Jinghong (Chinese: 景洪; Jǐnghóng, Lü: ᦵᦋᧂ ᦣᦳᧂᧈ) is the capital of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan. It is a hub for Chinese package tourists as well as for travellers passing between China and Laos. A prime area for backpackers (see Banana Pancake Trail), it is an interesting alternative to Laos or northern Thailand. It is an easy overland trip from Laos and it is also possible to get there by boat from Thailand without obtaining a Lao visa.
Get in Edit
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By plane Edit
- 1 Xishuangbanna Gasa Airport (JHG IATA) (Gasa Town, about 5.6 km away from the city center), ☏ . Daily flights from Kunming and a few other cities in China. China Eastern flies twice weekly between Bangkok (BKK IATA) and Jinghong. The airport has two terminals, T1 (international including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) and T2 (domestic China). Airport restaurants cost 3-4x more than food in Jinghong.
By train Edit
- 2 Xishuangbanna Railway Station (西双版纳站) (about 2 km from Xishuangbanna Gasa Airport; bus nos. 4, 6, 7, 68 and the Railway Station Express Bus all stop outside the station). There are over 20 trains per day from Kunming. The journey time from Kunming to Jinghong is about 3 to 4 hours. There is also one cross-border train daily from Laos, which stops here at 16:20.
By bus Edit
There are over a dozen sleeper buses from Kunming daily, from around 09:00 to 22:00. They cost ¥150-260, depending on the coach quality. The bus takes around 8 hours, and will travel over some bumpy dirt roads. It may be a "sleeper bus" (lying down) even during the day.
From Yuanyang coming down to Jinghong is a bit more tricky. First option is from Xinjie or Nansha you backtrack to Jianshui (3–4 hours) and take a sleeper bus to Jinghong from there (¥177, 12 hours, at 13:30 and 16:30). Second option, again from Xinjie city you can take a bus to Luchun (¥38, 5 hours), spent the night there and catch the one and only Luchun to Jinghong bus at 08:00 the next morning (¥120, 12 hours). Be aware that the second option will take you through very bumpy, rough and many times unpaved roads crossing endless mountains, rice terraces, banana plantations and little villages so its not for the fainthearted but the scenery is stunning. Landslides are often and many times small streams go through the unpaved road so its not recommended during the rainy reason, you might get stuck in the middle of nowhere due to a blocked road. Furthermore there will be a few police checkpoints where your passport will be checked but its very fast and hassle free.
Get around Edit
By bus Edit
The airport bus can easily reach the city from the airport, and the airport special line No. 1 also passes through the night market and temple attractions. The price is ¥4. The tourist route can choose ordinary bus and tourist line. Among them, ordinary bus No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and bus Z21 pass through many tourist attractions, and the price is ¥3. Attractions will have corresponding tourist bus lines, most of which are ¥5 for round trips. Payment methods can be credit card or coin.
By taxi Edit
The starting price of taxis in Xishuangbanna is ¥7 (3 km), including ¥2 fuel surcharge.
Rent electric car Edit
There are many places in Xishuangbanna where you can rent electric car (or a shared battery car parked on the side of the road). For many local residents, electric cars are one of the main ways to get around.You can also rent an electric car in Gaozhuang for about ¥35 per hour. A motorbike licence is not required for these rentals, but a deposit and identification information is required.
The few interesting parts of town are definitely walkable.
Down by the Nancang it may be possible to hire a boat for a bit of river cruising.
Religious sites Edit
- 1 Xishuangbanna Zongfo Temple (西双版纳总佛寺), 18 Baji Road, ☏ . 08:00–18:00. The Xishuangbanna Zongfo Temple was one of the first Pali-speaking Buddhist monasteries to be established in Xishuangbanna and is said to have been built in 615. On 18 June 1990, Zhao Puchu, the president of the Chinese Buddhist Association, changed the name of the temple to "Xishuangbanna Zongfo Temple".
