Yunnan Province's


by Tam Chiwai, HK (March 00)


Note from Passplanet : This section is a contribution from a backpacker (hence the different presentation) and includes a number of localities along an itinerary running from Beihai in Guangxi Province to magnificent Yuanyang in Yunnan Province.  This area see few backpackers so an adventurous spirit and some time ahead are recommended. Apparently, it is worth the little effort ! 

See the previous localities :  Guangxi Province (select "The South")

by Tam Chiwai

Comments ? travel on the 323 highway, once you cross the province border, you will notice the change of scenery : color becomes light green, minorities appear from nowhere, people travel on the mountain road by horse carts and, suddenly, you realize you are in Yunnan.  Funing is a reasonably pleasurable place to rest for the night.

How to reach ? from Xilong (see "The South of Guangxi") to Funing you have to switch bus a few times.  First, take a truck to Xia Lei, RMB 3. Then another truck to Hu Run, RMB 2. Then another truck to Jing Xi, RMB 5.  You can stop in Jing Xi if you want, they said the area around is quite beautiful, rate as little Guilin. From where you get off the bus, you have to walk 700m to the main bus station , out from the station walk along the road to your right. Many bus to Funing from there ( RMB 14). This trip will take you from Guangxi Province to Yunnan. At the border is the small village of De An (??) with a colorful market on the 2, 5 & 8 date on Chinese calendar.

Where to stay ? There are many accommodation in town. Most local GH charge RMB 30/room  but I'm not sure whether or not they accept foreigners. Go and ask. Nothing to loose, right !  Otherwise you should check in a hotel, mostly charge around RMB 80/room.

Where to eat ? At night along the river are many Yunnan style BBQ stand where you can fill up your stomach. Good atmosphere. There are some student bar around as well.


Puzhehei by Tam Chiwai

Comments ? a very beautiful place ! The total area you can explore is around 165km sq.  If you have enough time, there are so many thing to see here : scenery like in Guilin, many caves, water rafting, ancient cliff painting, waterfall… The only thing that spoil the place is the resort : all they have there are hair saloon, massage saloon, casino, karaoke… But don't worry, you can stay in the village near by...

How to reach ? First, you have to reach Qiubei : from Funing bus to Yanshan, then switch another bus to Qiubei. Qiubei is only 18km from Puzhehei. You can stay at orchard hotel (??), RMB 30/room ( on the right to the bus station).

Where to stay ? In Puzhehei village there are only 2 choice for accommodation, and it's very basic. Pu Yin GH (??) seem a little bit better, at least they have a good view on the balcony, RMB 10/bed, no shower. The mini van from town will first go to the resort, then come to the village. Get off the bus before the bridge before the village center. The GH is on the left side.

What to do ? 
- Climb to the top of Qing long Shan (??) for a magnificent view of the area. Also, there are many caves inside this hill. The best time to come here is at July & August.
- Other places to visit are Zhong Tou (??), about 80km west from Chau Bei, Yuan Liu ( ??), about 56km to the north east of Chau Bei and Ri Je (??), about 30km to the north west, where you can visit some ancient cliff painting.


Jianshui by Tam Chiwai

Comments ? a pleasurable town with many historic building around. One of the gate way to the beautiful mountain village of Yuanyang.

How to reach ? one bus a day at 07:00 to Kaiyuan. If you miss that one, take any bus to the direction of Yinshan, but get off at the junction on the main road, at a village called Pan Lu Kou (??).  On Saturday, a huge colorful market can be seen.  Many bus from Yinshan to Kaiyuan pass through. It will drop you off at Kai Yuan north station. Go outside and wait for the shuttle bus to the south station. From there, many buses to Jianshui.

Where to stay ? the bus station hotel, RMB 35/room. As you can see, it's right at the bus station.

What to do ? 
- Chao Yang Man (??) is the main sight of Jianshiu. It is called mini Tien An Men as it looks pretty much like the one in Beijing but in a smaller scale. Actually, it is much older, built in year 1389.
- Swallow cave is 28 km from Jianshui, take any bus to the direction to Kaiyuan. A dry cave plus a wet cave. Entrance fee RMB 30. On the 8th of August every year, a bird net festival is held inside the park : you can witness how the Yi minority people climb up the cave to collect bird net with bear hand.
- There is also an old temple Ren Meo ( ??) built in year 1285. Another temple Zhe lin Xi (??) built in year 1295 where you can see some very old wall painting. Also some old building which date back to Tang Dynasty. 

