Located in the far south of Yunnan province, close to the border with Myanmar, Jinghong was the historical capital of the former Tai kingdom of Sipsongpanna (Xishuangbanna). The relationship between Sipsongpanna and the Lanna Kingdom which spanned what is today northern Thailand was crucial to its development in the 1400s. Today, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Region both culturally and linguistically shares more similarities with neighbouring Laos and Thailand than much of China - the Tai people who have a great deal in common with their neighbouring countries to the south, make up a large proportion of the local population.
Today, with a population of around 600,000, Jinghong is small by Chinese standards. It retains a laidback feel, with palm-lined boulevards, but at the same time is very much a Chinese city, with all the hustle and bustle of a lively urban centre. Flowing through the city is the Lancang River - the upper reaches of the mighty Mekong, before it goes onto Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The city makes a wonderful base to explore surrounding countryside and minority villages, but care must be taken not to visit some of villages that have been recreated just for tourists. An evening spent on the banks of the Lancang (Mekong) River is enjoyable, and taking in the atmosphere of a city that whilst feels very Chinese, at the same time retains a very Southeast Asian atmosphere.
If you are visiting southern China in mid-April, we recommend experiencing the Buddhist festival, Dai New Year. Similar to the celebrations in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, aside from the more traditional religious celebrations, local people play with water in the street, creating a very jovial atmosphere - something that must be experienced!
North of Jinghong is Pu’er, a city famous for the tea that grows in the mountains surrounding the city. For tea-lovers a visit to Pu’er is essential.
Jinghong is best visited by those wishing to travel overland between China and Laos - a Lao border crossing is very accessible, which takes adventurous traveler over into a beautiful part of northern Laos. From here, it is very easy to get onto Luang Prabang, or some more remote towns for stunning countryside and beautiful minority villages.
Features in the following itineraries
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Anonymous, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India