- 2 Mange Temple (曼阁佛寺), 102 Zhongxin Lane. 08:30-17:30. The Mange Temple is the oldest Buddhist temple building in Jinghong, located in the Mange Cottage, just north of the Lancang River Bridge and not far from the river. The Mange Temple is a typical Southern Hinayana Buddhist monastery and is one of the ancient temples in Xishuangbanna. The monastery was built in 1477 and the original site is 1km west of the compound.
- 3 Manjinlan Temple (西双版纳曼景兰大佛寺), 2 Mannong Fengbodhi Avenue. 08:30-17:30. Free.
- 4 Mengle Temple, No. 1 Mengle Avenue, Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture,, ☏ . 08:00-17:30. The biggest temple in Xishuangbanna. In the southern area in Jionghong, you can hire bicycle to go there. ¥120.
Parks and nature Edit
- 5 Manting Imperial Garden (曼听御花园), No.35 Manting Road (on the southeast of the city, around 1 km from the center), ☏ . 08:30-17:00. Another pleasant park which is divided in eight parts, the main entrance, the National Cultural Plaza, the Tropical Orchid Garden, the Peacock Garden, the Life-leaving Lake, the Buddhism Cultural Quarter, the Planting Memorial Quarter and the Dai Cultural Teahouse. There are extra performances of singing, dancing and fire (which cost extra as well), check with the counter in the entrance for times and fees. ¥63.
- 6 Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (中国科学院西双版纳热带植物园), Mengla. The largest botanical garden in China with the richest collection of species and the largest number of plant-specific parks, it is also a comprehensive research institution and scenic spot that integrates scientific research, species conservation and popular science education.
- 7 Tropical Flowers and Plant Garden (西双版纳热带花卉园), Yunnan Institute of Tropical Crops Science, 99 Xuanwei Avenue, Jinghong City, ☏ . 09:00–17:00. Large park visited by many Chinese tour groups. Definitely a disappointment for foreign tourists. ¥54.
- 8 Peacock Lake Park (孔雀湖公园), crossroads of Mengle Dadao and Xuanwei Dadao, ☏ . 10:30–21:00. A pleasant "park" with an artificial lake and a fountain. If its not raining, during the evening check the corner just outside the park on the roundabout, locals gather and dance on the open for many hours. free.
- 9 Xishuangbanna Nationalities Museum (西双版纳民族博物馆), Yulin Avenue (雨林大道) (take bus no. 2), ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 09:00-12:00 (do not enter at 11:30), 13:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. A museum about the various ethnic groups that live in Xishuangbanna. Xishuangbanna Nationalities Museum fully embodies the characteristics of the Dai people and is a comprehensive ethnic museum integrating ethnic culture, cultural relics collection, scientific research, propaganda and education. Free.
- Dai Newyear. If you are in the town during the Thai (Dai in that area) New year there is a massive celebration with Dragon boating and capped off with a massive city wide water fight on the final day of celebration.
- Riverfront Walks. The town is on the Nancang River, a wide tributary of the Mekong. There is excellent walking along the riverfront.
- Tour / Trekking with Apollo, ☏ , email@example.com. Apollo is a very friendly local who came from Dali/Yunnan who majored in English. His previous work experience includes several years of internal research support & interpretation. His research group focused on environmental studies in and around Xishuangbanna which brought him in contact with many villages as well as local minorities. Today, he offers a multitude of custom tailored trips from single day excursions to multi-day trekking with overnight stays village homes. He offers to take you to drink tea with his local friends and deep-dive into a cultural experience with minorities by living & celebrating with them (February 2017).
Bank of China with 24-hour ATM is available a few minutes walk from the bus terminal. Cross the road and turn right as you leave the terminal. There are other banks in the area as well.
The usual Chinese tourist gimmicks, somehow more here than anywhere else in China. Local Dai produced items also available.
- 1 Mekong Starlight Night Market (湄公河·星光夜市), Gaozhuang Xishuangshi Scenic Spot, on the right side of the New Bridge, ☏ . open all day. Every night there is a big night market in Xishuangbanna Park just on the right of the New Bridge. (The new bridge is the suspension bridge all lit up at night, and the right side is looking at it as you would be leaving Jinghong across it). You can buy almost anything here and there are endless street food stalls. The river side is all bars serving food, some with good live music.
