- What to do in Xishuangbanna
- Getting there
- Getting Around Xishuangbanna
- Final thoughts
Xishuangbanna (西双版纳傣族自治州 / ᦈᦹᧈ ᦈᦹᧈ ᦵᦋᦲᧁᧈ ᦘᦱ ᦉᦱ ᦺᦑ ᧑᧒ ᦗᧃ ᦓᦱ), also known as Jinghong, is located in the very south of Yunnan, close to the borders of Burma and Laos. This region is known for its unique climate, being tropical and having a dry season in winter. Xishuangbanna is also home to a diverse group of ethnic minorities, such as the Dai Minority. Best known is the water festival of the Dai minority.
The Dai Water-Sprinkling Festival:
The water festival, also known as the Dai Water-Sprinkling Festival, is an annual event celebrated by the Dai minority in Yunnan, China. The festival is held in the spring and marks the end of the dry season and the arrival of the rainy season. The Dai people believe that the water used during the festival has the power to cleanse away bad luck and purify the soul.
During the festival, people of all ages participate in water-splashing activities, including drenching each other with buckets of water, soaking passersby with hoses, and even using water guns. The streets are filled with laughter, music, and vibrant colours, as people dance and sing in their traditional costumes.
In addition to the water-splashing, the festival also features other cultural activities such as dragon and lion dances, traditional music performances, and food stalls offering delicious Dai cuisine.
What to do in Xishuangbanna:
- Manting Park & Zongfosi Temple
- Mengye Buddhist Temple
- Night markets
- Xishuangbanna Tropical Bot’l Garden
- Jinghong Wild Elephant Valley
Manting Park & Zongfosi Temple
One of the top attractions in Xishuangbanna is the Manting Imperial Garden, or Manting Park (曼听公园), which is a great place to spend 1 to 2 hours. The entrance fee is 40 RMB. It is known for its lush green landscapes, stunning water features, and tranquil atmosphere. Visitors can take a stroll through the park, and relax by the lake. In addition, Manting Park is home to several temples and shrines, as well as a large wooden bridge that provides great views of the park. I encouraged you to enter the park through the main gate in the northeast and leave through the west, where you will come across the Sipsongpanna Zongfosi, Zongfosi Temple (景洪总佛寺).
The Zongfosi Temple, is a Buddhist temple located in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China. The temple is known for its grand main hall, which houses a large statue of the Buddha and serves as a gathering place for pilgrims and worshippers. In addition to its religious significance, Zongfosi Temple also has historical importance as one of the oldest temples in the region, having been built over 500 years ago. After visiting the Sipsongpanna Zongfosi, visitors can stop at a small coffee shop to try a local Laos-style chilled coffee. The coffee is located approximately 100 meters east of the main gate of the temple.
Mengye Buddhist Temple
The Mengye Buddhist Temple (勐泐佛寺), is a historic temple located in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China. It is considered one of the most important Buddhist temples in the region and is a popular tourist attraction. The temple is known for its traditional Dai architectural style, intricate carvings and sculptures. Visitors to the temple can explore the various buildings, pagodas and shrines, and learn about Buddhist teachings and practices.
The temple also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests, making it a popular spot for photographers. Visitors should be aware that the Mengye Buddhist Temple can be crowded and noisy, with chanting from loudspeakers and monks selling items. You have to take a taxi there because on its way is not much to see. In my opinion, the 100 RMB entrance fee for the Mengye Buddhist Temple is not worth it. I think the Sipsongpanna Zongfosi (free admission) is a much better place to be.
In the evening, you can have a walk on the south side night market to sample local snacks and get a feel for the less developed side of Xishuangbanna.
On the north side of the river, visitors can dine in one of the many restaurants in the area and explore the vibrant and lively Gaozhuang Xishuangjing street and temple. It is also worth noting the big LED-illuminated party boats that can be seen along the north riverbank in the evenings. If you are heading to the riverside of Gaozhuang Xishuangjing you will see a lot of bars and a huge street market. It can be very busy here and a lot of music bars and party locations will be found here.
The Sipsongpanna Bridge is the main connection between the north and south sides of the river and provides a great opportunity for a scenic walk. Between the quieter south side and the busy north side of the river.
Xishuangbanna Tropical Bot’l Garden
While the Xishuangbanna Tropical Bot’l Garden (中国科学院 西双版纳 热带植物) is often mentioned as a highlight of the region, it may not be worth the cost and time to visit. The taxi will cost you at least 200 RMB one way, plus the entrance fee of 80 RMB (without the shuttle bus). If you are passionate about nature and concrete, this park might work for you, but you will spend most of your time on asphalt roads and you have to deal constantly with big buses and small carts. The only small portion, where these vehicles are not present, is in the rainforest section in the east part of the garden. But here, you have to share the quiet nature with a lot of other travellers, due to the access via the shuttle busses. So I cannot see, that it is worth it to go there.
There is also a bus stop on the main road at the west entrance. Buses to Xishuangbanna will leave when they are full. By taxi, it will take you approximately 1.25 to 1.5 hours one way to the park, due to traffic and distance. Bring your Passport, because the Police will check it by leaving the highway, due to the short distance to the boarders to Burma and Laos.
Jinghong Wild Elephant Valley
I did not go to the Jinghong Wild Elephant Valley (野象谷公园) because I have read that in one big portion of the park, the elephants perform tricks for tourists or have to pose for photographs for the audience and I do not want to support this.
Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture has its own airport, Xishuangbanna Gasa Airport, which is located in Jinghong, the capital city of Xishuangbanna. There are daily flights from major cities in China such as Kunming, Chengdu, and Beijing, making it convenient for travellers to reach Xishuangbanna.
Xishuangbanna has a train station, and trains from Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, stop at this station. This is a convenient option for travellers who prefer to take the scenic route and enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Yunnan Province on the way to Xishuangbanna.
The bus is also a popular way to get to Xishuangbanna, with frequent bus services from major cities such as Kunming, Lijiang, and Dali. The journey takes around 8-12 hours, depending on the destination. There are in addition buses to and from Laos, as I have taken one over a decade ago 🙂
Getting Around Xishuangbanna:
Once you reach Xishuangbanna, there are several ways to get around the prefecture, including taxis and buses.
Taxis are widely available in Xishuangbanna, and they are a convenient way to get around the city and the surrounding areas.
Buses are also a popular option, and there are frequent services connecting the main attractions and cities within Xishuangbanna.
In terms of local experiences, Xishuangbanna offers plenty of opportunities to immerse oneself in the local culture and interact with the friendly and welcoming locals. You can shift gears in Xishuangbanna and embrace the mild temperatures, explore the town and take the time to relax with a good Beer Lao and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Xishuangbanna. I would say it is not a must-visit, but a nice-to-visit place if you have one or two extra days to relax, to eat some local food or a lot of fruit. There is not that much to do in Xishuangbanna, but this is part of the charm of this small city.
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