Yunnan Province's

XISHUANGBANNA

Global Mark : 15.79    Top Ten : No3

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 3 2 4 5 5 5 5

5

16.89

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
20 95%  (19) 70%  (14) 75%  (15) 10 to 20 14.70


Description :
A tropical and minority area, far away from the rest of China

Comments : Thailand, this is not. But don't tell all the Chinese tourists who come here... they might be disappointed !

What to do : Excursions on foot or by bicycle around the minorities villages / Enjoy the shade in your guesthouse  / Visit colorful markets / Watch beautiful girls in colorful costumes play host to the Chinese tourists / Eat fresh  pineapples (1Y) / Go to Laos...

What you may not like : The feeling of not being in real China, nor real Thailand, nor real Laos but in a big Chinese tourists attraction park / The hot weather which make any activity after 10am very strenuous / The quantity of liquid you have to drink /  The dust of the roads / The trip to go there

How long ? Enough time to justify the time spend on the bus to come or the price of the plane ticket / Not too long if you are going to Laos as it is nicer there.


Where to stay ? 

  • Banna Guesthouse (212 3679 Fax 212 6501), Ganlan Lu / Dorm 30(3)in a nice room with attached bath and air cond / Economy Dble or Trpl with attached bath and fan or air cond 70 to 90. / Standard room with river view 150 / Bike for rent 8Y per day or 1Y per hour / Go there for the quiet garden, to hear the birds in the morning, to wash your clothe in the bath tube, to relax while your clothes are drying in the sun. / What you may not like : the temperature in the room if you do not have a fan as the air cond is really unefficient, the darkness of some rooms.

  • Jingyong Hotel, Jinghong Donglu / Dorm 30 in correct Dble with TV and fan / Dble from 40 to 88 according to negotiation skill / Go there for the excellent value for money (after negotiation)

  • Banna Hotel, south of Banna Guesthouse, near the Forest Cafe / Dble with bath, TV and air cond 70 / If it is not full and if you manage to understand the management, this is a good option as the rooms are nice.

  • Ban Lai Trade Guesthouse (212 8371), Jinghong Donglu, east of Banna Mansion Hotel / Nice Trpl with fan and bath 90Y / 24 hours water / Go there if you travel with 2 friends and if the Banna guesthouse is full. / What you may not like: the Banna Guesthouse being full

  • Wanli Dai Restaurant / Go there to check if the new dorm beds and the rooms are worth staying in

  • Dai Building Hotel / Dorm 25 in a 2+2 bed's room without bath / Dble without bath 50 / Correct bath with solar-heated shower / Go there if you like the idea of staying in small and basic bamboo bungalows with other backpackers. / What you may not like : the bad quality-price ratio

  • Dai Guesthouse / Dorm 10 to 15 in 2 or 3 bed's very basic room / Very basic Dble 20 / Dirty bath / Go there to save money. / What you may not like : a lot of things as it is basic and not so clean.

 
Banna Guesthouse banna binguan

Jingyong Hotel

jingyong binguan

Ban Lai Trade Guesthouse

banlai shangye

Wanli Dai Hotel

wanli daiweilou

Dai Building Hotel

daijia huayuan xiaolou

Dai Guesthouse

dai zhaodaisuo

 

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
« Flight Lijiang-Jinghong (1h, 810 Y), no discounts available, might be necessary to buy the ticket a few days in advance at caac office, 50 m north of the big square which forms the northern boundary between old and new town on the road to black dragon pool
Hotel shuttle to Jinghong center 8Y, don´t agree on a room before you´ve seen it, they´ll take you to town anyway
Xishuangbanna Binguan (dbl,br,hw,ac,clean,150 Y discount price, regular price 390 Y) average value
Bus to Mengla (4h,25 Y) then minibus to Mohan (1.5h, 15Y)

Mohan: West Hotel aka Shanghai Hotel (dbl,br,hw,clean,friendly 40 Y) good value arrived late afternoon in Mohan. Nothing to do there and no decent place to eat, so it might be better staying the night in Mengla as the border to Laos opens at 8.30 am, when the first bus from Mengla arrives. Mengla looked quite friendly. Its possible to change yuan to kip in boten directly behind the immigration. Pickup to boten 5 Y then pickup to Luang Nam Tha 2.5 h 15.000 kip left when full about 9 am
» 


Internet ? 
The Mekong Cafe (No111 Manting lu near the Dai Bamboo guest house): this new place with atmosphere charges Y10 per hour. China Telecom is more expensive at Y18 per hour and is open from 8 to 20:30 only.

