Jinghong, China is located in in south bordering Burma (Myanmar). Almost a crossroad of culture this city offers brilliant historical sights, cultural attractions, a tropical landscape and the chance to observe elephants in a natural reserve. This destination is popular with backpackers crossing the borders on route to nearby Laos. It is a great place to experience Dai culture, try flavors from the Dai cuisine and embrace the more tropical destinations ahead. Read on to learn about the best things to do in Jinghong, China.
1. Smell flowers and take a breath in the gardens of Xishuangbanna
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden is China’s one and only tropical garden but also the country’s largest botanical garden. Here you can get a taste of Thailand while still being in China, observe and smell wild flowers and enjoy some shade away from the heat of the city.
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Address: Mengla, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
2. Meet the elephants at Gajah Liar Valley
Only an hour north from Jinghong by bus, you can visit the Wild Elephant Valley, located in Mengyang Natural Reserve, where wild elephants and other wild animals can be observed. This is a unique opportunity to watch wild elephants doing their own thing in their natural environment. There is also an “elephant school” where you can ride an elephant or take a snapshot to remember the experience forever. It’s open every day from 8am-6.30pm.
Gajah Liar Valley
Address: Mengyang Town, Jinghong 666100, China
Website: Gajah Liar Valley
3. Experience Buddhism and see a huge Buddha sculpture at the Buddhist temple
Behind Manting Park and easily accessible via Baji Road you can find this beautifully renovated historical Theravāda Buddhist temple. It is better to arrive early in the morning and enjoy the serenity of the place to the full capacity. Entrance is free.
Xishuangbanna Buddhist Temple
Address: No.35 Manting Road, Jinghong 666100, China
Website: Xishuangbanna Buddhist Temple
4. Spend a lazy afternoon at Manting Park
After your visit the Buddhist temple, relax and explore the oldest park in Xishuangbanna, Manting Park. This park has a history of 1,400 years and has a wide array of traditional buildings. Don’t miss one of the singing, dancing and fire performances that take place on different hours of the day!
Address: 35 Manting Rd, Jinghong Shi, Xishuangbanna Daizuzizhizhou, Yunnan Sheng, China
Website: Manting Park
5. Take a walk by the Nanchang River
Visit the spot where Mekong River end and Nanchang River meet each other, right in the middle of Jinghong. Explore the nearby parks, enjoy a relaxing stroll, have some tea in the nearby shops and watch the popular bridge during the sunset.
Address: Jinghong Shi, Xishuangbanna Daizuzizhizhou, Yunnan Sheng, China
6. Visit Mengle Temple, the biggest temple in Xishuangbanna
This a newly constructed temple (2007) in the south of Jinghong, that will surprise you with its massive size. Covering an area of 65.8 acres (27 hectares), Mengle Buddhist Temple lies along a mountain and has a drop in the shape of a Buddhist sitting in meditation. This temple is huge and will definitely impress you with its size. You can rent a bicycle to come here.
Sipsongpanna Mengle Large Buddhist Temple
Address: China, Yunnan Sheng, Xishuangbanna Daizuzizhizhou, Jinghong Shi, China
7. Watch locals dance at the Peacock Lake Park
Although Peacock Lake Park is practically just a small pool in the center of Jinghong, locals often gather around the water to dance or perform. Come here to observe the locals who come here to relax and perform their rituals. In some months over 300 peacocks gather in this pleasant lake. Entrance is free.
Peacock Lake Park
Address: Liming Alley, Jinghong Shi, Xishuangbanna Daizuzizhizhou, Yunnan Sheng, China
8. Participate in a massive city water fight on Dai Newyear
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Every New Year, South East Asia countries like Laos, Myanmar and some parts of China celebrate the arrival of the New Year, splashing or pouring water on one another as part of the cleansing ritual. This is the most important festivity for Dai ethnic people of Xishuangbanna and if you are visiting at that time of the year, there is no way to miss it. It takes place in the middle of April.
Dai Watersplashing Festival
Address: Jinghong, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
Website: Festival Calendar
9. Try local Dai cuisine
Dai cuisine is supposed to be Chinese cuisine’s best kept secret. There is no limit to the amazing spicy and sour flavors your taste buds will savor in Jinghong. Don’t forget to try the famous ghost chicken (guiji), intensely fragrant, roasted and served cold, the stir-fried wild boar with spring onions and peppers, some nanmi vegetables, pineapple rice and granny’s mashed potatoes that you can eat even if you lack teeth like a granny.
10. Take an adventurous evening walk at the red light district Man Jing Lan (Meng Peng Road)
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and you would rather see the real side of Jinghong like the locals do, don’t miss out on a walk at the city’s Red Light District Man Jing Lan (Meng Peng Road). After all, it is not only Amsterdam that cherishes the oldest profession in the world. Be careful and aware that if you are a single male, the girls might call you out.
Dai culture and tropical vibes
Jinghong is a very unique region in China, where tourists can experience tropical landscapes and explore Dai culture. Only a breath away from popular destinations like Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, Jinghong can be a great stop especially during April when you can experience the Watersplashing Festival in its full blow. There is definitely more than meets the eye here. Jinghong is a diverse and cultural destination that will blow you away.
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