- 2 Thailand Avenue (Tai Guo Jie). A newly built large open market and Thai themed stores centered around a stage. There are at least two bars on premise. Free live music at night at around 19:00.
- 3 Xishuangbanna pedlars' market (西双版纳集贸市场), No.3 Mengla Road. 08:00-17:00. It is the largest market in the area and many locals also go there to buy food. There are plenty of local speciality vegetables and meats, as well as some gourmet meals made on-site, for which you only have to pay a processing fee. If you want to know more about the food culture of this place, it is highly recommended that you visit this place.
- 4 Mange market (曼阁市场), 50 m northbound at the intersection of King Leong Road and Mango Road. 07:00-23:00. This market is the largest local fruit wholesale market in Jinghong. Because tropical fruits abound here, you can buy a lot of fruit here at a very low price, and probably a lot of fruit you've never seen before.
- 1 Banna Cafe, 1 Manting Road, ☏ . This friendly cafe is most probably the best cafe to sit and watch life on the streets of Jinghong. They offer great Western and Dai foods. They also provide guides for tours and treks.
- 2 Mei Mei Cafe, F1-102 Menglong Road, ☏ . This long-running cafe overseen by sisters Orchid and A-chun has a large outdoor terrace where you can enjoy local Dai or the highly rated pizzas, along with other western dishes. Their desserts are delicious. The Mei Mei has the best value beer at ¥16 for a large beer Lao.
- Mantingxiaozhai BBQ, Manting Road. There are many BBQ restaurants here. Special food, very delicious.
- 4 Hao Bao Jiang Dou Fu (Number 4 Exploding Juice Tofu). 06:00-04:00. This is the largest BBQ place in Jinghong. You can sit either indoors or outdoors. You order the meat or vegetables up front. If you go early there will be beer girls who will sell you different brands of beer. Beer is pre-paid. Food is post paid. Many people come here after the bars and KTV closes. They stop serving food around 03:30, but you can drink all night.
- Junxiangyuan Wild Fungus Straw Hat Steam Hot Pot (菌乡缘野生菌草帽蒸汽火锅), Guozhuang West Shuangjing Jinghanzhai Building 12, ☏ . 10:30-22:30. Yunnan is rich in wild edible mushroom resources, so mushroom hotpot is also one of the local characteristics of food. You can enjoy a very delicious mushroom soup here.
There are many nice bars by the Mekong river on the left side of the New Bridge, a bit expensive but beautiful at night, they are worth a stroll even if you don't go inside for a drink.
- Mountain Cafe (It's moved - now in the 'new' part of JH). They focus on coffee, but also serve quesadillas and pizza, plus do custom baking. It is about 10 minutes outside of town.
- Muse (Lao Zhen Ai). The best club in jinghong. Two DJ booths, open until 02:30 to 03:00.
- Jiang Bian. This area is full of open air bars. People come here to eat and drink beers. The river portion is lined with bars, but the more inland bars have more customers.
- Xin Zhen Ai. Just tell the taxi driver "Xin Zhen Ai", the beers are cheap in this place. $100 for a dozen cans of beer. The crowd is younger than the crowd at Muse.
There are a number of O.K. options near the bus station, with the cheapest starting at ¥15 a night. For other, more expensive options, try the reservation booth at the bus station. They'll steer you to the city's four and five star options at a discount.
- Traveler's Hotel. Just south of the bus station is a great option. Rooms here start at ¥60 for a double with air conditioning and attached bathroom.
- 1 Caffy & Ken Backpackers' Hostel, 20 Mengzhe Road (Close to Jindu Hotel, near the crossing with Mengle Dadao. In a little side alley, there is a sign in English). Western toilets in all rooms. Courtyard and a rooftop terrace with lots of plants where many western travelers hang out. They also serve breakfast. Caffy speaks good English and can give advice about the area. Rooms with ensuite bathroom from ¥100.