Bike ?  Next to Jinghong Hotel, normal bikes for Y6 per day or 0.8 per hour / On the left of Xishuangbanna Guesthouse, mountain bikes for Y15 per day / The Mekong Cafe has also 4 bikes for Y10 per day. 

Trekking ? The Mekong Cafe (again !) organizes Trek with overnight stay in a village for Y120-150 per day depending on the number of person. Not tested but looks interesting. 


What to see / visit :

  • The surroundings' villages : a few days on bike, considering that you can only bike pleasantly in the early morning.

  • National Minorities Park : Y20, 2-3 hours / Cock fighting, elephants, dances,... Go there in the morning, before the Chinese tourists or on Wed. or Sat. evening (20 to 22) for more dances and fiesta.  Tip : you can get a very nice half an hour Hani massage while drinking tea for 10Y

  • Tropical Plant Research Institute : Y10, Exp, 1 hr / 80 hectares dedicated to 1000 species of flowers and plants as well as ugly monuments to former Premier Zhou Enlai.

  • Ganlanba Village : 1 day minimum. You can stay in the Dai Bamboo House or at the Sarlar Restaurant (continue until the road bends on the right). The later has got the nicest rooms (Y10-15), the former prepares the best meals (expensive however at Y25). The idea here is to rent a good bike (the ones offered by the guesthouses won't survive the trip, better pay more for a mountain bike) to visit the countryside's interesting villages & temples.

  • Menglun's Tropical Plant Garden : Y20, Exp, 1 day. You can stay in Friendship Hotel (Y5) or, better, within the garden (Y15)

  • Damenglong : 1 day minimum / Not much there, except 2 pagodas. The surrounding areas can however be explored if you got time.

  • Menghun Market : free, half a day, every Sunday from 7 to 11am


Backpacker's Tips :  Alexey, Russia (Nov 02)
« New Prices: Minority Park 80 yuan, Menglun Tropical Garden 35 yuan
I found the weather not as hot as quoted by many guides. Morning hours in November were really chilly with around 14C. Mountains areas were quite foggy until about 11.00 am and drops of humid make you feel cold even through the jumper. Only when the sun shows up at noon the air temperature reaches about 22-24C. 
Menghun Sunday market. It is not necessary to go there in the evening the day before as offered in the previous comment. Take an early morning bus that will transport you there in couple of hours. If you can make transportation arrangement you can go further and visit a tiny village of minority who consider themselves as a separate one even if officially they are marked as Balang on the local tourist map. It can take about another 30-40 minutes ride. A unique place in the way that it can be considered as the poorest village in the area I saw. There are a number of other places shown on the map however.  There are no signs on the way and even if you speak good Chinese I doubt that you will understand the local people.
Ganlanba. We took a trip to Menglun Garden first and then came back to Galanba. Crossing the river by ferry you will find a number of motorcycles cabs ready to take you to Hanu village for 30 yuan. They quoted the distance of about 8 km. However we took a walk for about a mile and asked the destination in the Dai minority village on the way. Local people were really unhappy with our intention to see Hanu places and instead welcomed us to their fiesta. After a few beers and locally brewed spirit we were ready to come back to Galanba.
»

Backpacker's Tips :  Ruth McAllister, Canada (Oct 01)
« By air, Kunming to Jinghong is 520rmb one way plus 50 rmb for airport tax. The flight is only 45 minutes long, but saves you a 15-20 hour bus ride. You can take city buses to the airport in Kunming for only one rmb. Arriving at the airport in 'Banna, there is a 4 rmb mini bus ride into town. A taxi should cost about 20 rmb. We asked to be taken to Mei Mei Café and were taken to within a couple of blocks of it and walked the rest of the way. Don't ask for Mei Mei Fandian as that is a totally different place. Taxis around town do not always use their meter. Most rides cost 5 or 7 rmb.

