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Xishuangbanna Travel Guide

Yunnan Xishuangbanna Map
Xishuangbanna Map (Click to enlarge it)
Full Name: Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture
Chinese Name: 西双版纳傣族自治州 (xī shuāng bǎn nà dǎi zú zì zhì zhōu)
Population: 990,000
Area: 19,700 square kilometers (7,606 square miles)
Nationalities: Dai, Han

Administrative Division: 2 counties (Menghai, Mengla); 1 county-level cities (Jinghong)

Seat of the City Government: No.6, Jinghong Road (East), Jinghong City

Useful Telephone Numbers:
Tourist Complaints: 0691-96927, 2122323
Weather Forecast: 121
Zip Code Inquiry: 184

Bank of China Xishuangbanna Branch: No.23, Minhang Road, Jinghong City
China Post Xishuangbanna Branch: No.2, Jinghong Road (West), Jinghong City

 Location: Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is located at the south end of Yunnan Province. It shares a boundary of 966 kilometers (619 miles) with Burma and Laos in the east, south and west, being a vital pass from China to indo-China Peninsular by land. 

 History: To the Dai people, Xishuangbanna was known as 'Mengbanaxi' in ancient times, a name that means a miraculous and nice utopia. It had been a settlement where 13 ethnic minorities have lived in tight-knit communities for generations. The Jino ethnic minority is peculiar to the prefecture. 
 
 Physical Features: Located in the south extension of the Hengduan Mountains, over ninety-five percent of the area's territory is occupied by mountains and hills. Most of the prefecture is below the altitude of 1,500 meters (4921 feet). Jinghong City is only 550 meters (1804 feet) above the sea level. The Lancang River runs through the prefecture and when it passes through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it is known as the Mekong River.              

 Climate: The weather in this region is a combination of continental and oceanic climates with an annual average temperature of 18-22℃ (64.4-71.6℉). The coldest November is similar to the middle of summer in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River; thereby, Xishuangbanna is reputed as a happy land without winter. Generally, there are only two seasons. May to October is the rainy season and November to April is the dry season. 

 When to Go: Although it is an all-year-round tourist destination, the weather is most favourable from November to April. However since the roads conditions are excellent, Xishuangbanna is also a popular destination during the rainy season.     

 Special Local Products: tea, coffee, tropical fruit, herbs, Yunnan tobacco

 Local Highlights: The Water-sprinkling Festival is New Year's Day for the Dai, and is the most important and grandest festival of the year. It lasts three days from 13th to 15th, April (the sixth month of the Dai Calendar). Dai people dip branches into the river and sprinkle the water onto others as a way to express their best wishes. In addition, the festivals of the Hani, Jino and Yao ethnic minorities are also delightful part of local ethnic customs.
              
As the only tropical rain forest nature reserve in China, the area has surprising biological diversity in the virgin forest, particularly because it is so far away from central China and considered isolated.

In religion, it is greatly influenced by Hinayana Buddhism of Southeast Asia. The enticing white masonry structure, Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda, is the quintessence of Hinayana Buddhist architecture. The main pagoda is comprised of eight small pagodas, like a cluster of bamboo shoots.

 Attractions:
Single-Tree Forest: A tree does not make a forest. But a nine hundred year old banyan in Daluo Town here is exception. It covers an area of 120 square meters (143.6 square yards) with over thirty stand roots. This 70-meter-high (230-feet-tall) banyan is an attractive and marvelous forest in itself. 
Wild Elephant Valley: Chinese wild elephants are only found in the virgin forest of the Wild Elephant Valley, located in the Mengyang Nature Reserve, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Jinghong. There are hostels in the elephant park. Cabins in trees on riverbank are the most perfect localities to admire the elephants. 

Manfeilong Buddhist Pagoda is a Hinayana Buddhist architecture complex consisted of nine masonry pagodas of all sizes. It is also known as the White Pagoda due to its pure white structure. During the Water-Sprinkling Festival, crowds of the Dai people in Manfeilong Village will gather in front of the pagoda to celebrate the New Year of the Dai Calendar. 

Olive Dam is the lowest and hottest place in Xishuangbanna. However, its torrid climate brings rich tropical fruits and products. It consists of two stockaded villages, each of which is highlighted by an eyeful of typical Burma styled Buddhist pagodas and bamboo building of the Dai minority.  

Other Scenic Spots: Mandian Waterfall, Xishuangbanna Tropical plant Research Insititute, Xishuangbanna Nationality Culture Park, Old Town of Yiwu   

 Travel Tips:
1. Jinghong Airport (Xishuangbanna Airport) is located in the Gajiu Town in southern Jinghong City, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from downtown Jinghong. At present, it has direct flights to Kunming, Lijiang and Dali. There are two flights a week to Chiang Mai, Thailand. From Jinghong bus station in No.23, Jinghong Bei Lu and Xishuangbanna passenger transport service station in No.5, Minzu Lu, buses to the counties and towns of Xishuangbanna run frequently, carrying visitors to scenic spots desired.

2. There are a total of three public bus lines in Jinghong city proper. All the scenic spots and passenger transport stations inside Jinghong City can be reached by bus. Recently, renting a bicycle while visiting a city has gained popularity. As Jinghong city is not very big, seeing the city by bicycle would be pleasant and convenient.