Xishuangbanna has lots of ethnic minorities, some jungles and the last few Chinese elephants. There is plenty of tourist infrastructure and it would be hard to call it even off the beaten track any more but I’m including it on the site more as a comparison to remoter, more exotic and more visually spectacular Yuanyang County on the other side of South West China‘s Yunnan Province.

Fire breather in a parade during the Water-Splashing  Festival in Jinghong, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province, South West China

Fire breather in a parade during the Water-Splashing in Jinghong

The area is much more written up in the Lonely Planet than the area around Yuanyang. Despite this, the area around Yuanyang has much more exotic tribal minorities than Xishuangbanna along with spectacular mountain scenery and millenia-old rice terraces covering vast areas of their slopes.

Jinghong, Xishuangbanna’s capital, has several English-speaking backpacker hostels and cafes. Any of them can organise guides and treks and can give information on ethnic markets. At markets such as Menghan and Xiding you are likely not to be the only tourists, whereas at more impressive markets in Yuanyang County such as Lao Zhai and Huang Cao Ba you are pretty much guaranteed to be the only foreigners. Also, whereas the vast majority of Yuanyang County‘s inhabitants are from ethnic minorities, the local Dai people in Xishuangbanna are almost outnumbered by Han Chinese.

Jinghong also has a Water-Splashing Festival from April 13 – 15 each year with parades and Dragon Boat races.

Jinghong is nine hours by bus from Kunming, the capital of South West China‘s Yunnan Province. There are also connections to Ruili further north and to Yuanyang via Jiancheng to the east. Lots of flights also connect Jinghong to other places in Yunnan Province, the rest of China and even Thailand.

Click here for my blog on Menghan market near Jinghong. It’s 1166 words.

Click here for my blog on Jinghong’s Water-Splashing Festival. It’s 1245 words and 34 photos.

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