Mei Mei Café is run by a terrific woman named Orchid who speaks excellent English. Her cook is very good; she can turn her hand to everything from hamburgers to Chinese food to local Dai cuisine. We had wonderful meals here. Beer comes with frosty cold glass mugs. There is a book exchange, traveller info books and clean toilet. Right next door is an internet place.

Orchid greatly helped us by finding us a reasonably priced hotel just around the corner. We stayed at the Banna Hotel. For 70 rmb we had an air-conditioned room with 3 beds (two squashed together) our own bathroom with shower and tub, towels, etc and hot water in the evening. It was quite comfortable. The Lonely Planet talks about the Banna Guest House, but they offered us only fan cooled room with 4 beds for 160 rmb AND there were a lot
of dead cockroaches lying in the hallways. Only had two of them at the Banna Hotel...
Other places in town charge 25 rmb per bed in fan cooled rooms but with common toilet and shower. I heard complaints about thin walls, stinky toilets and rats at these sort of establishments.

Other travellers said that James Café was good, but we didn't go there. Lemon Grass Café has a English Corner and appreciate foreigners dropping in to talk to the students in the evening. Home Town Café told us that they didn't have any breakfast food to go when we needed a early morning breakfast. The bakery just nearby had very stale buns. The Forest Café hamburgers were second rate; we recommend that you stick to eating at Mei Mei Café.  Pineapples are fabulous here and are .5 rmb for a small one peeled and on a stick or half of a large one.

We recommend the botanical gardens in Jinghong. There are loads of lovely tropical trees such as rubber trees (being tapped when we were there), cinnamon trees, macadamia trees, mango trees, rambutan trees as well as a huge number of bougainvillea. Go before midday as it can be very hot there. I was told that you can get very good massages there for 10 rmb. You can buy some herbs and vanilla beans grown there. The vanilla beans were 3 for 10 rmb.

Manting Park in the south of the city was a good place for a visit too. There is an old temple just before the entrance gates with bizarre paintings of torture on the walls. Manting Park used to be the private park of the local king. There are huge trees, statues, Chinese tourists dressing up in traditional clothes for photo ops, a small lake, and a Buddhist temple. They are constructing more buildings for it now which are lovely and shiny new. Be ruthless bargaining for the tourist trinkets for sale there. The barbecue stalls have delicious food and there is traditional dancing to watch in the afternoon. Try the fish on the stick...two fish for 6 rmb.

The Sunday morning market in Menghun was really very cool if you like to see traditional garbed women selling and buying things. Some women there hate to have their photos taken, but will go for it if you buy some of their embroidered hats, bags, clothes etc. For a traditional hat with dangling silver metal things, beads and embroidery we paid 15 rmb. Bags and clothes are more. I guess the hats aren't big sellers these days. The old ladies are very persistent and can be very annoying to small children. Our kids were poked, pinched, pushed and harassed. My kids speak Chinese and were really getting frustrated that the women would not leave them alone.

The place in Menghun to stay that is talked about in the Lonely Planet is the White Tower Hotel. (Baita) Like the book says, you go to the main intersection in town, walk up the hill, go under the large Chinese gate and then go left. Cross the basketball court and you'll see a low brick building. Go around to the right behind it and you'll see a gate with a brass sign indicating that they take foreigners. Call out and someone will come out to check you in. It is really basic. There are four beds (with mozzie nets, but we never saw any mozzies!) per room in a long brick one story building. The rooms face a pond with fish and bullfrogs with tadpole pools on the side. You have to walk around this pond to get to the slot-in-the-cement toilets. The run off from the toilets goes into the bullfrog pond. Not for the squeamish. The 'shower' is a pipe in one corner of the toilet block. Bullfrogs make an amazing noise at night...a bit like a cello. At least you don't hear road noise since it is far away from the main road.

Do go up the hill to see the monastery. There is a great view of the valley below. The older monks don't want to have their picture taken, but one of them speaks English so you can ask him questions.