Backpacker's Tips : Anne Lauritsen og Lars Kyhn Rasmussen, Denmark (July 02)
« The Government Guesthouse is very good and clean, no English is spoken, but the staff is friendly, 30 Y for 2 person dorm. There are almost no tourists in Jianshui so the Chinese stares a lot. There are a lot of sights in and around the town. »

Backpacker's Tips :  Walter, Australia / New Zealand (April 02)
« Where to stay :Firstly, there's more than one bus station. My attempt to find the 'bus station hotel' was fruitless... There's some reasonable hotels to the north of town (walk north from the 'gate' roundabout). I stayed in two of these, Y40/night and free, respectively. Free was courtesy of the local police, don't ask. The Y40/night one was nice, except that I got locked in the bathroom and had to pull a James Bond and smash my way in to the roof and escape up a ventilation shaft... so CHECK THE BATHROOM LOCK if you stay in one of these! ;) Could have been ugly... A seemingly well-used one is south of the 'gate', 'Garden Hotel'. They didn't want to cooperate with giving me a cheap room though (Y40 for a sh*thole, no lower) ... so I can't recommend them unless you are Chinese or have good Chinese bargaining skills.  There's a cheap-looking Moslem hotel to the east of 'the gate' on the north side of the road... if you can speak Arabic or are Moslem you could get a good deal, or maybe try anyway.

- Zhu Family Garden : Walk south from 'the gate', then take the first side-street west. Basically a remodeled labyrinth of rooms and gardens that was created to display the wealth of a local merchant family. They gradually fell from grace after getting caught trading illegal arms, instituting rebellions, etc. Interesting, Y20.
- The Gate : This is a large and ancient gateway of some type in the centre of town. It's interesting for about a minute, but you'll pass it by so many times it loses its charm. There's a small park at its foot (inside the roundabout) where Chinese congregate to dance, relax, etc.
- Ancient Double-Span Bridge : To get here, you have to head out of town to the southwest, before the road turns west. A good 10km or so out of town, it now stands disused in the middle of a field - but is apparently interesting anyway. I just saw it through a car window...
- Zhang Estate : 15km west of town, along the same road as the double-span bridge. THIS PLACE IS AMAZING. The intricate carvings in all of the folding doors and gables is amazing, and some of the gold paint still clings to the wood, giving you an idea of how the place must have looked when new. Built (like the Zhu Family Garden) to display the wealth of a local merchant family, the place is now inhabited by commoners and is falling apart. You can get a Chinese guide around the place, who basically acts as a facilitator (and/or excuse) for pushing your way in to the inhabitants' houses. You can eat here too, but it's not cheap and the food isn't fantastic - though it's well-on edible and the vegetarian is A-OK. Oh yeah, nobody speaks English. They have a guest book at the restaurant, with some interesting entries.
- City Wall : . .. or an approximation thereof, lies to the east of town. It's kind of mock-wall nowadays, seemingly rebuilt and having a good deal of streets and houses on its 'exterior' side. It does offer a good view out over the plain to the east, however.
- Night life : The most happening place is the 'Firefly Bar', which you can get to by walking west from 'The Gate', then turning North (up the slight hill). Then, take the first small alley off to your right (or, if walking at night, follow the noise). This alleyway has a good selection of Y2 'buffet' food too, another 50m or so on from Firefly.


Yuanyang / Xingjiezhen by Tam Chiwai

Comments ? a small mountain village with many minorities tribe people dressed in colorful costume, magnificent rice terrace, miles and miles of white clouds in a blue sky and many colorful market around... Not many people know about this place. Those who comes are mostly photographers. You need time to visit this area so don't come here if you are short of time. Otherwise you will just get frustrated.

Location ? southern Yunnan, Hong He State, about 300km south from Kunming. Vietnam border is about 6 hrs by bus to the southeast direction. To the southwest through Mongla will get you to the Lao border.

How to reach ? One sleeper bus a day from Kunming Nan Yiu bus station at 18:30, RMB60, take about 13hrs. Otherwise, take mini-bus (express) from the same station to Jianshui (many buses take off throughout the day,RMB40, take 4hrs). From Jianshui buses to Yuanyang go every 1/2hr from 06:30 to 18:30 (RMB13, 4hrs.) On the way you will have your first introduction of what kind of scenery this area will provide. / Gejiu, Kai Yuan, Hong He, He Kou and Lu Chun have direct bus to Yuan Yang.

Minority ? Hani, Yi, Dai, Yao, Miao and Zhuang Tribes

Where to stay ?
- Backpacker Rendezvous ( BPR) a cozy little place with a roof garden offering good view and HW shower. RMB30 per bed. Lots of information and internet access.
- Chen guesthouse, 200m further down the road from bus station,RMB40/room.
- State's hotel, opposite from bus station, RMB80/room.

At night ? nothing at all ! There is 1 karaoke but no hair saloon & massage parlor in town and that's what I like about here.  Bar/Pub..? The best you can do is pop into BPR and have a cold beer up on the roof and enjoy the music.

