed. 


Author: Adam

My name is Adam. I have a degree in Chinese History from SOAS and a masters in International Politics focused on China from the same university. I have travelled around China 9 times and since 2000 I have travelled every year for two months. I guess I kind of like the place!

3 thoughts on “Qiunatong秋那通 (The last village before Tibet)”

  1. Hi,Margie,
    I heard of you from one of my Spanish friend–Rebeca,she used to be your student in Complutense University, I am a Chinese girl who is living in Madrid right now.When she talked to me about you,about your interest to chinese culture ,I am impressive.Now I am more impressive by your blog. I am so happy that through your blog,more and more western people will know about China and chinese culture. I ‘d like to know you and share my Chinese knowledge with you.
    Withour your mail address,this is the only way I try to contact you,Hope you can see this long message and reply me some words.
    Un saludo!

  2. I spent 5 years studying in Yunnan province,it is a paradise.the people,the culture are so attractive to me,even today,I dreamed of this land often, I ‘d like to come back again and enjoy the beautiful view and wonderful food. Never been to the area close to Tibet,it is a sacred place ,but will be nice to visit it someday

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