To get there from Jinghong you can take a bus the day before(2 1/2-3 hours) or you can take a bus to Menghai and another bus from there. Getting back to Jinghong there seems to be fewer buses that aren't crammed full. We ended up taking a small truck with boards to sit on which was 5 rmb to Menghai(1/2 an hour) and then a mini bus back to Jinghong from there which was 8 rmb. It is also possible to hire a taxi for the day and visit some villages along the way to Menghai. Unfortunately, we ended up with an ignorant driver who didn't even know the area and didn't know where the villages on the map were. 

There are some nice trek guides in Jinghong who can take you into the hills for treks. Ask Orchid to find you one. We met a couple who were very nice and spoke good English too.

Elephant Park is a waste of time unless you have children. You can get a tour for 90 rmb (half price for children) from the Golden XX (oh, damn, can't remember Golden what?!) Hotel; it leaves at 8:30 to pick up from other hotels. It returns around 3 pm. You are forced to listen to guide banter in screamingly loud Chinese for half an hour of the ride there, then you go to a peacock park, butterfly "world", netted bird aviary, and then on to the "wild" elephant park. We walked for a very long way on an elevated walkway through the HOT jungle and saw the "tree house" accommodation. They were small cabins on cement poles. The elephants supposedly come to the waterhole under the cabins at night and early morning.

Then we walked all the long way back again in the heat of the day and were given a free lunch. It was buffet style and not bad. After this was the elephant show. 5 trained elephants were there and it cost 10 rmb to have a photo taken with one, 10 rmb MORE if you want to be picked up...adults only. The elephants were then allowed to be fed by the audience...bring your own fruit as the stuff they had there was stupidly expensive! The elephants then did stupid pet tricks like you'd see in the circus. Yeah, my girls loved it.

There are a couple of markets in Jinghong. One is a whole street a few blocks north and of the Banna Hotel off the same road. It has lots of stalls with bored looking Burmese men desperate for a sale. The city market is a very busy place. We bought a few interesting items there for fair prices.

Ganlanba is a 45 minute bus ride south. It is a small town on the Mekong (Lan Cang) River. You can take a small ferry across the Mekong for 1 rmb and visit some of the large villages nearby for 4 rmb in a little taxi. The Dai village in Ganlanba isn't worth the 20 rmb charge.
»


Bus Schedules :  Local destinations from No2 Bus Station

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Ganlanba 7 ordi 1h30 7 to 19 a lot 10mn
Menglun 14 ordi 2 6:20 to 17:30 a lot 20mn
Mengla 31 ordi 5 6 to 17:30 ? ?
Damenglong 13 ordi 2 7 to 18:30 a lot 10mn
Menghai 10 ordi 1h30 7 to 18:30 a lot 20mn
Menghun 15 ordi 2 7 to 17:30 a lot 20mn

Bus Schedules :  Long Distance Bus Station

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Kunming 130 sleep 24 6 to 19 26 30mn
Xiaguan 152 sleep 28 morning & noon 2to4 na
Baoshan 150 ordi 34 6:20 1 na

Notes : For Kunming & Xiaguan (Dali), also check at the No2 Bus Station (see below story) / Trip to Baoshan include an overnight in Lincang


The trip to Dali :
S Bus / SSSS / L & R / 152Y / 28 hrs

At first, I was supposed to take an early morning bus. At the last minute, my good karma made me decide to take the medium sized bus leaving at 12:30 (or 13:30) from the No2 Bus Station. This was a very good move as we met the old and dirty big bus the next morning at a bus station : it was already 7 hours late ! As for us, we arrived within 29 hours, a short delay due to the usual mechanical problems and a one hour lunch break at 10:30am... Considering that the road is very stiff (and beautiful) at some points, the smallest the bus, the better. And if it is raining, the highest the plane, the safest (maybe) and fastest (definitively).

Once in Xiaguan (also called Dali), take the local bus No4 (1.2Y) and you'll reach Old Dali within half an hour. It operates from 6:30 to 20.

See also Trip from Kunming to Jinghong...