What to do & see ?
- Rice terrace is the highlight in Yuan Yang area. 
- 5 km to the direction of Leu Cheun ( ??) is To Kwo Jie (??) & Ching Kou (??), beautiful rice terrace, best for sun rise. You can walk into the village and visit the mushroom house, marks of the Hani Minority.
- The most magnificent terraces are in Mong Peng, further on from the highway for another 11km. From here within 5km along the mountain side, you will see an unbelievable view of rice terraces, far more impressive than the one I'd seen in Sapa-Vietnam (personal opinion). Sun set is the best tine to come here.  Also you can walk into the village around, very friendly people, mostly Yi minority. But don't hang around for too long since the last bus  back to Yuan Yang is at 18:00. If you miss that one, don't panic : ask in the village , they will let you stay in their house & feed you as well (some Japanese backpackers tested that before). Just make sure you can handle the sanitation inside the house...
- Anyway just walk any direction out of town and you will see rice terrace in whatever size & shape. They are great!  From November till April while the fields are full of water, the rice terrace look like million of silver mirror : unbelievably shining !  From may to October, it is all green like an ocean of grass : so comfortable to look at !
- Markets are another highlight here, almost everyday you will find market somewhere with different minority. Since almost 80% of the women are still wearing their traditional dress, the markets are very colorful and they offer a good chance to get in touch with the locals.
- There are many trails, short or long. Better trek toward a market. Check with the BPR owner. To Xing Cheun (??), 2 hrs walk through paddy field, good view from another side of the mountain. To Nel Gok Jie (??), 2.5hrs walk through many minorities village, huge rice terrace area. To Rie Shiu Tan (??), 2.5hrs walk, an hot spring where you can cook yourself up!!

Festivals  ? January  : Hua San Festival (Miao) / March 3 Festival (Zhuang) / April (western) Water Splashing Festival (Dai) / June   : June New Year (Hani), Torch Festival (Yi) / October : October New Year   (Hani), Pen Huang Festival (Yao) / December : Long Dragon Banquet (Hani) / There are also many unknown festival which can be found somewhere sometimes but its does need some digging work & some luck to discover it. Like the MI-KO-HO festival from the Yi, I found it by chance.

Backpacker's Tips : Stéphane Barbotin, France (April 03)
« The most wonderful rice fields terraces I've seen in China, from the top of mountains to the bottom of deep valleys. / What you may not like : the long journey between Xishuangbanna and Yuanyang, the town's ugliness, the lack of information, taking too many pictures of the terraces or of the minorities that gather for the Thursday market. / Where to stay : People's hotel close to the bus station. I heard of a "backpackers' rendezvous" guesthouse but could not find it. / Where to eat : anywhere on the streets
What to see & visit : 2 sides of the mountain are covered with terraces :
- From Yuanyang you can hop on a tuk-tuk for a few kuai to the entrance of the first spot, where the road to Shengcun (a Hani village) leaves the main road to the left (it is marked by a large gate with English comments) and then walk to the nearby terraces.
- You can hire a minibus to take you across the nearby pass (on the road to Lichun) for cheap. It will drop you in a village from where you can walk back uphill in the direction of Yuanyang. This is the most scenic spot along the road if you don't want to climb even more toward the summits.
- The busy and colorful Thursday market where all the local ethnic groups gather at once.
- A Liberation memorial at the lower end of the market street.
Transportation information : 
To Lichun-Jiangcheng-Simao-Jinghong at Y18.5-31-25.5 or 26.5, takes 4-6-5 or 4 hours, 1 per day, daily, type: BJB (Bone-Jarring-Buses) / To
Kunming, Y75, sleeper bus, departure at 15h30, 1 daily. 
Itinerary advises : Yuanyang is officially a brand new town along the Honghe (Red River), deep in the valley, but buses to Yuanyang have their final destination in Xingjiezhen, the actual interesting place, much higher in the mountains. I missed Jianshui between Yuanyang and Kunming but I regretted it as the scenery is wonderful as seen from the bus. Between Jinghong (Xisguangbanna) and Yuanyang, it is a long 3-day journey through Simao, Jiangcheng and Lichun. Jiangcheng is a horrible town but Lichun, on top of a ridge, is rather nice and intimate.

Backpacker's Tips : Anne Lauritsen og Lars Kyhn Rasmussen, Denmark (July 02)
« The BPR guesthouse has closed and is now only open to friends of the host. The "hostelry" hotel in front of the minibus parking (1. floor) is ok, 60 Y for a dbl room with shower. There is a bus to Hekou every morning at 6.30 (25 Y, 6 hours).»

Backpacker's Tips : Frédéric Leirman & Babette Desfossez, Belgium (Dec 00)
« We visited Yuan Yang in July/August 2000 and we liked it very much. We definitely will go back there in wintertime, when the rice terraces are full of water. We stayed at the BPR guesthouse and it was the best place we found during our 3-week trip. The owner is a good guide and speaks very good English. You can easily spend 5 days in and around Yuan Yang.»


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