The trade in the adjacent regions to the east and south-east has been treated in Wan Gungwy's study of the Nanhai trade,2 but there exists no similar thorough study for the Yunnan region. Pelliot's monumental 'article' covers a later period, and does not attempt to substantiate an early tradition. Chen's study is useful to check the basic facts, but sins grossly against most basic rules for textual criticism. li3 has useful information scattered throughout his work, but concentrates, as the title indicates, more on the purely cultural matters like religion, language and literature. Cammann deals mostly with the northern passage, and even the standard study for the topic by Yii, gives only peripheral treatment of the south-west. This paper will outline some fields of investigation for this topic. It will concentrate on Yunnan as a transit and tribute region, and not go into detail about the regional connections like Yunnan and the Chu region in the north-east, the Yelang region in the east, the Iiaochi region in the south-east and the little-known but probably important link with the Kam region in the north-west. The written historical material is a good starting-point, but a composite and unruly region like Yunnan will profit greatly from future interdisciplinary collaboration.