- North Bank International Youth Hostel, D9 Yijingwan, Jingliang Road, Jinghong City (景洪市景亮路怡景湾D9), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. In a safe and quiet villa area by the Mekong River, you may enjoy the nice river view in most of our rooms
- Man Ting Road. This long street is full of motels that run ¥50–60 a night for either a single or a double. Most have squat toilets, but two have western toilets.
- Shang Ke You Hotel (Thank You Hotel), 43 Man Ting Road (near Man Ting Park), ☏ 4006-456-999 (local rate). Franchise hotel in 2nd and 3rd tier cities. The rooms are clean and new with western toilet. The cheapest room available as of 2014 is ¥100. You have a choose of one King size bed, or two queen size beds. There are pricier rooms available. Each room has ethernet and wifi connections available. Internet speed is 10 down and 2 up. ¥100.
- 2 Sheraton Grand Xishuangbanna Hotel (西双版纳云投喜来登大酒店), 1 Yuntou Road, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00.
Stay safe Edit
Pay attention to food safety When eating mushrooms, you need to pay special attention to food poisoning caused by overeating and eating undercooked mushrooms. It is recommended to ask the waiter to confirm whether the food is edible. Do not eat mushrooms from unknown sources without authorization.
When choosing to take a taxi as a means of travel, please choose a regulatory compliance taxi vehicle, preferably using a mobile phone app. Avoid taking non-compliant taxis and keep your belongings safe.
Go next Edit
- Villages - Jinghong is the getway to the Xishuangbanna region. This is China's part of Southeast Asia, with several minority groups that are in many respects more Thai or Lao than Chinese. The city is quite close to a number of Dai Villages, which can be reached by local bus or through myriad tours available here or in Kunming. Note these villages are highly commercialised, and will disappoint many looking for an authentic experience.
- Kunming - Sleeper buses take 8–9 hours and cost ¥235. First bus early morning and last bus 22:20. There's a military and police inspection points on the way where all passengers get off the bus and bags are unprofessionally inspected. They arrive at Kunming's new Southern Bus Terminal and from there to the city center you can take bus C71 (¥5) or walk to 3 minutes to reach a local bus terminal where bus 154 (¥2) will take you for about half an hour where you can change to bus 90 (¥1) that will take you to Jinbi Lu. Make sure you have exact change for the bus.
- Mengla - the second last town (Mohan is the last, right on the border) before Laos, is five hours away. Buses leave from the Banna Bus Station two times an hour for ¥33. The station is across the street and about 100 meters south of the long-distance station. From Mengla there is one bus daily at 09:00 to Luang Nam Tha, the first town in Laos.
- Vietnam - getting from Jinghong to Vietnam can prove to be a bit of a problem, with two imperfect solutions. The obvious one is to go back to Kunming and start from there. This can cause problems in that you may have to wait for a day or two to get a train or bus ticket to the border. The second, marginally preferable option is to take a sleeper bus from the North bus station to Mengzi. These leave every day at 14:00, cost ¥170 and arrive at Mengzi at 06:00 the following day. A taxi will be ready to take you to the town's second bus station where a minibus leaves for the border town of Hekou at 06:50 and gets there at 11:00. From there you can cross over the bridge into the Vietnamese town of Lao Cai. Alternatively one can enter Vietnam via Laos.
- Luang Namtha: there is a direct bus to Luang Nam Tha. Get tickets at the new-ish northern bus station the day before. Leaves at 10:40. Cost is ¥70. It takes 8 hours, arriving in Luang Namtha just before dark (around 18:00). Be prepared for stops along the way. Best is that the bus crosses the border too, so you do not have to unload anything. The border formalities for foreigners are fastidious and potentially involve multiple queues: (1) pay tourist tax, (2) fill out and submit visa application with 1 passport photo, (3) pay for the visa, (4) then at last fill out entry form and get passport stamp. Careless bus drivers have left bureaucracy-burdened tourists stranded at this border, so make sure to keep other passengers in sight until you are safely through passport control. Otherwise a comfortable ride.
- Huai Xai: direct bus to the Laos-Thailand border at 06:40, ¥120Y.